Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Q&A On Proposed Contract

The ballots for the proposed Contract are hitting the schools so it's time to answer some frequently asked questions before you vote. Vote with your eyes wide open.

Question: Does a yes vote mean that mean we still have to go back to school in August?

Answer: Yes. The longest school year in the NY metropolitan area will continue through at least the 2009-2010 school year. Next year we are slated to return to school on August 30th for "professional development." Returning to school almost a week earlier than usual was not pleasant. Only by voting no could we have a chance to organize to win back this and the other givebacks from last year.


Questions: So, all the givebacks remain then if we vote yes? Does a yes vote mean I still can't file grievances for letters in the file or unsatisfactory observation reports? Does a yes vote mean that most of us will still have to work the 37.5 minute small group instruction period four days a week? Does a yes vote mean we are voting for hall, cafeteria and potty patrols? If the Contract is approved, can members still be suspended without pay for certain offenses before they have a tenure hearing?

Answers to all of the above: Yes.


Question: Does a yes vote mean that transfers are still up to principals instead of seniority or school based hiring committees like in the past?

Answer: Transfers will be up to principals if the Contract is ratified.


Question: What about if I am excessed? Do I have a right to be placed before new teachers are hired?

Answer: No. All you have a right to is a job as an Absent Teacher Reserve (day-to-day substitute) teacher somewhere in your district/superintendency. If the city has a fiscal emergency, we can be laid off.


Question: Many schools have been closed or reorganized in the last decade. If my school closes do I have preferred placement rights?

Answer: No. Under the current Contract and the new proposal, members only have the right to an Absent Teacher Reserve position. Even if you are a veteran teacher, when your school is phased out, there is no guarantee that you won't have to pound the pavement and find your own position.


Question: Shouldn't we be happy that the Contract is settled a year early with a salary increase that will put the top teacher salary at $100,000 in 2008 and adds a new $1,000 longevity for UFT members with 5-9 years in the system as well as other little sweeteners?

Answer: Many people will be looking at the money and no further. We believe that this is a "tunnel-vision" perspective. The salary increases (2% +$750 bonus in 2007, 5% in 2008 and 0% in 2009) will not even keep up with inflation while the worst working conditions in the NY metropolitan area won't improve at all (highest class sizes, most dangerous dilapidated buildings, etc…).


Question: Have we at least gotten the 25 years in the system, 55 years of age retirement incentive that was promised in the last Contract?

Answer: No, it must still be negotiated.


Question: What is this new severance package I keep hearing about for people who are in excess for over a year? Isn't it voluntary?

Answer: The Department of Education and the UFT still have to negotiate the package and we don't know what it will look like or if there will be pressure put on teachers who don't accept irrevocable retirement or resignation. We do know that the UFT should not have even talked about this subject as even the anti-UFT arbitrators from the last round were asked by the DOE to recommend that teachers in excess for 18 months be terminated and the arbitrators left no doubt by saying that they "specifically reject this proposal." Klein bringing it up again in 2006 was an insult. He should have been told emphatically no and then given strong UFT demands to win back all of what we gave back last time. Instead, Klein was able to take a second bite at the apple and won a severance package. The UFT asked for nothing and got nothing. You can't win big gains if you don't ask for them.


Question: Have there been any improvements made to working conditions in this Contract?

Answer: We don't see any. The UFT claims that three new provisions are improvements but we disagree. First, a new provision saying we won't get letters to our file if corporal punishment charges are unsubstantiated does not help us because we don't get letters to the file now if charges are not substantiated. Second, a new committee to reduce paperwork is just an extra committee added to the two committees we already have on this subject. Finally, a new peer Intervention Program that is not confidential and can be used against us in hearings to fire us does not look like a gain to us.


Question: What about our health benefits and Mayoral Control of the schools? Randi said there were no deals on these two subjects in exchange for the Contract. Is this true?

Answer: Let history be your guide on this one. In the 2002 Contract, New York State provided funding for our first swap of us working more time in exchange for money (6% extra for 20 minutes more per day that became "teacher detention" otherwise known as "professional development Mondays"). That particular Contract was so bad that it was renegotiated three times in the next three years. In 2002, Randi said that there was no deal with Governor Pataki for that money but he was soon thereafter endorsed for reelection by the UFT and he won the John Dewey award. Coincidence? You be the judge. Much is undecided today. What is certain is that the Municipal Labor Committee will negotiate the health plan and we will not vote again on it. In the last two Contracts, the MLC negotiated the health package before the UFT Contract was settled. In addition, Mayoral Control must be renewed by the state in 2009? We believe it should be opposed unequivocally by the UFT working with parents and replaced with real School Based Shared Decision Making.


Question: The DC 37 Contract that set the financial pattern that we are following was approved by 97 % of the DC 37 voters. People are so frustrated that they will jump at anything and no additional givebacks looks like a plus. Why should we vote no?

Answer: We are in dangerous un-chartered seas. We believe a yes vote is a very shortsighted move. Members should think very carefully about how they vote on this proposed Contract because the future of the school system and UFT members hinges a great deal on how this vote comes out. An overwhelming yes vote would send a signal that educators are content with the way the system is being run under Mayoral Control. Think about how it felt working in August; it didn't help students. Think about being an ATR. Think about suspension without pay. Think about the lost right to grieve unfair letters in the file; it's November and people are already being summoned in many schools to meet with administration over petty matters. Since Bloomberg has taken over the schools, we have seen our working conditions and rights deteriorate dramatically and there is no improvement in sight. A strong no vote would send a message that thousands of educators know something is wrong.

76 comments:

Anonymous said...

I hope people really take the time to read this, instead of voting with their eyes wide shut.

I'm voting no.

Anonymous said...

There was a very short presentation and vote on the UFT contract last night (Monday, Nov. 27) at the PEP meeting. The DOE said that the contract contains two advantages for the DOE: the proposed severance pay to excessed teachers and the so called peer intervention services that will now be provided by non UFT people. The results can now be used for the dismissal hearings.

Anonymous said...

I thought there were no givebacks.

Anonymous said...

Do you think enough people will see this and vote no?

Anonymous said...

Maybe not but it's worth a shot.

Anonymous said...

Question: What is this new severance package I keep hearing about for people who are in excess for over a year? Isn't it voluntary?


