Friday, November 10, 2006

Transit Workers Set a Precedent of Paying for Health Care. New UFT Contract: Could we be Next to Pay?

2002 and 2005 UFT Contracts settled any health care changes beforehand and were attached to Agreements. Read the language for yourself below this article.

The new language in the 2007 Agreement is different from what we had in the past two Agreements. Furthermore, in our old Contract in Article 3G1 it says, "The Board agrees to arrange for, and make available to each day school teacher, a choice of health and hospital insurance coverage from among designated plans and the Board agrees to pay the full cost of such coverage." (emphasis added by us)


The new Agreement would seem to potentially eliminate this robust provision. We don't think we are being paranoid in saying that the Contract that we were presented with to vote on this week is incomplete and if we approve it, we are giving Randi a "blank check" to force us into payroll deductions for basic health care that is now free. Look at how co-pays for drugs and doctor visits have risen in recent years. While we acknowledge that Article 3G permitted the city and union to incorporate changes into the health agreement, we never had language talking about a future "cost containment initiative."

What does this mean?

Shouldn't we be able to see what it means before we vote on the Contract?

The transit workers were able to vote as part of their contract package on whether they should have to pay for health benefits that previously were free. All we're asking is for UFT leaders to be open with us about this issue. When we raised the subject at the Executive Board, we were accused of fear mongering by Randi. We just want to be told the entire story.

The NY Times printed an article Wednesday, November 8 entitled, "New York Looks at Worker's Health Costs." The first line says, "After announcing a tentative contract with the teachers' union late Monday, the Bloomberg administration signaled yesterday that its next major negotiating goal was to achieve savings on health coverage for 300,000 municipal workers. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is quoted in the Times article as saying, "Randi [Weingarten] has said a number of times she has a commitment to try to see if the city can't provide better benefits more economically." Later in the article the Times says, "In the past, Mr. Bloomberg has said he would like to persuade the unions to have municipal workers start paying part of the premiums for health coverage." It seems perfectly reasonable to worry that other city unions are having a clause like our Section 17 (see below) in their Agreements and that when enough unions settle, Randi as head of the MLC will then negotiate away our free health coverage and there's nothing we will be able to do about it.

We're not the private sector. Many UFT members settled for lower salaries to be able to work with young people as well as to get stable benefits and some degree of job security. Tenure protections have been steadily eroded in our Contracts. Lately so have our health benefits. The city has 300,000 workers. It can afford large group rates. With the city swimming in black ink, there is no reason to even consider health benefit modifications. Does anyone at Unity ever mention how higher co-pays for drugs and health care have eaten into our supposed huge salary increases? Meanwhile, many more of us are going to need the health plans because the abysmal working conditions we toil under are making us sick. One thing we can all do to stop this:

Vote No!!


2002 Contract Section 5-Health Insurance and Welfare Fund


"a. The Health Benefits Agreement, dated January 11, 2001, is deemed to be part of this Agreement. The side letter agreement between the City Commissioner of Labor relations James F. Hanley and UFT President Randi Weingarten, dated February 8, 2001, is deemed to be part of this Agreement. Pursuant to those Agreements the parties have agreed to a series of payments to the Welfare Fund. Such payments are delineated in APPENDIX B.

b. Pursuant to the Municipal Labor Coalition Benefits Agreement, the Union Welfare Fund shall provide welfare fund benefits equal to the benefits provided on behalf of an active welfare-covered employee to widow(ers), domestic partners and/or children of any active welfare -covered employee who dies in the line of duty as that term is referenced in Section 12-126(b)(2) of the New York City Administrative Code. The cost of providing this benefit shall be funded by the Stabilization Fund."

2005 Contract Section 5-Health Insurance and Welfare Fund


"The Health Benefits Agreement, dated July 22, 2005, is deemed to be part of this Agreement. The side letter agreements between the City Commissioner of Labor Relations James F. Hanley and UFT President Randi Weingarten, dated June 30, 2004 and July 13, 2005, are deemed to be part of this Agreement."

Now look at the change in language on health insurance from the new Agreement which has been split into two sections.

2007 Agreement- Section 5 Welfare Funds


(This section describes Welfare Fund Improvements paid for according to the Department of Education with "UFT generated internal funding." What does UFT generated internal funding mean?)

2007 Agreement- Section 17 Continuation of Certain Health Benefits


"The parties acknowledge that collective bargaining regarding health benefits is within the purview of negotiations between the Municipal Labor Committee and the City. Cost-containment initiatives and program modifications in the City Health Benefits program shall be discussed with the Municipal Labor Committee."

58 comments:

Anonymous said...

Yes. We have a year before our current contract expires. Let's make sure what we are agreeing to before we vote yes. This is scary stuff.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Kaufman: Sorry you do not get it. MLC negotiates contracts for city health...but beyond that..you would lend more credibility to your arguments if you acknowledged just one favorable aspect of the UFT which has helped you personally in many ways. Opposition and ideologues have a place....and you are privledged with many forums to speak. In fact, your speaking time is longer than any other person in the delegate assembly, executive board, etc. And to compare the transit workers struggle with all of its complexities to the UFT is a simplistic analysis.

Unions in this country (and I need not tell you) are little more than a small special interest group. Unions in New York City and especially the UFT has successfully transitioned from the trade union model to a professional model without giving up all of the wonderful benefits that I as an african american woman, single parent appreciate and cherish.

I love my work, I love my union and Randi Weingarten and the leadership of my union performs miracles for the members.

Thanks for the opportunity.

Anonymous said...

It just makes me ill that Randi is selling our union membership for her own gain. I mean why are we getting the $750 bonus before our current contract expires and before the UFT elections.....

Yeah, members will be surprised when our health coverage diminshes and we were had again by Unity.

If this is the best contract she can get, then maybe she needs to go into another line of work--perhaps the French Army is looking for recruits??? She holds that white surrender flag up so well.

Anonymous said...

While Kaufman makes up stuff as he goes along, the Daily News reports the real deal...


