Wednesday, August 29, 2007



by James Eterno UFT Chapter Leader Jamaica High School

Those of us who work for the City of New York are well acquainted with pattern bargaining. One municipal union settles on a contract with the city that has a certain percentage salary increase, and other unions are then basically certain to receive the same percentage salary increase for the length of that particular round of collective bargaining. DC 37 set the pattern for the UFT's current Agreement when they agreed to a contract in 2006 and we took similar terms so this year we will get a 2% increase on October 13 and a 5% increase on May 19, 2008. Our Contract will expire October 31, 2009.

Two city unions have already extended past 2009. The NYPD sergeants' union and later the NYPD captains' union agreed to set what we think should be a new pattern that extends for roughly two more years through 2011. The annual increases for the sergeants and captains in those two new years are 4%. Since they are uniformed services who traditionally often get a slightly higher increase than civilian unions like the UFT, we cannot guarantee increases of 4% and 4% for 2010 and 2011, but there is no reason why we shouldn't get close. DC 37 is in salary negotiations now. They could set a civilian pattern possibly sooner rather than later. (The PBA [New York City police officers' union] is attempting to obliterate pattern bargaining in arbitration but it's debatable as to whether they can succeed.)

With the financial pattern for city workers probably established for 2010 and 2011 by other unions long before the UFT even starts to negotiate, we recommend a strategy of emphasizing non economic matters when the UFT goes back to the bargaining table. We need to start by winning back what we gave away in the punitive 2005 Contract.

The UFT should be out there emphasizing how these two days of school in August before Labor Day are generally a waste of time. Administrators should use this time to properly reorganize so school openings won't be so hectic every year. The UFT should not be touting the open market transfer plan, but instead we should inform the public about how much teaching talent is being wasted out there as Absent Teacher Reserves because of the current system for excessed personnel that no longer guarantees placement in a school. We should talk about how not having a grievance process for objecting to file letters and negative observation reports has lowered morale (other grievances remain in the Contract). We should find out how much taxpayer money is wasted because of insane charges against teachers. We should also demand an end to hall and cafeteria duty citywide. It is demeaning to get a masters degree to walk hallways.

In addition to getting back what was lost in 2005, we should push for real class size reductions and real caseload limits for guidance counselors and other UFT titles; no more loopholes for the Board of Ed. We are well aware that the city will say these are economic issues but they can use the money from the Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit settlement. In summary, we need to insist upon professional treatment for all UFT titles.

The nation as a whole is coping with high teacher turnover according to the Monday, August 27, 2007 edition of the NY Times. We should make the next contract about improving our professionalism so quality teachers will want to stay in teaching as a career. We need to show the world the value of veteran educators who have been degraded in recent times.

Finally, the law that permitted unilateral Mayoral control of the NYC public schools in 2002 will expire in 2009 and will have to be renewed by the state legislature where we have some friends, so we should have some real leverage in the next few years. Teachers must be empowered in any system that is developed for school governance as well as in the next Contract.

What do you think? Please let us know.


Anonymous said...

Sounds good to me.

Anonymous said...

When will the vast majority of the membership get it?

You guys understand these things so well and really seem to care, but the UFT is run by the Weingarten Mob. They care of their own very well.

Hey..... Faggeddaboutit! Life is good for dese guys.

Will things ever get better for those sleeping slobs, the regular UFT members in the coming contract? Hahahaha!

Wake up people!

Either that or follow your colleageues out of teaching as that NY Times article says.

Anonymous said...

A perscription for success. Let's get this out to the schools.

Anonymous said...

I am an oldie. I remember that every contract won us professionalism, better teaching conditions, and put more money in our pockets. That is how my salary grew from 5,200 a year - and I went from teaching 39 first graders who had recently arrived from PR and did not get any support at all to teaching 32 when I retired. That is how I went from getting only 1 prep period a week, and always having it taken from me and given to the principal's favorite to losing one of 5 preps a week and being paid for it. That is how I went from always getting the lower performing class to being rotated every year.

In addition to having a Master's and doing demeaning potty patrol as James says, it is a waste of taxpayer's money. Paying some teachers salaries running up to 90,000+ to manage food fights. You are wasting your money. I don't even know how to do that - crowd control was not part of my training - I teach kids to read. One thing I do know about management is that proximity works - you can get 3 aides for a teacher's salary and have more bodies walking around the school and in the cafeteria puts adult bodies nearer the action. Years ago, the prinicpal in my daughter's school - and not an easy school - trained the aides to play organized games witht the kids as lunchtime. It worked.

