Monday, February 20, 2006

Randi Says We've Caught up to the Suburbs.

Is She Correct?

We Don't Think So!

By James Eterno, Chapter Leader, Jamaica H.S.; H.S. Rep, U.F.T. Exec. Board

In her "city schools" column in the February 16, 2006 NY Teacher, UFT President Randi Weingarten stated, "At this point - after decades of trailing behind - we are roughly comparable to the suburbs in both time and salaries." Randi says we've caught up to the suburbs thanks to the last two contracts she negotiated where we traded working extra time for money. Is Randi accurate in saying, "So we have caught up in salaries"? We don't believe she is but we could use your help to confirm.

New York City teachers will have a starting salary as of October of 2006 that will be $42,512 and the top salary after 22 years of teaching will be $93,416. Is that comparable to the suburbs? A quick look at the Contract from Copiague on Long Island shows that for the 2006-07 school year the starting salary will be $46,206 and maximum after fifteen years will be $100,598, $103,848 after 22 years and $109,848 after 26 years.

How many days does a teacher in Copiague have to work in a school year?


With the longer year in our new contract, NYC teachers will more than likely work over 190 days in 2006-07 when the calendar is finalized.

More than 190!!

In Copiague's neighbor Farmingdale where they are working under an expired contract, top salary last year was $104,148 and they also work 183 days. When they obtain a new contract, I'm confident that their salaries will go up and by next year Farmingdale should again be miles ahead of us. Granted, teachers in many surrounding districts need to obtain more credits to get to maximum than we do but they still make more than we do at virtually every level, particularly in the middle years (Copiague-MA+30, 15 years experience salary for 2006-07: $93,101; NYC-MA+30, 15 years experience salary for 2006-07: $79,763)

While we're comparing, Farmingdale teachers are entitled to 14 sick /personal business days per year and in Copiague they get 12.

Thanks to our Unity/UFT leadership's negotiating "skills", we still have a grand total 10 sick/personal days each year and we will almost certainly be working over 190 days next year compared to 183 in many suburbs. So we will be working almost two weeks longer for less money and fewer sick days but we have caught up to the suburbs. Only in Randi's world.

We compared ourselves with Copiague and Farmingdale because these are not wealthy areas. Copiague in particular is a town on Long Island that does not have a huge tax base.

What about other surrounding school districts? If anyone wants to show us the salaries, days of work and sick time for other suburban districts to show that Randi is right or wrong in claiming that we have caught up to the suburbs, please post the information in the comment section or email us at ICE.

Finally, we toil under the most abominable teaching and learning conditions in New York City (highest class sizes, most overcrowded schools, most unsafe and in many cases dilapidated buildings with the worst access to books and other materials) when placed side by side with the suburbs. Randi has done nothing to improve these conditions in the last two contracts. In what surrounding district do they have 34 students in a class like we do in NYC high schools?

None that we know.


Anonymous said...

Bellmore Merrick teachers work 185 days according to the school calendar. That's a week less than 190 that city teachers will be required to do next year.

Anonymous said...

Freeport: 183 school days this year for teachers. Not bad.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for information. Do the lemon laws apply to union presidents? I'd love to trade ours in for one that works.

Chaz said...

Don't forget that most school districts have 3 snow days and if there not used, the days are given as an extended memorial day weekend (Friday & Tuesday)

Anonymous said...

We narrowed the gap but are still behind. It will take a few more years of tax revolts in LI and Westchester before we catch up. Yonkers is out 3 years.
Basically, our last deal was similar to what the suburbs are receiving, except for the 5.5%, so we narrowed because of that.
Also, Farmingdale has 7 hour day, minimal payment for accrued sick leave, premium and much stricter rules for retiree health coverage,, 16 PD hours at no pay, and six times a month a principal can assign specific duties to preps, including tutoring.
Copaigue has a 7hr 10 minute day for grade 6-12. Six teaching periods can be assigned "in case of unusual scheduling problems"

jameseterno said...

The teachers in Farmingdale didn't react too positively to professionl development that was top down a few years ago and so the district and union made the professional development self directed (sort of like the old C6R we just gave up in our contract).

The Farmingdale staff development plan for 2003-2004 states, "This year's program is structured so that each of you will be able to contruct your own contractually mandated 12-hour staff development program..." Activities such as Independent Professional Reading count as do Book Talks on Relevant Literature. Sounds very professional to me; nothing like what many of us are are forced to endure in the city during "professional development".

