Thursday, November 16, 2006

The Contract: What’s the Rush?


The tentative contract agreement reached on November 6 between the DOE and the UFT, comes almost a full year before the current contract expires. Within two days it was rushed through the negotiating committee and the Executive Board and brought before the UFT Delegate Assembly. Most delegates had little chance to take a hard look at the details of the contract or inquire into the many questions that it raises. They certainly weren't given any time to consult with their school chapters. Why the rush? Did the UFT leadership want to get the contract signed, sealed and delivered before members had a chance to read between the lines and discover what may be lurking behind the "great gains" portrayed by the UFT and the news media?

The City is Flush

During previous negotiations we have grown accustomed to the mayor crying about the city's poverty, but let's take a look at the current fiscal condition of the city:

In the fiscal year that ended in June, the city had a budget surplus of $3.5 billion after predicting at the start of the year that there would be a shortfall of over $7 billion. For the current year the mayor expects a small surplus but come June the likelihood is that it will be much larger if the last few years serve as a guide to how accurate the mayor is in his estimates.

The stock market has risen greatly this year and this will enable the city to greatly reduce the amount it must contribute to meet its pension obligations.

The Campaign for Fiscal Equity's (CFE) lawsuit will certainly be settled shortly as a result of the recent election results. This will provide the DOE with additional school funding of more that $1 billion a year.

In these circumstances we should expect our union to bargain for a contract that would start to make up for lost ground economically and at a minimum relieve some of the pain foist upon us as a result of the last contract. So how does this proposed contract measure up?

Scraps From The Table

Despite the rosy financial picture for the city, the UFT leadership has agreed to raises that do not come close to even meeting the rate of inflation.

Raises of 7% over two years

The Consumer Price Index (CPI), which measures inflation, has risen 5.2% in the first nine months of the year in the NYC metropolitan region

No raise during the last 18 months of the contract

Lump sum payment of $750 to be paid in January

A cynical person might conclude that getting a lump sum payment ten months before the old contract has expired could be a means of getting swift approval of the contract or that this payment will be made just a couple of months before the citywide UFT leadership elections take place. Perhaps they could save the city some time and money and just send the checks out along with the ballots.

Uncertainty

The decision on whether or not to approve the proposed contract must be made with all the facts in front of us, but right now there is a lot that is not known. In the current tentative agreement we are being asked to reach a decision before all of the facts are known. Let's remember that we have still not gotten the 25-55 year retirement that was supposed to have been won in our last contract. Will the 7% raise turn out to be much less?

For the first time in UFT history a clause has been inserted into the agreement which specifies that negotiations will take place with the city and its unions with the aim of reducing health costs to the city and that the resulting agreement will not be voted on by the membership. In the past the Municipal Labor Council has negotiated changes to health insurance by tinkering with co-payments and deductibles, but the fact that this is being put into the contract for the first time implies that what is now going to be discussed will result in far greater impact to the membership. The mayor has made it very clear that he intends to force city workers to pay a much larger share towards the cost of providing our health insurance. We must keep in mind that the demand on the Transit Workers Union (TWU) was for them to pay 1 1/2% of their salary towards the cost of health care each year. If that becomes the new pattern for all of the unions we will lose a significant chunk of the 7%.

In the press release issued by the mayor's office announcing the agreement, there was a section talking about the increases being provided to the UFT Welfare Fund and the initiation of a new five-year longevity increase. The section was preceded by the following: "in order to address specific needs, the UFT generated internal funding to provide the following benefits." What does this mean? Are there agreements that have been made that we will find out about later?

Our union leaders are playing on our fear of something worse to get us to take the money and run. But UFT members must ask why Randi Weingarten and Mayor Bloomberg are in such a rush to have this contract - negotiated in a questionably short time – written into stone long before the expiration of the old one.

No Fightback For The Givebacks

Our union leaders, who don't work in the schools, have turned their backs on the increasingly difficult working conditions and loss of rights that union members have to face for the foreseeable future since there is NOTHING in the contract that deals with the tremendous givebacks. The approval of this contract will mean that we will live under our present conditions for three (instead of one) more years until October, 2009. These include a longer school day (which has not benefited our students) and school year and the stripping of protections against excessing or unsatisfactory letters in the file. It does nothing to give us weapons to fight back against abusive administrators. It does nothing to protect the thousands of us that will possibly face the closing of our schools that are deemed to be "failing" so they can be reorganized - the old staff excessed and left on their own to find other jobs or become day to day subs despite the number of years worked in the system. There is not a teacher in NYC that is safe from this happening to them. To add insult to injury, the new contract calls for the DOE to offer buyouts to those people who have not found a job after a year as a day to day sub. The price has not been set and will be left to some third party to decide. Can you imagine the pressures that will confront a teacher in that situation to accept the offer even if it means giving up their chosen career? The UFT puts this forward as a gain instead of the threat it is to every UFT member's job.

Diminished Expectations

It is a union's job to fight for better working conditions, not roll over and play dead like they have with this contract. It is only because the expectations of UFT members are so low as a result of the last few contracts and the abuses they have faced throughout the system without any noticeable protection from the UFT that this contract is being viewed as acceptable. It is a sign of how weak and mismanaged this union really is. Do we really trust that this leadership will fight for us in the next contract?

82 comments:

Science Sam said...

A few quick observations.

First, the pattern is the pattern . If the city is a little rich right now, then we'd still get the pattern. The only way we’d get more is to give back. That’s what happened last time. That’s how “more” works. We should know that by now. Even if we were to be able to make the argument for above pattern because of CFE, it would still come at a cost of working conditions none of us would want to pay. But refusing that higher pay and worse working conditions once it is offered becomes a tight rope act. We’d have to say no to both, or yes to both, neither an easy thing to do. We ought to know that by now.

Second, teachers and other members care more about working conditions than another .5 percent of higher pay. You know that. Using CFE for things like reduced class size - -being able to make that argument == which has strong support from the public – will give us a much cleaner fight for that money in ways that matter to us. Tangle salaries into that and you’ll wind up trading money for lower class size and then no one is happy.

Smaller class sizes and a better chancellor would bring the numbers way down in 37.5 Because that’s the working condition many members want to see change. The 37.5 is not educationally sound as it is currently working in some schools. Kids are exhausted, teachers are exhausted, too many kids are staying who don’t need the tutoring because Klein has this insane idea that more kids equals greater productivity. He is fool enough to think that 8:1 is more productive than 2:1. He’s an idiot.

But he is not immortal. If the time were used in ways teachers found useful and meaningful for themselves and their students, we wouldn’t be so upset. I say no m ore in terms of what that configuration could mean.

You end by asking if this leadership will fight for us. I’ve got a better question. Will the current leadership lead us over a cliff with the promise of higher pay and better conditions under Klein and Bloomberg.

If we hadn’t taken the last contract, a better offer would not have been forthcoming. Even you must realize that. (Stop in at your principal’s office tomorrow if you don’t know what I mean.) A few months down the line – we’ve got over a thousand schools. A contract over three years due and you’d have had wildcat strikes from some school jacked up on its own sense of injustices and outrage. Once one goes, then another, the system goes. Unwillingly. You think the contract took hits now?

In answer to your question will the leadership fight for us. Yes, I think Weingarten will fight. She just won’t make us fodder for the cannons. And you?

JustdaTruth said...

To the ICE leadership. Stop trying to scare, and cajole the membership with your pie in the sky unrealistic demands. The pattern is the pattern. How would you break the pattern? By breaking this Union. Not on my watch! Who do you work for anyway? I agree totally with science sam. And thats the truth!

Anonymous said...

Why is Jeff against the membership voting on this contract? Wasn't Jeff part of the negotiating committee?

Anonymous said...

What was the point of a negotiation committee of 300? If it's pattern bargaining, then Randi knew the committee was going to be useless anyway. Why did Randi give us false hope for change? I really hope someday someone with integrity will lead us.

Norm said...

Jeff Kaufman and James Eterno have been attacked as “fear mongerers” for raising questions about whether health care is part of a quid quo pro as they have found language changes in the contract that indicate such a possible change. The UFT has denied that there is any change. Some have also asked if there was a deal to support continued mayoral control, which the UFT has denied. (Just watch what they do, not what they say.) A press release from the Mayor’s office indicated that parts of the contract were being paid for by “internal savings” by the UFT. Since then this comment had disappeared and the UFT is silent on it. Can you be paying for part of this contract yourselves? Who knows? But allowing the debate to go on can only help give people more info, But not in this union.

Unity bloggers have posted attacks on me on the blogs: ”I wouldn't trust ednotes. he is a venomous retiree who still beleives (sic) he is an in-service member. As a retiree, apparently you just want us in-service teacher to vote down a good contract because you hate Randi and that is all.”

Someone responded: “Why can't a retired teacher put stuff in mailboxes? Isn't it good to hear views from all sides?”

