By W. Homer Axford
It has been an eventful week. A letter went out to Bayonne teachers last week asking for a no confidence vote of Alan D’Angelo. The letter was signed by Bayonne teacher William Blanchard, but was drafted, written, and edited by no other than Joe DeMarco, Denis Wilbeck, and Mike Lawandy — they even tried to spell D’Angelo’s name wrong to hide the fact that this was their work, but no one over at the Board of Education is buying it. Multiple sources at City Hall saw Lawandy, Wilbeck, and Blanchard leaving the Mayor’s office last week. Wilbeck also put Robo Calls out to all Bayonne Teachers Association members right before the election calling for D’Angelo’s ouster, a move we thought was just a grandstand, but it seems Wilbeck was working with Davis all along.
The problem with this action is simply this: school board trustees should not be teaming up with City Hall to negotiate a contract behind the backs of the Bayonne Teachers Association. It’s simply union busting at its finest.
The letter calling for D’Angelo’s ousting (see below) contradicts itself quite a bit. It criticizes D’Angelo for accepting a bad deal (as we have stated in the past), but tries to cast aside any blame from Mayor Davis, by actually naming Mayor Davis. Now, come on, every single active BTA member sat at those meetings and heard Mayor Davis promise the teachers a longterm deal in 2014 … then he reneged on it upon getting into office. Not really Alan’s fault, but fool me once, right? So this time D’Angelo is playing hardball — he won’t be fooled by Mayor Davis again, so Davis is upping the ante. Davis hatched a scheme, first tried to play it out in the press and at board meetings with Lawandy, (see below) but that didn’t work — D’Angelo didn’t crack. Now he is going the political route, using Lawandy, Wilbeck, and Blanchard. Nevertheless, with or without D’Angelo, Davis has no intentions of giving the teachers the contract that they want. He will do a deal similar to what D’Angelo got last time. The only losers will be the Bayonne teachers and students once again. Is anyone recognizing a theme here? We certainly are.
“I am writing this letter asking for a vote of confidence for our “union” president, Mr. Alan DeAngelo. For the past 8 years Mr. DeAngelo has been losing the trust and betraying the trust of the majority of the members of our union. He has been completely ineffective and inefficient in securing the members a fair and equitable contract.
Evidenced by the last contract we signed, where he was supposedly fighting for 5 years to not have a frozen year on the guide and to not have our healthcare changed and to not have our bubble steps broken and to not have any added steps. He was completely unsuccessful in all of these points of negotiation and our union members essentially couldn’t afford to not get a raise for a 6th year in a row so we signed a deal that was not fair nor equitable. We essentially funded our own raises because of his juvenile negotiation methods and utter negligence.
Since then we are now in “negotiations” again and it is becoming more evident that he wants to remain in “negotiations” because of the language in the contract that pertains to his “not having to teach during” negotiations or some other selfish, personal, and negligent reasons. I am not alone in this belief. I would not be writing this letter demanding a vote of confidence if I wasn’t sure I was representing the majority of my union members.
Mr. DeAngelo is guilty of the following infractions, including but not limited to dereliction of duty, failure to follow by-laws such as having 3 general assembly meetings per year, failure to have elementary staff representation on the negotiation team, having no representatives to national delegate assembly, and having no standard committees according to by-laws. Perhaps his most obvious negligence is the fact that there have been fair and equitable contracts offered from the Bayonne Board of Ed., which the majority of members want to accept and he refuses to negotiate or bring the offer to the members.
Over this past decade Mr. DeAngelo has proven to me and to a majority of our union members that he has no respect for education, educators, or the kids in Bayonne. He is completely out of touch with this profession. He has sat back and watched great teacher after great teacher leave this district without a sense of urgency at all. He has even stated, “If you are under 10 years, you should leave.” He has become a cog in the wheel against his own union. He has cancelled or not responded to countless attempts by the Board of Ed. to get a contract done. He has blamed the Board of Ed., his union members and Jimmy Davis the mayor of Bayonne for not having a deal done and the majority of BTA members do not believe that is where the fault lies.
I want to be very clear. I am calling for a vote of confidence, not to take the temperature of our union but to impeach Mr. DeAngelo. He has lost our trust and he must be impeached so that we have a chance to move forward with negotiations in good faith. With him as our leader we will not be able to restore the morale that has left the Bayonne Teacher’s Association because of the fact that he has run this union as a dictatorship for almost the past decade now. He has pitted groups of members against each other as a means to his personal interest of not settling a contract. I am aware that upon receipt of this letter, Mr. DeAngelo has 14 days to call a general assembly meeting where a vote to impeach or not will take place. It is unfortunate that it had to come to this but the disrespect and neglect cannot continue. The members of this union deserve better and more importantly our students deserve better.
High School Mathematics Teacher”