My friends Pat Dobosz and Marc Epstein both sent out this piece from the Wall Street Journal on UFT President Michael Mulgrew's cozy relationship with Mayor Bill de Blasio.
The Journal ties the UFT getting a contract in 2014 to AFT President Randi Weingarten and UFT President Michael Mulgrew having lunch with the mayor and then the AFT donating $350,000 to a group backing de Blasio's agenda called Campaign for One New York. Right after that donation: presto, a contract.
Here's how the Journal describes it
The teachers union was the first municipal union to get a new contract in early 2014. Mr. de Blasio met for lunch on March 9 of that year with Mr. Mulgrew and Randi Weingarten, who heads the American Federation of Teachers, the union’s umbrella group.
On April 9, the national teachers union gave $350,000 to the Campaign for One New York, an organization that promotes Mr. de Blasio’s broader agenda. Three weeks later, the nine-year contract was announced.
Am I to understand we had to send some bucks over to a pro de Blasio group in order to get our abysmal contract? Maybe it wasn't a direct quid pro quo (AFT President Randi Weingarten is not that dumb), but we all know how "pay to play" in politics works. In return for our generosity with the mayor, couldn't we have received a little more?
No we could not. Instead, we established a record low for my twenty-nine years in the system municipal setting pattern (one city union settles on a salary increase and others get basically the same terms) of 10% raises in total over seven years (now 7 years and one month to pay for retiree lump sum retroactive money) with higher healthcare costs that are just now being implemented thrown in. The first two years of the nine year contract were just us receiving what other city unions got in the last round of bargaining from 2008-2010 that former Mayor Michael Bloomberg refused to give us. We didn't receive that retroactive money right away in 2014 when the contract was signed. We are still waiting for most of the arrears which won't fully be paid to us until October of 2020. In addition, we gave away due process rights for Absent Teacher Reserves who miss two mandatory interviews. They are now terminated and must fight to be put back on payroll. We also agreed to endless Mondays and Tuesdays to waste time in most schools.
The Journal didn't mention the terms of the contract because I guess they are too low for them to report that the union had to "pay to play" for that kind of deal.
As for professional improvements under de Blasio, you be the judge if teachers are being treated better now than when Bloomberg was mayor. I see little or no improvement in our working conditions. In fact, they are probably worse now because the city is so cozy with the UFT so the union is more likely to let management have their way rather than putting up any sort of resistance.
For me to read that Mayor de Blasio has met more with Mulgrew "over the past two years than with any other registered lobbyist, city records show," is a farce. We are the number one cheerleader for the mayor and our working conditions are still abysmal and not improving at all in my view.
Consider also the city's booming economy and we are being taken for a long ride by both city hall and the union leadership.
Either Mulgrew is completely inept or he is more interested in being partners with the mayor than representing our interests. Either way, we lose and will continue to lose if we don't vote in Jia Lee and the MORE-New Action slate in the upcoming election.