Their frightening answer:
“When the DA approves something it is official union policy. When someone (ICE and Norm) put out something against official union policy, it seems to undermine the idea of democracy and the voice of over 1400 schools. As for teacher mailboxes, if you're retired, you shouldn't be putting anything, on any subject, in the mailboxes.”

(Apparently, RETIREE to Unity is a dirty word; unless they happen to be the over 50,000 retirees that vote in UFT elections and the 300 Unity retirees at the Delegate Assembly.)

Do the masses of people working at the union, almost all making over 100 grand and some approaching 200 grand after the new raises go into effect, have to "live" under the contract? Are they "in-service?" Don't they get the same raises as the in-service teachers without any of the consequences? Don't they have a much greater incentive to sell the contract? Yet, they go all over putting stuff in mailboxes including Dist reps who put Unity material in the boxes. Of course that is ok since they are union officials.

The attacks on my right as a retiree to disseminate info as a service to ICE because the overwhelming majority of ICE people are in-service is designed to obscure the fact that ICE retirees afford the people critical of Unity a major opportunity to get info out to people. We are delivery people but Unity wants to use that as an obfuscation to keep the info out of people's hands. Next they'll tell me that it is wrong for me to go to the post office during the day to mail out flyers or I shouldn’t write a column critical of the contract.

Unity Caucus hounds are in effect saying that after Congress passes something the press and the opposition party should have no right to disseminate information opposing it. They certainly encouraged the Democrats to challenge Bush. But when it comes to challenging themselves they hold different views. I always thought democracy included the right of people not in the majority to disagree.

Just a short time ago, almost everyone supported the war in Iraq. If more voices of the minority had been heard then, results might have been different.

The press and public, and the UFT initially, supported the BloomKlein agenda but now as information leaks out there is a turning of the worm on mayoral control. (Wasn’t Bloomberg elected by a majority? Then everyone should just shut up?)

Jumping on popular bandwagons is not a healthy thing and others and I insist on resisting the tide. On this contract, given the history of UFT leaders, it is absolutely necessary to raise issues. Already, based on our questions on the health issues, the UFT has been forced to put out more information in response. Whether we are proven right or wrong, we have provided a service.

Yes, jeff and James were part of the negotiating committee. They have a right to disagree. If say 20% of the members are against do they all lose the right to say NO?

Science Sam at least makes a logical case for why we might be wrong. I appreciate his arguments even if I don't agree with all he says. He doesn't make personal attacks. We offer him the opportunity to say it here and anywhere he wants to. The rest of the characters who talk about us trying to break the union are just hacks as far as I am concerned. I can make as good a case that the union is being broken by the UFT leadership. Just check the state of the union in the schools for proof.

Anonymous said...

Science Sam says teachers "care more about working conditions than .5% of higher pay." How true. So then why not ask for those two lousy days back in August? How much could they possibly cost?

We'll never get anywhere and improve any conditions at all unless we're willing to stand up for ourselves. It doesn't matter who the Mayor or Chancellor are. Weak union leadership has led our working conditions to fall to where there is no union in many schools.

Anonymous said...

Norm,

I happen to think that in a democracy you get a chance to participate and voice your opinion. But if you refuse to participate then you should really shut up. I resent the fact that Jeff, James and company sat through many, many negotiating committee meetings and didn't say anything at all. Now, all of the sudden they hate the deal they helped shape. To me it just seems like it's a political move on their part and even if we got 10 percent annually they would be complaining about something else. So I think they can't be trusted. I also think it's irresponsible to spread fear through our membership when there is no reason for it. I am surprised you don't see this. I am surprised that you as a journalist/editor/publisher don't seem the least interested in reporting the truth on the ICE irresponsible leadership.

Norm said...

Anon.
I didn't sit on any negotiating committee so I assume you are ok with my being critical. Unless you object to the fact that I am retired so I also should shut up I guess. How convenient that there are reasons why the most vocal people in ICE should be quiet.

I'm not going to speak for Jeff and James. OK. You were there and you say they didn't speak up. I'll take your word for it. But let's say they had spoken up. Would it have made one iota of difference? You know that was stacked with Unity and anything they said would have been turned away. ICE could have sent lots more people to the committee. Unity would make sure to have multiples to challenge them. So why bother? They would have been outvoted all along the way. So you say that was the will of the majority. What about minority rights? Or do they disappear altogether, which from what you say I think they do. That is called the tyranny of the majority. I do know that Jeff asked for a minority report so people would see the objections and that was rejected.

I took the position from day 1 that the negotiating committee (and most other committees) are/was bogus and that it would be manipulated by Unity to get what they want but its existence would allow people like you to make this very criticism of people who oppose the contract like Jeff and James. We even talked about this exact scenario at an ICE meeting when the committee was announced. I was in the minority but I felt we should boycott. As long as the power to decide so much resides in one person's hands it is bogus.

Why? It is a matter of faith. If you have faith in the union leadership that they are well-intentioned then you go ahead. But after dealing with them for so long I am convinced that nothing is real, just all PR. Call me a cynic but I have no faith in them at all. So I take the position they should be challenged on everything. I might even claim that the entire negotiating committee idea was politically motivated all along to forestall any potential opposition to the kind of contract that was ultimately arrived at.

(And speaking of democracy, why not comment on the election of VP's in each division by the entire union, including retirees or the 300 Unity retirees in the DA when the oppition got 27% of the vote).

Do you believe Jeff and James really helped shape the deal? Talk about hyperbole. Saying that indicates a political agenda --- you full well know they had no role. Let's say jeff and james followed my advice and were not on the committee. Let's see what you would say. "How can they criticize the contract when they refused to take part in the process?" Damned if they did and damned if they didn't. A nicely designed little box -- maybe by one of the high priced consultants the UFT hires? But then that box might have been the idea all along. I would say Bravo if your comments here actually were being read by more than 5 people and had any impact at all.

How are Jeff and James irresponsible? I never herd one word of what was happening at the negotiation committee. They upheld the guarantee of confidentiallity and we never discussed any of this at ICE meetings. If they had revealed stuff we would have been better prepared to respond. Thus, they were responsible to the utmost. Remember it was Randi who violated the confidentiality rule by revealing who voted against it. Jeff didn't give a crap who knew but he was being responsible.

You say - "if we got 10 percent annually they would be complaining about something else." Damn right. I certainly would. About class size and working conditions and the non-economic demand that were ignored and micromanagement. Where would I start? Money can buy some things but there is a limit.

Now let's deal with "I also think it's irresponsible to spread fear through our membership when there is no reason for it." Wasn't it the NY Times article that raised the fears? Did we find some funny language in the contract? Didn't the leadership feel impelled to put out info on the health care issue in response to the issues we raised, something they should have done in the first place?

Do people have reason to be concerned about what the union leadership is telling us based on what happened last year and in the past? Don't you know that the 37.5 minutes is the most despised thing ever to come down? Did it drop from the sky or did this union leadrship negotiate that and shove it down people's throats? Really, who is irresponsible? We would be irresponsible if we acted like New Action and said "Thank you for this wonderful contract. We will be willing to suffer for another 3 years."

Geez, I was just out with 30 inservice teachers at a play tonight and everyone despises what's going on. Just the rugs alone- what if every teacher in a building refused to sit on the damn rugs? A militant union would figure out a way to make this happen or just have 10,000 teachers simultaneously throw the damn things out the windows at the same time. Irresponsibilty indeed! Give me a break!

What's missing from this union is the kind of spine Jeff and James have shown. A little more of that and inservice teachers (and I DO NOT include the people working at the UFT going around and selling this contract) might actually have some hope.

Anonymous said...

To Jeff and James,

What was your role on the committee and did you speak out about the takebacks???

Norm,
When you saw the comment by the mayor's office, why didn't you save it to your computer so we could all see it?

Anonymous said...

The Anon guy above would do well to read what Norm said and read what Jeff and James have said. Obviously, there is an agenda here to sell the contract by the Unity members and hopefuls who are over here.

Fair enough, but at least respond to what was stated, instead of bringing up issues that have been answered over and over again.

Anonymous said...

If this contract gets 98% of the vote like you Unity folks want, what's going to happen when people are unhappy in the next couple of years? It will be like in 2002 when 94% voted for a Contract, and the next year Unity leaders came and said to people, "You probably voted for the contract." That deal was rushed through in June and people came back in September not realizing that they had to stay late two days a week. Now people need to see that they can be offered a severence package and might have to pay for health insurance.

I wish people like Norm were on the internet in 2002 questioning that deal. More information is a good thing.

Stop questioning people for questioning this deal.

Anonymous said...

Does Just DA Truth no the difference between truth and his opinion? He needs to know that just because he says something that it isn't necessarily true.

Wainer in '07 said...

This blog is the only democracy that we union members have. Unlike Edwize, our comments are not censored. Keep up the good work!

