Tuesday, May 20, 2014
My Interview With A Uniformed Union Official About The Proposed Teacher Contract.
I spoke with a union official from one of the uniformed services and asked him what was his opinion about the proposed teachers contract with the City? Predictably, he was not too happy with the terms of the contract and believes the City got off lucky in getting the teachers union to agree to the contract out to 2018.
He started off by blaming the contract woes on Mayor Bloomberg and his refusal to give the teachers union the "City pattern" that almost all other unions received back in 2009-10. Moreover, he told me the Mayor deliberately defunded the Labor Reserve Fund to make sure the new Mayor could not use any money from the fund for retroactive raises. The union official also brought out the over the years when the Mayor claimed the City was running a deficit. Magically, by the time the budget was passed, there was a surplus. Of course, Mayor Bloomberg used the City's surplus to spent billions of dollars for high priced consultants and programs that never seemed to benefit the public. Even now this uniformed union official was told by many financial people that the City has large hidden surpluses and that their statements that the City doesn't have the money for significant raises as well as retroactivity rings hollow.
He belittled Michael Mulgrew's statement that the City doesn't have the money for everything. He believes that the proposed teachers contract is inadequate and unacceptable to the uniformed unions of New York City. The very idea of receiving 10% for seven years (1.43% annually) is insulting. This union official believes the arbitrators would have awarded the teachers union their two 4% raises and the retroactivity that goes with it. Especially, since the City's economy has improved markedly over the last few years. Finally, none of the uniformed unions will accept "zeros" as the UFT did in the two year 2011-12 period. Instead, it will be more like the TWU contract that has at least a 1% raise annually from 2012 and with full retroactivity.
Two Tier System:
He was very dismissive of the teachers union acceptance of the reduced rights for the ATRs. He said a union should never have different rules for the same job title. Its not good for union solidarity in the long term. According to him, there is no similar two-tiered system in any of the Municipal unions that is being accepted by the UFT.
He understands that the retroactive pay was the major reason for the union to agree to the inadequate raises and the deferrals. However, he doesn't understand how the union could agree to allowing the City not to pay members who worked in the 2009-10 school year their retroactive pay if they resign, get terminated, or die in service? He thinks that's terrible and that somebody will be filling a lawsuit to get that money they earned.
Interestingly, the news media supported the proposed contract but of late has changed their minds. This union official believes that its simply a ploy to have the other unions agree to this contract as a "City pattern".
This uniformed union official said that the proposed teachers contract will not be the new "City pattern" and that the raises will reflect the improved economic condition of the City which can support more substantial raises and full retroactivity.