Thursday, December 15, 2005

WHICH RANDI DO WE BELIEVE?

By James Eterno

The Fighter or the Appeaser

     Ever since the membership was convinced to accept a substandard contract that gives away many of our rights, the UFT leadership has been talking tough about the next round of bargaining coming ahead in 2007.  President Randi Weingarten has said that her goal is to possibly return the UFT to a “No Contract=No Work” policy.  That would mean the October 12, 2007 date when our current contract expires would be a real deadline.  There would be tremendous pressure on the city to negotiate a new contract with favorable terms for us because if the city would not settle the contract on time, we would be prepared to go out on strike.  (The Transport Workers Union Local 100 has a No Contract=No Work policy in dealing with NYC Transit.)  Randi is talking real militancy, right?  Well, maybe not.

     At the same time that she is telling us we have to be ready to have a credible strike threat and a meaningful deadline, Randi is urging us to send postcards to Governor George Pataki in which we urge the Governor to sign a Taylor Law reform bill passed by the State Legislature that would allow the city to delay for six months after the date that our contract expires.  Then, after the six months are over, the impasse procedure that leads to the same mediation and arbitration process that resulted in the horrific givebacks in the current contract (37.5 minute extended time small group instruction sessions, hall and cafeteria duty, longest school year in the region, loss of the right to grieve letters to our files) would automatically commence.  

In the last round of bargaining, ICE representatives spoke out strongly at the Executive Board against going to arbitration because we knew we would lose.  However, Randi ignored us back then and now she is asking us to lobby the governor for a bill that would get us to arbitration even sooner in the next round and lead to a further erosion of what remains of our rights.

     Which Randi do we believe?  Is it the tough talking Randi who wants a “No Contract=No Work” militant union?  Or is it the conciliatory Randi who wants us to push a bill that would allow the city to stall for six months after our contract expires and then sends us right back to mediation and arbitration where we will lose again?  Only in the bizarre world of the UFT could the leadership push militancy and conciliation at the same time.  Talk about a contradiction.  It leads me to believe that Norman Scott is right and the renewed militancy is a mere facade for the members and there is no true reform going on in the UFT.    

36 comments:

Anonymous said...

The Transit Union leadership is showing her up. Now she talks the talk...a little too late.

The transit workers are taking a stand. Do they want to strike? NO
Are they willing to strike? YES

Randi was running scared when she thought there was a possibility of a NO Vote. However, Unity represents the gutless wonders we call teachers. They whine and bitch, but are afraid to take action. Even my chapter leader will not grieve the excess amount of paper work we have to do.

Unity represents them and Randi knows she is safe for now.

P. O'd in Queens said...

I like how the transit workers union refuses to go to arbitration. Are you paying attention, Randi?

Anonymous said...

Under no circumstances should we agree to any future arbitration, it has resulted in a terrible baseline as the pattern bargaining superseeds the more valid comparison with the suburbs and that will not change.

First, vote Randi out and second start an intense public relations campaign that shows how terrible it is for teachers in New York City. Make the city look bad, give it a black eye for allowing teacher disrespect.

Anonymous said...

Was that Randi standing behind the president of the transit workers union on TV??????????????????

I think she was whispering in his ear to go to arbitration because she didn't want to look bad.

Then she has the nerve to write a letter to Klein asking for schools to be closed in case of a strike. What a great idea to use the strike as a reason to make up for the vacation time we already lost.

NYC Educator said...

Arbitration? So we can follow in the footsteps of the morons at DC37 who think 4% over 3 years is something worth jumping up ande down about?

Strike? To support a contract that I wouldn't remotedly consider voting for?

Randi must have a geranium in her cranium.

Anonymous said...

Yes, that was Randi standing behind the TWU president on TV; glowing and smiling because she is thrilled that someone else is fighting the real fight -- something she is incapable of doing.

I wish we could invite him to address our membership. The transit workers understand that they are working class and will not give back a lot to get so very little.

I hope they do strike if there is no other way of getting what they want. A strike would infuse a lot of energy into the entire labor movement; it would renew hope and it would help us believe that anything is possible.

Let a real union teach Randi and Company what an honor it is to represent labor and lead labor to a victory.