Randi's Unity runs the union like Bush's gang runs Washington. Anyone who speaks out against the leadership is slandered, defamed and portrayed as a lunatic. It is, like in Wshington, time for a change.

Anonymous said...

Press Release from Mayor on contract:

Note the statement:

In order to address specific needs, the UFT generated internal funding to provide the following benefits: check that loooong list

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 6, 2006

No. 388

www.nyc.gov

MAYOR BLOOMBERG ANNOUNCES TENTATIVE AGREEMENT WITH THE

UNITED FEDERATION OF TEACHERS NEARLY ONE YEAR

BEFORE EXPIRATION OF CURRENT CONTRACT

Collective Bargaining Agreement includes 7.1 % raises and covers 120,000 Teachers, Paraprofessionals and Other Members of the New York City Department of Education

Agreement Would Ensure 43% Increase in Starting Teacher Salaries Since Mayor Took Office

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today announced that a tentative contract settlement has been reached with the United Federation of Teachers on a contract based on the pattern settlement established in July with District Council 37 and followed by other municipal unions, including the Civil Service Bar Association, Doctors Council, Probation Officers, and Traffic Enforcement Agents and their supervisors. The term of the Agreement covers a 24-month and 19-day period beginning October 13, 2007 and continuing through October 31, 2009. This agreement is based upon the 18-month pattern established with DC 37, although it is six months and 19 days longer, which generated additional funds. Today’s agreement was reached nearly one year before the current UFT contract expires on October 12, 2007 – the earliest any union contract has been reached prior to an agreement’s expiration during this Administration. Since the Mayor took office, the UFT has reached contracts resulting in wage increases for starting teachers of 43% for the periods covered by the last three contracts (November 16, 2000 to October 31, 2009).

“The UFT came to the bargaining table and together we reached a deal that gives teachers the raises they deserve and allows us to continue strengthening accountability and improving our City schools,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “We’ve reached this agreement nearly a year before the current contract expires – a contract which made historic reforms while fairly compensating the hardworking teachers in the UFT. The reforms and productivity improvements we implemented as part of the current agreement have started to yield real results and negotiating a contract of this duration will bring much-needed stability to our schools over the next three years. Today’s agreement is a testament to the commitment of both the City and the UFT to providing teachers with the salaries they deserve for their continued service and dedication to our 1.1 million public school students.”

“This is great news for our educators and the 1.1 million children they serve,” said UFT President Randi Weingarten. “With this agreement, we and the city, working together, have been able to continue to raise salaries and provide the kind of competitive pay that helps attract and retain the best possible teachers for our children. When Mayor Bloomberg came into office, salaries lagged behind those in the suburbs. This settlement, if ratified, will mean that between 2002 and 2009, teacher salaries will have risen by more than 40%. Finally, we are making real progress.”

“This contract is great news for our teachers and our City’s schoolchildren,” said Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein. “We need to pay our teachers what they deserve and this contract ensures that our teachers are rewarded for their outstanding and dedicated efforts.”

The principal features of the settlement, which include total wage increases of 7.1% for teachers and most titles covered by the Agreement, are as follows:

· $750 lump sum payment effective January 1, 2007;

· 2% effective October 13, 2007; and

· 5% compounded, effective May 19, 2008.

By the end of this contract, a teacher’s minimum salary will be $45,530 for new hires as compared to $42,512 under the current Agreement and the maximum salary will be $100,049, as compared to $93,416 currently.

Additional Benefits

In order to address specific needs, the UFT generated internal funding to provide the following benefits:

· Effective October 13, 2007, the annual contribution to the welfare fund will be increased by $100 per member;

· Effective May 1, 2008, a lump sum payment to the welfare fund in the amount of $166.67 per member;

· Effective October 21, 2009, an additional $35 rate increase in the City’s contribution to the welfare fund per member;

· Effective May 19, 2008, increased longevity payments for certain employees who have at least five years of service;

· Effective May 19, 2008, an increase in the uniform allowance payable to Supervisor of School Safety; and

· The Department will increase by 12 the maximum number of sessions of paid extracurricular activities for which compensation will be provided to coaches and teachers in charge of various athletic and extra-curricular activities.

Peer Intervention Program

The parties agree to establish a voluntary new peer intervention program which will be created for any tenured teachers who are struggling. The program will be staffed by independent consulting teachers who are not employees of the Department of Education or active members of the union. A third-party vendor will be selected pursuant to an RFP and contract mutually agreed to by the parties. The existing peer intervention program will continue, and a labor/management committee will review the new program annually.

The last contract provided teachers with a 15% raise in exchange for substantially increasing the time teachers spend on instruction and support activities by lengthening the school year by two days and adding an additional 50 minutes of instructional time per week; empowering principals by extending their authority over teacher hiring; and improving school safety and disciplinary procedures by having teachers play a larger role in maintaining order in lunchrooms and hallways and expediting the process to remove teachers if misconduct requires it.

Student test scores in New York City Public Schools have improved dramatically since 2001. The percentage of students in Grades 3-8 performing at or above grade level standards has increased by nearly 23 points in math, and by nearly 12 points in English Language Arts. The graduation rate is also the highest it has been in nearly 20 years. In addition, schools across the City are safer. Since the inception of Impact program, nearly three years ago, schools once plagued by disorder are significantly safer. By the end of school last year, we had reduced major crime in these schools by 56%, and driven violent crime down by 53%.

The Mayor thanked Deputy Mayor Ed Skyler, Deputy Mayor Dennis M. Walcott, Chancellor Joel I. Klein and the Department of Education representatives, UFT President Randi Weingarten and her Committee, Labor Commissioner James F. Hanley and First Deputy Commissioner Pamela S. Silverblatt and their team, and Budget Director Mark Page and his staff for their efforts in reaching this Agreement.

- 30 -

Contact: Stu Loeser / Virginia Lam (212) 788-2958

David Cantor (DOE) (212) 374-5141

Anonymous said...

I really think you need to highlight those hidden costs to us
that the Unity machine left out.

Anonymous said...

Norm,

If you knew this since November 6th, why wait to the end of the month to report it?

This would have made for interesting dialogue on Edwize which has now put all posts so far down the pike, that any mention of this will be totally ignored.

Even here on ICE, it was never put into any of the posts. Was this another missed opportunity?

Also did James or Jeff ever discuss their opposition to the negotiating committee since the Unity hacks keep saying they did not?

jameseterno said...

John Elfrank's November 11 post commented on the self funding. He said, "The DOE announced that the new teacher contract would be paid for by internal savings from the UFT. Wait a minute! What do they mean by 'internal savings'?"

Also, Jeff brought this up at the DA on November 8. Nobody from Unity gave an answer.

As for the Negotiating Committee, as Norm said we signed confidentiality statements that we took seriously. We didn't even talk about the content of negotiating committee sessions at ICE meetings.

Anonymous said...

JAmes Eterno has said that the pattern is what is expected and what everyone gets. Why are you now complaining that the UFT should get more? We got more than the pattern and you are just bitter.

jameseterno said...

Two reasons: First, we were supposed to be organizing and working with a coalition of other unions for a fight to beat the pattern that DC 37 set. Second, we did nothing to try to gain back anything that was lost in 2005 that is making people in the schools miserable.

The entire package of givebacks excluding the thirty minutes of extra time each day was valued by the fact finding panel last year at around 3%. Surely, there was some room and time now to fight for some of what we gave up. We could have at least tried rather than basically extend a terrible contract.

We didn't get more than the pattern this time; we merely extended it by four months and twelve days (over 20% longer than DC 37) for an extra 1.1%.

Anonymous said...

Norm says "So why bother?" about Jeff and James at the negotiating committee making a comment because "They would have been outvoted all along the way." You get outvoted all of the time anyway in the DA and elsewhere, so why say anything at all? Because you say you beleive in speaking for the minority. So then they should have spoken but they didn't. They are just doing this now for a political purpose. What ever the Randi says or does you are against it. You will look or even create a reason for being against it.

Anonymous said...

Why can't anyone, ANYONE at all, answer some of the questions Jeff, James and Norm point out in the contract? My impression from reading this blog and others is our union is hiding something. Not once have any of the questions been answered directly. If Unity would just give their members the information they ask for all of these issues would be moot.

Anonymous said...

Call me the village idiot, but what exactly is Ednotes pointing out? Is he suggesting that we will be paying more to our welfare fund? Can someone spell this out for me?

Anonymous said...

JAme and Jeff's questions have been answered. There is no conspiracy, no secret deal, health care is being negotiated the way it has been for 40 years. If we vote this down now what more do you think this mayor and chancellor would be willing to give up in months or years from now?

jameseterno said...

We're not going to be paying more to our welfare funds. We do tell the truth and do not fear monger. Our employer makes the contributions.

The question that hasn't been answered is where the internal funding is coming from? We know that it doesn't mean that contributions from UFT members will rise. We do know, however, that there will be an automatic dues increase when our salaries go up.

