Thursday, May 10, 2018

THE POST JANUS UFT LANDSCAPE

Many people are wondering what the post Janus UFT will look like. We speculated in March but as the decision gets closer I can say I am not sure what anything will look like after the case is decided.

Here is what we do know. The Supreme Court will soon issue a ruling in the case of Janus vs AFSCME. Most of us are expecting a 5-4 decision to come down against the unions. It is always possible that Chief Justice John Roberts or maybe new justice Neil Gorsuch could side with the unions to keep labor stability by upholding the 49 year old Abood precedent that made it legal for unions to collect fair share or agency fees from non-members both in the public and private sector. We do not see that as very likely but one never knows. More likely, the public sector will soon become right to work throughout the country which will mean unions will have to convince their members to stay and pay union dues while not being able to deny fair representation to people who refuse to join the union and pay dues.

According to a NY Teacher piece, Michael Mulgrew stated that the right wing has raised $6 million to "mount a campaign to attack public sector unions in the state..." The UFT traces the funding in part back to the infamous Koch brothers who are two of the funders of the Freedom Foundation. This so called Freedom Foundation went after union membership in Washington, Oregon and California after an earlier Supreme Court ruling in Harris v Quinn allowed certain indirect government workers to opt out of fair share union fees. The Freedom Foundation went door-to-door and did a huge media blitz to get workers to leave their unions.The union out in Washington says less than 10% quit the union but the Freedom Foundation says it was over 55%. Can the UFT survive a similar public campaign to convince members to leave the union after Janus? As I stated above, I don't know but I wouldn't bet against our union.

Let us be open and above board here. Can we possibly defend the UFT? I am pro-union and have worked hard since the mid nineties to build a more militant UFT as have many other activists in ICEUFT, Teachers for a Just Contract, New Action, MORE and many who are not in any caucus. Electoral success has been elusive except in the high schools but we keep attempting to make our union world a little better.

The UFT leadership's defenders argue that our salaries and benefits are competitive and that Michael Mulgrew, Randi Weingarten and their followers in the Unity Caucus have navigated difficult political terrain to keep most of our rights intact. They say it would be much worse without a union or with a smaller one. They have some valid points.

The critics say our working conditions have deteriorated significantly since the infamous 2005 contract and other contracts signed with anti-teacher Mayor Michael Bloomberg that Weingarten still touts. How can someone be proud of a contract that created the Absent Teacher Reserve pool which allowed the city to close multiple schools and displace so many educators? Before 2005, members were placed in one of six schools of their choosing if a school was closed but now they become substitutes. How can a union leader boast about agreeing to deny teachers the right to grieve unfair/inaccurate letters in the file that has allowed many abusive administrators to run roughshod over teachers? How can she crow about acquiescing to putting teachers back on potty patrol and other givebacks that have made the job miserable for so many teachers?

Weingarten's successor Mulgrew in 2013 allowed anti-public school State Education Commissioner John King to decide on our evaluation system and King made it much worse than the traditional system. Even after the law changed to allow more flexibility, Mulgrew still agreed to a minimum of  four observations per year for most of us. Toiling in NYC schools is next to impossible unless someone is working for one of the enlightened administrators (they definitely still exist). In addition, the Tier VI pension plan since 2012 has made new teacher pensions inferior compared to veteran educators; healthcare copayments are up; our raises have been miniscule as Mulgrew agreed to a contract in 2014 where we only received a total of 10% increases over 7 years and 1 month and we are waiting until 2020 to be paid in full for work we did from 2009-2011 that other city workers received in those years. Also, don't forget that NYC Teachers' Retirement System members who are in the UFT had our interest rate on the fixed TDA reduced from 8.25% to 7% while administrators and CUNY teachers are still getting 8,25%.

Can anyone make the case that our salaries, benefits and working conditions in the schools are improving?

