Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The UFT's "300" Negotiating Committee Must Stand Their Ground, Not Allow Any "Givebacks", And Resolve The Ever Growing ATR Crises

I admit I am a complex person. On one hand I am highly suspicious of the motives of Bloomberg and Klein's intent on the City's Public Schools and at the same time I am naive when it comes to our union leaders who proclaim time and again "victory", when negotiating with either the Bloomberg Administration and Tweed on education issues. My knee jerk reaction was to give Randi Weingarten and her lackeys the benefit of the doubt that the union negotiations were successful and was a win for the members. Of course, the reality was much different.. Time and again, while the UFT negotiated in good faith, Tweed would simply ignore the signed agreements since they lacked enforceability. Examples of this are the ATR agreement and the "rubber room" agreement. More ominous are the secret side agreements the UFT signed off om. An example of this is Appendix H of the "probable cause" agreement that allows the DOE to suspend teachers without pay or health benefits for up to 90 days simply on a hearsay statement! Now in the latest agreement signed with the City, our union negotiators have given up some of our retirement rights and there is a disturbing rumor that an unpublished side agreement was part of the negotiations that will force retirees to remove their money from the fixed income fund, despite denials by TRS and union leaders. Even the Financial Planner, Joel Frank, reported this in the Chief in the July 24, 2009 edition.

Now we are in the process of finishing the next contract (the parameters were decided on during the last days of Randi Weingarten) and the committee of "300" theoretically can make sure that the new contract will not have any "givebacks" and "secret side agreements that screws the members. I believe, with a mensch like James Eterno on the committee, I expect that the union will "stand their ground" and resolve the ever worsening ATR crises (2,340 ATRs as of August) and require that excessed ATRs be placed by subject area before "newbie teachers" can be hired.

To the 300. Please don't let our union leaders dupe you in approving an inferior contract that allows "givebacks", no matter how minor they appear to be. Further, the contract must be ironclad enforceable. History has shown that you can't trust Mayor Mike and Chancellor Klein so please don't expect them to live up to any agreement that lacks enforceability.


NYC Educator said...

I'm afraid I'm less optimistic than you are on that front. The only motivation the UFT has to negotiate anything worthwhile is Mulgrew's upcoming election. So on that front, we may have a little good luck.

On the other hand, I've spoken to people who were on the last committee, they were sworn to secrecy on whatever the heck was discussed there, but candidly do not feel their participation achieved much. And if you put a handful of progressive thinking teachers in a room full of Unity faithful, it's hard to imagine they will influence the UFT aristocracy one way or the other.

I've heard a lot of speculation that Ms. Weingarten bagged a deal long ago, and her groveling op-eds supporting mayoral control add credence to those rumors.

Anonymous said...

In the latest issue of The Chief, Joel Frank retracts and states that he believes that TDA money can be left in the fixed fund for ones entire lifetime.

SickandTired said...

If you think for one minute that the 300 (actually 350) has any impact on the contract, I've got a bridge to sell you. There is no incentive, Mulgrew's election notwithstanding, to get any of the givebacks back nor increase our place in the schools. The City is not even looking for more time realizing that this move would be counterproductive. The contract will, as Eterno said, be just an extension of our misery with 4 plus 4.

Chaz said...

Anon 11:01

You must have a special copy of the Chief. The latest copy does not even mention the pension agreement.

Anonymous said...

I am hearing that the UFT is set to make an endorsement for mayor. This is a surprise as most believe the UFT would not endorse a candidate which would in fact be an endorsement for Bloomberg. So, maybe they will align with DC 37 and endorse Thompson the likely democratic candidate. If so, then the negotiating committee should reconvene after the election.

Michael Fiorillo said...

Sorry folks, but we're all being played: there already is a contract.

Look at the timeline: Randi takes a dive on term limits; Randi takes a dive on mayoral control; Randi publicly grovels before the mayor over his management of the schools. Then, shortly before the contract is to be negotiated and before an election, she steps down and (supposedly) turns over the reins of the union to a comparative newcomer. This newcomer can then be the one who purports to bring home the (4% and 4%) pattern agreement to the membership, just in time for the union to either be neutral in the mayoral election, or issue a perfunctory endorsement of Thompson and then proceed to sit on its hands, and in time for his election campaign in the spring.

This upcoming contract will not be the atrocity we endured in 2005, owing to the immediate political needs of the mayor and Unity caucus, whose interests are remarkably congruent. In addition to the political interests of the parties being served, the union has clearly agreed to stand by and do nothing while the mayor and chancellor continue to fragment the system and turn more and more of it over to (publicly funded) private charter schools.

Meanwhile, the venture capital, private equity and hedge fund parasites, who are behind the curtain of the charter campaign, are "scaling up" certain chosen chains (KIPP, Green Dot, Uncommon Schools, etc.) to pick up the pieces.

As a former UFT Chapter Leader and current Delegate who wasted time and effort on the Union's Governance Committee (and others), only to see the leadership unilaterally sell out the membership and public education in general, I'd urge every member to refuse to participate in this cheap political theater, and instead do everything in their power to expose it.

proofoflife said...

I too think the new contract is a "done deal". I know of one teacher who was asked to participate and honestly she knows little about the UFT, union , or contract for that matter. This made me seriously question the committee. I also heard the first meeting was not productive and the members basically just listened to Mulgrew speak. Wonder if the only thing we gained back was the two days. Better than nothing, I guess.

ed notes online said...

I echo Michael's analysis. Chaz says "Time and again, while the UFT negotiated in good faith." I don't believe they ever negotiated in good faith but manipulated the neg committee that was packed with Unity - somone should demand they identify if they are in Unity and get perks from the union.

James being there will have no impact on the final result but they will put on a nice show of soliticating the views of the opposition so they don't get attacked.