Teachers deal not so sweet
for Klein

BY MICHAEL SAUL, JEGO ARMSTRONG and ERIN EINHORN
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITERS

School's Chancellor Joel Klein and Teacher's Union boss Randi Weingarten speak at City Hall Monday.



As Mayor Bloomberg and teachers union President Randi Weingarten joyfully announced their surprise early contract deal this week, observers noted that Schools Chancellor Joel Klein was standing in the back - and scowling.

It was in stark contrast to last year's contract announcement, when Klein gave Weingarten an enthusiastic hug and kiss.

Klein denied yesterday that he was disappointed. "I tried to make it as good as it gets," he said. "I think we came out with a contract that was very satisfactory."

But sources close to Klein said the contract fell short of his hopes. "If he had been able to design the UFT contract, he would have done it differently," one source said. "But he's enough of a professional and he's been around government enough to know that these things are very complicated ... People walk away from any negotiating table feeling bad about things."

Klein has been critical of provisions in the teachers contract that he says protect incompetent teachers. He has called for the ability to alter the length of the school day and for the ability to pay some teachers more than others.

He even boasted at a recent event that he was creating a "new labor-management paradigm" in the school system.

But the 24-month contract that teachers seem likely to approve in a formal ratification vote next month - the last teachers contract over which Klein is likely to have any influence - contained virtually none of reforms he has advocated.

The contract calls for a 7.1% raise for all educators and a long-awaited six-figure salary for senior teachers.

Its only significant provision that isn't related to money is a plan to offer voluntary buyouts to tenured teachers who've been out of a job for six months or more, rather than keep them on the payroll indefinitely. Sources said Klein was pushing for the buyout to be mandatory - and for the city to set the price.

"Obviously, all people were pushing for different things," said James Hanley, Bloomberg's top labor official. "In the final analysis, lots of people have different views."

But, Hanley added, "I think we're all kind of happy that stability is in place and we can all focus on the really important things and improving education."

By signing with the UFT nearly a year before its current contract expires, Bloomberg set a precedent for dealing with other public unions and earned a key ally in upcoming battles in Albany over school funding. But Weingarten insisted yesterday that she had made "no secret deals" with the mayor in exchange for the contract.

"It just happened to work out for all parties involved," she said.

Originally published on November 10, 2006

Anonymous said...

"It just happened to work out for all parties involved," she said.

...and there's a bridge I'd like to sell you...

Anonymous said...

Boy, Kaufman is dense. I don't know why he thinks people are "trying to make him look an idiot" [his words at the Executive Board], when all one has to do is stand aside and let him talk.

The whole point of having the MLC negotiate health care is to ensure that a single union, like the TWU, can't make that sort of concession, and then have it imposed on everyone else as a patten.

That is a system that has worked for municipal unions ever since the fiscal crisis of 1975. It has bought us major gains, such as coverage for psychiatric services and benefits for domestic partners. Why anyone would want to change that now defies reason.

I guess when you think you are in desperate political straits you do desperate things.

Anonymous said...

If you want to know why people call you "fear mongering" you just have to look at this posting. You are creating a fear that was not there before and it is completely unfounded. Negotiations through the MLC have been done for decades and yet you make it seem as if this is something new. Why wouldn't we want an army 300,000 people to negotiate for the great benefits you do have? Even more so, why wouldn't you want the president of OUR union to be the head of the council? Isn't it better to have the UFT lead the dialogue? What the issue here really is is that you simply HATE Randi. Whatever she does, no matter how good it may be, you must do something against it, even lie and create fear.

As for you asking "UFT leaders to be open with us about this issue . . . we just want to be told the entire story", Randi did tell you. There is nothing different about health care negotiations. But that is not enough. You don't want to "believe" her so you must create this fear for everyone. You need to blow everything up, at the DA and on this blog, to make it seem like a great conspiracy when there isn't one.

Get a grip and tell the members you claim to represent, the truth. After the long drawn out battles of the last 2 contracts, this is a great contract.

Anonymous said...

It's remarkable that the Unity supporters must resort to ad-hominem attacks and that not a one has addressed the very specific change in contract language mentioned in the post.

This contract does not even meet cost of living, and it guarantees that not one dime of the impending DFE settlement will go to good teachers.

Your lack of foresight and logic is truly stunning.

Anonymous said...

CFE, I meant.

Anonymous said...

Neither jameseterno nor Jeff have answered to all of their actions and protests at the negotiating committee that they were a part of. Please tell us how you fought and argued for all of the things that NOW you claim are bad in this contract. Please tell us your input affected the dialogue about the contract demands and the negotiations. Enlighten us in your ability to lead or dissent in a democratic forum as a real unionist while the committee of 300 met over the summer and in the fall.

We're waiting.

Anonymous said...

How does it "guarantee that not one dime of the impending DFE settlement will go to good teachers"?

Anonymous said...

I meant CFE also.

NYC Educator said...

The CFE lawsuit has been fought for 13 years. There are billions to ensure NYC kids get good teachers, smaller classes, and decent facilities.

Spitzer has promised to resolve the lawsuit.

By signing this contract, we've relieved Mayor Bloomberg of any and all responsibility of sharing dime one with us, the folks who do the heavy lifting.

We're locked into a contract that doesn't even keep pace with inflation.

Anonymous said...

Point of information!! Jeff, what "tenure protections have been eroded in our recent contracts"? Jeff, really! Cut it out. From the things you say one would think that hundreds of tenured teachers have lost their licenses in recent years. If I am not mistaken you can probably count them with one hand. The UFT is the most powerful teacher union in the country! Randi is truly a "renaissance" union leader. Join her in her efforts to revitalize our union in a positive way. Find something you can agree with her on and work on it for the good of the union. You are truly doing a disservice to the membership and frankly you are wasting whatever talent you have by simply attempting to create division at a time when we should be most united. Jeff, democracy doesn't mean you are guaranteed a win.

Anonymous said...

Yea, Jeff, come cleanse yourself in the tub.

Anonymous said...

As someone who voted NO! the last contrat, I have to agree with the Unity Hacks.