Answer: The Department of Education and the UFT still have to negotiate the package and we don't know what it will look like or if there will be pressure put on teachers who don't accept irrevocable retirement or resignation. We do know that the UFT should not have even talked about this subject as even the anti-UFT arbitrators from the last round were asked by the DOE to recommend that teachers in excess for 18 months be terminated and the arbitrators left no doubt by saying that they "specifically reject this proposal." Klein bringing it up again in 2006 was an insult. He should have been told emphatically no and then given strong UFT demands to win back all of what we gave back last time. Instead, Klein was able to take a second bite at the apple and won a severance package. The UFT asked for nothing and got nothing. You can't win big gains if you don't ask for them.




This one says a whole lot. Vote no and new leadership please.

Anonymous said...

Fear Mongering:

"If the city has a fiscal emergency, we can be laid off."

It hasn't happened since 1975 when all city employees were laid off through out the city.

"In the last two Contracts, the MLC negotiated the health package before the UFT Contract was settled."

It has been probably about a dozen contracts not the last 2 because the UFT and all NY municipal unions have been doing this for 40 YEARS. That must be why we have one of the best health care benefits in the country.

Where were you ICE?

"He [Klein] should have been told emphatically no and then given strong UFT demands to win back all of what we gave back last time."

"The UFT asked for nothing and got nothing. You can't win big gains if you don't ask for them."

What did James Eterno and Jeff Kaufman say about this at negotiations? They were there. They also voted to support the negotiation demands along with TJC and ICE members at the Executive Board and the DA. Why are they complaining now, after the fact?

The truth is that all you have to say about everything the UFT does is NO. Even when you have a chance to participate and show real leadership you balk at the opportunity and wait to complain about it as if you had no idea what was happening. Take some responsibility for your actions/inactions.

jameseterno said...

Same old questions from Unity. All have been answered before.

Please read the post entitled, "Unity play Bait and Switch" in the November archives if you are interested in the reasoning for where ICE stood during negotiating with a coalition of city unions and where we are now.

Unity people who brag about the horrible 2005 excessing provisions being like a no layoff clause should know that we don't have a no layoff agreement in the new agreement but we had one in contracts in the nineties and earlier in this decade. That's a fact. It's not fear mongering.

We've answered the health question over and over again. Health issues were settled in the last two contracts and we knew what we were getting when we voted on the contract. Now, we're leaving it to later.

As for the "truth" on us just saying no, obviously you need to check our voting records. You will see we have records that support UFT positions when we believe they are beneficial to our members and we vote no when leadership policy will set us back like this contract will.

jameseterno said...

The last post should say, "Unity Plays Bait and Switch" for those looking for the previous blog article.

Schoolgal said...

I think there is a huge difference between a new teacher being laid off during the fiscal crisis and what is happening to ATRs.

I was laid off twice in 1975 and again in 76. But I was new to the system.
And Shanker made sure we all got recertified in new subjects and placed in areas of need. Courses were offered, and I felt the union was trying to help me. I got placed teaching math until my 2nd layoff.

What is happening to senior teachers is the beginning of the end of unionism.

Unitymustgo said...

Well today was my schools vote. Interestingly a Unity hack was there hanging out next to the ballot box "answering questions". Although when I got there he was pontificating completely unsolicited. What a nice guy. Not surprisingly he felt I should vote yes. Because I have a glimmer of hope that my vote will mean something, I shoved my ballot into the box and not up his -ss.

Science Sam said...

Kauffman, you want leadership, and you show none. The only thing you seem to have against the new contract is the old contract and a few bits of spin, a kind of bottom-of-the-barrel argument, since no one who has the complex vision required for leadership thought we could get back under Klein. I’m realizing that there really is no legitimate voice of opposition to the union that I’ve heard so far. The union is, unfortunately for all of us, doing as good a job as can be done in these lousy corporate times. And probably better than most unions. And certainly better than you.

I mean look at these adolescent strategies you offer as alternatives to what the union did – in the very few times that you actually do offer alternatives. Look at this gem for example, where you are talking about the new contract’s voluntary buyout for the excessed/ATR teacher. You say that the city, “should have been told emphatically no and then given strong UFT demands to win back all of what we gave back last time.”

Wow – that’s a great strategy, Kauffman, “just say no.” like Nancy Reagan and somehow they were going to say, HEY You’re right!!!!! We’ve got to reverse ourselves!! We’ve got to force those principals to hire those teachers!!!! GEE!”

C’mon are you so out of touch with what it takes to be a leader that you don’t know it doesn’t work like that. That just because you demand, the city doesn’t give. Do you really think that jack-ass Klein was going to give up the thing he and every newspaper, every city big shot, every corporate dope who could wave our contract in the air like it was the Pumpkin Papers – do you really think that he was going to back off from this mantra about how “the schools will never improve so long as principals can’t hire who they want” -- they were going to give that up suddenly just because Weingarten said no to a voluntary buyout? C’mon.

The entire city sided against us on this one, we could not get past it. In fact, even the fact finders were against us, though, one would never know that from the out-of-context disinformation in your post. You say the UFT should not have even addressed the voluntary buyout because : even the anti-UFT arbitrators from the last round ….. "specifically reject this proposal[ by the DoE to terminate excessed teachers]." I can’t even figure out the logic of that one in and of itself, but Kauffman, why not at least tell the whole truth there – that they the arbitrators also recommended no voluntary transfers, and no bumping. What did you do, forget that part?

To quote the arbitrators out of context on that – to say they rejected terminations without adding that they supported the excessing system we now have is not good leadership.

In any case, with the excessing system as it is, what the heck is the problem with offering these excessed people a choice? You seem to think that DoE might abuse it, so therefore we shouldn’t let them offer it. That’s really great leadership. That’s like an administrator I had once who wanted to take away all the overhead projectors because some teachers wouldn’t share.

And you know what – okay, let’s be truly radical for a minute, not this phony radicalism I read here. And totally pragmatic, too . Seniority transfer and bumping has been the anti-unionists excuse, their scapegoat, for a long time, and especially under Klein. And it was working very well for them, and it diminished the credibility of our voice on other issues of importance to us. Ridiculous as it is, everyone bought the argument that it was the transfer policy (and due process) that hindered progress in the schools. It was as ridiculous and as easy an argument to sell as the pseudo-connection between Osama and Iraq, but sell it did. No one in the middle, let alone the union busters, could look past the transfers to see the other aspects of unions, the other things that make our presence in the schools so very important. No one heard us, we were not credible – it was all drowned out in the yelling about those “draconian” transfer rules (not to mention termination rules) that we would not give up.

