WHY I OPPOSE THIS CONTRACT PROPOSAL
I have seen more than a few contracts in over 30 years as a UFT member. I have been elected city-wide as a Unity candidate for AFT/NYSUT Delegate. I have been a member of the UFT Negotiating Committee for over a decade. I fought the 1995 proposed contract because it failed the test of solidarity. For that same reason I am forced to ask members to vote NO on this proposed contract.
One of the core arguments against negotiating a contract with that enemy of education, Mike Bloomberg, was a need to protect ATR's.
This PROPOSED contract, negotiated with an ally, gives ATR's significantly less due process protection than other UFT members. If two principals in as few as two days (ONE day in each school, as per Chancellor Farina)send an ATR back for (currently undefined) unprofessional behavior, an expedited ONE day 30-20A hearing can end their career within 50 days. The process is already skewed against members as is. We do not need to give principals and DOE lawyers any more of an incentive to get rid of primarily experienced educators. Other members get to keep a 30-20A process by which the DOE needs to document TWO YEARS of U ratings, followed by a hearing process that can take another year. This difference is unacceptable and discriminatory. While I do not believe Mayor de Blasio is interested in creating more ATR's, he cannot serve more than 8 years. His successors may close more schools and created another ATR army to winnow out.
There is also potentially a ticking health care time bomb. There is a requirement that there must be a very large savings in health care costs. But if it is not met, the process goes to a mandatory, binding arbitration, in which we can be FORCED to pay part of a below-inflation increase with health care contributions. This is a very slippery slope that can only be prevented by adding a simple statement in the memorandum of agreement preventing ANY imposition of new health care charges. This can only be accomplished by negotiation AFTER a NO vote on this proposal.
Also, the skeptical math teacher in me looks at the statement that members retiring by the end of 2015 will get all of their retroactive pay. But all of what? Is it 100% of the 2009-2011 pattern virtually every other union received, which would give teachers at maximum 100% of almost $30,000? Or is it based upon the salary table on the UFT.org site, which shows a 1% raise in May 2013 and a 1% raise this May? This would result in a 100% of only $3000. (Editor's Note: UFT's Mona Romain and Janella Hinds told two of us that pensions would be calculated based on full arrears so it would be over $30,000 but we haven't seen this in any Memorandum of Agreement.) These questions can be answered if the UFT sends a representative to the contract forum Francis Lewis HS Chapter Leader Arthur Goldstein is trying to organize.
Another factor is how the contract discriminates among those who worked under an expired contract. Members who resigned or who have been terminated will get ZERO retroactive pay. This is unacceptable and discriminatory.
Another reason I cannot support this proposal is the $1000 signing bonus in lieu of a contractual raise. I was taught by long-time union leaders that you NEVER do this. A bonus is a one-shot. A raise is forever. The reason we are being asked to accept this is because we are inexplicably accepting raises well below the rate of inflation, and the bonus helps hide this. The last 7 years of the contract have a measly 10% raise. The first two years of 4% + 4% are covered by pattern bargaining, which has governed New York negotiations for over 40 years (including years when we had to take ZERO's because other unions settled to prevent layoffs that were not on the table for us).
Another problem deals with retroactive pay. Any time we have previously loaned the city money by delaying raises we have received interest or a trade-off like the mid-winter recess (thank you Randi!). Here raises are being stretched out to 2020 - ELEVEN years after the last contract expired. In addition, the salary table in September will NOT reflect an 8% raise. This becomes an incentive for all future administrations to unreasonably delay contracts, then stretch out retroactivity to make a mockery of it.
We have rightfully criticized other unions for negotiating contracts that bind other unions by establishing horrible patterns that were then used against us. With this contract we become the enemy of other municipal workers. We would make other union members happy by rejecting this contract. Police officers have already said this pattern is not acceptable for them.
There are good parts about this contract. The use of the 37.5 minutes uses ideas (like parent contact)that I proposed and Dr. Morris regularly rejected. However, this gain does not make-up for the shortfalls.
You all deserve better. We improved the 1995 contract by going back to the drawing board, eliminating the most discriminatory aspects. You have the ability to reject this contract proposal - and no matter what anybody says, it is only a PROPOSAL. We can, and should, do it again.
People say you are judged by your friends. The virulently anti-union Daily News and Post have hailed this agreement, before pulling back a bit when their suspicious support was noticed. This alone should make any undecided educator think twice.
If you have any questions, or doubt any of this information, please feel free to contact me. And please feel free to share with your friends.
Thanks for listening.
David S. Pecoraro
Former Beach Channel HS Chapter Leader, 2000-2012
Former Andrew Jackson HS Chapter Leader 1993-1996
Former BCHS Delegate, 1996-1998 & 2012-2014
Former AJHS Delegate, 1988-1993
Parent Member & Recorder, HS For Construction Trades, Engineering, & Architecture School Leadership Team 2010-Present