I really believe this site is becoming a joke because ICE has no viable candidate otherwise they would be focusing on the leadership election and not this contract that will win with high numbers.

Yes, your points on the contract are valid ones, but they will fall on deaf ears.

You know I have been giving you guys good advice for over a year now, but you are obviously too pig-headed!

Richard Skibins said...

Tenure protections HAVE been eroded in our recent contracts. By surrendering the right to grieve letters in the file and unfair observations and ratings, our senior teachers are now in danger of receiving a "U" rating, and of being dismissed. Their only crime is earning too much money. Also, we lost seniority transfers. Some wet behind the ears kid out of college has more of a chance to transfer than a veteran, tenured teacher. Also, a school with too many veteran, tenured teachers can be "reorganized," and the entire staff removed from the building for a demeaning ATR position. When the young ones get a placement, the veteran teacher will still be a sub. Now, with the new agreement, these ATR's can be harassed into taking a "voluntary" buyout. According to Joel Klein, these veteran teachers are "incompetent." Our rights must be restored. Those of us over 30 are human beings, too.

Anonymous said...

Richard is right. Yet, a NO vote will not help us regain our rights.
Only new leadership will.

Anonymous said...

Richard must be very, very, slow. What you described has nothing to do with tenure. U ratings continue to be challenged agressively.

Anonymous said...

U-rating will be challenged?

Of couse they are. But how many cases are won under this DoE which Randi wants protected?

jameseterno said...

To people wanting to know how our tenure rights have been weakened:

The 2005 contract put in suspensions without pay for up to 90 days. That certainly weakened tenure. In the past we were innocent until proven guilty.

We also agreed to expedited hearings on time and attendance matters. This also weakens tenure significantly. Look at some of the "deals" people have been accepting.

In an earlier contract, we agreed to let one arbitrator decide 3020A hearings instead of the three person panel that we are entititled to under state law that they still have in the rest of the state. That significantly weakens our tenure rights.

Furthermore, if we won arbitrations and removed material from the file, we had a chance that the material would not be admissible in a 3020A. We can no longer grieve letters in the file so all that stuff in the file is now admissible. (Please don't tell me that the letters come out now automatically after three years. Material that goes back more than three years is basically not admissible in a 3020A. In addition, the letters only get removed if we are not charged. Therefore, they are useless to the Board when they are removed.)

As for the arguments about healthcare being negotiated by the MLC, we don't have any problem with the MLC negotiating that provision. We have a problem with leaving this issue unresolved when there is so much time before our contract is up. There could be an MLC agreement that could erode our health benefits or cost us money. This should not be left to later negotiations particularly when the city has so much surplus revenue. (Anyone look at the stock market lately?) We are voting on the unknown.

In the last two contracts those health issues were settled beforehand so we knew what we were getting. This time it's all up in the air and the language gives Randi a blank check to do whatever she wants and then we're stuck with it. We're supposed to have blind faith. I do worry because Bloomberg said he wants us to pay for health insurance premiums that are now free and the transit workers agreed to that. It's a legitimate worry on our part. We should be able to have a say on that issue.

Speaking of CFE, this would be a perfect time to negotiate lower class sizes into the contract from CFE funds. The class size issue was raised in the survey and then forgotten in the rush to get the contract done.

As for the negotiating committee, I signed a confidentiality agreement that I am trying my best not to break. I will say that we came on to the committee with the understanding that we were each going to be assigned four or five schools to work with to find out what the members wanted in those schools and to go over progress. I'm still waiting to be assigned my four schools.

I'm still reeling because I thought we were negotiating economic gains through the coalition with other unions and one little non economic gain to match DC37 not having to live in the city. I was under the impression that the rest of the contract remained open for discussion. I've looked at the DA resolution and that's what we voted for in October and then all of a sudden everything is done. I called it bait and switch in an earlier post.

We couldn't even discuss the proposed contract in our own schools this week before the DA vote on Wednesday. Why the rush if it was so great? In my opinion what Unity wants is for people to jump at the money and forget about all of the givebacks that remain. We had a resolution to present at the DA to fight to take back the givebacks but we never had a chance to introduce it. We should have had that debate. A yes vote means three more years (the remaining year on the current contract and two in the new one) toiling under these abominable conditions.

On another matter,please argue the facts and stop with all of the personal attacks on Jeff. Some of the material on this blog is written by both of us and some by me. Let's stick to arguing the issues and stop the name calling.

At an ICE meeting yesterday, someone came who argued for the contract and his views were respected and he was treated civilly. Why can't the contract supporters afford us the same respect? People sometimes differ on important matters. It doesn't mean they are bad people.

Jeff and I are not looking to run for UFT President next year. We are already backing Kit Wainer for President so stop that nonsense too.

Finally to the person who says Randi is performing miracles:

You need to learn about pattern bargaining. One city union settles a contract to set a pattern for that round of collective bargaining. The rest of the unions basically get the same percentage raise. After DC37 settled for 6% over 20 months, a five year old Kindergarten student could go in and say, "Me too," and get that same deal. Getting an extra 1.1% and a $750 bonus by lengthening the contract by over four months is not exactly working a miracle. The raises come nowhere near the 13% we asked for.

What is really sad is that we have been beaten down so badly by the system that many of us are willing to accept a package that doesn't do anything to improve our deplorable working conditions and is incomplete with the health care deal unknown and the severance package unknown.

With three more years of the givebacks from the last contract, I am proposing that if this goes through, ICE should make buttons that say, "Don't Blame Me-I voted NO."

JustdaTruth said...

To the ICE/TJC leadership,

Wake up and smell the coffee. People who hated and still hate the last contract are voting yes for this contract. I agree whole-heartedly with the anonymous post on November 10, 2006 10:03:47. Unity can't take the credit or lack of credit for this contract, because the membership was represented on the Negotiation Committee. Sorry for the food references. But the ICE/TJC reaction to this contract, really seems to be SOUR GRAPES! (grape reference attributed to a Aesop Fable).

JustdaTruth said...

