Friday, July 07, 2006

Is Our Union Strong? Let's Compare With The Heavy Construction Union

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.

12 comments:

jonathan said...

Chaz,
your point is well-taken, but there is a problem in your stats.

In the last 24 years the average length of service for teachers has decreased dramatically. Today's $48K figure is around what, 4th year pay? And 1982's $29K? Someone would have to help me out, but I am guessing it would have been more like pay at the ten year level.

There has been no comparable shift in the construction trades.

Now, by comparing starting to starting, or max to max, I assume the figure would be more like 3.5% (Am I close?) But this is still far less than 7.5%

Also, note that the drop in average years of service is another sign that we are in trouble.

Chaz said...

Jonathan:

The $14.82 per hour figure came from the Local 14 union which represented the crane operator pay scale back in 1982 and was also published in Newday. Therefore, I believe it's max to max, at least when it came to the crane operators. You may be right for the rest of the union pay scale.

You might also be correct that the $29,000 in 1982 may have represented the ten year teacher compared to the $48,000 for the four year teacher. I just took the average teacher pay and didn't look deeper into the statistics.

I'm not the DOE, I am not trying to spin the statistics only trying to use the available data. I do agree that you must go deeper into the statistics to see where the real problems lie.

no_slappz said...

Chaz,

Your comparison of teacher and crane operator paychecks is deeply flawed.

The $82-an-hour figure for today's crane operator includes cash compensation and benefits. In some cases, the other figures you cited did not. There is no chance the $14.82-an-hour figure for 1982 crane operators was an all-inclusive figure.

Meanwhile, teachers enjoy a gold-plated healthcare plan worth a lot. It's value is not reflected in any of the compensation figures you provided.

Ultimately, total top-end compensation for teachers and crane operators is more equal than you would like to admit.

Moreover, crane operators are a relative rarity; about 3,000 were party to the new contract. But there are over 75,000 teachers in NYC alone, all paid by taxpayers. The total dollars are in different ball parks.

However, if you believe you should receive a paycheck equal to a crane-operator's, why not become a crane operator?

Chaz said...

no slappz:

The $82.00 per hour figure for crane operators did not include benefits. As for becoming a crane operator,
I'd rather build minds than build buildings. Don't you think building children minds are more important to society than using a crane on a building?

no_slappz said...

Chaz,

The following statement is from an article about the crane operators that appeared in your favorite newspaper -- The Post.

"The workers, who run cranes, backhoes, compressors and other pieces of heavy equipment, earn $73 to $82 an hour, including benefits."

You asked:

"Don't you think building children minds are more important to society than using a crane on a building?"

My opinion is irrelevant. However, I wouldn't question the career choice of a person who becomes a crane operator anymore than I'd question someone who becomes a teacher.

As to the issue of pay, well, it's pretty much taken care of itself. However, market distortions caused by unions have had an impact.

Frankly, a crane operator must operate heavy equipment in crowded city areas without killing those below. That's not easy. In terms of the consequences of something going wrong on the job, I'd say mistakes made by teachers cause far less loss of life than mistakes made by crane operators.

As far as building young minds goes, well, it's hard to say exactly what building actually occurs in school. Something happens, but it's not easy to pin down.

Whereas the results of construction activities are evident and of tremendous value to many.

Mike in Texas said...

No_Slappz,

I can't speak for NYC teachers but I can tell you that here in Texas my healthcare benefit is far from "gold-plated". I must pay the first 15K in medical expenses per incident before the benefits kick in. For this coverage the state of Texas pays $300 per month.

Any bets that the company the coverage is purchased from is VERY politically connected?

Chaz said...

no slappz:

Anything the New York Post publishes must be taken with a grain of salt. Many of their articles are too far to the right and anti-teacher(don't have a heart attack nyc educator) and I don't trust their articles to be correct.

Regardless, for teacher salaries to increase an average of 2% annualy for the last 24 years when the cost of living in New York City averaged 5% for the same period is a disgrace, plain and simple.

no_slappz said...

mike in texas:

The health care benefits enjoyed by New York City teachers as a result of their contract negotiations are absolutely and unquestionably gold-plated.

Any NYC teachers who read what you wrote about your benefits is cringing and probably worrying that it might get around that NYC teachers have one heck of a sweet deal in the health care department. Teachers here pay pretty close to zero for health care benefits.

Furthermore, you are absolutely right about political power playing a big role in winning generous health care benefits for teachers.

Come on up to NYC. There are plenty of openings.

no_slappz said...

Chaz you wrote:

"Anything the New York Post publishes must be taken with a grain of salt."

Reporters are people. Often they are people with agendas, most notably those who work for the NY Times.

The Post and the Daily News are pretty good about supplying the basic facts of most newsworthy events. The Times wants to go deeper. Into the minds of readers. Thus, the reader must be prepared to deconstruct an entire article to assess the repeated subtle distortions that sit just below the surface of nearly every sentence in articles about charged topics.

You wrote:
"Many of their articles are too far to the right and anti-teacher(don't have a heart attack nyc educator) and I don't trust their articles to be correct."

First, your comment applies only to the editorial page, not the news pages.

Second, the story about the crane operators' paychecks was not connected to teachers' pay until that link was made on this site.

You wrote:
"Regardless, for teacher salaries to increase an average of 2% annualy for the last 24 years when the cost of living in New York City averaged 5% for the same period is a disgrace, plain and simple."

As I've said, there's an easy billion dollars a year of outright theft occurring in the School Construction Authority. A billion dollars is enough to raise the salaries of 75,000 teachers (though we know only about 55,000 actually work in classrooms) about $13,500 a year.

Of course efforts to stop this river of cash from flowing out the door is far from enough to nab the crooks. Do you know any teachers outraged by this long-term criminal crime spree?

Chaz said...

no slappz:

I agree with you about the school construction authority. However, as for your comment that only 55,000 of the 75,000 teachers actually work in the classroom is misleading. Many of the teachers work as deans and have limited classroom schedules. While others work at various compensation time jobs such as programmer, mentor, program coordinator, and grant writer, meaning they don't teach a full classroom schedule. However, they are important if any school is to be run properly. Therefore, assuming only 55,000 teachers work in the classroom is incorrect.

I have a better idea, lets take back the billions of dollars the city pisses away by giving them to Charter Schools?

no_slappz said...

chaz, you wrote:

"I have a better idea, lets take back the billions of dollars the city pisses away by giving them to Charter Schools?"

BILLIONS of dollars?!?! Where did you get that number? The annual school budget is about $14 billion. When you attempt to criticize alternative education ideas, you should stick with facts.

If your rich uncle agreed to pay all tuition bills, would you send your kid to a public school or a private school?

Or would you move to a suburban location where the students in the school system didn't offend your sensibilities?

I'm sure you would take steps to separate your kids from the common element running through the halls of NYC schools.

Assuming that's the case, on what basis can you criticize the expansion of charter schools?

Moreover, with what logic can you criticize charter schools when parents are begging for alternatives to public school?

Of course it's no surprise to me that union workers have lost sight of their customers.

Would you send your kids to Poly Prep or Packer or St. Anne's if money wasn't a consideration?

Anonymous said...

Excellent, love it! Pcv valve acura rsx http://www.kia-ambulance.info/Kia-springfield-mo.html Malli fluoxetine 20mg Acura honda racing Free low cholesterol diet physcial fitness statictics give information aarp Uefa bets Contraindications valtrex Helpful hints clomid getting pregnant buy didrex locally Adipex personality change http://www.cingular-phone-plans-for-2006.info/Provigil-dosing.html