Nice teachers finish last --Lets kick ass. said...

Contract Briefing: Analysis of Recent NYC Labor Contracts

Nov. 29 - Over the last several months, several New York City municipal employee unions have negotiated new contracts. These contracts cover Corrections Officers, Firefighters, Teachers, Police, DC 37, and Sanitation Workers. These contracts include moderate wage increases paired with give-backs, ranging from fewer days off, to longer work days, to smaller work crews and lower pay for new hires.

Of these contracts, DC 37, which represents the largest number of city employees, won the smallest wage increase: five percent over 35 months. Firefighters and Sanitation Workers won the largest increase, 17.1 percent, over 50 months and 51 months, respectively.

The Police won a 10.25 percent wage increase over 24 months. The Correction Officers also won a 10.25 percent wage increase, but over 27 months.

These wage increases, which are compounded annually, breakdown as follows:

DC 37 members won a $1,000 lump sum payment the first year; a three percent increase in July, 2003; and a two percent increase on July, 2004.

Teachers got a two percent increase effective December, 2003; a 3.5 percent increase in December, 2004; a 5.5 percent increase in December, 2005; and a 3.25 percent increase in October, 2006.

The Firefighters negotiated a five percent increase in June, 2002; five percent in June, 2003; three percent in August, 2004; and 3.15 percent in August, 2005.

The Sanitation contract calls for a five percent increase in November, 2002; five percent in November, 2003; three percent in March, 2005; and 3.15 percent in March, 2006.

EXTRAS

The Firefighters also won an extra $100 annually for uniform cleaning, while the Sanitation Workers got an increased uniform allowance.

Firefighters, Teachers, and Sanitation Workers won improved annuity payments. Firefighters negotiated increased contributions to union welfare programs. And Teachers got a new position with higher pay: Master Teacher, which comes with an extra $10,000, which will count towards their pension.

GIVE-BACKS: DAYS OFF

The new Teachers’ contract calls for three extra work days, including the elimination of Brooklyn Queens Day as a holiday. The Police have one less personal day a year. Corrections Officers also have one personal day less a year, and new hire hires have less days off during their first five years.

GIVE-BACKS: NEW HIRES

New hires in Corrections, Firefighters, Teachers, Police, DC 37, and Sanitation will all start at a lower wage.

GIVE-BACKS: MISCELLANEOUS

The new Teachers contract includes longer days: 50 minutes a week; elimination of seniority rights for school assignments; mandatory dismissal for sexual misconduct; and teachers will no longer be able to file a grievance over a disciplinary letter in their files.

Police officers’ schedules can be changed 15 overtimes over the year without overtime – up from ten.

Sanitation workers are getting longer routes and truck crews were cut down to one-man, which will cut the workforce by 200 employees


TWU Local 100 - 80 West End Avenue - New York NY 10023 - 212-873-6000

Anonymous said...

"... truck crews were cut down to one-man,..." but they will receive an extra 80 bucks for that change.

Talk to any SAnit guy and they'll tell you they like their new contract.

Anonymous said...

An intense public relations campaign that shows how terrible it is for teachers in New York City is going to be met with anger and derision. It's hard to make a Poor Little Buttercup case for workers who make $93,000 a year and have 12 weeks vacation.

An Educational Voyage said...

This unconscionable pattern of belittling union workers is, in my often stated opinion, a broad spectrum strategy to get rid of all unions. We all know that the public is not better off with underpaid, unappreciated, demoralized city workers!

The teachers I know work late into the night, preparing lessons, marking papers, writing letters and calling parents. They work through their lunch hour because they have no time during the day, even with preps, to get all the useless busy-work paper chase nonsense done. Now, my school's teachers were told to bring in a "formal fully prepared lesson plan" (complete with a tome of includes) in for the Monday afternoon staff development. Are they actually expected to spend even more of their home time making up dummy lesson plans? The garbage just never stops. Will the union speak up? Not yet? There is no reason or common sense left.