It made charters and vouchers more sensible too, since the unions so clearly seemed to paralyze the schools.

Not true, we know. But try explaining that.

But we lost some ground finally, after a struggle. Principals can hire whomever they want. A loss for us? Yes, for some members (though not a termination like they wanted). But maybe we also cut our losses. Because now without that little scapegoat, they’ve got no more excuses, and the perception that the problems with the schools is the union just doesn’t play anymore. Its harder to roll one’s eyes at us, and easier to roll them at Klein when he tries to blame the teachers. His press is lousy lately, have you noticed? Our stock is on the rise where it matters and for the other fights (against charters, vouchers, etc.) – places where we need good will. I too would have liked to never lose any ground, but the contract, union rights, they don’t happen in a vacuum. If you don’t get that, then you are not really ready to lead the biggest and most complex teacher union in the country.

jameseterno said...

Scinece Sam-

Please check your facts before you accuse us of quoting out of context. The arbitrators were for the UFT on the excessed teachers not being laid off. Here is the whole section on laying off people from the 2005 arbitration decision:

"Fourth, the City/DOE has recommended that an excessed teacher who does not find a new position within 18 months of being excessed be terminated from the system. We specifically reject this proposal." Where are we quoting out of context? We won on this one in 2005. Then, we let the city bring it up again in 2006 and we took another step backwards. That's not very smart. We could do better.

Two Union representatives at Edison HS today were discussing this issue. I reminded them that back in 1968, the UFT went on strike for months because a few teachers in a handful of schools were going to be forced to transfer out of a district. Now people make all kinds of excuses why being an ATR isn't so bad.

We're not apologists.

Anonymous said...

Sam,

While you raise "some" good points, I really feel you are connected to Unity in some capacity or soon will be.

If someone from Unity stood up to Randi in support of rights for our senior teachers, than that would be the person I would want running this union.

Jack Attack said...

Science Sam has plenty of excuses of why why why why we couldn't, we should be grateful. Blah blah blah. The same Unity line. So basically good ol' sammy is saying that Randi shoved these lousy contracts down our throats to prove a point that Klein can't blame teachers anymore? So we had to give away the candy store for a little PR? Boo hoo hoo, no one would believe us? And Randi caved in and took down her members that she was suppose to lead while saving herself and her lackeys like yourself. Somebody oughta punch Science Sammy in the face to knock some sense into him. I'm pretty sure someone more eloquent than I can put him in his place. I'm all riled up!

Anonymous said...

7 Reasons to Vote “No!”
on the UFT Contract Proposal

#1: Starting pay for paras is a poverty wage.

$20,679 per year is not a living wage in New York City. Can you really vote for a contract that provides subpoverty wages for any of our members?

#2: The pay increase is too low!

It does not even keep us up with the rising cost of living in New York City. For example, cost of electricity is up 6%, cost of fuel up 100%, high cost of housing is driving union
members out of the City! An increase of only 7% over the two years of the proposed contract leaves us far behind these rising costs.

#3: We get back none of the things we lost through the last contract!

We want back our time!!! We want back the two weeks during the school year we lost through the extended school day and the two vacation days before Labor Day that we lost with the last contract. We want an end to imposition of the Circular 6 assignments that forces us to give up 5 additional periods each week!

#4: The $750 in January is chump change! It is not even enough to cover the
increased medical costs that crept in over the summer.

We must now pay $300 each time we are admitted to the hospital. Drug costs have risen from $3 to $30 per month for the same prescriptions. The $1,000 cap per year is only a backward admission that our drug co-pays are going through the roof!

#5: This contract is devoid of any significant membership input.

The survey, sent to members during the summer, was a sham. It did not even include options connected with winning back the time and conditions we lost last time.

Moreover, the terms of the memorandum were worked out EVEN BEFORE any surveys had been returned. Fewer than 25,000 of 110,000 members returned the survey. Why so few? What do the members really want in the next contract? Since our present contract extends until October 2007, we have ample time to find out and broaden our base of union activists.

#6: Principal power remains supreme.

We did not regain our right to grieve letters in our file; and we did not take back seniority transfer rights, two givebacks that really hurt!



#7: Health care and pension givebacks seem right around the corner if this contract is approved.

The City plans to make us pay more for health care and get less through our pension plans. Approving an early contract now gives us NO WAY to resist these cuts. We will be sitting ducks. We cannot allow this to happen.

VOTE NO! VOTE NO! VOTE NO!

Composed and circulated by teachers at
City-As-School High School, Manhattan

Anonymous said...

jack attack for president

Anonymous said...

Hello

A union/Unity rep came o our school today to educate
us about the contract. She started to explain what a
great deal it was. I mentioned that the city
comptroller announced that the nyc inflation rate for
2006 is now at 4.7% and if I vote yes I am already 2%
behind. I also mentioned that the real adjusted wages
between 2002 and 2006 have not risen and actually
fallen after being adjusted for the added time. She
actually said that was one way to figure it, but that
she looks at the amount of money difference. I then
said that my rent goes up at least 4% a year also
faster than my so-called raise. She mentioned the
survey and was blasted by other teachers for the
survey methodology and timing. She said it was not a
machievellian (sp?) strategy, which was roundly
discounted.

She tried to tell us that no one wanted to strike and
talked about the last strike, luckily we have a
veteran of that strike, who countered her argument.

She was not happy and quite confounded by a strong
voice of dissent.

jameseterno said...

We correctly called last year's arbitration anti-union. However, Science Sam should know that there is nothing in this arbitration decision from last year on teachers becoming absent teacher reserves. The arbitrators probably assumed that the Board would place them before they hired new people within a license. That's not the way it's been.

Nothing in the arbitration on people losing their preferred placement rights when their schools are closed. Dropping preferred placement was created by Klein and the UFT. No Child Left Behind is still with us and my school is threatened with being closed constantly by the administration.

There is also nothing in the arbitration that says that there are no voluntary transfers. They did want transfer policy changed and not in our favor but we never implied that this was a pro-UFT arbitration. What we said was that one of the only parts the UFT won (no termination for excessed staff) should not have been revisited.

The only part Sam got right was no bumping into a job of a first year teacher.

You don't think the enemies of public education are going to still use the contract as being the cause of the school system's problems in 2009? Please.