Now mayoral control - just the way that Randi unleashed COPE supported candidates to approve Mayoral control - against evidence as to it's worthiness in Chicago and repeated warnings from ICE - she should insist that COPE supported candidates vote against its renewal and begin now to craft a governance system that works for kids and teachers.

Anonymous said...

"she should insist that COPE supported candidates vote against its renewal and begin now to craft a governance system that works for kids and teachers."

You've got to be kidding. Waiting for Randi will take longer than Godot. Mayoral control is the governance she likes and supports.

Under Assault said...

loretta, you're so right about how we used to feel RELIEF from the new contracts, or at least that we were managaing to keep our fingers in the dike.

Relief isn't happening with these newest documents. And what's even worse, the way I see it, is that we know our own union is lying to us. They've become smarmy spinmeisters, telling us how hard they all worked to get the crumbs they got and spewing all that nonsense about how much we benefit from these disastrous givebacks.

Things won't change unless RW stops playing arbitrator and returns to being an attack dog.

And she has to stop dressing herself up as an education guru. We didn't elect her to play that role, and she shouldn't be making any assumption she's good enough at it to speak for us on these things. She has barely any hands-on experience teaching, as it never was her vocation, and she does not speak from the gut. All we need her to do is be a good lawyer on our collective behalf.

And things will also never change unless she stops pursuing her personal agendas and backroom dealings to further her own career.

There's no evidence that she understands where the real power of the union lies. It can only come from a vitalized and, in our case, resurgent membership, not from her top-down, tightfisted, and sometimes illegally managed control.

Weingarten's presidency has become just another layer of education bureaucracy that keeps us at a distance from our profession.

Anonymous said...

To Woodlass

We keep putting up with the UFT. Whose fault is that?

Anonymous said...

Once again, you are able to forsee how our union will sell us out again.

ICE had the greatest ability to make positive changes 3 years ago when I begged you guys to spend a little money and get the word out. Now there is nothing standing in the way of any changes Klein and Randi want to make.

Klein's response to the ATR situation sums up what the future of teaching is in NYC--"Get rid of them!"

So while those of us reading this post know all of it to be true, we do not have the numbers to counter-act it. New teachers just don't care. Many teachers are just not aware of the alternatives, or as in the last election, did not vote because the other candidates did not come across as a viable alternative.

If ICE wants to continue to fight, it has to start putting money where its mouth is and get out those mailings, put forth better produced videos on You-tube, and find settings in each borough to invite others to come hear you.

Anonymous said...

All good ideas. Will you come to an ICE meeting?

Anonymous said...

If you won't help, there in lies the problem. ICE is not that many people. They need more help.

Anonymous said...

It is a mistake to think that it is all a matter of better videos and spending money to get the message out. In the last election the numbers showed that even in schools where there was a strong ICE or TJC person (ie. even a chapter leader) there was a serious lower level of turnout than should be expected. These were schools that got literature and had a direct contact. Still, no dice. People are intimidated by the general sense that the union is so weak and basically feel getting involved is not productive.

With all their money and slick lit and total control of the PR aparatus, and 1500 or more members organizing in the schools, Unity still couldn't pull a massive raw vote. What did Weingarten get all together with NAC -- around 15,000 votes from working teachers. And TJC/ICE got around 5000?

What is needed is a core of activists coming from those 5000 people who voted for ICE/TJC. Think Castro in the hills of Cuba with 100 men.

Anonymous said...

Do you expect to have an uprising, a cou de ta, from within oh great voice of reason?

ed notes online said...

Storm the barricades at the UFT Executive Board meetings - get to that turkey before New Action.

Anonymous said...

Not to give away too much of my identity, but today I learned Randi will visit my school on Tues 9-11-07. Oh the humanity. I'm not the quiet type, but I don't want to make trouble either. There will be a breakfast, reporters and photographers. We've been asked to dress extra nice. If I had the cohonies I would have a Unitymustgo! t-shirt made and make sure I get a good seat up front. Alas I like my job and will likely do nothing. I suck.


ed notes online said...

Unity Must Go-- you miss the point about Randi. If you wear your tee-shirt she will probably offer you a job on the UFT bloated payroll just to shut you up. Look at Redhog who after being shunned by Unity for years while he tried to get into the caucus, ended up with a 60K a year job at the NY teacher after running with ICE in 2004. And he has such a tough job - monitoring the opposition blogs. Hell, you can do that.

Anonymous said...


You made my point. The literature put out was not "market oriented".
Even the things written on this blog I could not share with teachers in my school because it would either scare them or turn them off. That it why ICE needed a professional touch. I didn't let anyone in my school know about the videos on You-tube because I was upset by the ramblings. And the photos used by the ICE campaign in the union paper were so poor in quality compared to Unity candidates.