"WHICH RANDI DO WE BELIEVE?"
I believe the original Randi. People show their true self when under pressure. She showed hers as tentative, timid, and too insecure to listen to opposing views. Great leaders must have the ability to listen, learn, plan, and adapt to changing parameters. It's hard to think that she did what she did because she wasn't smart enough to know what her membership wanted and needed. She demonstrated a complete lack of forward thinking. If I was a soldier, I would really fear following her into battle. Our new contract did not feel like a sucker punch. It felt more like an intentional dive, almost an unconditional surrender. I have great respect for the transit workers for taking a stand for their rights! This contract was indeed her Little Big Horn. This is a sad legacy to be known for.

Pushing this letter writing lobby project is just more evidence of ineffective leadership. The contradictory message of that letter to Pataki is mind boggling. Perhaps her reading comprehension needs some remediation. If she didn't always send conflicting messages, she may have been taken more seriously by Bloomberg & Klein & Co.!

In my fantasyland, I wonder how contract negotiations would go for each union, if every union walked out in sympathy with each other union, keeping a skeleton crew on shifts for emergencies in the health care and security arenas. Now that would show "Unity," and management would have a serious urgent stake in fair negotiation. But, most likely, the teachers would be afraid of getting yelled at (even more than financial sanctions.) I think the transit workers' current tactic of staggered strike areas is excellent. It is amazing how smart some leadership is. Too bad we don't have any smart leadership on our side.

Prior to this contract things were rough, but this new contract makes it look like a cake walk. If teachers do not stand up for themselves, you can't expect anyone to have respect for them- a hard lesson to be learned from the transit workers!

I agree that a real hard public relations effort must be made. We have very little respect now and leadership must fix the terrible, false image it has perpetuated.

Good luck to the Transit Workers Union. May they get a fair, decent contract!

woodlass said...

Anon. on Dec. 15th: It was shocking to me also to hear our leader's name all over the media reports of the the transit negotiations on the eve of the strike. "Strike" and "Randi Weingarten" in the same sentence?

But, obviously she would have to have been involved, holding the position she does with the municipal labor unions. Still, it was chilling to hear her name in news broadcasts reporting about a union threatening to bring the city to its knees in such a short time after leading us through a terrible, sacrificial defeat.

I am still way too naive in the arena of union politics for my own good, but as I see it, RW was dealing with both of these battles over a long period of time. Is it possible that knowing how militant the TWs are and would continue to be, she could not put herself in the position of heading TWO unions towards a strike at the same time?

In other words, did RW -- wearing two hats -- knowingly sell us out?

Remembering A Strong Union said...

Educational Voyage brings us the best point ever...the teachers themselves.

Gone are the days of the well-read, well-informed teachers. These are the teachers that need a scripted lesson and have no idea how to bring higher-order thinking skills into a lesson, let alone debate.

The teachers in my school are still using the same bulletin board format that we have had to suffer through the last 5 years. I am waiting for my LIF because I started following by own bulletin board format. Teachers are still called to meetings during lunch--and they go!!! The CL in my school has never grieved on our behalf, but has spent days and weeks making sure her own personal issues are. Even the "baby boomers" are afraid to take a stand.

These teachers are the majority, and will be responsible for the erosion of the UFT if or until we are better represented both by our chapter chair and union leadership.

On another matter, Randi can chant her efforts towards the next contract, but if she still accepts nebulous wording and tries to sell it as a victory, then you can kiss the contract goodbye.

Principals are already retooling the extra time that is supposedly against the contract. My principal said that the CSA contract doesn't recognize many of our gains. Even the bulletin board issue is still not clear because the contract did not specify the parameters. You would think someone with a law degree would know how to word a contract to make it air tight.

Richard Skibins said...

We must overcome a quarter century of union-bashing and the demonization of unions, which began during the Reagan years. Republicans have done such a great job of brainwashing that many of the younger teachers, who were born during the dark days of Reagan, do not get involved in union activities, and would rather stab their colleagues in the back than to support the greater good.

Anonymous said...

Edwize has just posted a rally on Monday for the TWU and hopes UFT members will attend the rally.

Please bring signs that say: Trouissant for UFT President

jameseterno said...

To Everyone-

We proposed to Randi back in September at the UFT Executive Board that we try to form an alliance with the Transit Workers. We wanted to threaten joint actions; to have a sort of mini general strike in December. All Randi said was that she had talked to Roger Toussaint.

