Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Positive Spin on the DC 37 Tentative Raises that Don't Even Keep up with Inflation as the City Surplus Soars Disappointing!

By James Eterno, Jamaica H.S. Chapter Leader, UFT H.S. Exec. Bd. Rep.

I came home from vacation to find out that DC 37 had reached a tentative contract settlement with the city that many labor people including UFT President Randi Weingarten are not criticizing. Weingarten even took some credit for the deal because the UFT and 19 other municipal unions have formed a coalition to bargain with the City. She claims that the presence of the coalition forced the city to up its offer to DC 37. Maybe so but why not a word about how paltry the salary increases are for DC 37 when the city is so prosperous?

While the potentially precedent setting agreement is better than the pattern DC 37 established for city workers in the last round of bargaining, it still does not keep up with inflation. The NY Times described the terms succinctly: "...10 percent raise (compounded) over 32 months with no new concessions." The Times elaborated, "The agreement includes a 3.15 percent raise retroactive to July 1, 2005, the day the union's last contract expired. The new pact also includes a 2 percent raise starting Aug. 1, and a 4 percent raise starting February 1." Why are these numbers not being roundly criticized in union circles when the city now has a surplus of over $5 billion? When the city is swimming in money, unions should be able to at least keep up with inflation.

Yes, the tentative pact calls for increases that go well beyond the 0% (with a $1,000 cash bonus), 3% and 1% raises over three years from the last DC 37 Contract (an extra 2% came with productivity givebacks). That agreement set a pattern that teachers and all other city workers were forced to swallow. When the current numbers are crunched, the proposed 10 percent over 32 months does not even keep up with the annual inflation rate that according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics is now at 5.6% in the NY area and 4.7% nationally. DC 37's annual increases when compounded average roughly 3.75% a year. City workers will continue to have their standard of living significantly lowered under this deal. When it is taken into consideration that the city has a huge multi billion dollar surplus, this is an agreement that union leaders should at least be questioning. But thus far, I have not seen much negative except for some dissidents within DC 37. Meanwhile, the mayor is content.

The Times reports: "The mayor noted that the city continued to benefit from money saving concessions in the union's last contract like reduced vacation and sick days for newly hired workers." In addition, the mayor is still not ruling out givebacks.

"He added that the city and District Council 37, which represents 120,000 city workers, would set up a subcommittee to discuss pension changes and that he would urge the Municipal Labor Committee, the umbrella group for the city's unions, to negotiate savings on health coverage." (UFT President Weingarten heads the MLC; the UFT is a part of it.)

Let's understand the UFT's current situation. We now have a potential pattern settlement established by DC 37 that does not keep up with inflation while the city has billions in excess funds. The mayor will look to give all city workers including UFT members the same increases as DC 37 and history shows that if any union wants to beat the pattern, the only way to do so is with concessions in some other area. Since the 3.15% increase in year one of the DC 37 deal is already included in the final year of the current UFT Contract, our pattern would be 2% and 4% over twenty months for the next round. That translates into increases for us that are considerably lower than the current 5.6% NY area inflation rate.

Also, the pattern set by DC 37 won't help us win back any of the givebacks we surrendered in the last round of collective bargaining that include the 37.5 minute tutoring sessions each day, school starting in August, hall patrols, cafeteria patrols, lack of ability to grieve letters in our files, loss of seniority as well as SBO transfers, and more. Finally, the Mayor is still seeking to change the pension system and gain concessions in health benefits. Therefore, having us pay 1.5% of our salary toward healthcare (the Transit worker proposal) is still possible and who knows what other work rule changes will be demanded of us? Granted, we are starting out with a basic pattern from DC 37 that is better than in the last round but it clearly is not going to help us obtain anything remotely resembling a favorable settlement.

For President Weingarten to be taking any credit for the DC 37 agreement because the UFT is in a coalition of 20 unions who are bargaining together on financial matters with the city is somewhat strange. Instead, we believe she should be publicizing the city's huge budget surplus and saying how we have made sacrifices when the city had hard times and now we need to share in the city's prosperity. The UFT also should be preparing to mobilize for a real fight if we want to get a decent contract with raises that beat the cost of living without concessions, and we should be looking to initiate a major battle to win back what we gave away in the last round of bargaining.

(The purpose of this piece is not to try to influence the DC 37 ratification vote. Their internal debate is reported in this week's Chief Leader and should be read. This piece was written to explain the impact of the DC 37 proposal on UFT members and other city workers.)

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

It saddens me that the DC 37's contract is seen as a positive deal by our "fearless leader" Randi despite the fact that it is below the inflationary rate. This also unsettles me because it inevitably will set the pattern for other contracts for city workers. Consequently, UFTers and other city workers will not get their piece of NYC's gigantic surplus pie.

Anonymous said...

It's hell! How can the DC 37 contract be hailed as "A sound settlement" by President Weingarten in the Member Contract Questionnaire? This looks like we are being set-up to get slaughtered again. I guess that as usual the last thing she wants is to mobilize the members in preparation for a real contract fight.

Anonymous said...

There is a simple way to end this mess: vote out Randi and Unity in the 2007 UFT election. The ICE-TJC opposition can't do any worse than the DC37 pattern but if they properly mobilize the members, we could do a lot better. UFT members have nothing to lose.

