Friday, April 3, 2009


Yesterday the JDC transmitted a letter to UJC and federation leadership expressing its institutional, principled concern with the rumored UJC "off the top" approach to saving itself. This morning JDC and the federation world received UJC's "response" -- a poorly thought-through formulaic approach that, if implemented, abandons timeless principles, including gross misstatements presented as fact, and offering JAFI/JDC no guarantees of their diminished core allocations whatsoever. (The fact that one of the Co-Chairs is a member of the JDC Board astounds.) This was presented to the federations as "Official Talking Points" or, as one of my friends said to me today: "the official fait accompli."

Here it is with my comments interlineated:


UJC Dues Subcommittee Proposal
Harvey Barnett
Steve Silverman

The following proposal and recommendation represents the consensus of the Dues Subcommittee:

Operating Principles (there are actually no principles contained herein)

1. As reaffirmed at the Federation Leadership Institute, payment of UJC dues remains a
mandatory obligation of membership. (By virtue of this "Proposal," less so)

2. The proposal is to transition ("transition" this is not) to a new dues approach with two tranches. The proposed two tranche approach will be comprised of:

A. The first tranche (dues) which will be a fixed percentage of the most recently reported annual campaign. A key advantage ( yes, a real "advantage") of instituting a fixed percentage approach is that it enables federations to calculate their dues obligation in advance of their own and the UJC annual budget process. Another advantage is that the dues are tied to federation campaign results.

B. The second tranche is the difference between the approved UJC budget and the amount funded through obligatory dues. This amount will be funded from the core overseas allocation. (So, if read as written, the federations will have the "advantage" of knowing what they will pay, their former partners will just never know what they will receive. Fair? I don't think so; no one could think so.)

3. In order to stabilize overseas funding, it is proposed that each federation be strongly encouraged to add their pro rata share of the second tranche (which will be based on the total approved budget less the dues portion) to their current overseas allocation.

Federations should adhere to the principle ( A "principle" that would be set aside to save UJC from itself.) that they will not reduce funding to overseas allocations greater than reductions in local agency allocations. (Maybe this is considered to be a "guarantee" by the draftspersons; it isn't.)

4. Dues hardship applications will continue to be reviewed by the Financial Relations Committee in accordance with the established process.

5. At the conclusion of a two year transitional ( again "transitional" -- "transitioning" from what exactly?) period, the implementation of this dues approach will be reviewed and evaluated.

6. This dues approach fulfills the commitment made at the Federation Leadership Institute to join and come to the table with our partners JAFI and JDC to enhance working together to be more effective in raising and allocating funds for overseas. ( M'God, THIS IS BEYOND BELIEF!! If this is the "fulfillment of the commitment," then it is proof that there is no such commitment. There has been no happy "joining and coming to the table" with JDC/JAFI; but this is UJC's idea of how to "enhance working together.")

Implementation of Proposed Dues Approach

1. In year one, obligatory dues for FY 2009/2010 will be assessed at 2.5% of the 2007 (and, why you may ask, 2007? Think about it. Quiz to follow.) individual federation reported annual campaign, aggregating approximately $23 million (representing about a 39% reduction in system-wide dues over the prior year).
The difference between the approved UJC budget and the obligatory dues portion will be funded from the second tranche. ( Thus, JDC's point proved. UJC will just take "the difference" from funds designated for Israel and Overseas.)

2. In year two, the obligatory dues for FY 2010/2011 will be assessed at 2.5% of the 2008 individual federation reported annual campaign.
The difference between the approved UJC budget and the obligatory dues portion will be funded from the second tranche.

3. The above will be re-evaluated after two years. (And, this means, of course...nothing.)


Friends, this Proposal cannot possibly reflect the Plan that my federation and others support. There is no way that Chicago or most other federations would support a proposal that by its terms would result in a $7,340,000 reduction to JAFI/JDC to fund UJC. It is a Proposal that lacks any assurance of core, and no secure commitment to either collective responsibility or the core values that are the foundation of our system. Might an actual meeting among UJC, the federation leadership, JDC and JAFI at which such the concept could have been discussed (as was no doubt the leading federations' plan) been of value; of course. But, what the federation leadership who conceived of this Proposal did not contemplate was that that is not UJC's way of doing business -- UJC's way is to never think a "proposal" through, throw it out there and approach the matter as a fait accompli. But, by sending this Proposal out as written, UJC has hopefully killed the concept, as well-intentioned as the federations who conceived it planned it to be.

I represent neither JAFI nor JDC but I cannot conceive of a circumstance whereby this Proposal could be acceptable to either organization as written for all of the reasons stated with such eloquence in the Joint's Smokler/Schwager letter. Were I a leader of UJC (which, for those of you new to this Blog, I am not), or a Co-Chair of the "UJC Dues Subcommittee," I would formally take this "Proposal" off the table by the onset of Shabbat. They won't.

Shabbat shalom.


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