THE FOX AND THE GRAPES (or ICE/TJC leadership "ego trippin")


One hot summer's day a Fox was strolling through an orchard till he came to a bunch of Grapes just ripening on a vine which had been trained over a lofty branch. "Just the thing to quench my thirst," quoth he. Drawing back a few paces, he took a run and a jump, and just missed the bunch. Turning round again with a One, Two, Three, he jumped up, but with no greater success. Again and again he tried after the tempting morsel, but at last had to give it up, and walked away with his nose in the air, saying: "I am sure they are sour."

It is easy to despise what you cannot get.

My opinion there was not a better contract to be gotten. Can we have a more just Union- Yes

jameseterno said...

If you hated the last contract, how could you vote for this one? It's three more years (one year with the current contract and two with the extension) with the same provisions and the increases don't keep up with inflation. The negotiating committee asked for 13%. We got 7.1%. We squeezed more out of the DC pattern by extending the contract by another 4 months but NY area inflation is running at about 5.2% so far this year.

Are you willing to sell all those rights we gave away the last time for a salary increase that doesn't even keep up with inflation and continues the givebacks like school in August? I don't get it.

JustdaTruth said...

To James Eterno,

I am not saying that what was lost in the last contract was not valuable as to members rights and working conditions and there are others. What I am saying and other people are saying that this is the best we could have gotten for the most part in this this this contract. Ideologically does this contract after it was negotiated address those issues. No. Could they have been gotten back from Bloomberg Klein with the UFT membership being unwilling to strike? I don't think so. Would they strike over this issue? Be real now James. I don't think so.
If this straight forward contract is not on the up and up, what do you think would happen to the current UFT leadership? Are we all part of one union? Yes. I am a UFT member. Does the ICE/TJC leadership, UNITY or any other caucus know what's best for us? I don't think so. Do we need a union where the members are more respected? I say yes. Is a democratic blog good? I say yes.

Anonymous said...

You get nowhere if you don't even try.

JustdaTruth said...

To James Eterno,

I repeated the word "this" three times to emphasize the fact that I am talking about the current contract only! Not the unbelievably lousy contract we are currently working under. And that's the truth.

Anonymous said...

This contract contains every single thing you say you didn't like about the last one, it does not even meet cost of living (the last one didn't either), Bloomberg is sitting on a massive surplus, and there are billions that will come via CFE when Eliot Spitzer takes the state house.

It was simply idiotic to settle for so little so soon, and irresponsible not to consider the tremendous pressures this contract has placed on us.

By voting for this, you are ensuring that the good teachers it targets will not see dime one of this settlement. It will be spent at the discretion of this mayor, who's thus far failed to reduce class sizes despite his very public claims to have done so. He's spent billions, sure, but that isn't where it's gone.

Think more money for charters run by billionaires, instead of fair salaries and decent working and studying conditions in NYC schools.

I'm sick of Unity's old "It's the best we can do" song and dance." If that's the best they can do, they ought to seek employment more suited to their particular talents, whatever they may be.

And despite all the ad hominem nonsense that's appeared, I've yet to see a single poster address the specific contract language posted here.

JustdaTruth said...

To nyc educator: Idiotic. I beg to differ. Please tell me your secret to breaking out of NYC pattern bargaining. I'm waiting?

The REAL Truth said...

justdatruth:

To quote Nancy Reagan, "Just say 'NO!'" Why are you so happy with us having no rights? Obviously, you are not a classroom teacher.

JustdaTruth said...

To the "real truth" : If you spoke the truth in your last post, that would be fine. But you didn't. The truth is I am a classroom teacher. If you read my previous postings you would know my sentiments about the past and the current contract, then you might be able to speak the truth. Just because you are against the current contract doesn't make you a know it all. Ain't (grammatical slang for the affirmative) that the truth.

snake "two of everything" head said...

I bet you'd all vote yes if you had two pensions. Stop being so jealous, fill out the application, vote yes and get your two pensions instead of just talking.

Anonymous said...

Shame on you James Eterno! How dare you say that you didn't know how the contract was being negotiated!! You were there when Randi explained it. Maybe you were too busy talking to Jeff and plotting how to use everything and anything against Randi. You were there! You were told! You voted! You agreed! Stop crying! Stop the lies! Jeff was there too! You were sitting on the same table you always sit. Now you say you didn't know? You knew what are demands were. You knew what they demanded. You were there for the negotiations. You are a lier. Maybe you can go to Jamaica H.S. and lie behind close doors and that's ok with your membership. How dare you attempt to lie to us! The membership identified what they wanted. They got it in this contract! Let's just move on.

Anonymous said...

My question remains. How many teachers were stripped of their licenses in NYC in the last 5 years? Does anyone know? Because if you guys are going to say that we have lost tenure rights then you should come up with a number just to show us it's really true.

ICE lies!

Norm said...

Down boys!

This is not about the contract but the overall direction the union has been going in and is continuing to go in. Both sides on this contract issue admit conditions in the schools are lousy. Randi supporters want to give her a pass on this. In other words, the UFT leadership bears absolutely no responsibiity for these conditions. Okay, it thats' what you want to believe...

ICE is playing the traditional role a group critical of the leadership should play. Unlike New Action. We are pointing to the failures of the leadership, as WE SEE IT. Do we not have the right? And even the obligation?

Yet some of you are critical of those actions, attributing all kinds of motives. How about this: we truly think they are wrong. Politics are irrelevant to us as if you understand the way the UFT is structured we cannot win much of anything. The point of running is to try to jump starts an effective group that can serve as a check and balance to Unity. Unfettered power in anyone's hands -- Bush, Klein, Weingarten -- is dangerous. We are only a 3 year old tiny group of people and we get way more attention from Unity than we should and sometimes I just don't understand it.

Our union leaders are cheering for the Democrats for kicking the asses of the Bushies. But the Dems were silent 3 years ago when if they had done what ICE is doing there might have been a greater check and balance on the disastrous Bush policies. And by the way, why wasn't Randi making rousing speeches about Iraq 3 years ago as she did at the DA on Weds when that position is not popular? The voice of a major union leader then might have had some impact. Too little, too late.