The question on health is why the language is different in this contract as opposed to the last two? The prior two contracts had health agreements negotiated by the MLC incorporated into the Agreements. Now, we have nothing settled but the mayor is asking for concessions as the Times reported. We would like to know what we are voting on when it comes to "cost saving initiatives." It's not an unreasonable request, particularly when our contract isn't up for a year.

The Fact Finders last year said that the givebacks on school in August, losing letter in the file grievances and Step II's, and C6R, were worth around 3%. Yes, they should have been renegotiated for sure. People hated school in August. We have nothing to lose.
Expecting Mayor Nirvana to be elected in 2009 is like waiting for the Great Pumpkin.

Science Sam said...

These are some incredibly long posts. Doesn’t anyone on this blog have a spouse who drags him shopping? And who on earth gave the mayor 1000 free words of political spin on this blog. Test scores up, schools wonderful - -what bunk. I understand the need for quoting in context, but couldn’t somebody cut something?

I only skimmed the posts (I’m with family), but two things Norm says caught my eye.

1. First, someone accused ICE of fear mongering (probably me, not sure). Norm says in reply. “ Wasn't it the NY Times article that raised the fears?” – But there’s a difference between raising fears and spreading them. I’m too lazy to look up the Times article, but I doubt it used this kind of hyperbole, which appeared on one of this blog’s main post:

“”I wonder how many months of health care premiums $750.00 would pay for. Or, that will be $750 MINUS the taxes, so about $590.00 worth of health care premiums. Say, a month or two? Given the catastrophic costs of health care, it’s plausible all of our so-called raise (about 3.5 percent a year, minus an average of 4 percent inflation leaves you at NEGATIVE “”

That’s from a main post on this blog – by John elFrank.

That’s fear mongering.

2. Norm, you said you were out with 30 in-service teachers who despise what’s going on with Klein’s agenda. You say the union should have done better – figured out a way to get 10000 teachers to throw the rugs out. But would the Ice people have been able to do that? They couldn’t even figure out a way to influence the negotiating committee (which I’m glad about since I think they would have influenced it away from the contract we got with false hopes of a better one).

You say, well, the committee was stacked, and that’s why they couldn’t influence it. I don’t see how it was stacked – we all got invitations to be part of negotiations. I know I did. I tossed it out. But other people joined. Isn’t it just possible – just slightly possible – that the negotiating change (with that rank-and-file participation) was actually put together so there could be direct input this time around? That it is the move of responsive leadership in response to the problems of the last contract? Sure, it could be totally cynical I guess. Except I got the invite. And they don’t know me. And I wanted changes after the last contract. And I have no problem speaking up.

But let’s assume that even though anyone could join the negotiating group, the union stacked it. And, that because it was stacked, that’s why Ice couldn’t push their agenda a single inch. Well, but has Weingarten gone into a single contract or other committee that wasn’t stacked against her and us? Public, parents, press, Moskowitz, Klein, Bloomberg’s bottomless pockets buying off the voices of the education schools and the arts people, all the influence, the terrible perception of teachers, Bill Gates, Welch, a Kennedy I think, the hoy polloi that funded Principal’s Leadership – everything, NCLB, Sol Stern, Joyce Pernick in the NYTimes insisting we go back into lunchrooms, that guy in the News, the pattern -- every single thing is stacked against us. What Weingarten got, she got (I liked the pension changes, and I kind of like the money, too), and always she got it in stacked negotiations. She got it under republicans . She got it in the teeth of the apathy of her own members, and in the teeth of opposition that had no qualms about opposing the process instead of moving it in some realistic way that wouldn’t throw the contract (never mind the rugs!) right out the window.

Realistic is the key word there.

So, I don’t want to hear any whining about stacked committees that stopped ICE. That’s the nature of the beast.

But I’m reading what I just wrote, and it seems to imply that I would have preferred if Ice had been good enough to influence the negotiating group to hold out for something more. That wouldn’t be the case. I’m glad they didn’t have any affect. There was nothing more to get. Granted, I wasn’t’ on the committee, so I really don’t know that for sure, but I didn’t think there were WMD’s in Iraq either, and I didn’t’ have to be in Bush’s cabinet to figure that one out.

I can’t complete this post (though it is too long already). I’m watching Maltese Falcon as I write, and the Fat Man has just made his appearance.

This is it for me for the weekend.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with ScienceSam about the "overwriting" and pretty bad writing at that.

So am I to believe that what Norm posted is NOT true. Now I have to email my friends again.

If you guys want to know why you are not successful, maybe Sam is correct.

Do you find fault with everything?

Also, oath or no oath, did you ask for takebacks or not? According to those who were on the committee, they said you didn't even bring the subject up.

17 more years said...

Yes, takebacks were asked for. I saw an e-mail from a member of the negotiating committee (I will not mention his name) asking for Election Day and Brooklyn Queens Day to be turned into instructional days, PD to take place during the 37.5 minutes in September and June (now THAT would make sense- having the kids stay starting with the second day of school was totally absurd, and June is -well, June)and, in exchange, the 2 days in August would be returned to us. This, to me, seemed to be a win-win situation for everyone. The city, in its infinite wisdom, said no to a perfectly logical tradeoff. There was no reason to rush this deal. I would probably vote yes if we had gotten this concession, but since our fearless leader was in such a big rush (I wish I knew why), she gets a great big "NO" from me.

Anonymous said...

17 more years: comment on our demand dor "takebacks" at the negotiating committee is correct excepet it didn't come from James or Jeff. I beleive it came from a DR.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Anon 12:40 for the information.

Now that's a DR I can live with--and someone appointed by Randi to boot! Very brave, but I hope there were no consequences to this action.

We need more Unity people to stand up for the rank and file. I hope people there backed him/her included James and Jeff.

Did any other Unity people stand up for takebacks? I would hate to think that with 300 people no one spoke on behalf of the teachers there are upset with the current contract.

17 more years said...

From what I understand, the proposal that would have given us the 2 days in August back was met with much disgust and disdain from the city. They walked out of negotiations for 2 1/2 hours, and when they came back, after much hostility and foul-mouthed exchanges, the proposal was turned down. Take all of this with a grain of salt though- I am getting this information from 2 different sources- one from my DR, and the other from someone who might have been the rep for speech and hearing teachers.

The 2 days in August, while horrendous, are really such a small part of what was wrong with the last contract- but even that tiny concession would have made this new contract a bit easier to take.

JustdaTruth said...

My opinion is that Science Sam is the man. From reading Science Sam's last post I think he is truly able to separate the "wheat from the chaff" as to merits of this contract. When does he get the time to write? 300 people on the negotiating committee totally mesmerized by the glow of the Unity spin ? Ooooh....

I don't think so. Do people really think UNITY would or could pull a fast one after the last contract? I say no.

The Bronx Latino said...

I have to agree with Science Sam, the pattern is the pattern. I clearly understood this when I participated in negotiations. I don’t understand why some people on this site didn’t understand that. We all knew this when we started the process.

Interestingly enough, the same people who claim that Randi, UFT Staffers & participants in the negotiation process have no integrity; have done little to provide me with any convincing evidence that they have integrity.

What original idea have they shared with us? NONE!

What have they done to secure a stronger union? NOTHING!

Obviously many people have forgotten that the union is more than the membership that leads it. What part have you played in creating change, short of screaming, disturbing proceedings or attacking anyone who does not agree with you. Stop attacking the people who work for the union. Many of them have worked hard and serve the interest of our members well.

Stop trying to scare everyone into voting no!

Stop attacking the leadership unless you can do better!

Stop making it seem that those people who participated in the negotiations are less sophisticated than you think you are!

And lastly, to everyone who can see past the scare tactics on this page I say VOTE YES! I

Anonymous said...

On Saying “No”

I had come under some criticism from our guests for speaking my opinion to you about the contract. I told them that first of all, you all are adults and capable of making up your own minds, and secondly, that I was elected to chapter leader partially because of my outspokenness on important issues. As you know I also make available to you other perspectives on the contract including the Unity piece I had put in your mailboxes. Indeed, members, as myself, should be at liberty to speak ahead of union staffers.

I feel I got an answer on the Art. 3 question from Randi at the Chapter Leader’s training, that there will continue to be a free health care option available, although it alone probably won’t meet the needs of most of our members. But there still seems to be a general haze about what's coming down the road with regard to health care, especially with the GHI/HIP merger. Our Art. 3 provision, if I read Randi right, won't provide any significant protections. So, one can assume it's likely premium deductions are inevitable.