By the next meeting, we were accepting the fact finding report and conceding defeat in our contract.

woodlass said...

Anon. Dec. 18th, on your signs idea: RIGHT ON!

And James, thanks for that tidbit about approaching RW way back in Sept. about a possible joint action.

As we all know, this president has not called for one single incremental action to show we mean business. Partial strike, slow-downs, work-to-rule, nothing.

And while I'm at it, I'm going to throw in here that she's even wanted to participate in some major crusades against public education (e.g., what do you think a charter school is, fundamentally??). She actually tolerates -- and even in some cases ascribes to -- teacher-diminishing administrative directives: enforced methodologies and micro-management are soooo out of control, she can't even at this point get the classroom back to the teacher running it. And what's this across-the-board staff development she's tolerated and allowed into the contract, as if professionals with MAs can't make their own decisions on what they need to bone up on.

The difference between a "real" union and this diddly-squat organization we've begun to tolerate is getting real obvious.

NYC Educator said...

It'll become painfully more obvious in February, when the odious new contract takes effect.

jameseterno said...

In all fairness, I support the UFT's solidarity efforts with the Transport Workers Union. The UFT knows what's at stake here if TWU loses and how we can start to turn things around for labor if TWU does well.

I only wish the UFT would have listened to us and not settled on our giveback laden contract. We should be out there fighting side by side with the TWU right now. It could have been a truly historic moment for the labor movement.

Schoolgal said...

On the Sunday news talk shows, it was stated that the rank and file of the TWU were upset that the strike was called off. However it showed that the TWU's president was acting in good faith.

Tuesday will be another story since this union is willing to strike for a cause.

Randi stated that her members did not want to strike, but there are no "real" numbers to back that.

I cannot agree with James mainly because the majority of teachers today are not union, they just pay the dues and put in their drug and dental forms. If Randi felt strongly about this, there would have been more than just a blurb on Edwize which by the way is NOT allowing comments. Wal-Mart got more coverage than the TWU.
Go figure!

For many schools, tomorrow is the extended (dreaded) Monday so it will be difficult for those who support the TWU to go.

Anonymous said...

This is the leadership that said, ten years ago, that relief from professional/administrative duties was better than cash; now, they say cash is better. They hammer the rank and file with more time, days, and duties (6R), and then try to complain that an attendance third period that is five minutes longer than others is a professional assignment (25 minutes a week vs. 225 minutes a week in duties).
What we get is Unity leadership screwing us, then turning around and grandstanding as if they are defending us.
What we need is someone to defend us against THEM.

nice teachers finish last --Lets kick ass. said...

Anonymous,

We have 9 weeks summer vacation, not 12, and we work for every drop of it -- evenings, weekends, prep periods -- every day, all day. The majority of us do not make anywhere close to $93,000.

This evening, Monday, Randi was carrying on at the Transit Union rally as the embodiment of labor and militancy. There is only one Randi -- a totally and complete phony; a sell-out; a Bloomberg lackey. Lets
retire her and elect a real leader!

NYC Educator said...

Let's bring all the opposition slates together on this leader.

That's the only way it's gonna happen.

John Doe said...

Randi having the nerve to stand close to Touusant on TV shows her for what she really is - a hypocritical , manipulative, double agent who preens for the camera while she waits for her political payoff from Bloomberg.

She completely capitulated in our contract. If I were the leader of the TWU I'd watch my back when she is near...she's a spy...

woodlass said...

I heard on NPR this morning something I did not know, and maybe some of you don't either, so I'll pass it on:

Toussaint was a cleaner, then moved up in the transit system and either formed or was part of a group within the union called, I believe, New Directions. It was more militant than the ruling caucus, and eventually overturned them.

Perhaps we should ask him to give us a few hints . . .

[ [ [ Caveat: I'm not sure I agree with Toussaint taking the workers out on strike at this time of year and killing off the best weeks int he year for NYC's shopkeepers. You gotta be very self-absorbed to do that. But he certainly has the ability to come from nowhere and grow into an awesome force to be reckoned with. ] ] ]

Norm said...

Woodlass:
"I'm not sure I agree with Toussaint taking the workers out on strike at this time of year and killing off the best weeks int he year for NYC's shopkeepers. You gotta be very self-absorbed to do that."