I think those "ICE" schools knew it was a lost cause and didn't vote because the campaign was so weak.

Women make up the majority of our union, and the majority are elementary school level. They view things differently, and are afraid to rock the boat. Activists they're not. Pretty soon the new HS teachers will follow the same path.

ed notes online said...

I agree that the campaign was not good but still disagree that the election was so bad because of the campaign. Or the videos. But if it was, ICE is too small and irrelevant to engage in that kind of campaign. I would have to be convinced that even with a professional campaign the election results would have been much different.

Say there were top-notch videos and you told the people in your school to go there. Bet they wouldn't. And if the material ICE had to hand out was market oriented -- teachers get lots of market-oriented stuff in their boxes -- it would not have made much difference. Maybe a few % points?

The most important factor is not the campaign but the person in the school. ICE and TJC's problem is they do not have a machine in place like Unity that can get out the vote. Advertising does not win elections -- the organization on the ground does. So if there is to be an opposition, building a machine of a few hundred people is the first step. Again -- tapping into those 5000 ICE/TJC votes is the most important thing they could do.

Anonymous said...

Very few people vote in UFT elections for either side. Don't criticize ICE videos; make your own.

Anonymous said...


I know you were part of those videos. I was so looking fwd to them and I would have invited teachers during lunch (with food provided) to watch them on the smartboard. And I would have emailed the site to my friends in other schools who had it with Randi.
But the videos were so bad and the candidates mostly spoke off the top of their heads. It was disheartening.

Why should I make a video is I wasn't a candidate????? (silly remark). But if I were to decide to become one, I would damn well take it seriously enough to put out some of my own money to make sure I my photo doesn't look like a WANTED BY THE FBI poster.

ed notes online said...

On the videos: I'm not going to defend videos that looked like hostage tapes. There was no way we had the money to do it professionally so it was either that or nothing. It was a small investment in time and there was a lot else to do.

Doing something of high quality would probably mean not using you tube -- as there will be some degradation due to frame rates. Alternatives -- high def on a web site would look good but are expensive. Hopefully things will get better as we get some expertise or find people who have it.

We did get some pro help on laying out the ad in the NY Teacher. We got more complaints on the content - more anti- Randi/ less anti-Randi - more of what we would do, etc.

What should have been done is do a 1 min or 30 sec commercial with good editing and graphics. Would love to try it and would love to get your input -- even put together some ideas on presentation, etc.
At any point your input is very welcome. But if it involves heavy investment of money, there is none. I would have to see a lot more interest and potential out there amongst teachers for some change before I would go in that direction. Most simply see the union as no more than an eyeglass plan.

Anonymous said...

If you guys are serious about the next election, then start planning now. Take out a small loan if you have to to hire a good PR manager to at least help you map out the plan.

There are some very creative teachers out there with savvy photo and video skills. Start reaching out now.

I don't blame ICE as much as I blame New Action for their sellout.
We could have had that election, but greed is a powerful tool and Randi made an offer that wasn't refused.

ed notes online said...

Organizing in the union is back to ground zero and it will take even a worsening of conditions to get people moving.

Teachers are fighting a 2 front war against Klein and their own collaborationist (see Jeff Zahler's own words about collaborating) union. Are comparisons of the UFT to Vichy going too far?

Having been deeply embedded in the election process over the past few years, which I found extremely distasteful and distracting from more direct organizing, at this point I personally do not have faith in the UFT election process. (Or any other UFT institutions.)

Any vestige of a democratic process has been so subverted I look at elections as a waste of time and resources. Add to the retirees another 30,000 home workers about to enter the union and it is clear working teachers are becoming a minority in the UFT. No amount of PR will reverse that process.

"Why did the opposition actually do better in the Shanker years," was a question I asked an anti-Unity CL who is afraid to come out of the closet. Her answer was that the union is so much weaker and fear so endemic, that people are afraid to open their mouths, now specially vet teachers. CL tell me they are afraid of not getting union help if they are critical. Others just join Unity even if they have doubts about the leadership thinking they will get better service for their school.

Whatever the Del Ass was under Shanker and Feldman, it is a joke now under Weingarten who is totally surrounded by sycophants (Shanker had a lot of very smart and capabel people around him because he wasn't threatened by them) and probably a waste of time. I will go mostly to hang out in the pub after and maybe during. That's where the real meeting will be held.

While there are differing opinions within ICE about the level of activity in official union bodies to participate in (committees, Ex bd, etc) I have been opposed to most of it. Everything is manipulated and done for show.