On the lesser payment for unused sick days for city teachers, ask yourself the following: Would you rather have 14 sick days a year as they do in Farmingdale or the 10 sick days a year we have in the city but we get paid more for unused sick time when we retire? I'll take the 14 and less pay for unused sick time because I would get a much higher retirement allowance for life based on pension payments being figured out from a significantly higher final average salary.

Now,let's compare class sizes. Farmingdale's maximum is 30 for most classes and 40 for physical education. Our maximum in the city is 34 for high school classes and 50 for physical education and music. Their contract also states, "No teacher of English shall have a pupil load exceeding 120 students." City English teachers can go as high as 170.

Also in the Farmingdale Contract: "Teacher aides shall replace teachers in lunch-period supervision in all buildings." Didn't we just give away a similar clause to get our sub-standard contract?

How about this little gem in the Farmingdale contract: "No teacher shall be reprimanded without just cause." I believe this means they can grieve any reprimand. We gave that up too.

I don't know of anyone teaching in Farmingdale who is begging to come back to the city to teach here.

If someone wants to do a line by line comparison of other contracts from some of the districts that are wealthier than Farmingdale in the suburbs and compare each contract to the city contract, I'm willing. Send any documents to ICE so we all have the same data to review.

Anonymous said...


Very interesting. How do we get copies of these contracts? Are they online? Can we also compare to New Jersey?

jameseterno said...

I know people in a few Long Island districts who used to work at Jamaica HS and other city schools. I don't know if contracts are on-line but we can check. That is why I put out the call for information. I would gladly compare but we need the data. Can anyone help?

Anonymous said...

Randi lies!

Richard Skibins said...

Some districts, like Port Washington, have 20 sick days. East Meadow teachers work from 8:30 until 3:15, a 2hr 45 min day, but the students don't arrive until 9:15. They have the first 45 minutes to set up for the day's lessons, grade papers, etc., what we would consider to be an extra prep. Also, with about 20 kids per class, it is easier to plan and teach. Their teachers are without a contract, and the superintendent wants them to do small-group tutoring during that 45 minute period. Their union has not sold out, like ours did.

Anonymous said...

Do you have any idea of the salaries in Pt. Washington Richard?

NYC Educator said...

Here's a link that gives all the salaries in Nassau, according to NYSUT:

NYC Educator said...

Here's an easier link to the list of Nassau salaries.

jameseterno said...

Thank you NYC Educator.

reality-based educator said...

Randi to UFT rank-and-file: "Mission Accomplished!!!"

I wonder what concessions she plans to give Mayor Moneybags in the next negotiations?

reality-based educator said...

Randi to UFT rank-and-file: "Mission Accomplished!!!"

I wonder what concessions she plans to give Mayor Moneybags in the next negotiations?

jack hammer said...

Once again the Unity spin machine has gone into overdrive trying to convince us of what a great job they've done. They pat themselves on the back constantly. I think they feel that if they tell us over and over again what great things they have accomplished eventually we will believe them. Guess what -- we don't.

Anonymous said...

The sad thing is there are teachers who believe everything Unity says.

Anonymous said...

Great Article!

Not only do we have a lower salary schedule, the average NYC teacher is at a much lower step in the schedule due to higher turnover. An average NYC teacher has 4-5 years on the job, our suburban counterparts have 8-10. The gap in terms of the real salaries being paid to teachers is much greater than is shown by comparison of the salary schedules alone.

Compare further the salary gap between NYC and suburban teachers which is in inverse proportion to the salaries and perks enjoyed by UFT officials! is it accurate to say that the more bloated the union bureacracy, the lower the salary schedule is?

Does it strike anyone else as coincidental that students of color should have teachers paid at substantially lower rates? Common sense would seem to suggest that both students and teachers here in NYC share a common interest in overthrowing this white supremacist disparity.

BloomKlein's whitening of the teaching staff over the past four years is reinforcing the teaching profession as a white racial privilege. It is not benefiting teachers or students, its about control over both. It is privilege as preemptive strike. The response on our part should be to call for more teachers of color and thereby affirm our solidarity as unionists and as educators responsible to the communities we serve. Privileges are fine for the Unity machine, but they are the antithesis to parity in salary, working conditions and learning conditions with the suburbs.

