Friday, August 04, 2017

Union Proud But Not Proud Of Our Union.






















I consider myself a proud union member and greatly appreciate what an effective union represents to their members.  At one time, under the effective Albert Shanker,  teachers were able to negotiate adequate raises, a salary scale that reflected seniority, generous health benefits, and work rules that limited the amount of students in a classroom.  This was a time when the City leaders were beholden to the powerful 81,000 strong teachers' union and came with hat in hand to curry union support and even a loan during the City's brush with bankruptcy in 1973.   That was then and this is now.

Our present ineffective union leadership has provided  little in the way for their members to be proud of   They have negotiated inferior or subpar contracts, going back to Sandra Feldman and continuing through Randi Weingarten and now Michael Mulgrew.  Just about every negotiated contract was short on money and contained various "givebacks".  Be it time, additional duties, hiring rules, reduced due process rights dealing with discipline, and expanding the definitions on verbal and physical abuse (A-420, A-421).  Just as important was the slow erosion of health benefits, both the eligibility at retirement and cost.  In addition, UFT members saw 1.25% of their TDA interest disappear., thanks to our union leadership.  While all other DOE employees receive 8.25% interest on their TDA balance, UFT members receive only 7%.  Finally, our union leadership is strangely quiet while the media attacks the ATRs and allows the DOE's Fair Student Funding policy to discriminate against the hiring of veteran teachers.

Our union leadership had promised to go to PERB or file a lawsuit on the DOE's practice of placing a flag on any member that had a substantiated OSI or SCI investigation, even when the accusations were found not to be true by the independent State Arbitrator!  I call this the Scarlet Letter.  Did the union  leadership follow through?  The answer is no!    Moreover, they allowed the ATR to become "a second class citizen" and refuses to include an ATR on their negotiating committee on ATR issues.  Finally, the union leadership refuses to put member interests first.  Rather, they use our COPE and dues money as they please without member input.  See examples Here and Here.

I am a proud union member and will support unions that represent their members.  However, in the last two decades, our weak union leadership seems to represent their own political and ideological interests rather than what's best for the members.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Chaz:

Too many of us feel the same way but its difficult to get the majority of members to do something about it.

Anonymous said...

my father was a teamster when he worked for anchor motor freight. my uncles and grandfather all worked for GM and were united auto workers. I remember my father coming home one day saying after 15 years I have seniority now I can work any shift I want. he seemed proud, that it was something he earned. the union helped him during the changeovers for new model year cars. he always wore a teamster ball cap. he put time and effort in and earned something in return. my union is the uft = Useless F@#$king Thieves. my union dues got me stress an atr label, being put into classrooms when I wasn't licensed to be a classroom teacher, newbie after newbie get jobs that I wasn't even considered for then in-certified teachers having jobs. what did they earn nothing, but according to the uft I guess I didn't either. to bad my father wasn't a principal! mulgrew can I have any of my money back!

Anonymous said...

remember the uft's paul egan who was tossed out of an albany restaurant drinking and spending our money for his own pleasures and benefit. T = THIEVES ! the uft should be dismantled "union free". when will the people wake up?

DOEvet said...

UFT is really more concerned about being a lobbying group and having a seat at the table - unfortunately whatever success they have with that doesn't translate to the membership very much. I guess they would say, without them all teachers would be screwed and they are fighting for us all the time. Maybe in the macro they do fight for some things, budgets, slow down the charters, protect the pension and retirement systems [we hope]. I have a decent job in a decent school and over 25 yrs in - so not here to complain - for myself I just hope, a clear path to retirement, maybe a nice raise in the next contract, and please protect the retirement package lol. For the rest - UFT is minimally helpful as a resource for teachers - and honestly Tier VI is really bad, and whatever follows is worse, so we are living in the twilight of this profession that is being turned into a privatized temp job slowly but surely. Also like most organizations UFT does not encourage healthy dialogue or dissent any more from what I hear and read.

New teachers may soon face a choice - to join the union or not - I expect many won't want to pay the dues and fees - and I wonder if we become a right to work state, whether teachers will be given the right to opt out of the pension and health care and self-fund, since that way they can have a higher salary. If so, most newbies won't join.

Anonymous said...

7:05,
The majority of members don't seem to care because they aren't ATRs, yet. Even if they did what could they do? Dues are still mandatory and no one at the UFT wants to hear anyone's complaints. "Everything is great - teacher choice is $250!" Now ATRs are going back into the classroom and it should be celebrated by the UFT like a raise in teacher's choice, but the UFT is strangely silent. Even when we're attacked as criminals, Mulgrew's response is come visit a school (like Randi said to DeVos). Pathetic.

Anonymous said...

The UFT did not make mention in the UFT newspaper (dated August 3, 2017) of the agreement that was made without ATR input. Not one word. The previous UFT newspaper mentioned the severance package in the back upper right hand corner (small article). So sad.... This is not a good agreement for ATRs due to the shameful climate of age discrimination and attack on veteran staff in the DOE. Instead of educators working together in NYC, administrators attack their staff. Absolutely shameful. CUNY professors know it, other educators in other institutions know it. NYC should be ashamed of themselves.

Anonymous said...

The members of the UFT are one step from joining the ATR pool themselves. There are different scenarios that would place a person into the ATR pool. Wake up union members. This struggle, fight or whatever you want to label it as is everyone's business! Divide and conquer tactics have been utilized and those that are gullable or think it cannot happen to them are very naive.

DOEvet said...

I think age discrimination is definitely an issue now and going forward, and FSF makes it worse. Sue away!

Anonymous said...

The NYT had an article this week about the difficulty of suing for age discrimination. It can be done, but it's not easy.