The UFT champions will say that the union is still there to defend us if we have grievances. Let's look at the grievance process. On most issues, a grievance or APPR (evaluation system) complaint can take forever to resolve as the Department of Education basically stalls on even obvious cases so the abuse continues for the UFT member who filed the complaint. It can take years for something to get to arbitration. I saw two cases last year where the union was obviously 100% right and it was clear but the DOE still took the cases to arbitration. The arbitrator chastised the DOE at the hearing and sided with the teacher so the DOE lost but they still won because they wasted everyone's time with cases where they had no chance so other teachers had to wait in line to have their cases heard. This is important because the arbitrators work a limited number of dates each year to hear cases and they are paid equally by both the DOE and UFT. Those complaints cited above are two union victories. The arbitrators have to make both sides happy to stay on the panel as both sides must approve their rehiring annually so the DOE has to win some. If the DOE forces the union to use up some of its unofficial quota of victories on open and shut cases, then the union will lose others that we should win. The system is less than ideal.

On a simple issue like letters to the file being written past the three month time limit from when an incident occurred (see Contract Article 21A1), I have heard of two schools in the last month where the DOE denied the grievances on untimely letters at the school level. Those who grieve are rarely getting redress at the Chancellor's level either. DOE strategy seems to be to just clog up the process. Class size arbitrations are a joke too that has been well documented for years. The way too high contractual class size limits are in reality suggestions. Some parents have sued to try to get the city to follow the law and reduce class sizes. Where is our union?

Our contract has been weakened and the grievance process is not exactly a speedy way to address most violations. Many members only use the union to take advantage of welfare fund benefits (dental, drugs glasses, hearing aids) but those benefits are paid for by the city and administered by the union so one might ask objectively why do we need to pay union dues?  We pay around $1,400 per year. For what?

This came from Bronx ATR:

Bronx ATR said...
I just got my golden ticket from the UFT and a letter explaining discounts galore and the announcement of visits from the UFT traveling troupe, 'The Door Knockers'. Nice, but meaningless. Why don't they announce they are working towards meaningful change for all teachers? If the answer is they aren't - then why aren't they? S/U evaluations is a no brainer; ending Fair Student Funding is common sense and helping discontinued teachers is the right thing to do. Send a letter out about that, Mike.

Good questions Bronx ATR.

I agree that we are potentially much stronger if everyone stays in the UFT but will the leadership respond to us if we all decide to stay? I doubt it. They will most probably be as arrogant and tone deaf to the needs of the rank and file as before or maybe they are just completely impotent and can't do anything.

Whether 100% stay in the union or 50% leave, expect a lousy contract. There will be no push by the UFT to get a contract that restores teacher dignity by ending the test and punish along with Danielson evaluation system, or one that places teachers from closing schools where they want to be or an agreement that ends fair student funding so senior teachers are no longer punished for their higher salaries. I can't even fathom a contract that gets teachers raises that beat inflation. You get the picture. If teachers opt out in droves, it will just give the UFT another excuse for doing next to nothing when DC 37 or another union sets a wage pattern that based on precedent all other municipal unions will then also receive because of what is called pattern bargaining.

If the UFT gets over 90% of the membership to stay in the union under these conditions, I will tip my hat to them and admit that Michael Mulgrew's Unity Caucus loyalty oath based machine is one of the greatest political machines of all time. Unity offers little for $1,400 per year so if over 100,000 educated people say they will voluntarily pay, I would salute Unity. Those of us in opposition would deserve credit too for being able to beat this machine in elections at the high school level many times. I was on the Executive Board for a decade. Seven opposition members are on the Executive Board today. We have stood up to a finely tuned machine.

That machine cannot be underestimated when it comes to defending itself. I was in a school today where one of the workers thought that we might lose all of our benefits if Janus wins and we no longer have a union. This is a very intelligent individual. I wonder where the rumors are coming from. The Koch brothers may have met their match as Unity defends its empire.

Are there alternatives?

We have documented here many times how it is impossible to win a general UFT election because an opposition group cannot reach all of the members, particularly retirees who are situated all over the country, so there is no way to get to the voters enough to sufficiently answer the three questions of politics:
1-Do they know you?
2-Do they like you?
3-Do they trust you?

If everything is so desperate, then why don't we just encourage members to leave the UFT?

This one is very difficult for a pro union stalwart like me. Sadly, the UFT does not represent  many people adequately. I don't think too many days go by where I don't get at least one or two phone calls, texts and/or emails asking for union assistance. The UFT has clearly failed many of its members.

