For the third successive year UFT members return to work without a labor Agreement. While the UFT did not even mention the lack of a Contract in its latest email newsletter to chapter leaders, there was news in the Queens Chronicle where UFT President Randi Weingarten said, “If there’s not a contract, I think things will get very bad in the school system as the year progresses.”
As most of you probably received a letter from the President outlining our plight, I will summarize the situation briefly: there is a fact finding panel that is weighing the demands of the UFT and the City/Department of Education and they will release non binding recommendations soon that could serve as the basis for a final settlement. In 2002 and 1993 fact finder’s reports were accepted by both sides and ended up being used as the foundations for new Contracts.
The City is offering us the same 4% total spread out over three years that DC 37 received in the latest round of contract settlements that the city says presents a pattern that other municipal unions must accept. The UFT is asking for 19% over three years so we can start to catch up with what suburban teachers earn. For those of us who are hoping that the police union’s arbitration settlement could help us as incumbent officers received two raises of 5% per year, it must be pointed out that the police were only able to significantly beat the DC 37 pattern by slashing pay for new officers, thus saving the city almost $50,000 per new hire. Due to a possible teaching shortage, I very much doubt the UFT and city will come up with a similar arrangement for us.
I read the Union’s arguments closely in June and the UFT readily accepts the reality of the DC 37 pattern being very important in determining our settlement. The UFT argued in fact finding, “Perhaps the 'pattern' provides a starting pointing for negotiations or creates a framework for negotiations to take place, and such would not be inappropriate." (Page 15S of the supplement to the NY Teacher; June 9, 2005)
If we argued in June that the DC 37 pattern can be used as a framework for the UFT, then can we logically expect arbitrators to recommend a raise for us that would be more than four times greater than DC 37’s basic increase? The 19% we are asking for does not fit into any basic framework that the DC 37 pattern set so I really doubt we can come anywhere near 19% without major givebacks such as a longer year and a longer day. The only way to significantly beat the meager DC 37 pattern without givebacks is to really fight.
Written by James Eterno