Friday, May 30, 2014


By close to a three to one margin, NY members of want to see a progressive alternative to Andrew Cuomo for governor. 

The Working Families Party is the only group that seems big enough right now to come up with a left candidate that might gain some real traction.  The Working Families Party will be holding their convention in Albany on Saturday.

The name that is emerging as the person to jump into the governor's race is Professor Zephyr Teachout. Here is Teachout's site.

I apologize to Howie Hawkins and Brian Jones of the Green Party as they make up a solid progressive ticket but will they be taken as seriously as the WFP?

Teachers are of course one of the groups angry at Cuomo because of his pro-charter anti-public school agenda.

UPDATE: The story is updated at Perdido Street School.  It would not be at all surprising if the UFT was one of the unions urging the WFP to support Cuomo.

UPDATE 2:  It looks as though Bill de Blasio has brokered a deal between the WFP and Cuomo.  Not good news for progressives.

UPDATE 3:  Cuomo won the battle yesterday and received the WFP endorsement but it looks like the anger on the left is real and not going away in the near future.  Will this be a pyric victory for him?  Time will tell.

UPDATE 4: Green Party candidate for governor Howie Hawkins responds to the WFP endorsement of Cuomo.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014


Our union colleagues at the Sergeant's Benevolent Association are emphasizing the city's $4 billion surplus in their new radio ad that recently hit the airwaves. 

Is there any precedent for a union accepting zero percent raises over a two year period, as the UFT is proposing we do, when the city has billions in surplus revenue?

UFT members got no raise from May 2008 -November 2009 in the last contract and we will receive nothing for eighteen months (2011-April 2013) in the new one if it passes. 

How can people even consider voting for this? I don't get it.

Monday, May 26, 2014


There is an article in today's NY Times about the UFT contract ratification vote.  Actual real life teachers who are voting against the contract are quoted.  The UFT's strong sell is covered in some detail as are some of the arguments against the contract.

However, the NY Times did not think it was worth bringing up much about weaker due process for Absent Teacher Reserves, who can be subject to termination based on two cases of "problematic behavior" if this contract is ratified. ATRs will only have one day hearings to defend themselves.  Regular teachers can take months to fully defend themselves.  Weaker tenure for a whole class of UFT members is a deal breaker for anyone with any sense of union solidarity.

Two members of the Unity Caucus (Michael Mulgrew's invitation only political party that has run the UFT for around fifty years) have expressed serious public reservations about the contract mainly because the ATR's are been treated unfairly. Unity party members saying something in public against anything the caucus does is unheard of as it goes against their caucus membership obligations to support caucus decisions in public.

The writers of this ICEUFT blog have made our feelings on diminished due process for ATRs very clear. We oppose!  NYC Educator also had something to say about it this morning. The Times, on the other hand, did not see fit to cover on this major aspect of the story.

MORE also picked up some Times attention.  Here are the two paragraphs:

Leaders of one caucus within the union, the Movement of Rank and File Educators, have decided to vote no on the contract and are hosting informal discussions to urge members to think critically before voting.
“It seems misleading to me that our union is saying, ‘Don’t worry, don’t worry, your health care costs won’t go up,’ when that isn’t something they can promise,” said Megan Moskop, 27, a teacher at Middle School 324 in Washington Heights who is a caucus member.

It will be very difficult to defeat any contract because of how our union is run but there is a substantial portion of our membership that is unhappy with this particular deal and some are willing to express the displeasure in public.

Thursday, May 22, 2014


This extremely powerful piece was written by retired Bronx High School District Representative and as far as I know Unity Caucus member Lynne Winderbaum.  It is copied directly from the JD2718 blog.  All reports are that Lynne was an excellent chapter leader and DR.

If this piece doesn't convince members of the need to turn down a contract offer that creates different classes of teacher tenure, then I'm kind of wondering if people understand anything about union solidarity.

The perils of the ATR

May 20, 2014 am31 6:25 am
by Lynne Winderbaum, retired ESL teacher, JFK HS, and former Bronx High School UFT District Rep

For the greater part of the 44 years that I have been a member of the UFT, teachers truly believed that an assault against one of us was an assault against all of us. The idea of union was that if we all held together, we could accomplish what we never would be able to as individuals. There was one job title of teacher and we all enjoyed the same rights. I am puzzled now, or maybe just too old and nostalgic to understand, how under our most recent agreement, a certain category of teachers has been singled out for disparate treatment. The teachers in the Absent Teacher Reserve have required more protection, not less. Their job security and their outlook have been shaken to the core by the fact that they are no longer appointed to a school.

When the wholesale closing of traditional high schools began under the Bloomberg administration, the borough hardest hit (and most embracing of small school creation to replace them) was the Bronx. Morris, Monroe, Taft, Roosevelt, Walton, New School, Evander Childs, Stevenson, and soon Kennedy and Columbus, shuttered. Veteran teachers were displaced not through any fault of their own, but as collateral damage in the effort to show that a reform was underway that would benefit students. Well, no such benefits have been the result and the loss of the large high schools has been an irreversible destruction. Graduation rates inflated by bogus “credit recovery”schemes (Education critics blast high school credit recovery – NY Daily News)  (Students earning credit with dubious make up work – NY Post) , changing of IEPs, waivers on providing special education and English Language Learner services, screening of students, and closing of many of the replacement small schools that were supposed to provide better instruction. (The New Marketplace: Executive Summary – The New School, Milano Institute of International Affairs, Center for New York Affairs)

In the final year of these closing ghost schools, the last students going down with the ship were often underserved as the Department of Education staffed them with a handful of remaining teachers to teach the last seniors. The city abandoned these students. But there was always a cadre of teachers in each school that refused to turn their backs on them. These were usually veteran teachers, nearing retirement, who told me they felt an obligation to the students in a dire situation and would not leave for another school and make matters worse for them. When the doors finally closed, these dedicated teachers were in excess.