I went to Ex bd meetings to support Jeff, James & Barbara but the fact they will no longer be on the Board is not a bad thing from my point of view as I think they took a lot of their time and effort for little result and they can make better use of their time getting the word out on how the union operates.

Already I hear Unity has taken away the 10 minutes open mic at the beginning. Gee, turning from 99.9% undemocratic to 100% especially with 8 New Action flunkies there.
Meetings can start at 6 and end at 6:15. Now if I go I will have to race over to get dessert. What a shame!

Besides, it is actually more interesting to go to Klein's PEP meetings (often held the same night as an Ex bd) where at least everyone can get 2 minutes to rake him over the coals and you actually get treated with more courtesy and respect than in your own union.

What is the answer? Forget elections for now and work to create our own media to counter the UFT and DOE spin. Create a machine underneath and try to activate someone in each school who will help get the word out. Build a foundation. When that is done, then elections will make sense. So far, the opposition, well versed in the realities of Unity control has viewed elections as a means to organize this base, not as winnable. (We were all shocked to have won the HS Ex bd seats -- due to Randi's error of not running Unity candidates in '04.) While not obvious to people not involved directly, there has been some progress in building this base as between TJC and ICE there is a lot more outreach which can only grow.

Anonymous said...

Norm you need to get some sleep. Relax my friend.

Anonymous said...

The person who wants the professional videos should put some input into it. You don't have to run, just come and advise TJC or ICE. Maybe they will listen. It's always complain, complain, complain, criticize, criticize, criticize and then do nothing. That's why we're in the shape we're in. If the people who know how horrible things are for educators won't do anything, then the silent sleeping majority won't do anything either.

Anonymous said...

To Annon:

You have no idea who I am, so you have no idea how long I have been communicating my ideas to ICE. Not only on this forum, but on other blogs as well as in emails.

I am not a whinner, but I can see you are not a person who can be reasoned with either.

I was the one who initiated the use of videos in the first place. However I was shocked by the result and emailed one of the speakers who told me the process was to speak on the cuff. The one good video, from the presidential candidate, was good until he spoke "strike". You do not bring up words like that when the rank and file (idiots that they are) voted it down. That only creates fear.

Good marketing was the key in '05 to stop that contract, but it wasn't used even though I begged the opposition to get out mailings as even offered to contribute once a mass letter asking for contributions was under way. That didn't happen either. I was the first one in my school to email Randi about my opposition to that contract.

The problem here is teachers and how they view money. You have to put-in if you want greater results.
However, Norm may be right, this is no longer a fight that can be won when CCs and new teachers give in to every violation of what remains in the contract. I just checked the survey results of my school, and less than 10 honest teachers voted that our principal does not collaborate. When I mentioned this to another teacher, the response was, "We didn't want to get her mad." This from so-called grown-ups.

I think you are right. CCs today are not as strong as we were. My principal is a bully, and the only way to get any action is to have the balls to stand up to a bully. My CC just gives in saying that principals now control everything in site.

I haven't had time to investigate, but can Randi's decisions be reversed in court? She has taken "democracy" out of the union.
We no longer vote for our DR. DRs no longer have to fight as hard as they used to. And, they are the same people that sold us out to begin with. The changes to the rules at the DA is also disgusting.

God bless those taxi drivers who are standing up to their own union.

Anonymous said...


btw, what input did you give the campaign??????

ed notes online said...

I know who it is and the blogger did have suggestions and we have disagreed in the past, and have of communicated to some extent through 3rd parties. But I feel we are moving in the right direction and I do hope we can come up with some good ideas for the future. We all made mistakes. But the key it to develop a strategy to deal with the realities. And that means putting all ideas on the table.

I will not waste more time trying to work through the Unity institutional dictatorship. Creating our own media and learning the skills on how to do it effectively is where I am putting my energy.

Being free from concerns as to how and whether Unity will use stuff we do against the "opposition" is part of that process. Let them slander and lie and distort. They have created the conditions that are ripe for organizing. Now there is a need for people to go out and do it, starting in their own schools and branching out from there.

JEterno said...

To the Anonomous Video Critic:

You are absolutely right; our video productions are not exactly cinematic achievements. My concerns are substantitive issues and not how my hair looks. However, in the modern world style is important so you do have a valid point. By the way, my family thought my video on You Tube looked great.

ed notes online said...

James, they must be using the cheap frame UFT eyeglass plan.

Anonymous said...


Don't get me wrong. I found you and my good friend, hot!, hot! hot!.
but your photo in the election section of NYTeacher was Not! Not! Not!

Hopefully next time you guys will accept a woman's pov.

Anonymous said...

I don't remember ICE candidates having pictures in the UFT election issue.