With the health care issue aside for now, I have four certain problems with the new contract.
1. It institutionalizes the givebacks (loss of seniority transfer, days in August, and grievance of unfair letters in the file), perhaps once and for all.
2. The money doesn’t even keep up with inflation. The social security administration just set the cost of living adjustment for 2006 to 4.1 percent. If we only had that, the two year contract increase would come to 8.2 percent, not just 7.1 percent as this proposal offers. What’s more is that inflation in the New York City area is always higher than the rest of the country.
3. There’s nothing in this contract for our students and to improve working conditions in our school. We all know the primary reason teachers leave the profession is over working conditions NOT salary. We have an opportunity with each new contract to strengthen our relationship with the parents, without whom we could not win a strike, buy showing we care about the kids and not just pensions and salaries. This contract makes us look totally self-serving.
4. We agree with this contract that the DOE can throw in the towel on a thousand of our ATR colleagues. How would you feel if someone said to you, “How much will it take to make you go away and not come back?” It’s voluntary, for now, but the question still hurts. I would be ashamed to authorize it being asked to my colleagues.

Our union lacks a vision for a better future. We have been told repeatedly by supporters of this contract, “The membership won’t strike, so this is the best we can hope for.” But, it doesn’t always take a strike. If necessary we could rise to the occasion given the proper planning, discipline and leadership. But by responding to fear tactics we are being lead down the path to our ultimate demise. With each new contract we lose rights, control over our profession, and suffer worsening working conditions. We are told by the union that you have to stay out on strike “long enough to get the parents from being angry at you to become angry at the city. “ But, that’s NOT true if we are going out for things that will also benefit our students (their children) like an end to overcrowding, smaller class sizes and/or improved safety. Under these demands with proper outreach to the parents, you’ll have their support from the start. Striking for money alone is foolish, but add just and equitable conditions to learn and work and restoring control over our teaching practice, then we have something to believe in and something the public can support.

Forty percent voted against the last contract. You won’t be alone if you vote “no” this time either. Saying “no” to this contract can be the beginning of saying “yes” to a new movement for building a better future and supportive community for ourselves and our students. Let’s send Randi back to the table.

In solidarity,

John Elfrank-DanaChapter Leader
Murry Bergtraum High School
John | Homepage | 11.19.06 - 6:32 pm | #

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Anonymous said...

John,

That has to be the most beautifully and persuasive piece I have read since the contract was announced.

It speaks to the issues without sounding bitter.

I now have something to hand out to my staff that does not negate the feelings of those who are for the contract while establishing a basis for those who want to vote NO, or are undecided.

Thank you.
Schoolgal | 11.19.06 - 6:54 pm | #

Thanks to NYC Educator
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Anonymous said...

A problem a I have with John's statement "not always taking a strike". I agree with you that it doesn't always take a strike but we have a significant number of parents on our side now and for several years (in part because of the UFT's outreach and in part because of Klein's alienation of them). In it of itself it does not result in getting what is needed for kids with this administration. If you remember we had rallies, protests, actions and press of being dissatisfied with the DOE beyond our contract issues and you see that they did not move. For us the question is what do we do now?

If you vote "no" as he suggests, do you think we will get something better under this administration? Okay, so we won't strike as he says. Then what, we pound on table harder and then he'll forget what was negotiated 12 months ago? Getting the parents and the public on your side is part of the successes for dealing with educational issues as well as labor issues. But when they won't listen to us (or the parents or public) then what? Simply demanding more, louder waiting things out doesn't mean you will get what you want.

This contract stands on its own merits and if we really want to be more militant than let us begin to mobilize and organize ourselves to do that. In the mean time we have a contract we can be proud of.

Anonymous said...

We got the pattern that DC 37 with all the givebacks still in it. What's there to be proud of?

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry I beleive we got better than the contract because they got 2% and 4%. We got 2+5% along with the $750 the 5year longevity and the additional 12 sessions for athletic coaches.

Still what should we do instead? Pout?

Anonymous said...

I Meant:

I'm sorry I beleive we got better than the pattern because they got 2% and 4%. We got 2+5% along with the $750 the 5 year longevity and the additional 12 sessions for athletic coaches.

Still what should we do instead? Pout?

Randi Must Go said...

Who gives a shit about the coaches? What about the right to grieve LIF?

Science Sam said...

Who cares about the coaches? Wow. That’s incredible. That’s truly union of you.

Personally, I like the coaches. I go to them and say so-and-so is not doing too well in my class, and then the coaches do a little of this and a little of that, and the kid spruces right up. Plus, they have a little homework time thing some of them do. And I think the students care about the coaches. And if they don’t care about the coaches, then they care about the school plays and other activities like that. Those play people live at the school during play time, and they keep the kids singing, and keep them out of the streets. I like going into the auditorium and seeing them singing. Everybody has this very earnest look about them, like it’s Broadway. I’m glad the teachers who stay with them (not me, I’m not quite that dedicated, I guess) are getting a little extra. It’s not like it broke the bank.


I just want to publicly apologize for the length of my last blog entry. This blogging is addicting. Fifteen minutes of fame. Maybe one of these days I’ll actually start writing on that space blogspot gave me when I signed onto here.

Randi Must Go said...

Sam:

Money for coaching is NOT a real issue. The real issues are our grievance rights, seniority rights, tenure rights, healthcare and pension.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to think of myself as a rather level-headed chap. I don't necessarily buy into the hype. I can see through it more often than not.

That being said, I really don't see how voting YES is a bad thing. I truly don't. There will never be a perfect contract. But this one has no givebacks and more money! How is that bad?

I know, you think I'm being too accepting. That I should stand and fight for a contract that restores us to our former glory...What former glory is that, by the way? $7,000 a year salaries?

And forgive me, but I truly don't think any of us should expect to get LESS time ever. Does anyone out there really think that the DOE and the City are going to say "Here's a lot more money and could you work less too?" Not bloody likely. Not now. Not ever. If the DOE had their way, we'd be working 12 months a year.

I think a NO vote is foolish. Turning down a good contract just to prove you can is neither brave nor courageous. It is selfish and stupid. We're educators. Let's not be stupid. I know I won't...I'm voting YES.

Anonymous said...

Do you sheep voting yes bother to read the ICE articles or do you just want to trash them? From the ICE blog's quiz on how we got more than the DC 37 pattern by extendeding the contract for four + months:

"Do we need Randi if a kindergarten student could go in with the city, present the DC 37 settlement and say, "Me too," and get it based on 30 years of precedent saying when one city union settles, the other unions are guaranteed to receive roughly the same percentage raises without givebacks? (The DC 37 pattern settlement was 6% over 20 months; UFT's extends it a few more months to make it 7.1 %."


Kindly read the stuff before you make comments. those extra months of the contract pay for your precious twelve more sessions of per session while the rest of us suffer under the givebacks.

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

onionproud should take a history course. In the past unions argued for shorter hours and more pay. What's the difference: they were ready to fight i.e. strike for what they felt was right.

Anonymous said...

The union suit came to our school today to sell us on voting yes for the contract. He had no real answers to any questions, regarding health care, ATR's or anything else. His big selling point was that we should accept this contract because we won't do any better. This would be the last time we would have to negotiate with the current mayor and chancellor. Waht makes anyone think the next mayor will be any better. I remember thinking that Guilani was the worst. Anyone would be better than him and look who we got to take his place. After all, we were following the agreement the city made with DC-37. They led the way, and we should just follow. He didn't want to hear that DC-37 has some of the most corrupt officers of any city union or that the DC-37 members do not even get paid a living wage. When one of my colleagues tried to question him about why we were not even keeping up with the cost of living, he was pretty much told to shut up and sit down. To add insult to injury, an administrator told my colleague to be quiet. Only one teacher had the guts to tell the administrator to be quiet, that he wasn't a UFT member and had no right to speak at that meeting.

How can we take back the UFT when we are afraid to speak up for what is right?

Anonymous said...

UFT Members are wondering and asking:



"WHAT'S THE CATCH?"



Catch # 1 Givebacks are likely coming in health coverage: Union leaders are
making much of the fact that we have always negotiated health benefits apart from contract
negotiations, alongside other unions. "Nothing's changed!"they cry. But like a charlatan
magician who distracts the audience by showing one hand is empty, while doing his trick with
the other, the real change lies elsewhere. In our old contract, the UFT promises to "discuss on
an ongoing basis the citywide health benefits program". In the new proposed deal, (#18.
Miscellaneous) the language is changed to "Cost-containment initiatives and program
modifications in the City Health Benefits Program shall be discussed." We should pay attention
to the introduction of the phrase "cost-containment," a euphemism for downsizing our benefits,
in the context of widespread efforts by both private and public employers to shift the burden of
health care costs on to employees. The rejected transit contract, with the provision for
members giving 1.5% of their pay for healthcare costs, is only one example of this. We need a
contract provision that will rule out raising our health care costs or reducing our benefits, not
commit our union to discussing them.




