Wednesday, October 01, 2014
The Legacy Of Givebacks By The Unity Caucus Under The Weingarten/Mulgrew Regime.
Since the beginning of the 21st century the working conditions and "due process rights" for the New York City classroom teacher has steadily worsened. We find ourselves with longer days, more paperwork, and a Teacher Evaluation System that makes for a more hostile classroom environment. Teacher autonomy in the classroom has been replaced by administrative micromanagement and Principals, fresh out of the "Leadership Academy", who with little actual classroom experience, rather dictate than collaborate with school staff. In this backdrop, our disconnected UFT leadership has been instrumental in the worsening environment for New York City teachers by agreeing to massive givebacks to the City for raises that barely kept up with inflation. What follows are the list of "givebacks" the UFT, led by the Unity caucus has agreed to since 2000.
In 2000, the newly appointed Randi Weingarten, with six months of actual teaching experience, worked a deal with the City to streamline the 3020-a process by agreeing to a rotating list of between 19 to 36 arbitrators to hear 3020-a cases. In doing so Ms. Weingarten sharply reduced teacher "due process rights". First, teachers were no longer allowed to refuse the selection of an arbitrator as the rest of the State can. Second, for incompetency cases, the three arbitrator panel was eliminated, leaving the teacher at the mercy to the decision of one arbitrator. Third, if a teacher retains a private lawyer,it could be a disadvantage since the arbitrator is used to working together as a team for a year or more with the NYSUT and DOE lawyers and replacing the NYSUT lawyer could subconsciously affect the arbitrator's decision negatively. Finally, this NYC 3020-a process limits the chances of the teacher to be found innocent since the arbitrator can only stay on the panel with the approval of both the DOE and UFT. Therefore, only 4% of the teachers are actually found innocent.. Usually, the arbitrator will give the DOE something to appease them for their time and expense in bring 3020-a charges. The result is the teacher almost always become an ATR.
Inexplicably, Randi Weingarten didn't oppose Mayoral Control nor did she oppose its renewal. The result was the "rubber stamp" PEP and 160 closing schools, despite community and political opposition.
The Infamous 2005 Contract:
The 2005 Contract that not only contained the major givebacks that we still suffer from presently but resulted in the ATR crisis and the "mutual consent" provision that allowed principals to hire who they pleased. Please read my "Here Comes The Clowns" series on what damage the 2005 contract has done to the teaching profession. Here, Here, Here, Here, and Here in this giveback laden contract.
The Fair Student Funding Fiasco:
This ill-conceived idea that dumped staff salaries on the schools rather than from DOE Central, back in 2007, encouraged principals to hire the "cheapest" and not the "best teachers" for their schools, combined with the mutual consent provision, this has made hiring veteran teachers almost an impossibility.
The 2007 Contract:
This contract saw the expansion of the "probable cause" section that included felony assaults. However, the most serious giveback was the establishment of the Peer Intervention Plus (PIP+) program that resulted in a finding of incompetency of over 90% of the teachers who took the program. The UFT leadership knew very well that since the vendors were being paid by the DOE, there was a real concern that these venders would not be objective. However, the leadership encouraged the Chapter Leaders to recommend the PIP+ program and many of these trusting teachers ended up terminated or forced to resign.
The TDA Reduction:
Randi's parting gift to the members was to allow the City to reduce their contribution to the TDA interest rate in exchange for the two days before Labor Day that she unwisely gave up in the infamous 2005 contract. She allowed the City to reduce their TDA interest rate contribution by 1.25%, from 8.25% to 7%. Depending how much one has in the fixed income part of the TDA, the interest rate deduction could result in UFT members losing tens of thousands of dollars by retirement.
The 2014 Contract:
The givebacks continue under the new contract as it makes ATRs second class citizens, subject to an expedited 3020-a hearing process, making some ATRs who won their termination hearings "untouchables" and royally screwing ex UFT members by not giving them their well deserved retroactive payments. I descussed this in the post called "winners and losers".
What do we get for all these "givebacks" that has made teaching in the classroom a more hostile and dangerous environment? Raises that barely equaled the inflation rate, meaning in 2000 dollars, our salary is essentially unchanged. Maybe the Unity caucus should rename themselves as the "Givebacks"!