What we will have is three more years with teachers having few rights who are afraid to say or do anything in most schools. You guys will then keep apologizing for every step we continue to take in reverse.

Anonymous said...

Kaufman is spelled with one f Sammy. The least you could do is spell his name right when you slander him. Vote no.

Science Sam said...

James Eterno -- yes, that’s right the arbitrator said we should not to be terminated after 18 months in excess. I say, however, that Kauffmen is quoting the arbitrators out of context because he has told his readers irrelevant information from the arbitrators, which is that they opposed termination, but then he omitted what was relevant, but which also hurts his argument, namely, that the arbitrators supported Klein in eliminating the seniority./bumping system. Since the arbitrators dumped that on us, since, in other words, they certainly did not support the old system (which is what you imply by your omission) then there is really no loss in trying to ameliorate what they left us with, is there?

I’m guessing that this particular spitting contest is so arcane you and I may be the only ones following it, and perhaps not even you, and not even me. Besides, on this one, who knows, maybe the out-of-context on Kauffman’s part was not intentional. So, that would be good anyway. But it is my very strong feeling that the full fact finding (that they essentially supported the current system) undermines his argument, whether he intended to omit or not.

I do not have the whole fact-finder report in front of me. I looked on line for it, and only found summaries.

But here is something you just can’t call unintentional – Kauffman’s characterization of the peer review program. He says, “…a new peer Intervention Program that is not confidential and can be used against us in hearings to fire us does not look like a gain to us.”

Right now observations of manipulative administrators with a self interest are not confidential and can be used against us to fire us – and no one ever got to second guess it. Now, someone independent can come in – and we can say no to it!!! – and you call it a loss. I repeat what I said in an earlier post: we lose ineffective arbitration (grieving letters) and we gain a shot at effective arbitration (independent observer) and you tell everyone it is a loss.

Anonymous said...

Sam,

No regular teacher would have the information you have unless they were connected with Unity. Yet you claim you are not connected.

So, in a nutshell:

1. Why is the ATR situation good?
2. How is the new PIP any better?

Science Sam said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Science Sam said...

Science Sam said...
I posted and then saw that Eterno had posted some more. The fact finders recommended that there be no bumping, and that prcinipal has final say of hiring. I don’t see how you can say that the arbitrators would have assumed excessed teachers would be placed when they said the prcinipals have the final say. Also, I have no idea what you mean when you say that there is nothing in the fact finders to bar voluntary transfers. The arbitrators barred ithe principals having somenoe imposed on them. And that would indeed bar your “voluntary” transfer into a building without the principal’s consent. Other than that, I don’t know what you could be referring to. We do have voluntary transfer, but both sides have to agree.

Again, this is really pretty arcane. I still stand by my point, which at this point – it’s past my bedtime – I cannot possibly repeat.

And yes – I do think we are taking less blame, and will take less blame in future. The "enemies of education" can shout all they want here in NY. But it will have less resonance where it matters. After all, they said they wanted principals to have better say in hiring, and they got it, and nothing is likely to improve as a result (look at Diane Ravitch's article in the Sun last week if you want to see how little things have improved). To blame us again, it rings more hollow, and that's important because as you point out yourself, the enemies won't stop hammaring at us. Since that's the case, the only question is whether they get traction.

Past my bedtime. Early classes.
Good night.


Oh. Sorry about the double F, Kaufman.

Science Sam said...

That's a riot. If someone is good at googling for information, thinking for themselves, having political sense, they must be part of this Unity thing. God knows, they can't just be a teacher!

PIP? You mean with the people who observe? I'm not rehashing it. I thought that one out in another post and summed it up above. If I have time tomorrow night I'll repost if for you.

As for the ATR, if you can't figure out why choice is better than no choice, I can't help you.

Anonymous said...

Gee Sam, your posts are getting longer than mine. Didn't the Fat Man sing yet?

Need I remind you that when you talk about that "Jackass Klein not giving up the 'thing' he and every newspaper, every city big shot, every corporate dope who could wave our contract in the air like it was the Pumpkin Papers" - that "thing" being seniority protection, a basic tenet of unions forever.

How did he get that "thing" into the contract in the first place if not in the 2005 contract negotiated by you guys? No chancellor had that "thing" since the early years of the UFT. But here it is and they will not give it up ever again. And neither will their successors.

And they will not give up high class sizes. And they will not give up anything to protect teachers and chapter leaders from attack. And they will not give up micromanagement. Shall I go on? You might as well pack in negotiations forever and just sign the pattern.

If there had never been a negotiating committee -- 1 or 3 or 300, do you honestly think there would be an iota of difference in this contract? If so, please point out where.

Anonymous said...

I am now really under the impression that any rank and file member who thinks that seniority doesn't have to be protected is not playing with a full deck. To hell with the arbitrator who doesn't understand that people who have serviced our students for years should have a placement over someone new.

And just what outside agency will be overlooking PIP? And isn't the P supposed to stand for Peer and not "Some outside agency"?

Sam,
You are really sly. Instead of just saying you are a teacher, you put it in question form. If you were truly a teacher you would say something like:
"I teach science full time in a High School in Brooklyn."

Instead, you give a Clinton-like response.

Unitymustgo said...

This has to be the best thread ever!! For the record I am a third year elementary teacher. I taught K the past 2 years. Just a few days ago I was asked to cover a mass prep in the auditorium. A movie was put on the lights turned off and I was left alone with 1 Para to watch over a room filled with 6 classes ranging from pre-k to 3 rd. Needless to say bathroom needs arose. One of the little pre-k ers needed to pee and of course couldn't undo his belt and button on his pants. With no options I helped and off he went to the bathroom. All I could think of was how easily things could go wrong for me. My mind flashed to the Cardozo HS science teacher who is currently suspended accused of inappropriately touching a female student right in front of his entire class. Thanks to Randi we are guilty until proven innocent. I don't know about the science teacher, but I need my check. I can only hope my fellow elementary teachers finally figure out that this contract suxs for them too.

jameseterno said...

Let's quote Science Sam to show how he in the typical Unity manner wants to have it both ways.

"Do you really think that jack-ass Klein was going to give up the thing he and every newspaper, every city big shot, every corporate dope who could wave our contract in the air like it was the Pumpkin Papers – do you really think that he was going to back off from this mantra about how 'the schools will never improve so long as principals can’t hire who they want'" --

So, Klein won't agree to anything but he is now going to sit down and agree to a truly independent third party to run the new peer intervention program. OK, Sam, please get away from parroting the Unity party line just long enough to get just a little skpetical.

jameseterno said...