That is the whole point of having the contract expire at the most vulnerable part of the year to make a strike most effective. Imagine if we had not signed a contract and would be in a position to join the TWU in a strike as James suggests?
If ever there was a time we could have gone on strike it would have been now.

What do union leaders like Randi Weingarten have to lose if the TWU wins a big victory?

Remember the threats during our contract negotiations? "What do you want to do, strike?" What would they say next time if the TWU wins?

In fact no matter what words come out of the mouths of our union leaders, a union that has historically allowed its members to work under a 4-Tier pension system cannot be happy about a union that refuses to capitulate on this point.

I heard tonight that the UFT leadership is telling its people who go on TWU picket lines not to carry UFT banners because the UFT might somehow be charged with Taylor Law violations. There's strong support for you. Next, they'll tell us to wear bags over our heads.

Norm said...

Woodlass:
"I'm not sure I agree with Toussaint taking the workers out on strike at this time of year and killing off the best weeks int he year for NYC's shopkeepers. You gotta be very self-absorbed to do that."

That is the whole point of having the contract expire at the most vulnerable part of the year to make a strike most effective. Imagine if we had not signed a contract and would be in a position to join the TWU in a strike as James suggests?
If ever there was a time we could have gone on strike it would have been now.

What do union leaders like Randi Weingarten have to lose if the TWU wins a big victory?

Remember the threats during our contract negotiations? "What do you want to do, strike?" What would they say next time if the TWU wins?

In fact no matter what words come out of the mouths of our union leaders, a union that has historically allowed its members to work under a 4-Tier pension system cannot be happy about a union that refuses to capitulate on this point.

I heard tonight that the UFT leadership is telling its people who go on TWU picket lines not to carry UFT banners because the UFT might somehow be charged with Taylor Law violations. There's strong support for you. Next, they'll tell us to wear bags over our heads.

woodlass said...

Norm, you say: "That is the whole point of having the contract expire at the most vulnerable part of the year to make a strike most effective."

I don't agree with you . . . yet. You'd have to say a lot more to convince me that it was really necessary to stall the city so much THIS week, when everyone is so dependent on moving around, businesses so dependent on holiday sales. Maybe because I'm thinking as a liberal (make sure everyone's needs are met), rather than as a radical. New Yorkers seem to have stayed cool and respected the needs of the TWs without much fuss. But going out on January 2nd might have been just as good.

What you sent around in ICE-mail today -- Toussaint's statement -- is very impressive. He was on Air America this morning and certainly convinced me that he's holding the line in some ways for ALL labor in America, those in unions and even those not yet organized, standing up to management against the erosion of pensions and healthcare. I only have reservations about the timing of this strike. I admire his guts down to his little toes.

northbrooklyn said...

remember-the decision of the date for a contract to expire is made by both parties...the mta [management] agreed to the last contract including the date it expired. The TWU used that to their advantage and that's called politics.

2007TeachersStrike said...

Woodlass:

The issue with teachers is that they are always thinking of others and ignoring their own needs. The TWU has a policy of 'no contract, no work'. As Touissaint said, 'the contract has to be adressed in a timely matter so that any raise can keep up with inflation' Thats it. The contract was up. He was not worrying about NYC businesses -- has business worried about his membership? He did what was right for his membership. It happened to fall before Christmas. Thats it. The contract was up.

This is how teachers have to think. A strike or job action is not convenient for everyone -- parents may have to lose pay to stay home and take care of their children because the teachers are out taking care of themselves.

It is not about the students or the parents; it is about us. No one will take care of us except ourselves. Students do not come first. Teachers come first. When we feel respected and satisfied, we will find the energy and altrusim to take care of students.

Right now, we come first. Nothing is more important than to regain a decent contract and our respect and dignity.

When a paper like the NY Post denigrades teachers, teachers should not only boycott the paper but refuse to shop in any store that advertises in the paper.

When the union leadership upsets teachers, we should be marching in front of the UFT headquarters every week, if necessary.

When Bloomberg/Klein insults teachers with either micromanagement or a ridiculous Leadership Academy, we should be following him around, protesting and making a nuisance of ourselves.