That being said, I would only consider supporting members opting out of the UFT if the people who leave join together to start a better, actual militant union. By militant, I don't necessarily mean striking as there are other ways to make a statement, defend ourselves and hurt the city. The UFT last had an exclusive bargaining election in 1962. The new state law protecting unions seems to give outsiders a chance to represent workers who opt out of their unions. I'm not there yet, and may never be as I would still rather see the UFT repaired from within, but maybe union competition has the potential to improve teacher working conditions.

48 comments:

Anonymous said...

Close the dues spigot and let those leeches work for a taste.
When their own survival is at stake, you watch how attentive to our needs they become.

James Eterno said...

I hope you are right.

Shady said...

Without unions we will be seriously screwed. We need the unions. Rather pay 1400 and have the union then save 1400 and lose my job and benefits. Think twice before you screw yourself. Plus, NY passed a law that you will not get union protection unless you are union.

Anonymous said...

Unity shill

Anonymous said...

Yeah sure, enough is enough. I wont pay dues. My CL is in bed with my admin, making my place a real shithole, principal is a really intimidates everyone, and this is how much of the city is.

Anonymous said...

ditto 5:20

Anonymous said...

Enough...already in the contract hardship travel ignored, seniority ignored, admin abuse, observations system, worst contract in history, backloaded 1% yearly raises retro delayed 11 years and some will never get it, tda down to 7%, everybody else keeps 8.25%, open market is a joke, CLs are often in bed with admin and allow corruption, grade scams, grade fraud, students who cant read and write graduate and passing because teachers are intimidated, fake grad and passing rates, credit recovery, summer school has been heavily shortened, 35% on a regents gets you a 65, jupiter grades, heavy paperwork, cant give a grade lower than 45 on a test even if the student gets a zero causes grade inflation, no discipline code, etc

Anonymous said...

The new uft member number they just gave out. They say you have to give it everytime you call the union. Are they trying to say that if you're not paying dues they won't even deal with you?

Joe said...

Uhhh ya. Didn't you read about the law Cuomo signed for the unions? You don't pay. .. Don't expect anything..

T.J. L said...

7:34 (and everyone): I agree 99% but want to point out that Admin CANNOT make you use Jupiter Grades, Skedula, etc. She may be a Unity lackey, who knows, but Debra Poulos from UFT who was put on the paperwork job got this in writing. IF you're forced to use an electronic gradebook you have to grieve it. Admin can push it all they want but our only requirement is to keep the grades, the method is up to us.

Anonymous said...

People are too scared to complain TJL. After you complain, expect an observation the following day where there are all 1's on Danielson.

Anonymous said...

That’s what get now paying dues - nothing.

Anonymous said...

I get nothing, they get nothing.

James Eterno said...

UFT or no UFT, teachers will never get anywhere unless we collectively fight for it. Don't blame the union if we aren't willing to stand up and exert our rights.

Anonymous said...

Stop Paying dues and they will respond If they don't you have saved yourself money. Out here in Nassau and Suffolk we have started the Long Island Federation of Educators, LIFE. Close to 30 locals and growing. Many member locals are amending constitutions to permit members to vote annually on state and national affiliation. Preparing for a life without NYSUT or preparing to walk. Things are falling apart and we are getting less for our state and national dues. Before things totally crash we are preparing. We are hoping for the best but getting ready for the worst.

James Eterno said...

Email us information please.

Prehistoric pedagogue said...

I started teaching in 1974. No way would the UFT of that time have stood for the crap you put up with today. Vast majority of union workers were still full-time classroom teachers.
We had the feeling that it was all of us together
against the Board. It seems that now there is a very real question with whom our union is aligned.

Anonymous said...

7:34 put it well. The UFT doesn't merit getting our dues. We still get health benefits, dental, drugs, optical THANKS to the city monetary contribution. UNITY UFT must earn our dues.
They haven't done it yet.

Anonymous said...

6:31

For Now you get your health benefits etc,

If the UFT has less support then the UFT will have less support in bargaining for those benefits.

The City monetary contribution can change. The City monetary contribution can be reduced, The City will love us to pay premiums like every other America. The City will love to pay less for our drug plan. Yes, all unions bargain together for health care for now but the uniforms unions (cops and fire) would throw the Teachers under the bus in a minute if our union showed weakness.

