I can only laugh at how my union, the United Federation of Teachers (UFT), is so feared by the New York City media. If you read the Daily News and New York Post, the New York State legislature cannot go to the bathroom until the UFT gives them the go ahead. However, perception is not reality. In today's Newsday the heavy construction unions settled their two-day strike and received a nearly 6% raise each year for four years. What did they give back? The right to sit on a chair and take a snooze (a la Sopronos) if their heavy equipment is not ready to be used at the construction site.
While I think these unions made a good deal, you don't hear any media outrage on the generous package the contractors gave them. In fact, mayor Bloomberg offered his offices to close the deal. By contrast our union obtained a "shitty contract" that gave us a 15% increase for 54 months or 3.25% per year which is less than the inflation rate! For this little money we gave up three teaching days, ten more minutes each day, the right to grieve, a 90 day unpaid suspension, and unprofessional hall, cafeteria, and bathroom duties. I decided to compare the raises the heavy construction unions received since 1982 to the UFT negotiated raises teachers received during the same period.
In 1982 the heavy construction unions pay was $14.82 and as of before this settled contract it has risen to $82.00 per hour. Therefore, the average yearly raise was a generous 7.5% per year for the last twenty-four years. By contrast the average teacher salary was $29,000 per year in 1982 and has risen to $48,000 in 2006, a 2.0% annual raise! Why are their raises so much higher? Simple they strike while the UFT does not.
Some of the Union flunkies will claim I'm comparing apples & oranges. No, I'm comparing the money! In New York City the city teachers are called the "brightest". However, when it comes to getting the money during negotiations the UFT is outsmarted by a union that the vast majority of its members never went to college, they just strike to get what they want. Who are the "brightest"? It's certainly not the union that represents the New York City Teachers.