We are too passive and too polite. We are being laughed at because we have no cohones (balls).

Lets make a New Years Resolution to toughen up and take some action and not be sissies.

Nice teachers finish last --Lets kick ass. said...

Woodlass:

The issue with teachers is that they are always thinking of others and ignoring their own needs. The TWU has a policy of 'no contract, no work'. As Touissaint said, 'the contract has to be adressed in a timely matter so that any raise can keep up with inflation' Thats it. The contract was up. He was not worrying about NYC businesses -- has business worried about his membership? He did what was right for his membership. It happened to fall before Christmas. Thats it. The contract was up.

This is how teachers have to think. A strike or job action is not convenient for everyone -- parents may have to lose pay to stay home and take care of their children because the teachers are out taking care of themselves.

It is not about the students or the parents; it is about us. No one will take care of us except ourselves. Students do not come first. Teachers come first. When we feel respected and satisfied, we will find the energy and altrusim to take care of students.

Right now, we come first. Nothing is more important than to regain a decent contract and our respect and dignity.

When a paper like the NY Post denigrades teachers, teachers should not only boycott the paper but refuse to shop in any store that advertises in the paper.

When the union leadership upsets teachers, we should be marching in front of the UFT headquarters every week, if necessary.

When Bloomberg/Klein insults teachers with either micromanagement or a ridiculous Leadership Academy, we should be following him around, protesting and making a nuisance of ourselves.

We are too passive and too polite. We are being laughed at because we have no cohones (balls).

Lets make a New Years Resolution to toughen up and take some action and not be sissies.

woodlass said...

Nice Teachers Finish Last:

I agree with a lot of what you say, of course, and have put myself on the line on numerous occasions -- some of which has led me to be placed in 4 schools in 3 years!

First: I only questioned the TW's going out on strike this past week instead of Jan. 2. I am strongly for toughening up our UFT act, in many, many ways, and have said so in my earlier emails and in other blogs.

But you've touched on something else. The work of UFT members and other types of "whole body" professionals (like nurses) always involves looking at the big picture. There is no nurse who will stick to just bandaging the arm of an injured patient while he sees the guy is also suffering from acute stomach pains. Teachers are the same. None of us would force a lesson upon a child when we notice an unexplained bruise above the kid's left eye, or that he's breaking out in sweat, or turning pale green. Teachers do not live in a black-and-white environment. We are good only when we are sensitive to all incoming data.

Thus, It's hard for me -- still -- to take an all-or-nothing stance in anything when I am weighing the harm to others, in this case, other workers trying to make a buck and shopkeepers trying to stay in the black.

Nice teachers finish last --Lets kick ass. said...

Hi Woodlass,

You really sound like a sensitive, caring teacher and actually, I agree with you. The same point could have been made on January 2nd.

But, I wonder, would the rush to end the stike have been so urgent? Has the TWU now made the point, "Don't mess with us?". Has all this caring, sensitivity and understanding put teachers behind the 8 ball?

Why are we now further behind than we were decades ago? We lost our right to grieve, we are back on hall patrol, we are the scapegoats for the entire system. No one respects us or worries about us -- we all earn "$93,000 per year, with 12 weeks of vacation and sit around all day and do nothing".

No one respects the TWU either -- except the TWU. Mr. Touissaint respects the workers so much that in the scheme of things, in the broader picture, he decided his membership's needs were more important than Christmas shopping.

If we keep thinking, 'the kids are more important or the parents or the public', we will never be able to rise to the occasion, we will never be able to meet the challenge, we will never do any job action that may offend others.

Our sensitivity and our altruism has gotten us nowhere. I have a lifetime of achievement in helping others -- in social work, public health, teaching. That and $2 will get me on the subway -- and only now because the subways are running.

I have a little regret for all the years I spent being 'passive', 'grateful', so 'appreciative' for the few crumbs thrown my way. This approach no longer works. Nobody cares. The city has become a selfish place. We have to change our ways so at least we can feel satisfied while we care about others.

Teachers first!

jbrace said...

In the light of recent events, Mr. Eterno's article becomes even more profound.
Collusion=secret cooperation between people in order to do something illegal or underhanded.

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