Unitymustgo-

Thanks for reading our stuff. We truly appreciate the feedback.

JustdaTruth said...

Science Sam aren't you dizzy by now reading the spin, (a blinding ICE storm created to snow the UFT membership with rhetoric, and imagined fears). The "ICE CAPADES" SPIN JOB is outrageous. I'm getting dizzy watching it wow. ICE you top the cake. And that's the facts...."JACK".

JustdaTruth said...

How would ICE break the pattern? There will be no answer to this post.

jameseterno said...

By organizing and having most of our 110,000 members ready for a real fight we can break the pattern or at least improve our working conditions. Put the members in the drivers' seat.

JustdaTruth said...

How long would that take James? At what expense? Would the ends justify the means? The UFT has struck before. That is not a new idea. Why will this contract pass? I think it will pass because the members want it. You won't be able to organize or motivate people just because you think you know whats best for them. Thats ego. What do the members want? Can ICE or TJC provide it? The answer for now seems to be no. In my opinion the ICE/TJC leadership is committing a blunder of extreme proportions because it appears that they think that the majority of the UFT, if only aware of the weaknesses of the Unity Party, will go along with their platform. That is the big mistake. The members want what the members want, and will vote for a party that gives them just that. Organize, organize. I say strategize, strategize.

Close down the city said...

Want to break the pattern? Organize for a general strike. But Randi and other union leaders' role is to prevent that from happening.

JustdaTruth said...

Now that's a good idea. But blaming Randi and others isn't going to get it done. The UFT donation of $50, 000.00 to the TWU was a step in the right direction. American Unions aren't like the French Unions who know how to stick together and are extremely successful in keeping their Union benefits. A sustained push toward getting the Unions in the City to really pull together would give us a great deal of leverage with or without the restrictions of pattern bargaining.

Unitymustgo said...

How about having leadership that is in touch with the reality of what it's members are facing and feeling everyday. I can appreciate the sentiment that trying to revert all the givebacks is probably not realistic. That being said, lets for the moment leave history behind us and pretend that our current contract is the best conditions we've ever had. The job of our leadership (the purpose of a union) is to improve its members conditions. There are at least some small concessions that I truly believe could have been won.

First, eliminating the 37 1/2 from training days. If the time is specifically stated to exist for small group instruction of students, then why do teachers need to stay for it on non-teaching days. I say no students, no extra time.

Second, get Veteran's day back.

Third, eliminate the August start.

I truly believe that 1 & 2 could have easily happened if only we'd actually bothered to ask. I recognize the early start is more difficult, but I still think possible. These are not the issues the mayor feels strongest about. With our current contract as the starting point we need to begin chipping away at it to improve it for us.

Anonymous said...

justatruth and sam have a point.

They agree that senior teachers are a burden to the system and should be put to pasture. And to stand together to protect them is stupid.

Do I have it right guys?

the alternate truth said...

Justdatruth:
You like the idea of a general strike and say blaming Randi won't get it done? The question is whether Randi has the political will to get it done. Her track record and that of the political forces behind her say NO!

Last year when James Eterno put forth the "radical" idea that instead of signing a contract in October, the UFT work with the Transit Workers to plan a possible joint action, he was rediculed. The threats were that if the contract were turned down we would have to strike "alone.'

While I think the donation to the TWU is a good thing, the truest effort at solidarity, and something that might have won us a better contract, would have been the threat of joint action.

Most labor leaders are middle ground people who "negotiate" a non-militant position that keeps them in power while managing and controlling the membership.

What was lost or given away in recent contracts will take a major labor movement in the future to gain them back. This movement will never come as long as Randi and crew are running things.

Things will get worse before they get better and they will only get better when the membership gets fed up with the conditions the way they are and sees Randi's "solutions" to every issue is to form a committee or task force but then do little or nothing.

In fact, if Unity is to ever move in a direction that can truly fight for the members, it would be in response to a true threat from an group that can challenge them. Which is why the New Action capitulation to Unity has been so harmful. In essence, people have had to start building something from scratch. Don't be surprised if ICE and TJC are minor players in the long run.

Anonymous said...

NYC Educator said...
The new contract is the same one as the old one, more or less. I can't vote for more hall patrol. I can't vote for veteran teachers being randomly assigned as ATRS. I can't vote for the abysmal and incredibly short-sighted treatment of the hapless Teaching Fellows.

And I can't vote for the lazy UFT leadership taking the path of least resistance to keep its entrenched and cynical patronage mill running.

New Action, in my view, is even worse than Unity for having the audacity to masquerade as opposition.

December 2, 2006 2:41:00 PM EST

Chose experience over youth said...

The teaching fellows that I have met are arrogant young punks who are only in it for the free masters degree. Why recruit people who have failed in their chosen fields? These fellows are generally from non-union fields. They are instructed with an anti-union slant not too dissimilar from the leadership academy zombies. They are hell-bent on destroying the UFT from within. Why else would so many of them be elected as chapter leaders and delegates? Eliminating the fellows program may help save our union.

Science Sam said...

I just got back here after a few days hiatus. James Eterno says I contradict myself because I believe Klein would never have left Seniority alone, but that he will nonetheless allow an independent parties to evaluate classroom teachers.

My answer, yes, I think both, and that’s not a contradiction. Independent is s
the contract language, and since the union uses independent arbitrators for
hearings and it seems to work (we have won plenty of important arbitrations, right?) there is reason to be hopeful something similar can happen for observations. It’s a hope. Besides, the point I made on seniority is that it was a political tidal wave against us. There is no political tidal wave against an independent judgment on this.

I’m glad, though, to at least see that we all now seem to agree that an
independent person (which is what the new contract says) would be a
good thing.

James also says, “please get away from parroting the Unity party line
just long enough to get just a little skeptical.”

I really do not mind if feel compelled to associate me with Unity, though as
I’ve said, I’m not in any union groups. But just for the heck of it James, where exactly in this blog have you said anything skeptical about ICE’s positions? Or done anything but parrot the party line. Why are unity people considered parrots, but ICE people considered courageous independent people? I don’t see much difference between one ICE and the next.