Peace and Solidarity

Anonymous said...

Check out this site which has info on Long Island salaries and benefits:

jameseterno said...

To Anon Above-

Thanks for the information. Although it only includes the 2004-05 school year, it is clear from the information you sent that NYC teacher salaries are behind Nassau districts at almost every step if we compare their contracts from last year to our new contract from this year after we start the productivity givebacks in November. Assuming a 3% increase for them for this year, we lose a little more ground as NYC Educator pointed out in his comparison.

Comparing city teachers to Suffolk, we do get into the ballpark at the start, but we still fall behind especially in the middle.

In addition, we don't know which of these districts did not have contracts for 2004-05 so the final comparison will more than likely leave us even further back. We can take an educated guess that some of these districts were working with expired contracts and at some point they will get retroactive raises that would also get factored in.

Sick/personal time leaves us behind also and many of them paying a portion of their health care certainly doesn't do the trick as far as us catching up.

Anyone know where we can find some Westchester/Rockland data or the class size maximums?

Thanks again for helping out.

jameseterno said...

News Flash-

Farmingdale has settled their contract. As predicted, at the top they are once again miles ahead of us. By next year their top salary with 22 years experience, when NYC teachers hit $93,416, will be $108,887. At maximum we are 17% behind the Farmingdale teachers. By year four their maximum will be $116,077.

Their new contract while not ideal, gives them 11.5% when compounded over 4 years with absolutely no givebacks. See an earlier comment to see what they have that we gave back.

Anonymous said...

Hey James, aren't you on the Exec. Bd? I heard the staff raises were brought up the other night. What happened?

Anonymous said...

Yeah and there was also a new resolution to expand the negotiang committee for the next contract. But brilliant Jeff made a motion to table it and then didn't even vote for his own motion.

Anonymous said...

PS - It passed unanimously. But I guess that is just "unity-hack" talk. I'm sorry Jeff a committee of 300 is not enough?

Anonymous said...

You guys do notice that Bloomberg, the Billionaire union-basher is not out there in the suburbs. those guys play by similar rules we had before Bloomy and to some degree even Guliani.

jameseterno said...

To Thursday at 11:39 p.m.

I'm on the Executive Board and I don't recall staff pay raises being brought up except to give us the transcript of minutes from December 19 which clearly showed that we are right in what we have been saying all along that the Executive Board did not vote properly on the UFT leaders' pay raises. The minutes of the Dec 19 Executive Board were falsified to show a special order of business that was never acted upon. This has been confirmed by the transcript.

Also, the transcript review confirmed that the increase for staff will be 15%. Randi Weingarten stated that much of the increase is being held back until a committee decides on productivity increases for the union staff that we bet will not be monitoring the UFT cafeteria. It will probably be sitting around the union water cooler for ten more minutes a day. That's our guess.

To 11:46 p.m.

Jeff was talking about the fact that the UFT operates without bylaws and such a big organization needs to have them. No big deal for Unity; they make up their own rules as they go along to suit themselves.

To 11:49 p.m.

You said Unity hack, not me. Since you can't argue facts, you name call.

To 11:54 p.m.

In case you didn't know, they made more money in the suburbs than we did in the city when Dinkins was Mayor too. Facts are facts folks. The Farmingdale contract is much better than the NYC contract from top to bottom basically.

Farmingdale voters voted down their school budget the first time last year so that town is not exactly in a giving mood. The teachers, however, fought back in their half year without a contract. My understanding is that they stormed Board of Education meetings. Real actions. I bet they would have threatened to strike too if they had to do so. In NYC, I doubt our leadership would ever call a strike because of the risk of losing dues check-off (automatic deduction of our dues from pay checks which would be suspended if we went on strike). Union leaders in the suburbs have to live with what they negotiate because they work in the schools. Our leaders don't work in the schools full time so they can sell us sub par contracts and not worry about the impact on their lives.

Anonymous said...

At some point the staff increase will be 15%. Right now it isn't. That was what was voted on Dec. 19th and if they did "falsefy" anything than why didn't you say a word about it at the Ex. Bd. on 2/27?

Anonymous said...

By the way, isn't a "300 member negotiating committee" a great sign of democracy?

jameseterno said...

