PROFESSIONAL RIGHTS AT WORK OBLITERATED
MASSIVE MEMBER TURNOUT NEEDED AT
OCTOBER 11 SHOWDOWN DELEGATE ASSEMBLY
by James Eterno, Chapter Leader, Jamaica H.S., UFT Executive Board Member
This is it folks! We are about to be eaten up alive by our union and the Mayor. On Tuesday, October 11 the UFT Delegate Assembly will vote on whether or not to send to the membership for ratification a Contract Agreement that calls for massive givebacks in order to pay for a 3.4% annual raise over close to a four and half year period. If this Contract is ratified, it will radically alter the relationship between the UFT and administration in schools in favor of management. I’m afraid we will be sitting ducks with very little recourse left to defend ourselves.
The UFT actually has the gall to ask us to accept a Contract that closely resembles the Fact Finding report that was recently approved at the DA as a vehicle to get an agreement. The vehicle has led us down the road to our demise. The new Agreement includes appalling givebacks that include: a longer day that contains a small group extra teaching class for teachers in most schools, a longer year, a return to building assignments such as cafeteria duty, hall patrol or yard duty at the discretion of the principal, loss of seniority transfers, merit pay in the form of chancellor selected lead teachers who could be sent anywhere, loss of the right to grieve disciplinary letters to our files, and elimination of Step II grievances. There’s more bad news as grievances on professional assignments won’t go to a neutral arbitrator but instead they will go to a city employee, and there will be weaker due process rights that will result in administration being able to suspend us without pay based on certain allegations.
The extra teaching and administrative time will result in the principal controlling two more periods of our time each day in most secondary schools in exchange for a piddling increase of a little over 3% a year. We will actually get a real wage cut. A closer look will also reveal that the wages for per session and coverages only go up around 7% and new teachers will only receive a 9% increase.
Could anyone in their right mind accept this document over our current contract? I know the money will look enticing but the school system we will work in if this Contract is approved will be a top-down-factory style model. Chapter leaders will be able to do very little to help members.
The final say is up to the membership. I believe we must send the Mayor, the Chancellor and the UFT President a strong message by first showing up at a demonstration by opponents of the contract at the Delegate Assembly in Brooklyn on Tuesday at 4:00 p.m. and then if the Agreement passes there, we will need to use every ounce of energy we have to defeat it in a referendum.
ON OCTOBER 11 YOU CAN TELL THE UFT LEADERSHIP HOW YOU FEEL
We need every available UFT member to attend the October 11 DA to show the UFT and the press that we are not going to accept a sell out contract that basically strips us of our professionalism. At the last Delegate Assembly on September 20, there was a substantial rank and file (non delegate) presence. On October 11, we must build on this. The meeting will begin at 4:00 p.m. at the Brooklyn Marriot at 333 Adams Street. (Take the F Train to Jay Street. The Marriot is about a block away from 65 Court Street.) Don’t sit idly by as your rights are given away. It will be too late to complain next term when on a typical day you could be assigned to teach five classes, patrol the cafeteria, and teach a small group sixth class. Now is the time to take action to prevent this.
Some would say we should sit back and just vote no when the Agreement is sent to us in the schools. I’m afraid that at that point it might be too late as the Union’s spin machine is already out emphasizing the salary increases and not the two additional periods each day where most teachers will be under the control of the Principal, the longer year and the weakened due process rights. We need to take the initiative to stop the givebacks before it’s too late. Let your voice be heard; come to the DA and oppose the new Contract. No raise is better than modern day serfdom.
Finally, the Union has its spin at UFT.org so you can see it for yourself. I’m sure they will send out wonderful recommendations in favor of the contract. I make no pretense to neutrality on this issue. It is ironic that the UFT calls itself a union of professionals. However, if we accept this contract, we will have our professionalism stripped away from us.
WHAT DOES A NO VOTE MEAN?
If the Contract does not win approval from the members, both sides go back to the negotiating table. It does not mean a strike. In 1995, we turned down a Contract and a few months later there was a better deal that didn’t have a 25 year longevity (it was reduced to 22) or a 5% withholding of new teacher pay until they worked four years. In addition, the second agreement had a retirement incentive. Think of waiting as forced savings, albeit without interest.