Tuesday, December 13, 2016
Is The Union Negotiating Away Our CAR Days?
There appears to be a Facebook rumor that our union leadership is in "secret negotiations" with the Bill de Blasio administration on obtaining paid FLMA for members on maternity leave and possibly family related issues. While these rumors are probably true, I can't believe our union would hold our Cumulative Absence Reserve (CAR) hostage and use it as a negotiating tool for a paid FMLA? The CAR rules for UFT members is a hard-won perk that affects all teachers, guidance counselors, social workers, and paraprofessionals. Any diminishing of the CAR benefit would probably result in the union leadership being voted out of office and they know it.
According to the Facebook rumor, the City's opening proposal was ridiculous. The City wants to reduce the annual CAR from 10 to 5 days. Moreover, all previously accumulated CAR days would be eliminated with the only minor improvement has the City offering the UFT member payment for any of the 5 CAR days remaining at the end of the school year. Obviously, this is the opening gambit by the City and reminds me of Chancellor Joel Klein's ludicrous 8 page contract that stalemated negotiations and only after it was finally removed as a negotiating item did contract negotiations proceed.
It appears the City has targeted the UFT first for the paid FMLA incentive since its the largest union in the City, has shown a willingness to negotiate a deal, and because it's one of the only unions that can accumulate sick leave and convert it to money or extra time, a potential cost savings for the City. However, the City is not in a position of strength to dictate terms since there are forces mitigating against them and our union leadership should know that.
First, New York State just approved a paid FMLA program this year and there is little reason for the union to negotiate any "givebacks" to the City. While the State's paid FMLA will take years to be fully implemented then why just wait the City out rather than allow for unpopular and unnecessary "givebacks"?
Second, Our contract is not over until June of 2019, by then the City will be forced to negotiate with most of the other municipal unions for a comprehensive paid FLMA program. Therefore, there is no reason to be anxious to be number one in line and be required to provide "givebacks".
Third, Mayor de Blasio is up for reelection in 2017 and needs the union's support. Why would our union leadership be willing to give up member perks? Shouldn't it be the other way around? Like eliminating school based fair student funding, eliminating the ATR pool by requiring schools to fill their vacancies with existing members, and bring back seniority transfer and bumping rights?
Finally, Why aren't we flexing our collective muscles by demanding lower class sizes, more school resources, being treated with respect, and eliminate all Bloomberg policy programs that hurt the students and the schools?
The bottom line is our union should be negotiating from a position of strength, instead of the City asking for "givebacks" from our CAR. Therefore, we should be requiring from the City better working conditions and a peaceful classroom in exchange for the paid FMLA program that we will get anyway.