Saturday, September 11, 2010
Why Bloomberg Will Eventually Give The Teachers The "City Pattern".
As many of you know the City has imposed a pay freeze on teachers and Bloomberg has insisted that the pay freeze was necessary so as to not to lay off the untenured, "newbie teachers". The pride and joy of Chancellor Joel Klein and his non-educators. However, the problem Bloomberg will have in keeping the pay freeze in place is that the City will find itself in a weak position when it goes to the PERB arbitrators sometime before the end of the year. Let's look why the City is going to have a tough time convincing PERB that the teachers should not get two 4% raises for this year and next.
The "City Pattern"
Since the 1970's both sides had to follow the "City Pattern" and any variation of it must be agreed to by both sides. Time and again the unions tried to break the "City Pattern" only to be told by the City that the "City Pattern" is the basis for all contracts and this has been upheld time and again by PERB. Now the Bloomberg Administration wants to break the "City Pattern" by claiming it has a budget crises. This will hold little water with the majority of the three person PERB arbitrators who will question the City on why as the recession deepened they gave Local 237 a contract based upon the "City Pattern" in August of 2009 and many more unions followed. It is safe to say the City's reasons for not giving the teachers the "City Pattern" is suspect and at best very weak.
The police have time and again tried to get PERB to break the "City Pattern" only to be told by PERB that they must abide by the "City Pattern" as long as the City uses it as the basis for all negotiated contracts. Just think if Bloomberg rejects the PERB arbitrators decision to follow the "City Pattern" what the police will do on their next contract? They can show PERB that the City rejected the "City Pattern" and can demand that the City lost their right to hide behind the "City Pattern" in the contract demands. If PERB agrees, the police can expect a significant pay raise since they are extremely underpaid con pared to the Metropolitan Area. Therefore, it would be very dangerous and foolhardy for Bloomberg to reject the PERB recommendation.
Additional Education Funds:
The City is expecting a windfall of 446 million dollars from the federal government that was not accounted for in the budget. Certainly the 206 million dollars from the edujobs bill can be used to hire teachers and pay teacher salaries. While the 226 million dollars from the RTTT can be used for classroom resources, teacher training, and additional programs for the schools. I guarantee you that PERB will take this into account in their decision making process.
The worst of the recession ended in March of 2009 and the economic fallout ended in April of 2010. While the economic recovery has been somewhat anemic, it is still improving and Wall Street has resumed hiring. Therefore, the City can expect an improvement in the tax base and increased funding for the next budget. However, if you listen to Bloomberg, more budget cuts and layoffs may be necessary. Bloomberg always low balls the budget and this is not surprising and the union will let PERB know that.
Conclusion: Look for PERB to recommend the "City Pattern" with adjustments. While the PERB recommendation is non-binding, it provides political cover for both sides and is the basis for a final contract. Look for the teachers to get a contract by the end of the school year