Building Committee Boot Camp THIS Week!

Building Committee Boot Camp

  • Wednesday, May 1st // 4:30 - 6:30 PM // Kensington CAPA (1901 N. Front St.)
  • Saturday, May 4th // 9AM - 11AM // Rittenhouse Political Partners (151 S. Broad St.)

(These are repeat sessions, you can pick either one!)

Are you a new member of your school's Building Committee, or a veteran who wants to share your skills? How do you run a great PFT chapter meeting? How do you get people to come to your meeting? How do you organize to solve problems and effectively deal with administration? 

Get answers to these questions and more at this event, which is organized by veteran PFT Building Reps. This event is focused on Building Committee Members and Building Reps, but everyone is welcome who wants to help strengthen your school. 

Click here to RSVP now!

Schools that send three or more members of their BC to the event will be granted a $25 Dunkin Donuts gift card to support their first PFT chapter meeting as a newly elected group! 

 

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Educators Support CCP Faculty & Staff: Call-In Day for a Fair CCP Contract on Thursday and Friday!

As Philadelphia educators, we understand the struggle of faculty and staff at Community College of Philadelphia to create a high quality learning environment, one that allows young people in Philly to achieve their dreams despite the many obstacles they face. CCP Faculty and Staff are fighting for the college that their students deserve- but the CCP Administration is seeking to cut faculty, increase course loads, and reduce healthcare and benefits for employees. They have gone over 2 years without a contract, and now CCP’s President is seeking to impose a contract that we all know will harm students, faculty and staff, and the college overall.

In Philly’s public schools, we understand the struggle of constantly being asked to do more with less, over and over again (especially after going 4 years without a contract). This constant “death by a thousand cuts” leads to burnout, mental health issues, and high rates of staff turnover- issues which in turn harms the students who most need the support. CCP educators teach more students than other area community colleges, leaving them with less time to give each student. When students seek out the critical support they need from other resources -like counselors, advisors, and librarians- the administration refuses to hire sufficient support faculty.

Alongside faculty, the union at CCP represents support staff who are often on the front lines of helping students navigate many aspects of college life, including financial aid and course registration. Staff are sometimes the first people students meet when they arrive on campus, and allow students to count on safe and clean buildings at CCP. The union is demanding real raises and living wages for staff, some of whom have worked full-time at CCP for 20 years and still qualify for food stamps. We also know that all of these pressures and strains disproportionately impact faculty and staff of color, at a time when research has shown that educators of color play a key role in helping students succeed and stay in school.

Philly educators know that it’s students who lose out if faculty and staff at CCP cannot win the fair contracts that make a vibrant and meaningful education possible. For this reason, we stand in solidarity with CCP Faculty and Staff in their fight for a fair contract. The teacher uprisings and #Red4Ed movement across the country have shown that when we stand together to fight for our students, colleagues, and communities- we can win the quality public education that our city needs.

As part of CCP Faculty and Staff's "Show CCP Some Love" Campaign this week, please help us support CCP Faculty and Staff by calling College President Guy Generals and Board Chair Jeremiah White. You will find all the information and short points you can make. After calling, please fill out the quick form below so that we know how many calls were made.

Click here to the call script and form!

(Please make sure to fill out the brief form so that we can track how many calls were made.)

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#BecauseOfMyUnion: Why are you "Union Proud"?

Yesterday when the Supreme Court of the United States reached its decision in the Janus v. AFCSME case, I know many of us immediately thought of what this would mean for the PFT. I reflected on all the times the union has made it possible for me to do my job in an ethical manner, as well as all the times the union has helped me take care of my family.  

As we do with many of the privileges we live with daily, we can tend to take our union for granted. As we reach out to each other and our colleagues to help each other and our union get through this dangerous time, let’s think about all the large and small ways our union makes our lives better. 

Let’s communicate to our colleagues and to each other--as well as all the anti-unionists--why we love and will stand by our union. Think of all the benefits that we and our students reap from our union membership.

Please use the hashtag #BecauseOfMyUnion to herald all the large and small ways that belonging to a union makes our work possible and our lives better.

I posted a couple of my tweets below as examples. Be creative-- #PhlEd staff are great at that!  

A few more examples:

I know that #BecauseOfMyUnion I don’t have to worry about being able to afford my child’s medication. #PhlED @PFTLocal3

It’s #BecauseOfMyUnion that I can take time to be with my ill parents without fear of losing my job.  #PhlED @PFTLocal3

Those of us who believe strongly that Unions help affirm the dignity and humanity of workers realize we need to stick with our union and help educate our colleagues about the value of Union membership. Of course, personal conversations and deep organizing will be our main work in stopping this attack on our union, but use of this hashtag can help us start those important conversations.

 

Written by Kristin Luebbert (@teacherinphilly), veteran Philadelphia educator and building rep (and also the primary voice behind the @CaucusofWE twitter account!).

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Janus Won't Stop Us

As Philly educators, we know how it feels to be underdogs. Every day, we are up against formidable odds - crumbling buildings, oversized classes, and too little support in meeting students’ considerable needs.

With the Janus ruling looming, we find ourselves as the underdogs, once again, in the fight for the fully funded schools that our students deserve. The Janus case is the result of a coordinated effort by very rich and powerful conservative donors to dismantle public sector unions. By attacking our unions, the wealthy on the right are hoping to defeat one of their biggest enemies - workers fighting together for good-paying jobs and robust public services. They know that when unions are strong, wages are higher for everyone. When unions are strong, the racial income gap narrows and workers of color receive better pay and working conditions. They know the power of a high-participation union, and that’s why they want to keep workers from participating.

As underdogs, we will keep up the fight - for our students, for our union, for fully funded schools in our city. When we get mailings from conservative donors, trying to convince us to leave our union, they will go straight into the trash. And when we get calls asking if we want to save money by quitting our union, we will hang up.