Remember when Randi did nothing and even lent support when that Unity thug wanted to take Ed Beller from New Action outside when he crit. American policy in Afganistan at an Exec bd meeting? And the people in New Action sat on their hands and let that guy intimidate them. It was Ed Notes that ended up defending Beller (one of the absolutely decent people ever.) New Action never said another word and if I had any respect for them (not much even then) it was totally gone after that. But suck-ups will sacrifice one of their own to get on the right side.

Do I see the union leadership's policies as being disastrous for its members? Yes I do. I have been around long enough to have absolutely no faith in Unity since I've seen them do so many crappy things. Many in ICE agree. So we may see the same event from different eyes as some of you do. We do not trust Unity and look under the beds to see what they might be up to next. Do you feel you were not lied to at all when Unity sent the hordes around to sell the 2005 contract? (See 55-25 around lately?)

As the the democratic committees. I was one of the lone voices in ICE urging non-participation on committees because I truly believe it is a waste of time and the leadership will only do what it wants to anyway. That may include running an internal PR campaign to convince people but people need to be fully informed in a democratic system as PR tells only half the story. Why do you think Unity works so hard to keep crtiical literature out of the mailboxes?

I didn't convince anyone of my posiiton and I still think I was right all along. We are truly a democratic organization, ad infinitum and the way we work and do things and discuss things in depth takes place nowhere else in the union.

So Jeff and James and some other ICE people did serve and you know full well that anything they said there would be looked at in a different way than what other people said. So it's disengenuous to say they should have said this and that -- like no contract without takebacks. How would that have gone over? Call Jeff an excitable boy, and maybe worse, a lawyer. But a liar? Give me a break. I have seen Jeff's words twisted out of shape by Randi so many times it's not funny. You all witnessed it on the Dist Rep reso at the DA when Jeff amended it and she threw a fit, twisting and shaking what he said into an unrecognizable mess. Really was embarassing and even ICE'ers squirmed because she was so over the top (though one said he rather enjoys her perfomances from the theatrical standpoint - that's why we don't bring up her earning the big bucks - that kind of entertainment is not cheap.)

The UFT leaders have become more sensitive since the 40% vote No and many people tell me the services have improved since then. And believe it or not they credit the actions of ICE and TJC for fighting Unity for some of that though I believe it goes way beyond us. When this contract vote goes to 90% just wait and see what happens -- an open invitation whittle away even more.

No matter what we do in ICE, the contract will pass so hold your water. Other than Unity hacks on this blog (and I believe some people in favor of the contract commenting here are NOT Unity) it is in everyone's interest -- pro and anti contract --- to have the highest No vote possible just to keep the leadership a little scared.

Since many of you are so sure this will be overwhelmingly YES, I say vote NO anyway! A 40% No vote would make everyone better off.

Keep hacking away at Jeff and James boys. And make sure to bring up that I am retired and have way to much time on my hands - I can't tell you how many Unity people are worried about what I do with my time).

It makes no difference. You are not changing anyone's mind on this blog. The fact that Unity people are wasting their time commenting here when they should be out trick or treating or something is a sign of just how bankrupt they are. Sorry! I mean bankrupt politically. Financially, they will do quite well with this raise. Couple of you hitting 200 grand yet? Just another reason to vote YES!

JustdaTruth said...

Norm"s right. This debate is not about the contract. It's about working conditions! What I disagree with is the position of the ICE/TJC strategy of going against a contract that is popular with the members. I think this is somewhat counterproductive to improving working conditions since you will lose support from parts of the membership because of your position being against this contract. Some people will say we didn't lose anything in this contract and we did make some gains (nothing significant in the area of improving working conditions) . See anonymous post. Friday, November 10, 2006 10:03:47 PM However I disagree with anonymous as to whether this blog is important, I think this blog is extremely important.

Anonymous said...

If you talk about what you said and did at the Negotiating committee James and Jeff, it doesn't break any confidentiality. What did you guys sya there to defend what you are claiming now?

jameseterno said...

I will restate my position since it appears some Unity people weren't listening when I spoke last week at the Executive Board.

Please read the resolution at the June DA that authorized the negotiating committee to go into a coalition with other unions to discuss economic demands.

We only put in the one non economic demand within the coalition to get something equal to what DC 37 got by not having to live in the city any longer.

I had no problem with the resolution in October asking for 13% over 32 months. The remainder of the non economic demands should have been discussed separately. Instead, they were never even discussed at all. That is a fact.

Randi was authorized to negotiate an economic package and one non economic item to match DC37 and she took the leap to go for a whole contract. She said that if she could get something with the Mayor, should she try? I think she was correct to try to work on an economic package through the coalition but she never should have settled the entire contract without first asking us if we are willing to fight to get back what we gave up in the last round. (I'm still waiting to be assigned four schools to go to to discuss what we want in the new contract and give progress reports.)

Look how Yonkers won in 1999. They locked up an economic package and then fought separately over the non economic parts of the contract and had almost total public support. That is exactly what I said at the Executive Board.

I'm still waiting to discuss getting back the givebacks, which has been my position since the punitive contract was signed last year. With each yes vote this time around, our chances of ever winning anything back shrinks.

Anonymous said...

But James you have mentioned that with pattern bargaining "the rest of the unions basically get the same" as DC 37. There deal ws not only 2% and 4% in the same years as ours, but their deal was not other changes in the contract. So how can the UFT, regardless of the president, get more than you claim we "can get"? They got those numbers and no other changes. We got more than those other numbers and few other changes. How can we both get what any "child can get" and then expect to get more as you proclaimed?

The fact is that we squeezed more out of Bloomberg (almost 8% evrything included) and again you guys were so surprised that you had to mislead everyone about what the deal is. Give us a break.

Anonymous said...

James, cut it out! You gave her permission, but then you didn't, but then you did. It sounds to me that you gave her permission, but then you didn't, but only for this and not for that. Hey, Kerry had a tough time explaining his vote for the war...you know...he didn't do so well either. Vote YES! Melt ICE. In all the meetings of the negotiating committee I never heard you speak. Did Jeff not give you permission to speak? Vote YES!

jameseterno said...