They always say that those teachers who only work to 3pm and lay on the beach all summer deserve less then the men who wear the uniform.

Anonymous said...

Prehistoric Pedagogue hit the nail on the head-

If ALL union officials, including Sawdust-for-brains Mulgrew were REQUIRED to teach full time, the landscape for teachers in NYC would be much better.

I want to see Janus slaughter these union FATCATS

Bronx ATR said...

7:25, Fear is the only real selling point for the UFT. Fear of everything and everyone. The NYPD aren't worried about Janus because their union actually represents them. Pat Lynch fights for his rank and file and calls out anyone that berates them. Fear isn't enough to keep me in the UFT. I don't say that lightly - it tortures me that I probably won't remain in the UFT, if given the choice to leave. I'm a unionist - it's in my blood. My mother considers Mike Quill a saint - I grew up hearing stories about him. Most today don't know his name. Look him up and compare him to Mike Mulgrew. My father was a member of the Carpenter's Local 608. He constantly told me that without unions and the Democratic Party, we would have nothing. I still believe this to be true. If the UFT does something, anything of substance, (or even makes a genuine attempt), I will gladly and gratefully keep paying dues.

Anonymous said...

But fear works, as we keep getting abused. UFT is part of the reason we get abused. I have a teacher in my school who has been targeted and ripped to shreds by admin. Teacher says she has contacted District Rep many times, who has done zero. Building CL does nothing, and there are many problems and violations in the building. Any complaint, principal gets tipped off as to who made the complaint. I echo what was written above and more can be added...And they are still asking u to do free coverages when it is our ADMIN period. Enough...already in the contract hardship travel ignored, seniority ignored, admin abuse, observations system, worst contract in history, backloaded 1% yearly raises retro delayed 11 years and some will never get it, tda down to 7%, everybody else keeps 8.25%, open market is a joke, CLs are often in bed with admin and allow corruption, grade scams, grade fraud, students who cant read and write graduate and passing because teachers are intimidated, fake grad and passing rates, credit recovery, summer school has been heavily shortened, 35% on a regents gets you a 65, jupiter grades, heavy paperwork, cant give a grade lower than 45 on a test even if the student gets a zero causes grade inflation, no discipline code, etc

Anonymous said...

Is it allowed to have a 45 minuted lunch period when instructional periods are 60 minutes? Seems unfair.

Anonymous said...

7:47:

No and there are two ways to take care of it.

1) Go on to a blog of a retired teacher and complain about it.
Or
2) File a grievance.

A period is a period and you are entitled to a duty free lunch period. The contract starts with each and everyone of us. Enforce the contract. If the Chapter Leader can’t handle it, then run for Chapter Leader. This is the month to do it.

Anonymous said...

As the chancellor talks about RACIAL DICOMFORT. What a crock of shit. Yeah, its really fair to us white people, outnumbered a million to 1 and abused.. Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza’s own experiences with prejudice have informed his polarizing battle against classroom segregation, he told The Post in an exclusive interview this week.

“When I’m not in my urban chancellor’s suit and I’m in jeans, maybe tennis shoes and a T-shirt and a baseball hat and walking through department stores, I’ve had the experience of being followed,” Carranza said at Department of Education headquarters in Manhattan Wednesday.

The Mexican-American recalled being profiled in every city he’s worked in — noting that the recent addition a goatee probably hasn’t helped.

“It’s happened to me in Las Vegas,” he said. “It’s happened to me in San Francisco. It’s happened to me in Texas. Haven’t been to the stores yet in New York so we’ll see. I’ve had the experience of walking in the street — again, not in my urban chancellor’s suit — and have people cross the street to the other side of the street. So the experiences are real. Do I dwell on them? No. Do I notice it? Yeah.”

After little more than a month in office, Carranza has been blunt when it comes to matters of school segregation and racial discomfort.

The former teacher said no one should expect him to modify his style after a recent backlash over his tweet of a news article that bashed white parents for opposing a Manhattan integration proposal.

“So when I get criticized about pointing out things that are really obvious — number one, I have a point of view,” he said. “Because I’ve lived in this skin for 51 years. And number two, we should really talk about why that’s important and why it’s important in a city that’s as diverse as New York City that that should be a topic of conversation.”

