This is a very difficult letter for me to write
This is a very difficult letter for me to write
Amidst controversy and low morale, Broward Teachers Union (BTU) President, Sharon Glickman has a host of supporters and many have called our office to voice their concerns and some who are submitting letters of resignation because of disappointments.
Many of the BTU members are not rejoining due to what a lot of them are claiming dissatisfaction that they have not received last year’s raises and yet BTU has raised dues, the president increased her salary and teachers have gained nothing but a reduction in hourly pay for working extra periods.
In a resignation letter dated January 17, 2015, Executive Board member Dr. Leslie Janin-Starr painfully writes:
Dear President Glickman:
This is a very difficult letter for me to write. My whole entire life has been helping others for the betterment of all. As soon as I started my career as an educator my first thought was joining the union. That was over 20 years ago and I still remember as if it were yesterday turning around and running right into Ralph Eckhart, I signed up with him immediately. From that moment on I was not just a member of BTU, but truly felt and believed, that members WERE the BTU.
I became very active during my time with our union; participating on a multitude of committees, a lobbyist, political organizer, trainer at steward workshops and workshops for our Para’s’ so they could be “highly qualified” along with other trainings, Executive Board member, AFL-CIO representative, AFT and FEA delegate, along with other activities. Our union has grown and changed over the years. Some changes were for the better while others I did not agree with; however, those changes were obviously meant for the betterment of our union and so I stood by them.
Since AFT turned the BTU back over to us, the BTU has encountered many changes that I do not agree with and can no longer stand up and represent. While all of these issues were occurring we have kept AFT and FEA in the loop, asking for help and support only to find it falling on deaf ears. The BTU has lost 19 out of 22 long term staff employees along with others that left who were not counted due to the short time they were employed by BTU. We hear the BTU tout transparency but there is less transparency then when Mr. Santeramo was president. For example, the last BTU budget report posted on the BTU website was December, 2013 when we were in receivership with AFT.
We now have to be buzzed into our own BTU building; during the times when we don’t have to be buzzed in, we are not allowed outside the area of the receptionist without an escort. BTU is a place where we are supposed to go for help and camaraderie. As soon as members walk through they immediately do not feel welcome. This has nothing to do with the receptionist and everything to do with BTU Management team creating a less than welcome atmosphere.
Our locks on the building and some locks inside were changed at least 5 times when all we had to do was change the pass code (free of charge). We pay to have police officers at our meetings and workshops while also paying for a Parliamentarian to “control” our Executive Board Meetings. All these additional expenses are occurring while we had to increase dues to help us out of the debt the last President placed us in. We voted for a Vice President who would be part time yet she came on full time. Our last Vice President had the TIF Liaison position downtown and then came into the office afterwards; her main salary was paid for by the school district. This TIF Liaison position afforded her an opportunity to work on several committees within the district and bridged a gap between the BTU and the Broward School District. Why did the BTU give that position to someone else instead of our Vice President as they did with the last Vice President? We were supposed to save money on legal fees since our President is a lawyer yet we have spent more in legal fees than we ever did in the past. This is all limiting our BTU’s ability to develop a strong reserve.
The unprofessional manner in which members are treated who disagree with BTU’s Management Team is unacceptable. We have just over 10,000 members. If everyone on the BTU Executive Board all agreed with each other on every issue, we would not be appropriately representing all our members and their diverse needs. Yet if one is vocal against the BTU Management Team, they are removed from positions held within the union. One such example is when 2 of our top Area Coordinators were removed from their duties due to their views. Members are also removed from the various BTU committees due to their views. When requesting information from our President, Vice President, and Chief of Staff as to what BTU committees are currently functioning, who is on them, and who are the chairs of those committees the questions go un-answered. The same is true with membership, who continually complain they receive no responses to their email. This was brought to the attention of the AFT and the FEA via emails and, once again, they too do not respond.
Unions used to stand up for those who could not stand-alone; this is NOT the union we have today. The Education Field is continually demoralized with more and more abuse and blame being placed upon educators daily. Student testing is increasing, teacher reviews are becoming arduous while frequently increasing the pressure teachers are encountering daily. All of this is going on while teacher evaluations are increasingly tied to student scores on end of the year exams such as PARCC, EOC’s and other exams that have yet to be named. I, personally, cannot stand up and represent unions that are not standing up and not representing ALL educators! The final straw is the continual lack of sup-port for our Media Specialists; which is now becoming a dying breed, thanks to BTU and our parent organizations not standing up to help.
As I have stated continuously over the years, with the advancement of technology and media, our roles as a union, as well as our organizing tactics and strategies are remaining stagnant. With this in mind we are no longer meeting the needs of the members. As corporations and education have evolved with 21st century technology, my biggest regret is not being able to bring our union into this century to meet these new challenges. Educators lives are becoming increasingly stressful and the disrespect grows. My only hope is that our union and our parent organizations heed my words before this and other education unions become completely obsolete.
Consider this not only my resignation from the Executive Board but also from the Broward Teachers Union.
With my deepest regrets, Dr. Leslie Janin-Starr CC: President AFT: Randi Weingarten; President FEA: Andy Ford