Monday, February 20, 2006

Randi Says We've Caught up to the Suburbs.

Is She Correct?

We Don't Think So!

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

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

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

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


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

More than 190!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

None that we know.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Extra Time Hits Home; Register Your Experience

Reports are coming in from all over indicating that the extra time has been run rather poorly. We have reports that in some schools students didn’t show up while in others not enough supplies or materials were provided. We would like to get your experience, especially those of you in our leadership who are not in schools. How did you use your extra time?

Friday, February 03, 2006

But They Told Me That I Could Remove this 1962 Letter From My File!

Contract implementation woes continue as the DOE demonstrates that what appears teacher friendly in the contract is, in essence, an illusion. Remember when our trusted UFT Leaders told us how we “won” the right to have derogatory material removed from our personnel files that was over three years old?

Great win, right?


As appears in the following memo to principals by the DOE’s Labor Relations office these letters will not be destroyed but will be sent to another office. Isn’t it wonderful how great this new contract is at protecting our rights? Thanks, Randi.

Here is the text of the memo:

UFT Contract Implementation: Guidance on Material in File

As you are probably aware, the new collective bargaining agreement with the UFT has eliminated material in file grievances and gives educators represented by UFT the right to remove material in file after three years if they do not lead to further discipline. This provision takes effect immediately. If you receive a grievance challenging any material in file, e.g. an unsatisfactory observation or a disciplinary letter for attendance problems or misconduct, you should respond to the chapter leader that you will not hear the grievance, but the staff member may append a written response to the letter before it is placed in the personnel file. With a few exceptions, only material in file arbitrations scheduled for January will go forward and any material in file grievance currently at steps 1, 2 or 3 will be discontinued.

As a part of the agreement, any letter placed in a teacher’s or other UFT represented employee’s personnel file: 1) which is 3 years old or older and; 2) has not been used in a disciplinary proceeding (3020-a charges, discontinuances or U-ratings), shall be removed from the employee’s file. Three years is measured from the date the letter was placed in the employee’s file (which should be the date the employee signed the letter or administration indicated “refuse to sign”). Note, the rule regarding removing letters from the file after three years does not apply to non-UFT titles, such as school aides or family workers.

Teachers or other UFT represented employees who wish to have a letter removed from their file pursuant to the new agreement should follow the current procedures for viewing their personnel file by making an appointment with the principal or his/her designee when the principal or designee is available. The employee will be permitted to view his/her personnel file in the presence of the principal or designee. Employees may identify any letter that has been in their file for 3 years or longer (e.g. by marking it with a Post-it). The supervisor should remove the letter from the file if he or she knows that the letter has not resulted in further disciplinary action, such as 3020a charges, a discontinuance, an unsatisfactory rating, or a suspension and confirms that it is 3 years old or more. Copies should be made of all the documents to be removed and the employee should be given the originals. The records will be kept in a central repository and maintained under the control of the New York City Law Department (see instructions on shipping the letters to the repository below). They will be used solely in defense of the Department of Education or the City of New York in litigation or administrative actions and as otherwise required by law, and DOE supervisors will not have access to them. The records will be destroyed 6 years after an individual retires, resigns or terminates. If the records are accessed, the UFT will receive notice.

If the supervisor does not know whether the letter resulted in further disciplinary action (e.g. if a principal is new to the school), s/he should inquire of his/her regional counsel so this can be investigated.

Although material in file grievances have ended, principals should, as good management practice, continue to follow the guidelines in the Office of Labor Relations “Labor FAQs” for letter writing. For example, you should meet with the employee prior to writing a disciplinary letter or lesson observation to discuss the issues prior to coming to a conclusion. Please see this section of Labor FAQs on letter writing by clicking here.

For general inquiries contact Dan McCray ( or David Brodsky ( with the Office of Labor Relations.

Instructions on Shipment of Documents

Copies of the file letters should be placed in manila folders with the employee’s last name, first name, social security and file number, district number and school name and number. If there are more than 50 folders at a site, they should be placed in a box, which you can order by e-mailing Angie Russo at Each box should have an official archive label on it listing the contents by teacher file number. You can obtain the labels from the DFO Web Site at The regular vendor for inter-office mail, Deluxe Delivery Services, will pick up all boxes and file packages for delivery to the central repository.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Unity/UFT Leaders Exposed on Pensions;Unity Supplemental Pension Bill Ignores Current Retirees

by James Eterno, Chapter Leader, Jamaica HS; UFT Executive Board, HS Rep

A Variable Supplement Fund (VSF) distributes excess earnings in pension funds back to retired members. Money in our pension funds is invested and if those funds make better returns than expected, the extra money now goes back to the city. The Police and Fire Unions negotiated a VSF years ago. In addition to their regular pension, retired police officers and firefighters receive an annual supplemental check from excess pension fund earnings.

This year a retired police officer will get approximately $11,000 from the VSF. Meanwhile, retired teachers have to wait five years after they retire to collect the much touted Cost of Living Adjustment which was passed by the State Legislature at the beginning of the decade. The COLA will pay retirees only $180 to a maximum of $540 annually, a small fraction of what the retired police officers will receive from their VSF. As prices continue to rise, the COLA is a meager pension supplementation.

Several years back, UFT President Randi Weingarten said that if another Union wins a VSF from the State Legislature, then we would push for one also. Soon after, the Corrections Union had a VSF passed by the State Legislature and signed by Governor George Pataki. The UFT now has a VSF bill we are asking the Legislature to support. However, the bill is written in such a way that if it were to become law, only people who retire after the legislation is passed would receive the supplemental checks each year. Currently retired UFT members would receive nothing and be stuck with the "Diet COLA."

Opposition members at the Executive Board have continually pointed out the flaw in our VSF bill and we have been attempting to persuade the UFT to rewrite and reintroduce the bill so that all retirees, current and future, would get a supplemental check through a Variable Supplement Fund. We tried this again on January 30, 2006 but Unity won't listen to us and continues to push a flawed bill that would not help current retirees.

This leads to the question: Why are retired teachers the most loyal Unity Caucus constituency? In the last ten years Unity has pushed through a flawed COLA that results in pension checks lagging way behind the rate of inflation and now the UFT is supporting a VSF that would not benefit current retirees. Meanwhile, costs for health care continue to explode out of control. Isn't it time for retired teachers to start thinking about new leadership. They have nothing to lose. Pension checks are protected by the State Constitution so they are not jeopardized. The Independent Community of Educators fully supports retired UFT members.

  1. The UFT should not support with COPE money politicians who are not protecting the interests of our members, active and retired.

  2. The UFT needs to properly mobilize our retired and active members to work for a VSF for retirees, both current and future.

  3. The UFT must draw a line in the sand and say no more erosion in health care benefits.