Look at the resolutions. My votes speak for themselves.

On the pattern, you can have it at any time. Why now? It makes no sense. We still don't have 55-25 retirement and CFE should soon be settling. Teacher salaries won't increase a dime from the settlement. Also, when CFE settles it would be the ideal time to push for lower class sizes in the contract.

Beating the pattern would require a real battle. That's why many of us joined the negotiating committee,to organize in schools. We never had the chance.

One more question for the Unity faithful: Why is the PBA trying to get out of the Municipal Labor Committee when it comes to health care? They must think something's up. For Jeff and I to question the heath care provision is legitimate.

Anyway, I gotta go to teach now so I leave this blog to the Unity people who are assigned to monitor it. Have fun criticizing us while we teach.

Anonymous said...

To swiftboat James shows the Unity people for who they truly are. Why not respond to his arguments?

How does 2% in 2007 and a $750 bonus, plus 5% in 2008 and I don't think anything in 2009 = 8%? Unity math does not add up.

Anonymous said...

Just thought it was about time to put up the article that Mike Winerip write about Jeff. The character assasination from the Unity people is here is pathetic but they have nothing else to offer.

Sunday, January 29, 2006
Homage To A Great Guy: The Real Deal!

Inspiring Rikers Teacher Runs Afoul of Jail's Rules


By MICHAEL WINERIP

Published: January 25, 2006, The New York TImes

JEFF KAUFMAN, a teacher at the Rikers Island jail, has a reputation as a good educator who cares about his student inmates. In 2004, without the aid of computers, his students finished first in a citywide stock market game competition against more than 50 high schools.

Jeff Kaufman taught at Island Academy, the Rikers Island jail school, for eight years. After a complaint from the principal, he was removed from Rikers and reassigned despite praise from peers and inmates.

Elizabeth Lesher, who oversees the competition, said that at most schools, "students gather around computers, research stocks via Web sites such as Yahoo Finance, Market Watch or Nasdaq and enter their transactions online."

"The classroom environment at Rikers was very sparse," said Ms. Lesher, a director for the Foundation for Investor Education. "No attractive bulletin boards, no computers with Internet access and no industry specialists visited the classroom to provide investment ideas." Mr. Kaufman's students relied on the newspaper and his class lessons. That, she said, "speaks volumes about the teacher. Obviously I was very impressed."

In 2003, Mr. Kaufman's students won a citywide playwriting competition. In 2000 and 2001, he arranged for the student chorus at Louis Armstrong Middle School in Queens to visit Rikers at Christmas and perform for his students.

Don Murphy, a fellow teacher, said Mr. Kaufman became so popular during his eight years at the jail that in 2004 he was unopposed in the election for union representative at Island Academy, the Rikers school, which serves about 1,000 teenage inmates.

David Lee, an inmate serving time for assault, who earned a General Educational Development diploma with one of the highest scores ever at Rikers, said no teacher worked harder. Mr. Kaufman made special arrangements for Mr. Lee to take college correspondence courses, spent his lunch hours tutoring him and then proctored each of the three-hour exams from Excelsior College.

In July 2003, Mr. Kaufman was off for the summer, but made special trips to Rikers so Mr. Lee could take his next college exam. "All the teachers were on vacation and school didn't begin until September," Mr. Lee wrote in a letter sent to this reporter from Rikers. "But Kaufman comes here to Rikers not once, but twice just so that he could give me the test on a hot summer day. He didn't have to come; he could have stayed home with his wife and kids."

"Mr. Kaufman wasn't only a teacher or test proctor," said Mr. Lee. "He inspired me to aim higher in life."

But on Friday, Mr. Kaufman received notice from his principal that he was no longer permitted to teach at Rikers.

His crime? "Undue familiarity."

Mr. Kaufman had given Mr. Lee his home address so the two could correspond by mail and try to arrange for Mr. Lee to take another of those Excelsior College exams while the inmate was in solitary confinement in the summer of 2004.

There is no allegation of anything improper about the content of those letters. Copies of 20 letters provided to a reporter by Mr. Kaufman and Mr. Lee mainly talked about learning. In one, the inmate thanked the teacher for sending books to him in solitary ("the Bing") and wrote that he was spending so much time reading, up to 12 hours a day, that he was getting headaches. "I don't mind being here at the Bing but I want to be able to take the test," wrote Mr. Lee.

Mr. Kaufman wrote back urging patience, saying that he was trying to work out arrangements with correction officials. "If your head begins to hurt from reading, stop. Your body is telling you it's enough."

How did school and correction officials know that Mr. Kaufman had given out his home address? Mr. Kaufman told them.

On Sept. 12, 2005, the Rikers principal, Frank Dody, sent out a security memo, in which he spelled out in writing, for the first time, what was meant by the prohibition against undue familiarity: "All contact with current/former students outside of the school area (home, upstate facilities) in the form of letters or phone calls must be authorized by the principal."

Mr. Kaufman read the memo, requested authorization and showed the principal a recent letter from Mr. Lee. Within days Mr. Kaufman was yanked from Rikers and placed in a holding room in Brooklyn for teachers under investigation.

Mr. Kaufman says he thinks the real reason he was investigated was that he had testified at a City Council hearing in December 2004 about how bad the Rikers school's services were for inmates being released. "That really upset Frank Dody," Mr. Kaufman says. "He wouldn't talk to me for months. He's using this incident to get me."

Mr. Dody said he was upset, but that's not why there was an investigation. He said that even though he had been principal six years and had only recently spelled out the rules in writing, anyone who had been at Rikers as long as Mr. Kaufman knew you weren't supposed to give out your address. "Teachers here have to live by the corrections rules," Mr. Dody said. "While the rules don't always make sense, even to me, they're in place for a reason, to keep everyone safe."

Mr. Dody acknowledged that the letter Mr. Kaufman showed him had nothing compromising in it. "From my reading of it, I didn't really see anything of any nature that would raise my eyebrows," Mr. Dody said.

