President Michael Mulgrew at yesterday's Delegate Assembly convinced the DA to approve, by the usual large margin, a resolution to give the UFT the authority to declare, if necessary, that there is an impasse in bargaining. Our contract expired without fanfare on October 31. (Anna Phillips' piece at Gotham Schools.org sums up the resolution fairly well.)
If the UFT seeks an impasse declaration, the state Public Employees Relations Board would then have to agree that there is an impasse and then they would appoint a mediator to try to help the parties settle differences. Fact finding and non binding arbitration would come next if mediation fails.
Many UFT members, including me, are very skeptical about fact finding because of how badly we did in this process in 2005. At that time, the fact finders set the framework for the horrible giveback laden 2005 contract that gave us the whole ATR mess as they had the UFT give up seniority and SBO transfers among many other concessions such as a longer day, weaker due process and a return to hall and cafeteria patrol for teachers.
Do we want to go down this road again?
What are the alternatives? The answer is to organize and mobilize.
In other DA news, we heard a report on organizing the community; we heard about special education complaints and there was a passionate plea from somebody speaking in support of Honduran teachers and the Honduran people. A resolution in support of their cause passed unanimously.
Welfare Fund Director Arthur Pepper told the delegates that the UFT will be improving welfare fund benefits.
One last item that is of great importance to those of us who work in D graded schools. President Mulgrew said that the progress reports that were just released don't mean crap. He didn't show up at the press conference where Klein announced them. Mulgrew explained a number of factors that proved the progress reports are unreliable measures of schools. We agree with the president here.
We hope that the UFT will follow our 2007 resolution and not allow any school to be closed based on the progress reports.
Finally, time ran out at the DA without there being a new motion period. We hope this is not a trend that will continue.