Anonymous said...

People have to do more than vote; they need to get involved in the union instead of waiting for something to do something. Not easy but hopefully it will happen.

Anonymous said...

I agree that we need to get involved in the union again...at the least to have our voices heard! DC 37's contract is no great shakes and we should settle for nothing less than a cost of living increase PLUS a healthy raise.

I'm trying to get involved with the union...what should I do? My chapter leader won't reveal anything and tells me to just "relax". How do I know if he's "Unity" or not? Also, what kind of compensation does he get for being a chapter leader? I like to know why it's so important for him to hang on to his job and keep everything hush hush in our school. Can someone tell me?

jameseterno said...

To Anon Above-

Your questions are very in depth. In order for us to deal with all of that, you need to contact ICE directly.

Norm said...

To Anon:
My chapter leader won't reveal anything and tells me to just "relax". How do I know if he's "Unity" or not?

Telling you to "relax" is a major sign that your CL is in Unity. But if you send us the name we can try to find out for sure.

Also, what kind of compensation does he get for being a chapter leader?

The compensation for CL is not a great deal, especially for small chapter and often covers expenses. It is based on how many members in your chapter, so if it's a large HS it could be a grand.

But the real compensation if your CL is Unity is in the possibility of after school jobs, trips to conventions, and other Unity perks, mainly the opportunity to rise in the union hierarchy to a full-time union job.

The results of Unity policy have led to intolerable conditions in so many schools that there's a major incentive for CL to join Unity and to sell out the members in exchange for the possibility of escape.

If you want to know more email me at: norscot@aol.com. Anon protected.

Anonymous said...

One thing that was not mentioned is that the residency rules regarding DC 37 members are being eased. They can now live in the suburbs (New York State only). However, under the new contract agreement, they must still pac city residents tax! Talk about taxation without representation!

Anonymous said...

I guess they will have to pay the LI property taxes also. Hey the unions are on the march. Bloomberg must laugh himself crazy when he negotiates with Lillian Roberts or Randi.

Great comment Anon above

Anonymous said...

I don't mean to sound sexist, but it appears that male union leaders work out better deals for their members. Is it because they are tougher? Or is it that they don't let emotions cloud their judgement?

Anonymous said...

I think the male city union leaders do just as bad as the women. Pat Lynch, Cassidy, Haynes, etc... They all get the pattern basically.

Anonymous said...

But look at what Al Shanker accomplished, as opposed to Sell-out Sandy and Recreant Randi!

VOTE WAINER IN '07

Anonymous said...

Randi isn't cowardly. There is no need for her to fight. She is protecting herself and the empire that Shanker built. Why risk it when she knows how easy it is to get reelected? The only way there will be change and a fight is if UFT members vote Randi/Unity out.

Weiner in 07 indeed.

Anonymous said...

This is a piece from an article on NJ teachers. Notice they are averaging 4.7% increases. Do you think Randi could get that for us?

"Statewide salary increases so far are averaging about 4.7 percent, according to data compiled by the New Jersey School Boards Association and the NJEA. That's a far cry from the 9 percent raises awarded in the early 1990s, but still a slow, steady improvement over the 4 percent increases in the early 2000s.

â?oRaises are generally based on the cost of living, plus a little more,â? said Mike Yaple, spokesman for the New Jersey School Boards Association."

Anonymous said...

This is a piece from an article on NJ teachers. Notice they are averaging 4.7% increases. Do you think Randi could get that for us?

"Statewide salary increases so far are averaging about 4.7 percent, according to data compiled by the New Jersey School Boards Association and the NJEA. That's a far cry from the 9 percent raises awarded in the early 1990s, but still a slow, steady improvement over the 4 percent increases in the early 2000s.

â?oRaises are generally based on the cost of living, plus a little more,â? said Mike Yaple, spokesman for the New Jersey School Boards Association."

Anonymous said...

The DC 37 contract was ratified with 97% voting for approval. It's sad that working people are so beaten down that they will settle for any crumbs that the mayor throws our way.

Anonymous said...

DC37 contract settlement may permit those of us that think about wage increase as just one aspect of our jobs...now with the pattern set and the possibility of focusing on other quality of work life issues...I feel relieved that we can look at issues such as getting beat up at work.

UFTers do have a piece of NYC's gigantic surplus pie..we are well paid, hard working people. Let's work to make the school a better place.

Where can I get some info from ice other than antiunion rhetoric. Is there a program, a new teachers info guide? help..livia

Anonymous said...

There's a new teacher article on the blog. There's nothing anti union about ICE. The ICE platform is online at the website. There is a link from the blog to the website.

Anonymous said...

Our salaries are for dogs and we work like them... We should be compensated. Why are we so underpaid? The Parent Coordinators have no college and we just got a E-mail that the Principals can give them a raise... This is unfair and somebdy has to look into this for us.

Anonymous said...

Lilian roberts makes 337.000 a year and says she thinks that the contract is great what is great the little people need to wake up and as for the Bloomberg who left us like this and now bill diblasio I wish I. Would have never voted for that jew and that idiot

Anonymous said...

First of all they say that ballot was a secret one but notice that it had your name on the return envelope what a joke