Carranza said his coolly pugnacious posture comes naturally — and that he’s proud of his record.

“I was raised to be who I am,” he said. “I’m proud of who I am. I’m proud of my experiences. I’m proud of my background.”

Opponents of the Upper West Side middle school admissions plan are afraid of abrupt change, Carranza argued.

“I think it’s a fear of the unknown,” he said. “I think it’s a new proposal. I think it’s really moving the status quo in a different way. I don’t doubt that parents are concerned about students having access to a seat in a school that they thought they were going to have an access to a seat in.”

Carranza said school segregation takes many forms — and took aim at test-based admission policies at top schools where kids who benefit from expensive tutoring have an advantage.

“It’s that we’ve set up a system now where we are privileging those that have privilege and you’re not privileging those who already don’t have privilege,” he said.
Asked about the impact of parental influence and home environment on student success, Carranza said they were important, but partial factors.

“I think parents, I think homes have a role to play,” he said. “But I also think that institutions and systems — like the public school systems — also have a role to play to make sure we’re not creating either intentional or unintentional obstacles to allowing all students access.”

Anonymous said...

So how was a schedule ever formulated where 6 periods a day are 60 minutes and 1 period a day, my lunch period is 45 minutes?

Anonymous said...

Howie Kwait!!!!

Anonymous said...

8:19

Only your lunch period. Everyone else in the school has 60 minutes and you are out there with 45minutes.

Also, sounds like an SBO. Which MUST have been approved by a vote.

Use the contract and don’t complain 10 months later. Should have been grieved on day one.

Anonymous said...

Yes, it is a 7 period day. The students and staff have a 45 minute lunch period, every instructional period is 60 minutes.

Anonymous said...

To Saturday, May 12, 2018 8:01:00 AM

You still believe this crap works??

HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA rofl HA HA HA HA HA HA !!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

I have 18 hours worth of school work to this weekend. I have to give a numerical grade daily for every kid in every one of my classes. The 150 kids. This take me 60 to 90 minutes a night. Then I have to call parents and log it. Then I have to do lesson plans, then grade and Mark tests and homework. This place want a curriculum map but it has no curriculum. So guess who writes the curriculum? I have no personal life. I’m rewarded with thugs cursing at me and surprise visits a la Danielson. The UFT isn’t getting a dime from me - my eyeglasses will have to do and I’ll brush after every meal.

James Eterno said...

8:01, They should complain about the abuse and file a grievance but read the post and you will see how useless the grievance process is in so many cases.

10:55, Your eyeglass voucher is paid for by the city as is the dental plan. You still get them post Janus whether you are in the union or out.

8:18, I know your issue and I won't take the comment down but once again please try to stay on topic. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Ok, so if we agree there are hitman principals and grievances dont work, then what? And my school is mostly young...so we get a quick lunch and hour long instructional periods, mustdo jupiter, have to pay for students to go to the auditorium and watch a free play, etc.

Anonymous said...

There should be at least one positive reason to stay in the UFT, other than the negative, which is FEAR. I honestly can’t come up with one that doesn’t lead directly or indirectly to it. Sad state of affairs and I just don’t care. Be it bad or makes you mad, I’m tired of being had. No dues for you Mulgrew.

Prehistoric pedagogue said...

I don’t think that the contract specifies that all the periods in a day must be of equal length.
On the bright side, your preps are an hour long

Anonymous said...

Right, which are made into "do us a favorand watch ths kid"

Anonymous said...

Are you people idiots? Do you not see how teachers struggle in the rest of the country? Our salary is twice the national average because of the UFT. You guys complain about what the UFT hasn't done for you and ignore everything we have because of them. If you opt out of the UFT, you aren't helping yourself, you're hurting everyone. A union with problems that need to be fixed is much more beneficial than no union. If you want to opt out, go work for Success Academy and see how petty your complaints are when you have NO protections.

Anonymous said...