Catch #2 - Severance pay for ATRs - Anyone who has been an ATR (excessed
teachers with no program) for a year can be offered severance pay. This paves the way for
ATRs being threatened, pressured and harassed into accepting this "voluntary" layoff, which is
"irrevocable." Any one of us could become an ATR, regardless of our seniority, if our school
closes or our department is downsized. What's worse, no amount for the buyout is set in the
contract. It must be settled by negotiation or arbitration: and we will have no vote on it.
Excessed teachers once had bumping rights by seniority. The union gave that up in
2005. We also had a no layoff clause. We were told the provisions for ATRs were the
equivalent of a no layoff clause. It's a slippery slope: this new change makes ATRs an
endangered species, and further erodes our seniority rights and job security.



Catch #3 - Change in Peer Intervention Program (PIP) - This program was a "port
in the storm" for teachers in danger of being terminated. The UFT peer interveners gave many
UFT members a second chance to be rated "S." The proposed change would deny the most
vulnerable teachers, those in danger of being stripped of their licenses, access to the original
program. Instead, they could try the "Peer Intervention Plus," which subverts the role of the
interveners. They will no longer be active UFT members, but outside contractors whose
reports could be used in 3020a hearings to fire teachers. Another feature of the new program
is that principals could ask teachers to join it, and if they decline, it can be used as evidence
against them.



Catch #4 - Ominous Language for Future Hires: In the contract we have now, the
raises "shall apply only to incumbents on the payroll on September 12, 2005, or after." In the
proposed new contract, the corresponding provision reads the raises "shall apply only to incumbents
on the payroll on the effective date of the wage increases." The words "or after" have been
omitted. This leaves a big question as to whether new members hired after the date of the
final raise of the contract, May 1, 2008, will be entitled to any of the raises in the contract. Or
will their pay be allowed to stay at the levels of October 2007, in order to fund the new $1,000
five year longevity?



Catch # 5 - Why an early contract?
Both Bloomberg and Weingarten had to want an early deal. We can only speculate on
Bloomberg's motives - possibly a desire for union cooperation in getting the state legislature to
renew mayoral control of city schools, or in winning a good deal on the Campaign for Fiscal
Equity funds.
But Weingarten's aims are clearer. She and her Unity caucus are running for office in
UFT elections in early 2007. The unhappiness over the 2005 contract was a threat to their
repeat of their crushing defeat of the opposition in 2004. Unity also faced a very tough battle
for the six high school Executive Board seats currently held by the opposition. This deal was
clearly meant to banish the bad taste left by all the 2005 givebacks before we voted. The
$750 lump sum seems especially timed to create warm and fuzzy feelings toward the UFT
leadership just as the election begins.
But Weingarten may have sacrificed our interests by settling too quickly and easily
when Bloomberg was eager to make friends. Over the past year, TJC has argued, in the
negotiating committee, in the delegate assembly, and in our leaflets, for a strategy to win back
the givebacks based on an approach of rank and file mobilization to put pressure on the City.
(See TJC's side of the story about what went on the Negotiating Committee on our website.) If
the UFT had shown it was in a state of readiness to strike, restoring our rights and improving
our working conditions could have been realistic goals.



VOTE NO! WE CAN DO BETTER! WE DESERVE BETTER!
Your vote is not just for whether this contract gets accepted. It is a message that can
influence what the union leadership does in the future. If the 2005 contract had been easily
passed, the next contract might have been just as bad with more time, more work and more
givebacks of our rights. Instead, the worst thing about this contract is that it does not win back
what we gave back. If this contract is easily passed, it will be a signal to the leadership that we
have accepted that we will never win back what we gave up.
Instead, we urge you to vote no, and pressure the UFT leadership to launch a fight to
"win back what we gave back."


Teachers for a Just Contract is a caucus of the United Federation of Teachers. For
more information about Teachers for a Just Contract, visit our website,
TeachersforaJustContract.org.

Anonymous said...

Our district rep, a sleaze ball named Charlie Turner came to Barton to talk about the contract. The lunch period I saw him there were only 3 people in the cafeteria (notices didn't go in mailboxes until the middle of the day) and so I argued with hime some, but I gather he had a really unpleasant time with later groups in other periods.
His reason for wanting this contract? A hundred thousand of them, he's on top scale now. Great.

And, the ICE Contract-at-a-Glance went into mailboxes this afternoon...

Anonymous said...

Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,
nothing is going to get better. It's not.
-Dr. Seuss, author and illustrator (1904-1991)

VOTE NO

Anonymous said...

Food for thought from UTP

"...we voted for this rubbish, and we’ll do so again. So when you wonder why there will be no take-backs, no real raise, and a continuing erosion of job rights in a increasingly hostile environment, look to your colleagues. When you are in the parking lot, in the clock-room, in the lounge or cafeteria, turn to your fellow teacher and ask them how they accepted Unity domination and one sub-par contract after another. The reason is that they don’t care. They are in a hurry to go home. They are apathetic. They might be spineless. They could be stupid. Whatever it is, Unity exploits it. Like a mole hidden in our union, they betray the members they should serve. But if the members don’t care, then what? Who you gonna blame?"

We would like to blame the Unity people who post on this blog for their no vision contract and their oh we can't do any better sales pitches.

Anonymous said...

The State of the Union at the Gut Level
An elementary school new chapter leader writes:

What do you think of the new contract? My teachers are all suspicious. I am too. The problem I see is that it's money for belief in the union. Only the staff doesn't believe in the union any more. They don't think they can be saved from the Nazi academy leadership. Can they? I don't know either. I'm a chapter leader. I did change a few situations and I haven't given up the fight and an incredible fight it is. Our principal makes our lives a living hell. My old friends are so scared they won't even help themselves. They certainly won't help me either to help them. What to do? I feel like this is a downhill battle. I keep climbing up and slipping backwards 2ft. by every foot I climb up. Principal does this deliberately just to keep us overwhelmed. Can the academy leaders get some sensitivity training after bloomklein dies? I certainly think it's necessary.

Negotiating a 2 year contract extension keeps this chapter leader and so many others in total jeapardy. When does the UFT draw a line in the sand? Does anyone think they will really fight for takebacks in 3 years? They are, and will remain, a collaborationist union. This contract is Bloomberg's and Klein's ensorsement of Randi's election since she has been so good for them, making them look like heroes to the anti-union and public education business community for standing down what was viewed as one of the most powerful unions. Look for the $750 checks in the election ballot envelope.

Anonymous said...

Professionalism???

Definition of profession:
An occupation that requires training and specialized study

Definiton of professional:
1 a : of, relating to, or characteristic of a profession b : engaged in one of the learned professions c (1) : characterized by or conforming to the technical or ethical standards of a profession (2) : exhibiting a courteous, conscientious, and generally businesslike manner in the workplace

I got to thinking about my C-6 "Professional" period and decided to look up the word. I then began to think about what I am required to do during my "professional" period and I realized that calling what I and my colleagues do during a professional period is an oxymoron.

To begin with, some of my colleagues have hall patrol. Now I don't know what colleges they went to, but I am sure that none of them took a course dealing with this while they were in college. On the same note, a few sit by the front door and issue late passes to students. Highly unprofessional activities.

Now, my professional period is slightly more professional. I tutor in the library. I really don't mind tutoring. It's something that I have been doing since I started teaching 30 years ago. (a professional activity). What is unprofessional is the notion that I must be assigned to do it. It doesn't matter if my students are free periods 6 or 7--I must be there period 5. Another unprofessional aspect of tutoring is the poor spot we are forced to tutor in. I would be better off tutoring on the subway (not rush hour, of course) than in our library. The library is noisy, overcrowded and kids use it as a hangout. The librarian is glued to her chair in the front of the room and never looks up from the magazine she is reading. Still more unprofessional is that I need to be told what to do with my professional time. I have no time during the day to call a parent, confer with a student or to talk to colleagues about common preps. Professional activities that need to get done.

The next contract should change the term "professional period" to "let's degrade our teachers some more period". That way, at least we would know what we are in for when the contract passes.

Anonymous said...

All of these people who complain on this website about "poor working conditions" had better be building up their own chapters instead of complaining about Randi or this decent contract. If you truly believe that the conditions are miserable, then as Chapter Leaders you should be working on getting your staff to be militant and strong.

My proud ICE Chapter leader complains about Randi and about this contract but all he has done is scare the staff that it "may close some day and we'll all be out of jobs". Give me a break! Be realistic and start building the chapter you claim to represent. Be a leader and stop with the fear mongering and lies!

Dump Weingarten said...

Your ICE chapter leader is right. If you have too many senior teachers, Klein will restructure your school and get rid of them all. Did you ever wonder why a vast majority of ATR's, whom Klein has labeled as "incompetent," are over the age of 40?

Richard Skibins said...

Randi has fallen into Kleinberg's trap. Their master plan to destroy education is as follows:

1. Force CSA to surrender tenure for principals, who would then be at the mercy of the superintendents.

2. Consolidate into 10 regions, giving the regional superintendents and LIS's carte blanche to force supervisors to harass teachers and impose quotas on "U" ratings and letters in the file, similar to police quotas on tickets.

