This post is an extension of the NYC Educator article dealing with the lack of democracy and ignoring the rights of many of the members by the UFT leadership. The consequences next year may devastate the UFT when it comes to collecting dues from its increasingly alienated rank and file if the U.S. Supreme Court rules that dues are voluntary. Under the "Unity" caucus with Randi Weingarten and now Michael Mulgrew as UFT President, the rank and file have been subject to massive "givebacks", a hostile classroom environment, reduced "due process rights", inferior contracts, and questionable spending of member funds for causes that have nothing to do with the classroom or teacher rights.
It was the "Unity" caucus that agreed to the punitive Danielson rubric that has made teaching in the classroom a horror and the support for Common Core that most educators are against. In fact, Michael Mulgrew threatened to punch you in the face if you attack his beloved Common Core. Worse, the "Unity " caucus has supported the high-stakes testing, complete with the "junk science" that has made teaching "high needs" students and English Language Learners a ticket to "ineffectiveness".
Changes to the 3020-a: First, under Weingarten the 3020-a law was streamlined in 2001 that eliminated the three arbitrator board for incompetence cases. Furthermore, the nyc teacher was no longer allowed to pick an arbitrator from a list supplied by the State. Instead the arbitrator was imposed by the DOE, with the approval of the UFT.
2005 Contract: That brings me to the terrible 2005 contract that brought us the ATR crisis, the probable cause suspension without pay or health benefits, and a longer school day for a raise that barely equaled the inflation rate! Our union leadership also agreed to the elimination of the seniority transfer, the grievance procedure of most letters to the file, and the reimposing of the circular six requirements.
Fair Student Funding: Part of the 2005 contract included the "fair student funding" that resulted in principals hiring the "cheapest and not the best teachers" for their schools. When "fair student funding" was proposed by Chancellor Joel Klein, he didn't think that the UFT would agree to it and was willing to withdraw it if the union put up a fuss since it would leave veteran teachers without a position. Shockingly, Randi Weingarten agreed to it, thinking that the DOE would never waste over $100 million dollars on teachers without a classroom. How wrong she was. The result is a group of mostly highly paid and older teachers, ranging from 1,400 to 2,400 who the DOE pays to rotate or temporarily replace other teachers.
2007 Contract: While this contract was decent, it included two significant "givebacks". The first was "Peer Intervention Plus" known as PIP+ that resulted in a 90% termination rate for teachers who were fooled in taking this program, thinking it would help them continue teaching. The other "giveback" was an expansion of the "probable cause" actions, including most felonies.
Reducing TDA Interest Rate: Randi Weingarten's final stab in the back in 2010 was to agree to the City's request to eliminate their contribution to the TDA by 1.25%. Instead of receiving 8.25% that all the non-UFT members get, UFT members receive only7%. Yes, we got back the two days before Labor Day but we should have never given it up in the first place in the infamous 2005 contract.
This ended Randi Weingarten's tenure as UFT President and ushered in Michael Mulgrew who brought with him a biting wit and promised improvements and respect for his members. His failure to finalize a contract with the City was expected but he unexpectedly supported the Obama administration's teacher evaluation system in 2010, despite member distrust of the Race to the Top (RttT) that tied test scores to teacher effectiveness and has proven to be a disaster.. Not a promising start to impress the membership.
Common Core: If supporting the badly flawed teacher evaluation system was bad enough, his embracing of the Common Core was a slap in the face of all parents, students, and educators alike.. He even threatened in 2014 to "punch in the mouth" people who would dare take away his Common Core".
2014 Contract: It goes without saying that Michael Mulgrew sold the rank and file a vastly inferior contract with a 1.4% raise for ten years and even that was extended for a month and a half to pay off his retiree friends. All the retro payments were back-loaded as far down the road as to 2020. Moreover, he agreed to a very significant "giveback" by making ATRs "second class citizens" with reduced "due process" rights. Finally, his embracing of Chancellor Carmen Farina is disgusting as the rank and file suffer repeated insults from the DOE with excessive paperwork, large class sizes, weakening of student discipline policies, and the use of Charlotte Danielson as a punitive rubric and not as a guide.
The legacy of the "Unity" caucus under Randi Weingarten and Michael Mulgrew can be summed up as a legacy of inferior contracts, continuing "givebacks", and unresponsiveness to member concerns. If the U.S. Supreme Court rules against the union, how many members would be willing to voluntarily pay their $1,200 yearly dues to a union so unconcerned about its rank and file? My guess would be somewhere about 20% or about the amount of active members who bothered to vote in the past UFT election. However, don't worry Mikey, your 750 strong traveling companions and those that would sell their souls for a cushy union job will always be there to lick your boots and tell you what a wonderful leader you are. Its just the rest of us you will have to convince and so far you have failed in that regard.