But that’s okay. Nothing is especially nefarious about that. The thing is, arguments cannot just be dismissed because they come from a party. Party does matter – the agenda of the party is something that feeds into the mix . But ultimately, you have to deal with the arguments. You don’t see me jumping up and down saying “Unity, Unity, rah, rah rah, like a parrot” – in fact I don’t see that coming from any of your opposition on this thread. Rather, I have made specific arguments. Your mischaracterization of my voice as a parrot voice is consistent with your mischaracterization of the union. It’s simplification. It’s reductionism. It is hand in hand with “just organize” and “just say no.”

This idea of organize, organize, organize, is condescending,
condescending condescending. You know before I started teaching, I was arrogant enough to think even though the kids were not stirred to great things by their other teachers, they would be by me. Somehow I would get in front of them, and their minds would be set afire! How could it fail?

Then I got into the classroom and realized it was a little more
complicated than that. I had overestimated my own abilities, and
underestimated theirs (my colleague’ and the students). ICE, as I read it, is pretty much the same.

Besides, the organizing we need isn’t about contractual issues. The oppressive atmosphere in the schools is not likely to be solved by better contracts . Quoting my magnificent pearls on Edwize: “Where organizing matters is at the school level, and not just on contract issues. We need the confidence in the schools to stand up on the everyday baloney. We need to become better advocates for our professional dignity and for our children. We need to stop being scared of these all these silly administrators.” None of that will be solved by contracts, I don’t think. I’d like to get past the contract. Get the union resources focused somehow on the schools.

Yes, Norm, the Fat Man did eventually sing . Well, actually, he got
arrested. But clearly not soon enough. You are right, some of my posts – including this one – are embarrassingly long. And too short when they shouldn’t have been. I want to apologize for the curtness with which I addressed the person who asked how the voluntary buyout for ATR might be an improvement. I reread, and I think I sounded rude. I didn’t mean to be. I was tired. No excuse.

Jack Attack Returns said...

But the whole pie is, Eterno and ICE's party line seem to be more in tune with protecting the rights of the classroom teacher. Good ol' Sammy is telling me that Randi caved in to political pressure in regards to seniority? Who is Randi trying to help here and why are you defending her? Why am I and eighty thousand others paying 90 bucks a month to a union that has not made one positive difference in our profession in the last two contracts? I have calmed down. But YOU defend the indefensible. My union has made my path to retirement a little more difficult. I resent that I do a job just as well or even better than those before me but yet I have to worry about what's around the corner with each contract Randi shoves down our throats. You know, I'm all riled up again. I'm not liking this Sammy guy at all!

Unitymustgo said...

Science Sam said:
"Besides, the organizing we need isn’t about contractual issues. The oppressive atmosphere in the schools is not likely to be solved by better contracts . Quoting my magnificent pearls on Edwize: “Where organizing matters is at the school level, and not just on contract issues. We need the confidence in the schools to stand up on the everyday baloney. We need to become better advocates for our professional dignity and for our children. We need to stop being scared of these all these silly administrators.” None of that will be solved by contracts, I don’t think. I’d like to get past the contract. Get the union resources focused somehow on the schools."

Your kidding with this quote, right?? We aren't better advocates, because our contract no longer protects us. We don't stand up to all the baloney because our silly administrators have all the power. Atleast under the previous contract we had some protections, but now? No way. I have to eat humble pir everyday or find a new career.

Unitymustgo said...

pie

wish we had the ability to edit our own posts.

JustdaTruth said...

To the alternate truth:
Somehow I feel related. Maybe it's your "surname". There should be no monopoly in regards to political power in the UFT. I think you would agree that the push for democracy and the ending of benevolent despotism at the UFT is to the credit of the recent opposition groups ICE/TJC, UTP etc. I'm not backing any group that is not practical, and I am not alone. Look at what's happening on this blog. There are many intelligent minds expressing themselves. This is good for Unionism. This type of thing is what will enable the UFT to survive. Not a Union run by one party whatever their name or agenda happens to be.

jameseterno said...

Sam please read the second comment on this board.

"There was a very short presentation and vote on the UFT contract last night (Monday, Nov. 27) at the PEP meeting. The DOE said that the contract contains two advantages for the DOE: the proposed severance pay to excessed teachers and the so called peer intervention services that will now be provided by non UFT people. The results can now be used for the dismissal hearings."

Klein calls this new Peer intervention a gain for management, but Sam still expects Klein to agree to truly independent peer evaluators. Maybe that's a little wishful thinking on your part? You don't think the Bloomberg media machine can easily create a tidal wave against supposedly incompetent teachers.

Having a new voice besides the principal and the assistant principals will probably not help too many teachers in 3020a hearings. Most likely if the evaluators are really independent and find too many teachers competent, the DOE will drop them. I'd rather have the old grievance process with all of its flaws as a way to slow down administration and often stop them cold way before it came to worrying about peer intervention.

Skepticism is sometimes healthy.
I hope we're wrong on this and hundreds of teachers are saved by this new peer intervention program.

On another issue, there is no substitute for a union being organized. Strength comes from numbers and being able to get people to act. I see that in my school constantly. When we are together, we are a very powerful force. Better contracts certainly help people to organize because nothing helps organizing like success and nothing helps success better than strong contractual language like some of the language we have given up in the last two contracts.

Anonymous said...

We needed to win back the givebacks and we didn't.

Anonymous said...

The proposed new UFT contract looks very good when it's compared to the last one. After all, there are no obvious new givebacks.

The problem, of course, is we've already given back the moon, the sun, and the stars. And we've done so for less than cost of living. I cannot, in good conscience, endorse a plan that condemns us to another two years of hall patrol, potty patrol, and lunch duty. I cannot endorse a contract that continues to enable the chancellor to fire Teaching Fellows for the offense of being at the wrong place at the wrong time. Nor can I vote for a contract that condemns senior teachers to ATR status for the same offense.

I don't delude myself that we will prevail. And I agree with Schoolgal that the more significant battle is unseating the autocratic, arrogant and entrenched UFT patronage mill.

But we pay Unity/ New Action hacks more than working teachers precisely so they can negotiate better contracts for us. This they have failed to even attempt on our behalf. Send them a message that you expect more.

I remember an episode of All in the Family in which Archie says, "Whoop-de-doo, I got a 3% raise." His son in law Mike points out that cost of living is higher, and that he's therefore receiving a pay cut. The audience understands this, of course.