My life is a living hell because of this job. We are scared to death, stress through the roof, cant sleep, cold sweats, chest pain, headaches...yeah, no big deal.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I am also a teacher for many years and am very aware of the stresses. These problems are not the fault of the union. I feel like most of you want the union to make you invulnerable. Some of you even complain that the union has not helped with admin trying to get rid of high-salaried teachers and ATR. Are you kidding? Do you know what the alternative to ATR is? It's being fired and not having any job. As for high-salaried teachers, this is the fault of admin, not the union. Without the union, admins could fire you AT WILL. What is hard to understand about this?

Anonymous said...

The alternative to the ATR is being placed in a teaching position in a school, not being fired. UFT agreed to the ATR and should be held accountable. We want to work in a classroom with as little stress as possible. Much better for kids.

Anonymous said...

I want a union that protects me from a corrupt, unscrupulous administration. I do not believe I have this protection. I have filed one grievance in my 26 years and lost. I was told by my principal to write math curriculum after school hours, for no pay, for 3 grades, 2 of which I did not teach. To this day, I don't know how I lost this one. I was young, so I did it.

Currently, I have expressed my concern to my CL several times regarding issues in the school. The result has been a lot of extra work dropped on my lap by my administration. This is work given to some of us in the school and not to others. This includes per session funds for some and not for others. Am I supposed to go above my CL? I don't have any faith in them either. I don't feel as though there will be a difference whether I pay my UFT dues or not. So, I might as well keep my money.

James Eterno said...

Unity is apparently here. Welcome back; it's been a while. Listen to the members. Their complaints are real and have been ignored in many cases by UFT for years.

Anonymous said...

DEAR UFT...

1) Fight to get rid of Danielson and Advance. NYC teachers should get the same evaluation as the rest of NY state teachers.

2) Fight to get rid of bad administrators. There are HUNDREDS of them. Literally.

3) Fight to get rid of Fair Student Funding. Stop telling veteran teachers to go on the Open Market. The jig is up.

4) Restore 8.25% for TDA. NOT FAIR everyone else has 8.25% and NYC teachers have 7%.

5) Start organizing members when there is an injustice. Why should members take matters into their own hands? This EMBARRASSES you, as a union, to the public when you don't act.

6) Take a stand against incessant testing. You will find allies in the parents. This will be music to their ears. NOT doing so makes you look corrupt and on the wrong side of things.

7) Go into the schools. Ask teachers questions, conduct surveys. District Reps should know the pulse of each school. DRs need to stop heading to the principal's office to hang out with them. How about we go back to DRs being elected as opposed to appointed positions?

8) Ensure members have an actual curriculum to teach. Stop allowing members to have to WRITE curriculum and get resources from the internet, amazon etc. Demand principals provide appropriate books and materials.

9) Fight to get our retro sooner rather than later.

Educationally Yours,

NYC Teacher

waitingforsupport said...

Collectively! How can I get teachers at my school who are terrified or cowardly or passive or whatever term you want to use to collectively stand up to a bullying administrator? Im open to suggestions.

waitingforsupport said...

@7:46 am are you referring to UNHS in Manhattan?

Doreen said...

The school referenced is in Bklyn.

Anonymous said...

Stay in the union because things could be worse. Stay in the union because they have not failed us. Neither arguments are compelling or convincing to those who are being abused daily in school with zero UFT support. Those arguments dismiss the abused. Unity might as well use the phrase "hyper complaint dynamic." What's the difference between DeBlasio telling the world DOE employee complaints are part of that dynamic and Unity telling abused teachers the abuse could be worse out of one side of their mouth and that they really have it good out of the other side? To me there is no difference. Teachers are crying out for help and being told they don't really need help but make sure you keep paying dues. If UFT wants to keep teachers' dues, it needs to first acknowledge the fact that teachers are being abused and then actually do something to fight the abuse. When Unity serves us a plate of shit and tells us it's pâté de foie gras, we not only recognize the dish for the shit it truly is, we also recognize that a psychosis of denial or blatant lying are part of Unity DNA. It's a simple concept that union leaders should fight for what dues paying members want them to fight for yet it's a concept that is comepletely foreign to our UFT leadership. Roseanne McCosh

waitingforsupport said...

Why pay for a service but then I dont receive it?
UFT: Do your job which includes actively fighting for members EVERY TIME a member is attacked. If you don't provide the service, there's no need for you.