We will stick together, organizing our fellow educators to build a fighting, high-participation union that wins, even when the odds are against us. We all we got. We all we need.

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What the District Says about March 14 Walkouts

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There has been a national call for students to participate in a 17-minute walkout on Wednesday, March 14th.

In a recent letter to all principals, the School District has stated that “should students choose to walk out, discipline should not be imposed.”

The letter suggested several steps educators should take in advance of any student action, including reviewing safety procedures with students before the day, and having them scan back into the building upon returning. 

The Caucus of Working Educators supports any students who choose to take part in this action – and we thank the District for recognizing “student’s rights to self-expression and awareness of social issues.”

If conversations about this day have not yet started at your school, talk with your colleagues and fellow administrators now about what plan makes sense for your building.

The District is asking you to get organized so your students have a safe and effective walkout experience!

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Thank you, West Virginia educators, for giving us hope

UPDATE: After 4 days shutting down the entire state, WV educators won a 5% pay increase, 3% increase for all state employees, plus no premium increases or benefit cuts to their healthcare.

By Diane Isser, Tilden Middle School

In a state where collective bargaining for public employees is illegal and public employees are barred from going on strike, West Virginia’s teachers and school employees have organized to protest the issues that plague public school teachers across the country: low wages, rising insurance costs, and poor working conditions. The Caucus of Working Educators stands in solidarity with these striking teachers.

With the Supreme Court’s decision in the upcoming Janus v. AFSCME case looming large, all workers should take a lesson from the West Virginia teachers who are showing the rest of the country what worker power can look like in even the most hostile climate.

Through bottom-up organizing, West Virginia teachers and school employees have built power across three different unions. In doing so, they have garnered popular support across the state by rightly asserting that what is good for teachers is good for students.

Thank you, West Virginia teachers, for giving us the hope we so sorely need right now.

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For more background on how these educators got organized:

"West Virginia Teachers Launch Statewide Strike" in Labor Notes

"West Virginia Teachers Are Showing How Unions Can Win Power Even If They Lose Janus" by Lois Weiner

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Help the "Group of 50" Attend the AFT Convention!

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We are thrilled to share that this past December, a group of women came together and decided that we wanted to run for AFT delegates with the Caucus of Working Educators. We prioritized recruiting women of color -- they make up 50% of the slate -- and made the slate open to gender non-conforming candidates as well.

Most importantly, we chose to run for just half of the 100 slots, making it possible for candidates from both slates to attend. We are all committed to learning more about our union, and we want to learn alongside our current leadership!

Here are just a few of our candidates -- your own coworkers, neighbors, and PFT family! As the tagline says, "We are capable, collaborative AND committed to the union." Please support them in their wish to attend the AFT Conventions this summer and next!

Ballots are already in the mail to homes- make sure to mail yours back by February 22nd!

Meet more of the inspiring candidates on our slate below:

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Support The Group of 50 - Send Them to AFT National!

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Just a few of the fabulous PFT members who are a part of the Group of 50 -- support them in their journey by voting for them in February!

The AFT National Convention is happening in Pittsburgh this July -- and WE want to send you there!

In case you didn’t know, our national union, the American Federation of Teachers, has its National Convention every two years. The event is the single biggest learning opportunity in our union, jam-packed with inspiring speakers, informative panels, meetings for different bargaining units and interest groups, and floor votes on a variety of relevant topics, such as resolutions supporting political movements or changes in AFT policy.

How do you get a spot? Any PFT member can run to be a delegate to the convention! Unfortunately, very few members even know the event even exists, much less how to get there. This year, the Caucus wants to see that change.

To those ends, we are making an open call for female members of the PFT to join our "Group of 50" and run as delegates to both the AFT National Convention in 2018 and AFT-PA in 2019.

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The SRC Voted To Dissolve. What Happens Next?

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They voted to dissolve! So when does the SRC finally go away?

Their last day is June 30. This follows the requirement that the vote must happen at least 180 days before the actual dissolution. The June 30 aligns with the fiscal year -- new school board, new budget.

What will replace the commission?

A nine-member school board appointed by the Mayor, which is what oversaw the district before the SRC came into existence in 2001. There is also a planned non-voting position for a current Philadelphia student.

How will these members be selected? 

According to the Mayor’s timeline, A nominating committee will be appointed by Mid-December. This committee will recommend 3 possible choices for each of the 9 seats on the board. The mayor will select one of these recommendations for each seat. There is also pending legislation -- which will require approval by public referendum --  that would require city council approval for all nominees.

Can anyone become a member of the school board?

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SRC’s Demise Is a Victory for Organizing

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For the first time since 2001, Philadelphia will soon control its own schools. With Mayor Kenney’s endorsement, the SRC is almost certain to vote for its own abolition, ending the failed experiment that put Harrisburg in control of the Philadelphia School District.

The return of local control is a victory for Philadelphia’s students, parents, teachers, and community members. It is a victory for those who have spent years attending SRC meetings to protest and testify for more accountable school governance. It is a victory for Mayor Kenney, for recognizing the danger that state control poses to the future of our school district, and it is a victory for the members of the SRC for recognizing that the students of Philadelphia are best served by their willingness to step aside.

It is a victory that would not have happened without strong, grassroots organizing.

After more than 15 years, why have the Mayor and SRC chosen this moment to dissolve? The Mayor has spent the last year refusing to commit to a particular timeline. As recently as a few weeks ago, he said that he expected a vote on SRC abolition to happen “sometime in 2018.” Meanwhile, members of City Council and the Mayor’s staff had told us in recent months that there was little movement towards SRC dissolution, and little likelihood this would change without outside pressure. So what changed?

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