To Sunday March 5 2:11 p.m.-

The minutes of the Dec 19 Executive Board were falsified to make it look as though a special order of business was brought to the floor on the pay raise. The reading of the minutes from Dec. 19 on Feb 27 proved that the issue was never handled as a special order of business, but merely as an approval of Ad Comm Minutes. As we've been saying all along, it was a bogus vote for the pay raise which will eventually amount to 15% which is what we said all along too.

There was no need for me to comment on Feb 27 because we have already protested and in addition we didn't have the transcript that Mendel read from until after the meeting.

Please refer to our January 9,2006 posting if you want to see what really happened on Dec 19 and on January 9.

Anonymous said...

A 300 member negotiating committee would be cosmetic only. Randi and her few hand-picked cronies will be the only ones with power, and will sell us out time and time again.

Anonymous said...

Nothing will satisfy you until you get a negotiating committee of 1: King Jeff!

Anonymous said...

"A few hand-picked cronies"? 300? So opening the negotiating comittee to the membership is not democratic enough? Perhaps you are just afraid to sit on the committee and do the hard work of trying to negotiate with some like Klein?

Anonymous said...

OT: The first order of business is to convince our union to have an independent firm set up a system to tabulate our votes via phone or internet. This has to be in place before 2007.

I apologize for being off-topic.

NYC Educator said...

"Perhaps you are just afraid to sit on the committee and do the hard work of trying to negotiate with some like Klein?"

Sit down? Bend over is more like it.

What talent does it take to let PERB dicate the terms and accept virtually every odious backward-thinking aspect or their awful proposal?

What talent does it take to draw two pensions for going to a gala luncheon now and then?

What talent does it take to sell the UF down the river, and then whine endlessly about how Klein actually enforces the miserable document you negotiated?

What talent does it take to write about John Stossel in the hope that teachers will forget it was not him but you who enabled this, the very worst contract I've seen in 22 years?

Anonymous said...

Please UFT members get us new leadership so we don't have to listen to these people who will do anything and say anything to keep their six figure salaries and double pensions. We don't need cosmetic changes like a 300 person negotiating committee; we need real change that will only come with new UFT leadership.

Anonymous said...

I'll kick Klein's ass at the table, if Randi will teach 5 classes of freshman in an inner city high school for 21 years (as I've done).
Sorry. She can't do that either.
No contest.

Anonymous said...

Besides the name calling you can't think of anything better about a comittee of 300 rank and file members? Obviously you can predict evryone's actions and you know exactly how evrything will pan out therefore we must vote in someone like Nick of Jeff? Thanks but no thanks. CONSTRUCTIVE criticism welcome, name calling and politics you can keep to yourself.

jameseterno said...

To Anon Above-

Would you rather have more of the same leadership that gives the store away and doesn't have to live with what they negotiate because they don't work in the schools full time?

You don't want politics; isn't that what democracy is all about? What subjects are we allowed to get political about if not the contract?

What about accountability? Shouldn't leadership be accountable for what they negotiate.

As for predictions, take a look at what we have said in the past and how much of what we predicted came true.

Anonymous said...

The Great Santini!

Anonymous said...

I am glad you admit that evrything you have always done has been about political oppotunism and not about what is best for the members. All you care about is that you have a chance to complain without doing anything about it. Why don't you sit on the negotiating committee? Because you will then have to take RESPONSIBILITY for real leadership and decision making. Now you can say whatever you want and not be held to any standards of truth.

jameseterno said...

I've sat on numerous committees in my nine years on the executive board. Check my record before you say that I am not doing what's best for the membership.

Get Real said...

Jeff has mastered the skills of obstruction, insinuation, and blame. His sole contribution to Delegate Assembly has been to shout "point of order" every chance he gets. He has failed to present a proactive resolution or make any meaningful contribution to the DA or executive board that goes beyond the level of blaming Randi or Unity.

Now we should consider him and his complaining compatriots as serious candidates to lead the union? Give me a break.

I don't like Randi is NOT a viable platform for Union President.

jameseterno said...

Get Real-

We've signed onto numerous resolutions and proposals. Check out our platform to see where we stand. We certainly would never have agreed to the last contract and we warned the leadership in advance not to go to Fact Finding. We also warned against accepting the fact finding report.