Thomas Antenten, a corrections spokesman, said that once the principal made the decision to refer the case, officials had to investigate. "We take undue familiarity very seriously," he said. "Giving an inmate a personal address could lead to deadly consequences."

Inmates like Mr. Lee say Rikers has lost a rare, good teacher. "It was a wrong decision to demote Kaufman," Mr. Lee said. "I'm the one who initiated contact in order to see what options I had in seeking a better education."

David Lee was a 16-year-old junior with a B+ average at Francis Lewis High in Queens in January 2002. He says he got mixed up with the wrong people, and was at a Flushing apartment when a fight broke out and a man was stabbed to death. Mr. Lee pleaded guilty to first-degree assault in return for an eight-year sentence and is being held at Rikers pending the trial of a co-defendant charged with murder.

Within four months at Rikers, Mr. Lee took the G.E.D. In the middle of the test, he says, a brawl broke out and someone threw a chair at him, bruising a rib. Still, he comes from a family of good students, and even bruised, he finished with a top score. His younger sister, Sonia, is an A student in her sophomore year at George Washington University, and travels from Washington every other week to visit her brother in jail, bringing books he requests.

At the Rikers school, Mr. Lee became a favorite. He showed Mr. Murphy, the computer teacher, how to use several desktop publishing programs. He was given a job doing janitorial work. With Mr. Kaufman's help, he took three college business courses and got A's. Neither he nor Mr. Kaufman knew what material was going to be on the tests and which chapters to focus on, so Mr. Lee read everything. "I would read 450, 500 pages of a textbook from cover to cover three to four times so I would truly understand," he said.

AS Mr. Lee was about to take his fourth college exam, in May 2004, he was caught with 17 packs of Newports. Smoking was banned at Rikers in 2003; cigarettes are considered contraband. Mr. Lee said he was offered a "slap on the wrist" if he'd give up his supplier but did not. For each pack of Newports, he was given 15 days in solitary, 9 months altogether in a 6-by-9-foot cell.

Mr. Antenten, the corrections spokesman, said he did not know the details of the case but added that Rikers makes no distinction between cigarettes and heroin when it comes to contraband. "It can lead to disputes between inmates that have bloody consequences," he said.

Mr. Lee said the teacher's letters helped keep him sane those nine months. "Not only did Kaufman help me pursue educational studies, but he offered moral support through the letters," he said.
The illegal letters sent to Mr. Kaufman's home are often quite moving. A July 28, 2004, letter begins with Mr. Lee thanking the teacher for the latest package of books. "You want to know what's funny," wrote Mr. Lee. "Before I was incarcerated, I never used to really read. I could honestly tell you that I read less than 10 books during my life outside and it was during my elementary school years. I wouldn't even bother to look at the cover of a book if I came across one.

"Now that I'm incarcerated, I treasure them. I'm not just talking about novels which enhance your vocabulary and reading comprehension but also self-help books. What I like about self-help books is that from reading just one significant quote which catches your eye, it could change your whole perception of life itself. From reading books you tap into the most brilliant minds of the present and past. In here they're like my most trusted friends."

At times, in the letters, Mr. Kaufman sounds like a stern father. Referring to the cigarette infraction that got Mr. Lee removed from the school and landed him in the Bing, Mr. Kaufman wrote, "We were all upset at your sudden leaving, but we have talked about consequences."

Mr. Kaufman, 50, said his background - he is a Cornell grad, a former police officer and lawyer for the indigent - makes him well-suited for teaching inmates. He will appeal the decision. "It's a place I feel I can be of most use to my students," he said.

In December, after spending more than two months in the Brooklyn holding room, Mr. Kaufman was sent to Queens Academy, where he is mentoring three new teachers. An Education Department spokesman, David Cantor, said Mr. Kaufman would soon be given a job teaching at an alternative high school.

Mr. Dody, the principal, said Mr. Kaufman's removal was solely a Correction Department decision.
But a November 2005 memo by the department's investigator, Capt. Matthew Boyd, indicates that the principal had a significant role. "Dr. Dody reports that he has determined that Mr. Kaufman's actions violate undue familiarity and I concur," the memo says.

Mr. Dody says he's not a doctor and the corrections memo is wrong.

Mr. Lee's younger sister, Sonia, wrote about his jail experiences in a term paper at George Washington that won a top a prize and was featured at a student lecture series. The paper includes the hardships her brother knew growing up, including the suicide of their mother, who suffered from manic depression. Sonia Lee plans to get a master's degree in public policy specializing in the prison system. Her prize paper calls for prisons that devote more resources to rehabilitation and education.

Anonymous said...

Although Jeff's ego maybe hurting, you are sticking to the real issue by posting YET AGAIN the new article from 11 months ago.

Anonymous said...

How does Jeff, who is not in Rikers anymore, gets to call himself the Chapter Leader of Rikers at the DA?

I guess the members must have voted for him even when he is not there. That should be the answer, right? Just curious.

Anonymous said...

How does Jeff, who is not in Rikers anymore, GET to call himself the CL?

Sorry. I don't want to upset any English teachers either!

Anonymous said...

Hey James, I'm a teacher too! And there is the difference. ICE thinks they know it all, and speak for all. So, your comment that you have to go teach while unity people are assigned to monitor this blog is truly unfair and insulting. James, all this lack of power has gotten to your head. Again James, you approved everything, then some, then you were against it, but then you voted for it, and then you screamed against it but voted for it, and now you say you had nothing to do with anything. Where were you buddy? You are letting ICE down. Oh yeah, and who was that blonde on Monday night? The one from TJC. Where did she come from? I never saw her at our committee but then all of the sudden she showed up and made a speech 2 centuries too late. What's up with that?


JUST VOTE YES. ICE LIES.

jameseterno said...

With all the personal attacks on Jeff and me because we oppose the contract, I do have a right to respond. When I see comments during the day, I do wonder where people get the time. I certainly do not have time to post blog comments during my busy work day.