Do 80,000 New York City teachers understand that cost of living is higher here than in the rest of the country? Thus far it's 5.2% in 2006, the proposed raise is 3.5% a year, and it's even less if you consider the first year is only 2%. Are we capable of basic, obvious math, or are we going to say, "Whoop-de-doo" to the cynical and indifferent Unity/ New Action monopoly?

Send them a message now, and prepare to send them a stronger one when they muster the audacity to run again. Vote early. Vote often.



Vote No.

Anonymous said...

you should see some of the stuff they write on their site

Anonymous said...

oops
www.unitycaucus.org

Anonymous said...

Why would I want to? I attend DA's and read the NY Teacher. Isn't that enough? Vote No like I will.

Anonymous said...

Sammy,

Seniority is no longer an issue that Randi could stand up and protect under this administration?

Shame on you!

Anonymous said...

Unitymustgo,

Maybe you should have enough courage to grieve the principal on the mass prep you were given. Typical of many of your kind, you are just talk. Blowing everything out of proportion, changing the facts, omitting the facts, and putting fear in people. It's funny that you are more willing to shove a ballot up "someone's -ss" (as you indicated in an earlier posting) than grieve your principal. Shame on you! I guess it's much easier to blame somebody else for your shortcomings. I hope you don't teach your kids to blame others and not accept responsibility.

Unitymustgo said...

You completely miss the point of my post. My point is about how a teacher is considered guilty until proven innocent. Suspension without pay is a pretty big drawback of our current contract.

Anonymous said...

unitymustgo,

You missed my point. What I was trying to say is that you are the type who blames the union for everything and when it comes time for you to do something about it, you chicken out. You miss the point of belonging to a union. You have the tools, but you are scared. You expect others to do what you should be doing. So you want to encourage others to reject the contract and maybe go for a strike, and then you'll come up with some excuse why not to strike...like...we are not ready, this is another strategy of our union to get rid of our tenure, or...who knows what else you will come up with along with your buddies to blame the union leadership and not take ownership of the issues. Just like James Eterno has done troughout this whole process where he sat through countless meetings and now he is screaming foul play. Shame on you. However, at least you are not running for anything and have nothing to gain from whereas James is politically motivated.

Anonymous said...

You sound just like mrvasquez on ICE mail- Lou- you can use your name. Did you kick your dog today?

Anonymous said...

ICE opposed the contract last year and this year. What's the difference? If ICE sits and just observes at meetings, you say they should have spoken up. If they argue at meetings, you call them obstructionists. You Unity people just want people to say yes to anything Randi says.

Anonymous said...

Why is Norm Scott commenting on anything on the contract? Isn't he retired? If there were to be a strike, aside from losing his per-session gig at the district, will he suffer other financial losses like the rest of us? Will his pension check be cut? If we go years without a contract, will he suffer financially the way we will suffer? Then again, I believe in the right to express your opinions, but I think it's irresponsible for him to encourage people to vote no when his livelihood is not at stake. We'll pay the price. He will not.

Science Sam said...

Eterno writes:

ETRNO START Sam please read the second comment on this board.

"There was a very short presentation and vote on the UFT contract last night (Monday, Nov. 27) at the PEP meeting. The DOE said that the contract contains two advantages for the DOE: the proposed severance pay to excessed teachers and the so called peer intervention services that will now be provided by non UFT people. The results can now be used for the dismissal hearings."

Klein calls this new Peer intervention a gain for management, but Sam still expects Klein to agree to truly independent peer evaluators.ETERNO END

You’re a funny guy, Eterno. Everyone else is spinning the truth. The union, according to you, spin, spin spin. But Klein? Oh no, Klein is a veritable font of truth! And you say I need to get skeptical!

PEP is a road show. He fired people who wouldn’t spin the spin, remember?

jameseterno said...

Sam when the contract is resolved all sides try to use it to their advantage. The problem we have is that we leave enough vague language in there so that after it is signed, much is still left undetermined.

The last time I can recall we had really strong contractual language was in Circular 6. We gave so much of that away in 2005. That was a big mistake.

Klein is already trying to work this new Peer Intervention to his advantage. As I said the other day, I hope you guys are right on this one and that teachers go before a truly independent third party. However, history and a healthy dose of skepticism tell me this might not be what happens.

Anonymous said...

Anon.
You'll have to prove to us that you actually work in a school and will be hurt by my comments before we take anything you say seriously.

While there are people who work in schools who might crit. ICE for their stand on the contract, only Unity people who are on the union payroll and will get the raise seem to worry about whether Norm Scott - retiree - is commenting.

And teachers do not know or seem concerned that I worked for a region last year - you do need an update on your intelligence. That seems to be the concern of Unity hacks. My website does seem to get a lot of attention from people who work at the union and on union time, no less.

And talk about fear mongering -- there goes that old bagaboo strike talk again. Like you guys will ever give up your cushy salaries and let the members go on strike.

Anonymous said...

I have to prove absolutely nothing! What I will tell you is that while your financial future is secured through your pension, your per-session work, your inheritance money, and whatever funds you receive from your garbage paper, my livelihood depends on the 24 checks I receive from the DOE. If those checks stop coming, or if they don't grow for years as it will be the case if we don't approve this contract, then I WILL HURT. You of course can get on the soap box and spread the word of an utopian world in which workers get only what they want and don't have to negotiate with the bosses/city/tax-payers, you can say the sky is falling and try to convince people that this is not a good contract, while my family and I will have to live with the reality and pay the consequences of a no vote. You my friend, don't have to go and leaflet, do campaigns in the schools, attend rallies, organize petition drives, take care of members, and still have to teach a full load of classes, while trying to be a good dad and husband. You are irresponsible. You prove to me that you have something to lose in case of a 'no' vote and then get back to your soap box and spread the word.

Anonymous said...

should have read,

"you prove to me you have something to lose in case of a no vote"

Anonymous said...

Well said. Norm is not the person you need to prove anything to.

Anonymous said...

Just tell us that you don't receive one dime from the union. Or that you are not in Unity. Only Unity people seem to address issues related to me, my pension, whether I have a job and my paper. I would bet any inheritance I get that you do not teach a full load and that you do not take care of your members. Tell you what, send me your name and address and I'll dip into my trust fund and send you a check.