3. Create a leadership academy and a fellows program, both of which instruct with an anti-union slant.

4. Force the UFT to surrender grievance rights and seniority rights, as well as increasing work load and assigning demeaning "professional activities."

5. Encourage teaching fellows to run for chapter leader positions and rubber-stamp what the leadership academy principals do, further weakening the UFT.

6. Eliminate AP's, ensuring that only anti-union leadership academy principals vote in CSA matters, destroying the CSA.

THIS is what's happening. Heed my warnings.

Anonymous said...

Happy Thanksgiving. I guess we should be grateful we still have this holiday off.

JustdaTruth said...

I have to admit. I am still a member of the science sam's "club" in regards to this contract. He still in my opinion is calling it like it is(saving me a great deal of time writing "thank-you sam ").

"Bronx Latino" and "onionproud" have made some great points also.

A question to ICE/TJC leadership are you electionering on the issue of this contract or are you listening to the vast majority of the UFT members who are supporting this contract? Members will soon be making up our minds as to who should lead the UFT. If you were in charge would you listen to the members, or do you consider us too ignorant to make our own decisions? Would you trust union democracy to guide your actions or would you be just be another version of a top down leadership that we have had too much of in the past?

p.s. to blogger(anonymous 11-21-2006 4:10:02 [a time not a citation from the bible]) Who said that people who are voting yes on the contract are sheep. I say to you "SOUR GRAPES". People are reading the blogs but don't agree with the nay sayers.

Hypatia said...

People are very happy with this contract. They like the money, they like the cap on prescription drugs, and they like the fact that we will never have to negotiate with Bloomberg again. They even welcome the new five year longevity for teachers and paras. You opposition folks are way off base. Your lies about health care and mayoral control have fallen on deaf ears, proving that our members are too smart to fall for your nonsense. I predict that the contract will pass with over 90% approval.

Anonymous said...

I also predict the contract will pass with over 90% approval, but this contract is not the leadership.

This contract is about money, leadership is another issue. I don't believe the negotiating committee represented the mass rank and file because even those that voted Yes on the last contract did so while holding their noses. I can see soon-to-be retirees as well as new teachers voting for this contract again because it benefits the new and old while those in the middle are not compensated as much.

Sometimes change is good, unless you have a patronage job you are not willing to part with.

JustdaTruth said...

To anonymous "above" as to your statement that the negotiating committee was not being representative of the rank and file. In some ways I agree. However probably not in the way you do. Members of the negotiation committee were very different than most of the rank and file, they volunteered their time even over the summer to try to acheive a contract settlement. They cared about their fellow members and they worked hard and debated all the issues (including the so called takebacks of the so called givebacks). They were activists by deed. Not by words, as are many of the people (including possibly yourself) who do not value the work done by the negotiation committee.

JustdaTruth said...

I had a very long conversation with some friends over Thanksgiving and it was pointed out to me how wrong this contract is and why we should not settle so early. Teaching used to be fun and I realize how many of you are having a hard time. It was wrong of me to support this contract especially when I won't even work under it. Sorry.

JustdaTruth said...

I am very flattered that somebody chose a blog name that was very close to mine in order to confuse people. I am now convinced that my points are even more accurate than I thought. "Justdatruth said" chose that name to confuse people into thinking that the one and only justdatruth changed positions on supporting the contract, which I haven't. The people who are against this contract are really grasping at straws to win support. They have lost the argument and now are using fake names to discredit the true blogger. I find it kind of funny. However it is really pathetic. And thats the truth!

Anonymous said...

I was the "anon" you referred to and I immediately realized that was not your post and agree that it was a stupid thing to do. And, I have spoken up about the sophomoric antics on this site before, and it came on the heels of your response to my comment, so for the record, I did not do that.

The poster could have just asked: Are you really a full-time teacher? If so, do you have it easier than the rest of us. Do you also have some union position either in your school or with the UFT? Were you on the committee? How were the members chosen? I really would like answers to these questions.

But more importantly, how much time was actually dedicated towards the takeback issue? How many really stood up to the powers on this issue? I remember reading that the members voted for talks regarding more givebacks as long as it wasn't in "time". They felt to vote down such a proposal was unrealistic. I think a strong union would have voted for no more givebacks at all, yet PIP is no longer under union control. ATRs are still not placed and we still have no idea about the possible rate we will soon be paying for health. Are you willing to speak to these questions too because I have yet to get a straight answer from anyone?

JustdaTruth said...

Dear anonymous,
Thank you for what you said. What was said during the negotiating committee meetings, is confidential. However since certain topics voted on by the negotiation committee were discussed in the delegate assembly, I will comment on those. Yes I am a classroom teacher and was a member of the committee. There was serious discussion on all the issues. Once we decided to use the pattern aggresively it was like a working with a "two edged sword": in my opinion if we said the pattern was the pattern, since DC 37 didn't get any "particular give backs" we shouldn't expect any. The part of the contract I like the most, is the fact that when Bloomberg/Klein are gone, we can a much better chance of negotiating back some of the terrible aspects the last contract brought us. I suffer under them also, but I didn't think Bloomberg/ Klein would give or sell back the work rules they covet. I think it was better to get a short term contract with no losses, minimal gains, than wait it out or choose another strategy possibly lose things. These were all judgement calls. In my opinion there was absolutely no sellout. When you observe the vote by the committee there was an obvious consensus. All of the committees decisions went to the D.A. In my opinion everything was done according to "Hoyle". The problem I think people are having is with the ethics of the current leadership. They are in my opinion improving, driven mainly by member outrage about how they were treated in the past.

Dump Weingarten said...

Two things:
1. We've already heard that once the mayor was gone, we would have an easier time with the new mayor. However, that mayor was Giuliani. We did NOT have an easier time with the new mayor. What if Klein is successful in his quest to be the next mayor? We have to destroy him NOW.

2. Most members of the negotiating committee were hand picked by Randi.

Anonymous said...

While you answered some of my questions, you left out others that have nothing to do with your oath:

Are you currently working for the union either as CC or afterwork?
How were you selected for the committee? New Question: Did you also support the last contract?

Also you did not speak to the ATR and PIP issues which in my opinion are sell outs. How can you argue no givebacks when these are givebacks?

Anonymous said...

It's not so wonderful at the DOE as the newspaper reports that to transfer from a living hell is impossible. Why would anyone want to keep this contract for three more years?


New York Post
SUING OVER RELIGIOUS PRINCIPAL
By JANON FISHER

November 26, 2006 -- A Jewish art teacher claims her principal's Christian prayer groups and the staff's anti-Semitic slurs turned her job at a Brooklyn public school into a living hell - and now she's fighting back with a lawsuit.
Melissa Eder, 43, thought she'd finally found her dream job when she was hired by the 219-student East New York Family Academy on Linden Boulevard in October 2003.
What she didn't realize was that in this hard-bitten corner of the education system, the edict about separation of church and state was routinely ignored, she said.
Eder also had no idea she would eventually have to face off with staff who compared Adolf Hitler to Gandhi and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
Eder said the problems began about six months into her new job. She said she was approached by one of the teachers and asked whether she wanted to join the "prayer circle" of six faculty members who huddled every morning with Principal Sheila Richards. She declined.
Then, during a staff meeting at the beginning of her second year, the principal invited the teachers out into the hallway to join in a group prayer.
"She asked Jesus Christ for guidance in the upcoming school year," Eder said. "I was the only one that didn't participate. I do fundamentally believe in the separation of church and state so you can have religious freedom."
The other teachers, however, were shocked that Eder bowed out of the prayer, she said.
Another prayer session detailed by Eder occurred in 2003, when, she said, English department staff asked students to bow their heads as they waited to start their Regents exams.
The Department of Education refused to comment on the allegations, but a 1964 Supreme Court decision prohibits faculty-led prayer in school.
Eder said her alienation from her Christian peers reached a peak during a staff-development seminar in 2004, when faculty members were instructed to divide into groups and discuss why Gandhi, King and Hitler were considered "revolutionary figures."
"Somebody said, 'Let the students draw their own conclusions about the Holocaust,' " she said. "I didn't realize the Holocaust was a revolution that made a positive change. I couldn't make them understand."
Eder also claimed that a picture card of Rebbe Moshiach, the Jewish prophet, was placed on her seat in the teacher's lounge to identify it as hers.
She said that in her second year Richards told her: "I know you hate this school. You're like a poison. I'll sign your transfer papers."
When she eventually tried to transfer, she found it impossible to find a comparable position in the city school system.
In June 2005, when Richards told Eder that her contract would not be renewed, she filed a claim with the city.
Last week, Richards referred all inquiries to Department of Education headquarters.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission investigated and on Aug. 23, issued Eder a right-to-sue letter, said her lawyer, Joseph Carbonaro.
Last week, Eder filed suit in federal court in Manhattan for $3 million in damages.
janon.fisher@nypost.com

Anonymous said...