You can swiftboat me all you want as was said earlier, however I will not take the bait and talk about what went on in the negotiating committee where I signed a confidentiality agreement and take it seriously.

A real union extends a good contract, not a bad one. The exact point when someone decides something is bad is irrelevant. I would not have voted for a three year extension of the current punitive contract under any circumstances. The fact tht some people are having a difficult time understanding my reasoning and just want to attack me is interesting.

Jeff was elected chapter leader in Rikers with 80% of the vote even though he was removed from the school unjustly many months earlier. His reelection shows you a great deal about his character.

Anonymous said...

Although you say James, that you wouldn't vote for the contract NOW, you voted for it every step of the way until the last night. Now you are hiding behind the cloak of "confidentiality". It was meant about other people not about yourself. Very selective and deceptive to those you supposedly represent.

PS - I guess your comments about "daytime" comments applies to NYC Educator. He often posts in the daytime also. I guess he is a whack also. (Oops I meant hack - or did I?)

Anonymous said...

ICE/TJC leadership:

Why do you join a negotiating committee to organize at the schools? The reason to join a negotiating committee is to negotiate. End of story!

Anonymous said...

The idea of negotiating means taking on responsibility for what comes out. Obviously that is more than ICE/TJC can do. They sat on the committee and now refuse to take responsibility for the process (and/or their participation in it) or the result. Instead people like James and Jeff hide by scare tactics and devise things "that might be". Instead tell us what you actually did during the process to stop this contract you now protest. James mentioned "confidentiality" but that applies to others and what they say not yourself. You don't seem to be shy and claim to be up for leadership in this union. Take responsibility for your actions.

Anonymous said...

James cites Yonkers in 1999. Need we be reminded how much the world has changed since then. 2 terms of W, a conservative lean to the government (local, state and national) 9/11, 2 wars, a billionaire mayor elected twice, a governor who thinks he can be president. A lot of things are different, in fact Yonkers struggled for years without a contract in the last round, longer than we did. But I guess they "can do better" also. Tell it to the teachers in Detroit, the TWU and CSA.

jameseterno said...

I still won't take the bait on breaking confidentiality. I signed that statement not to reveal what went on in there and I take that seriously. If I did reveal anything, Unity folks would be criticizing me for breaking confidentiality. It's a "catch 22."

As for Yonkers in 1999, they won by settling economics first and then non economic issues after. We supposedly went in with that strategy and then changed it at the last minute. Please read my "Bait and Switch" post instead of continuing to attack me personally.

Politically, much has changed in the last week. The climate improved significantly last Tuesday. Did anyone notice that the Democrats (including most UFT endorsed candidates) did pretty well last week? Doesn't that mean we may get a more favorable CFE settlement and No Child Left Behind Law?

Anonymous said...

Afternoon with my DR

Having done my research, I attended a meeting at my school this afternoon with our district rep. Being the radical of the group (you've never seen a more passive group of teachers in your life), I asked my question about healthcare- specifically, why the language in the 2002 and 2005 contracts stated that whatever was negotiated by the MLC was attached to our contract agreement and therefore part of it, and why the wording of the new proposed contract states, "The parties acknowledge that collective bargaining regarding health benefits is within the purview of negotiations between the Municipal Labor Committee and the City. Cost-containment initiatives and program modifications in the City Health Benefits program shall be discussed with the Municipal Labor Committee." She proceeded to ask me what my question was. I asked her about the significance of the new wording. She claimed she didn't see my point. We played volleyball with this question for a bit, and finally said to me, "well, have you ever been asked to contribute to your health benefits before?" I acknowledged that no, we were not, unless you paid for optional riders and such. She asked me why I thought we'd be asked to do so now. I turned that question around and asked her why, since health benefits were clearly a bone of contention, why the UFT doesn't come right out and say that no, there is no possibility that we would be asked to contribute. At this point she became belligerent and asked me where I got my information from. I told her that I was quoting from previous contracts, and the proposed memorandum for the new contract. What she really wanted to know was who tipped me off to this. When I told her I did research from other sources ( I didn't mention ICE, from where I got my information), she said, "I can't answer any more of your questions." Not wanting to give her the satisfaction, I didn't walk out of the meeting right then and there, but stuck around long enough to hear not answer another question: did we ever know what the MLC negotiated regarding our health benefits prior to voting on our contract?

This is a prime example of why we must try to erode Unity's power. When they can't, or won't, answer our questions, they change the subject and attempt to belittle and humiliate the members that THEY work for.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry for your experience with your DR but it was answered pretty well with mine. Art.3G in our contract (which says that negotiations with city will be ongoing) is still in full affect and negotiating through the MLC has been in place for more than 40 years. Nothing has changed, and our health benefits are among the best IN THE COUNTRY! 300,000 people negotiating instead of 100,000 can get you a lot. Ask people in the private sector what they pay for their benefits and then you'll see how much better off we are.

Even a devout "ICE man " in my school had no comment to that after he first brought it up. This seems to have been created by the ICE-icles to create fear.

What is the next conspiracy?

jameseterno said...

Same question came up at the HS Committee meeting about us paying for health care that is now free. No Unity person has come out and said that we won't have to pay. It would end this if the Unity faithful would say no you won't have to pay for basic health coverage but they won't say it. Why not?

The Unity people who faithfully read this blog would do well to just answer our question. We know Bloomberg wants us to pay and the transit workers agreed to pay 1.5%. Tell us we have nothing to worry about and we won't be paying.

Anonymous said...

Re: Health benefits
The people I polled do pay a lot in health benefits in the private sector but they also make twice the salary I do. I don't think I should be grateful . I declare it my right. There's going to be a great book written on how UNITY destroyed the UFT. Any suggestions for a title?

Anonymous said...

Re: Health Care
You couldn't be more correct: it is a right and should be for everyone. But it isn't in this country and that is the real problem. The municipal unions in this city have done an incredible job in maintining benfits including our pensions and job security (tenure). You can't get that in the private sector. (Nor can you get the limited official "work hours" in the day that we have).