Wappingers Congress of Teachers
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    Posted On: Dec 17, 2016


    Dear Colleagues,

    Welcome back! As always, summer seems to fly by and before we know it, September is upon us. Hopefully, you have had a relaxing and enjoyable vacation with your family and friends and are looking forward to the beginning of a new, exciting, and productive academic year.

    The union leadership has had a most eventful and productive summer, benefiting the members, the students and the Wappingers school community we serve. 

    One of the accomplishments was to bring negotiations to a successful conclusion. We reached a five-year memorandum of agreement due to the hard work and perseverance of a knowledgeable negotiating team: Michelle Ross, Ray Koretsky, Flip Gertler, Brian LaSusa, and Kathy Schwartz (NYSUT Labor Relations Specialist). They deserve our sincerest gratitude and respect. We were also able to preserve, protect and improve benefits for the membership—and most importantly—safeguard the quality and the depth of the health insurance of our choice.  

    Superintendent José Carrión and his negotiating team also had the commitment and the vision to reach a settlement which is both educationally sound and fiscally responsible. We are confident that the economic and educational value of this agreement will continue to attract and retain highly qualified educators to the District. 

    During the lengthy and ongoing negotiating process, neither side is ever able to attain everything that was originally proposed despite vigorous attempts. The process is frequently frustrating and difficult. In order to move forward, we learn to compromise without losing sight of the objectives that are important to all our members. Working together, with mutual respect and integrity, the negotiating team was able to present a rewarding contract to our members. 

    Through the dedication and leadership of the LAP (Local Action Project) team: Diane Di Chiara (Secondary-at-Large), Rena Finsmith (Senior Building Representative), Jim Marrinan (Director of Political Action), Kerri Roger (Building Representative) and Kate DeGroat (Building Representative), more than thirty events focused on Member Engagement, Community Outreach, Political Action and Communication were planned and accomplished this past year. The Commentator was brought back in a print edition, members participated in the Wappingers and East Fishkill Community Days, three educational forums were held, a Down Syndrome Teen dance that was open to all Dutchess County students, a Senior Citizen Luncheon with entertainment was held for Wappingers seniors, and an overwhelming number of members made donations to community food pantries and animal shelters. 

    Please take note that the LAP team has scheduled many more events for this upcoming year, based on the interests and affiliations of members. Periodically refer to the calendar posted on the website and in the Commentator, as the success of these events is contingent upon your involvement.

    On Thursday, August 18th, the Wappingers Congress of Teachers welcomed 25 new members to its ranks. Judging from their enthusiasm, I know they will become invaluable lifelong unionists. I encourage them to participate in the WCT’s many worthwhile above-mentioned endeavors.

    On July 19, August 15th and 23rd, teachers, retirees, BOE trustees, administrators, students and community members generously volunteered their time to label, sort and box over 21,000 free books, worth more than $250,000 from the First Book Organization to benefit our students. This organization encourages publishers to donate quality new books to participating school districts. I would also like to recognize Ron Broas and thank the WCSD Facilities Department for their understanding, patience, and help in the distribution of the books. The fervor and the managerial skills of my fellow LAPsters were instrumental in bringing this amazing project to fruition. 

    Furthermore, thanks to Betty Harrel, former WCSD Oak Grove principal and special education administrator, the preschool books were also distributed to new mothers and daycare centers through Leading to Reading, a community project of the Poughkeepsie branch of AAUW (American Association of University Women).

    Politically, at the state and national level, two very important decisions were rendered in the month of August.  On Tuesday August the 23rd, the National Labor Relations Board formally recognized private sector graduate students—who work as teaching and research assistants—as employees under federal labor law. Thus, they now have the right to unionize and universities such as Columbia and Harvard are required to bargain in good faith. Moreover, “This ruling reverses a misguided decision by the board in 2004, which held that graduate assistants at Brown University were primarily students and not employees and thus had no standing to form a union.” (The New York Times 8/24/2016)  The Columbia University decision enables approximately 35,000 teaching and research assistants in private schools across the country to unionize. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/25/opinion/unions-in-the-ivory-tower.html?smid=tw-nytopinion&smtyp=cur&_r=0.

    Moreover, on Monday August 22nd, the California State Supreme Court justices declined an appeal of the California Court of Appeal ruling in the Vergara v. California, thus upholding California educators’ right to tenure and other fundamental due process rights. http://www.latimes.com/local/education/la-me-edu-ca-supreme-court-lets-teacher-tenure-survive-20160819-snap-story.html. This case has been watched closely, especially in New York State, where two similar lawsuits have been filed challenging New York’s tenure statute. This ruling marks a significant win for teachers across the country. The plaintiffs in the Vergara case claim that tenure protects bad and ineffective teachers, harming poor and minority students, and deprive them of their right to a sound basic education. On the contrary, tenure helps safeguard children's rights to an effective education because it provides educators freedom to advocate for their students without fear of reprisal. Because tenure exists, teachers in New York State can speak freely on issues such as over-testing, cuts in academic programs, elimination of art, music and language and inappropriate placements for students with disabilities. (NYSUT)

    Wishing us all continued success! 

    In solidarity,
    Pasquale Delli Carpini 


                              Ratification Vote Results -September 8, 2016

    School Total Ballots Yes No Abstentions
    Brinckerhoff 43 39 4
    Evans 31 30 1
    Fishkill 33 32 1
    Fishkill Plains 46 43 3
    Gayhead 60 54 6
    John Jay 133 117 16
    RCK 133 43 90
    Kinry Road 21 19 2
    Myers Corners 54 51 3
    Oak Grove 31 28 3
    Sheafe Road 51 49 2
    Van Wyck 68 59 9
    Vassar Road 24 24 0
    Wappingers Jr. 68 59 9
    Orchard View 8 5 3
    Totals: 804 652 152

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