The Greatest Contract Ever Sold

A bunch of us went to see Frank Rich and Alan Brinkley (David Brinkley’s son) at CUNY recently. Rich’s book, “The Greatest Story Ever Sold,” about the unraveling of the Bush administration has opened up a window to the way the Iraq war was sold to the public and the shameful buying into it all by the press. We found eerie similarities to the way the NYC Ed press in New York and even nationally have brought into the BloomKlein story of reform in the NYC school system.

As the Bush story has unraveled the press has begun to try to wipe some of the egg off its face. We can only hope the same thing happens here as the BloomKlein fiction unravels.

Speaking of selling snake oil, a book should be written called “The Greatest Contract Ever Sold” about how the UFT leadership managed to sell the 2005 contract, the worst contract ever signed since it gave back so many of the gains over the last 40 years; a contract being compared unfavorably with the one the Indians signed with the Dutch - hey, the UFT didn't even ask for the $24 in beads as a takeback.

Despite the sell job, 40% of the teachers voted against. The 2-year extension of the “GCES” will not require as much effort but the UFT leadership is not taking any chances and is sending “the suits” into the schools. These “suave” characters will actually end up getting more votes against the contract.

Remember the promises of a year ago? Coming soon – 55/25. The end to micromanagement? Teachers having the freedom to choose the schools they want to go to?

Ask the numerous teachers, many of them over 40, whose schools have been closed (which many of us suspect are often for bogus reasons designed to get rid of all the teachers, something the UFT has gone along with) and are now day-to-day subs. This can happen to any school that closes. Attacks on experienced teachers continue to go on as the DOE is trying to run a Peace Corps where it replaces and retrains teachers every few years. The newer teachers who do stay will one day find themselves as they get older under the same attacks as the DOE adopts a corporate culture where people are driven out as they age. The new 100G salary? Sounds great but what percentage of people who enter teaching will stay long enough to get it? As salaries climb, attempts to make people leave will rise with it.

The new contract offers a “voluntary” buyout to the people who cannot get jobs who have to work as day-to-day subs. They will probably put people in the DOE version of Abu Ghraib until they say, “I give.” Or just maybe a simple transfer to somewhere as far away from their home as possible. Or make them take the “A” train. Look for the DOE to put out no-bid contracts for water-boarding equipment and electric shock therapy equipment for each region.

Warning: statements like the above have officially been branded “fear mongering” by Unity hacks.

Anonymous said...

Be brave and vote no. Don't worry you'll feel good about it and when the you know what hits the fan, you can proudly say I told you so.

Anonymous said...

Vote no and get what? When? More importantly, how?

Anonymous said...

At this point a NO vote has little to do with this contract and a lot to do as a no-confidence vote in the current leadership.

Hypatia said...

The really sad thing about this website is that some people here seem more interested in discrediting the leadership of our union than in doing what is in accordance with the wishes of the membership. It's obvious by speaking with colleagues and friends that the vast majority of people in the schools support this contract. Playing on their fears with the WHAT IF and PERHAPS MAYBE game is not only irresponsible, it's downright destructive. The contract before us may not be 'the best of all possible contracts' - we've never gotten one that fits that definition, and it is highly improbable that we ever will. What we have before us is a decent offer: reasonable raises, no givebacks, continuation of all of our benefits and rights and a bridge to a time after Bloomberg and Klein. Every rational member, without a personal ax to grind, will be voting 'yes.'

jameseterno said...

This contract is not about bashing the leadership of the UFT. It's about all of us having to live with the worst contract ever for almost three more years. In exchange, we get salary increases that don't quite measure up to inflation.

irrational but principled said...

Hypatia,
What's really sad is the amount of time you waste posting to this "sad" blog. If every rational member will be voting "Yes" why are you putting such effort into convincing the irrational ones like us? You full well know that the vote in favor will be overwhelming. But that is not enough. You want to get the same percentage of votes Suddam Hussein used to get in the Iraq elections - 99%. Do you think that will make you feel secure? No matter what contract you came up with, without addressing issues like the 37 minutes or the ATRs, people in the schools will be miserable. No matter what obfuscations Unity engages in, people will know who to blame for that. Better spend your time trying to convince the rational people voting "yes" that Unity had nothing to do with the 2005 contract.

Hypatia said...

Oh, Irrational, I thank you for your concern, but you needn't worry about me wasting my time. I enjoy exposing the forces that would try to destroy my union.

Irrational but principled said...

But Hypatia,
You must have lesson plans to write, papers to mark, etc. Aren't you busy organizing the chapter in your school to fight for respect? Don't you have phone calls to make for another useless politician supported by the UFT leadership? Don't you have to convince people that mayoral control is a good thing once Bloomberg is out? And what about the class size campaign? There are so many things on the Unity agenda and so little time. Yet you find time to touch our little irrational lives with your pearls of wisdom.

Enjoy exposing the forces that will destroy our union? Look no further than the leadership. Check the condition of the union in the schools and ask: Are chapters stronger or weaker as a union than they were 10 years ago? Then ask who has presided over the destruction of the union. Certainly not ICE or TJC.

Anonymous said...

Hypatia look in the mirror and you will see whose ideas are destroying this union.

JustdaTruth said...

Getting back to anonymous(11-26, 12:02:42:
I will not reveal my exact connection to the negotiation committee. The anti-Unity party line seems to be that any person who supports this contract must have a "patronage job" whatever that is. I think you buy into that logic, or either with all due respect you are just shouting out the party line, because you can't believe that your views are possibly wrong. Did I question your political connections? No. Only your logic. Sorry If I sound so stern but it is these type of accusations that are angering Independents. I would like to answer all your questions, maybe we'll meet in another arena. My views may be wrong, however after many years of Union activism (non paid) I think I know a thing or two. Answering your question: I do not have any such job and I did not support the last contract. I do not see any sellout on the ATR issue and the PIP issues. The ATR was sold out on the last contract. The PIP is really no issue. There is a lot of spin as to that topic (fear mongering). People are looking for alternatives to the current leadership that's for sure. Could it be possible if the current UFT leadership, becomes better leaders, they may be better at running than UFT than the opposition. Any way,
I just want to know the truth -- hence my blog name. An interesting post: See Max "the sell out factor's" post commenting on the first UTP blog. Do the UTP'ers have patronage job's also? Last time I heard I think they are still waiting for their two pensions.

Anonymous said...

UTP doesn't support the contract. They are just down on the members. They said they're voting maybe which probably means no.

Norm said...

Justdatruth,
I take your word for it. You are an independent, were against the last contract and feel this one makes sense. I am hearing of other people who are in the same place as you are. I am as out there as anyone on being anti-Unity and never take the position that you all have patronnage jobs. Those attacks are not thought out and not a position ICE would take. A chunk of people who support what we do are in that place.

You say "People are looking for alternatives to the current leadership that's for sure. Could it be possible if the current UFT leadership, becomes better leaders, they may be better at running than UFT than the opposition."

I only speak for myself here and not for ICE. There is no real opposition yet as far as I am concerned- at least until there is a machine in place that can counter Unity on a mass basis.

Ed Notes began over 10 years ago with the purpose of making Weingarten and co. better union leaders because I had no faith in New Action doing any better. For over 5 years I gave Randi the benefit of the doubt to such an extent that I voted for her in her first election and was accused by New Action of being an agent of Unity.

But when Randi endorsed mayoral control and some other issues, I began to see her actions as no different that past leaders and started to use Ed Notes as an organizing tool to try to create an opposition that would have more force in making Randi a "better" union leader. (Funny, when I told that to Randi at a retirement party in the fall of 2002 (a year before ICE was born) she said "good idea.")

Because of the realities of "winning" power in the UFT, experienced ICE people in union politics seemed to understand that we would never contend for power but would at most if we got support from the members push Randi to make certain reforms. We also have certain political points we want to make, some of them not necessarily popular with the members.

Your view of how people in ICE function is narrow - like it is all about union politics. We have a point of view and want to convince people. Is it possible after all these years we have no faith in the Weingarten leadership and distrust things she does and tend to look underneath the rock? YES. The closer you are to the actions of the leadership -- like going to Exec bd meetings, etc the more you see things lurking underneath.

But given that, there has definitely been a response to the high NO vote in the last contract. If it had won overwhelmingly, I do not think there would have been many of the current iniatives.

Do I think that much of it is being done for political reasons given history? Hell yes. And I don't have much faith that there is much beyond PR until I see results. In that light, the higher the No vote the "better" we can make the union leaders. A cynical reason for voting NO? Maybe. But history does repeat itself.

JustdaTruth said...

To Norm: You've made some good points. Thanks for the clarification. It all sounds truthful to me and I appreciate that. I'll get back to you. I would like some answers to some other questions.

Anonymous said...

Justdatruth
Feel free to email anytime. I'll keep you anon. norscot@aol.com
Or email from my ednotes blog.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone happen to have a copy of this? Even though it is expired by now?