Anonymous said...

hey Norm,

You missed his point. You are set. We are not. We live in the real world where we work for a living and depend on our salaries. You get money from everywhere. You are like Sting going to the cattle farmers in Brazil and telling them not to destroy the rain forest, while he drives around in a huge Bentley. Or something like that.

Anonymous said...

I think the previous anons are missing the point. Our long term job security has eroded with the last contract. Everyone needs the money but it won't do us any good if Randi keeps getting us contracts that lose our rights. As a matter of fact, our LIS told us this week that 7 absences will result in a LIF and 10 will result in a U rating. In my 14 years of teaching, I've never heard of such a thing. You don't think I feel like I have a bigger bullseye on my back than some other newer teachers? I'm not sure what it all means in the end. Norm is "set" because of the protections he's had from the union during his tenure. It was irresponsible of our union to give up those basic protections. It looks like I'll have to jump through hoops of fire and jump over puddles of mud to get my retirement.

Anonymous said...

the last anon has it just right.

Anonymous said...

Science Sam Spade
Good to see the Fat Man finally sang. I'm working on a screenplay for "The Maltese Contract" where the femme fatale bamboozles Sam Spade into believing in the value of a contract smuggled in from the isle of BloomKlein, telling him that under a veneer of grime consisting of lunch duty, a longer day, loss of right to grieve, etc. there is enormous value. But Sam ultimately discovers after scraping away the grime and filth, that the Maltese contract is practically worthless.
Just joking about your long posts since mine are often longer.

Anonymous said...

I earned my right to comment on contracts and some of you have some nerve saying I don't.

I never voted for one contract no matter what the raise since I became active in the UFT in 1970 when I was making about 8 grand. I always looked at class size reduction as my personal bottom line.

And I went out on 3 strikes with the UFT, the last one in 1975 and fought like hell to stay out until every one of the 15,000 people were hired back but Shanker sold that strike out. My school alone lost 13 people out of about 50.

And when the custodial workers in my school went on strike, I stayed out a day to walk the picket line with them (okay, so I wanted to make sure they cleaned up the cat shit in my closet.)

Anyway, I'm pointing out that though I have a tier 1 pension, etc. I have the right to give my opinion just as those 300 Unity Caucus retirees at the delegate assembly do and all those Unity retirees at the Exec. Bd do regularly. Soldini and March made statements at the last one. And Abe Levine comments all the time. And we see more than we need to of Pappas.

So these arguments about my being set (and I retired in 2002 by the way when I was making 70 grand and voted against that contract too) are specious and come clearly from Unity people who are the only ones in this union that seem concerned about what I do in retirement. I can't tell you all the encouragement they give me to put my feet up and relax - thanks guys. I must be doing something right.

Anonymous said...

Oh, oh, Norm,

So you haven't voted yes on a contract since 1970? Man, I was worried this was maybe a bad contract (not really). Now I am not worried anymore as I realize that you are demented (I kind of new that before). Of course you would have to be crazy to be part of ice (incredibly crazy educators) to begin with, but now my concerns have been put to rest. If it were up to you and your ice people we would still be making 8 k a year or out on the streets picketing. You've identified class size reduction as your "thing". Again, I was worried that maybe you'd be like us and be worried about paying your mortgage, your kids education, or just simply putting food on your table. I guess you counted on other people providing this for you and never took the consequences of voting no, and going on a strike very seriously. I am glad you were able to retire at 70k but I must say to you that if you would've retired six years later you would've reached 100k. Wow, a 30k increase in 3 years! Not bad Norm, not bad. But of course, how can you possibly like this...heck...you even accused Al Shanker of selling us out. Thanks Norm. Thanks for nothing. You've done nothing in the last 30 years to enhance the lives of our members, yet you enjoy the benefits of the hard work of those who had to look at the economomy, the public will, the political climate and get us contracts that protected our rights and brought a certain degree of economic security to our lives. You have achieved nothing except perhaps your ability to say "I have voted no on every contract since 1970". You must feel really good about this. Enjoy it.

i rant so i don't beat my wife said...

Yea Norm, thanks for the whoop de do! See, if you would have waited another 6 years, you could have gotten several letters in your file and your leadership academy principal would have made your life miserable for the last 3. You're such a loser! You went on strike 3 times! Gosh, our current leadership gave away those same rights you fought for 30 years ago for a song and a dance. If only you knew back then what you know now about the UFT, you never would have gone on strike and risk your precious 8k salary. Hey listen Norm, the political climate has changed. You have to change with them. Back then, I'm sure the union really meant something, had real power, could demand basic work rights. Today's UFT is about looking good. What's being written in the paper about us. Today's policies are written thru negotiation. We want money to barely keep up with the cost of living in the city, we have to give up the same rights you foolishly went on strike for 30 years before. Whatsamatter with you? Snap out of it!

Demented and proud said...

Yes anonymous!
ICE is demented and crazy and thank goodness no one listens to the poor schnooks or reads what they write or pay any attention - Except for you, of course. But then again, you are here saving the possible reader or two who might wander by from being tainted by ICE lunacy. You are a savior!

The few crazy ICE members are demented and must be ignored by the membership, unless they are demented too. Maybe even the 40% who voted No last time. wonderful that you stop by to straighten them out.

Here you are, taking valuable time away from supporting your family and defending your members and all the other busy things you do. There must be a grievance you need to decide not to follow-up on or to ignore some principal killing teachers.

You grace this poor little unnoticed blog with your presence - quite touching and gratifying to the lonely ICE members, all 3 of them.

Norm said...

Anon.
Thanks for enlightening me. Now I see what this teaching beusiness is all about - the money. How dare teachers actually put a priority on class size or other working conditions? Now I know I should have voted YES in '75 and not worry about the 13 colleagues who one day just disappeared from my school. And I should empty my memory banks of the day when Al Shanker said as we walked over the Brooklyn Bridge, "We won't go back 'till we all go back" but two weeks later went back minus 15,000 people. And soon after was born the gleam of Tier 3 and Tier 4. Do I believe that someone who makes a comment like yours actually works full-time in a school? Hell NO!

Anonymous said...

Unity Caucus and its patroage mill are two of the main reasons we are treated like dirt in the schools. Careerists usually make lousy union fighters.

Several years ago there was an article in Westchester about $100,000 a year teachers. NYC will be there in 2008, way too late and we gave away most of our rights too get there.

I hope enough people who read this blog will help to vote against Unity and New Action in the spring.