I vow that this will be my last posting for a while on the latest fiasco where active UFT members will have to defer raises so there can be enough money to pay full retroactive pay to members who retired between November 1, 2009 and June 30, 3014.
The retirees are not at all to blame for this mess and I don't begrudge them their money nor should anyone else. They earned every dime.
It was exciting to see the comment on the last post from the retiree who voted no on the contract as a last principled act of solidarity before retiring. Two teachers at Jamaica High School proudly showed me their no votes on the contract even though they clearly would benefit from retiring if the contract passed. I would have done exactly as they did by voting no on principle and then taking the up front money upon leaving if I was eligible.
In saying all of that, I do believe there is plenty of blame to be distributed for this settlement where active employees will have to delay raises in 2018 so retirees can be made whole now.
The most obvious culprit here is Michael Mulgrew and the UFT's inner negotiating team. Clearly, it didn't take a genius to figure out that there was going to be a mass exodus from the system if people were going to get tens of thousands of dollars up front retroactive pay upon retirement but they had to leave by June 30, 2014. The UFT needed to push for more money to pay the retirees or contractual language that would compel the city to come up with additional funding if more UFT members than anticipated wanted to retire. In their haste to get a deal done, the UFT didn't think this through.
The second villain in this story is Mayor Bill de Blasio and his Office of Labor Relations led by Robert Linn. After convincing the UFT to accept the worst pattern setting agreement of my career, the city could have taken some pity on the UFT and come up with $60 million extra to pay the retirees when more people than anticipated choose to leave. The money is a drop in the bucket in the city budget. Instead, they held rigidly to the pattern and forced active members to defer raises.
The final goat here is arbitrator Martin Scheinman. He could have told the city that there is no need to rub the UFT's face in the mud after you got a pretty strong pro-city labor deal. Needless to say, Scheinman, a de Blasio fundraiser, didn't do this and instead found a way to make active teachers shoulder the cost of the settlement through deferred raises.