At a staff meeting of the UFT I rose to point out that this category of excessed teacher created by the massive school closings were unlike any other prior group of excessed teachers. For years “last in, first out” (LIFO) put in excess the most junior teachers in license on a staff that had a contraction of positions. So teachers who had one or two years of service were at risk. But the excessed pool now included hundreds of teachers with 20-30 years of satisfactory classroom service who had dedicated their entire professional lives to the students of New York City. This was new.

Since 2005, when the category of Absent Teacher Reserve was created, teachers in the ATR have always had a sense of uneasiness. I cannot recall a single school visit when an ATR teacher did not approach me and ask if the union would protect them. Will the next contract let us be fired? I always assured them that the UFT would stand by them. And that the ATR category was created to give them job protection. ATR’s could not be fired without the same due process as every other teacher in the system.

At the same time I recall when Joel Klein, former chancellor of New York City schools, returned from a trip to Chicago. He learned there that the Chicago school system resolved their teacher displacement problem from school closings by firing excessed teachers who could not find a new teaching position within twelve months. “For years, Chancellor Joel Klein has trumpeted Chicago’s method of laying off teachers, which gives out-of-work teachers a year to remain on salary and find a new job in the schools. Klein’s new list of demands would shrink that window to four months.” (Among City’s Contract Demands: Flexibility to Lay Off Teachers - Chalkbeat)

But in order to make such a move palatable, the teachers in the ATR had to be vilified and portrayed in the media as unemployable losers who could not find jobs and were a drain on the budget of the Department of Education and the taxpayers. And how the city officials threw themselves into that campaign! Joel Klein wrote, “We’d also be forced to keep teachers in what’s called the “Absent Teacher Reserve” pool—a bureaucratic name for those let go from downsizing or closing schools but who remain on payroll. Many of these teachers haven’t applied for new jobs despite losing their positions as long as two years ago. And many who have looked for a job can’t find a school willing to hire them despite many vacancies. Yet none of these teachers can be laid off, even during a budget crisis.” (We’re firing the wrong teachers – Joel Klein)

Steven Brill, wrote in his book “Class Warfare: Inside the Fight to Fix America’s Schools”. “These were the teachers who were excessed but had not taken positions elsewhere. Some hadn’t even gone on job interviews…the prospect loomed that they would continue to be paid even if the city had to dismiss thousands of real teachers because of the budget crunch.”p. 129

Of course nothing could be further from the truth. I remember the day that Randi Weingarten, then president of the UFT, put out a call to the district representatives to counter such arguments by bringing a group of ATRs to a press conference. I went to Evander Childs HS and gathered a group of about a dozen from the library and brought them downtown from the Bronx to tell tales of the many online applications sent through the Department of Education website, the many resumes they sent out to principals, and the interviews they went on, all to no avail. None had ever received an unsatisfactory rating. But they were tenured, older, expensive, and they were turned down in favor of fresh new hires, many on probation. They were losing hope and to add insult to injury, they were being painted with the insulting brush of pundits like Brill. Eventually, even Brill saw the superficiality of his opinion in 2011 and reversed course. (Teaching with the enemy – The New York Times)

But the drumbeat did not stop. Even now, the New York Post writes, “Ineffective teachers from the Absent Teacher Reserve are headed back into the classroom.”And the New York Daily News warns “The mayor must hold firm [against forcing principals to hire ATRs]. Otherwise, he would dump teachers of poor quality on unlucky students and schools (Expel these teachers – NY Daily News)

So they insist that the 2/3 of the ATR pool who have never been accused of wrongdoing or had unsatisfactory performances be characterized as “poor quality”and “ineffective”and worthy of firing. The truth is that the Department of Education has never made a secret of its desire to fire the ATRs. It’s been raised in every contract negotiation. But the union has up to now provided protection for this group because they are valuable teachers and members whose predicament was created entirely by the Department of Education. As a 31 year veteran teacher from Kennedy High School, a school not slated for closing for many years as other Bronx high schools met their demise, I often thought “There but for the grace of God go I”.

The UFT not only saw that displaced teachers were not fired, we reached agreement with the Department of Education that they could only be moved once a semester. This gave them stability for at least half the school year. It was humane. Many got regular assignments saving the city money on hiring long term substitute teachers for teachers on leaves for child care or health issues. (Although the city and the press still just multiply the number of ATR’s by their salaries and calculate that as a drain on the city’s resources without deducting the savings). ATRs were also serving as per diem substitutes for daily absentee teachers. Another savings. A survey we were asked to do by the union in 2009 showed that hundreds of ATRs were serving in this capacity—not sitting around idly doing nothing and collecting salaries.

Recently, this all changed for the ATR pool. They are now shuffled around week to week, from school to school. They are observed teaching students they do not know while covering classes out of license. It is not only a recipe for wasting talent if there ever was one but a sure path to thinning the ATR pool. “Until recently, the city allowed ATR teachers to remain at a posting for a full school term, during which the school principal could decide whether to hire them. That changed with the weekly reassignments, which went into effect in October as part of a deal with the United Federation of Teachers to avert layoffs.” (City’s Unwanted Teachers Drift Through a Life in Limbo – DNA Info)
This brings us to the new contract and it’s agreement regarding this maligned and vulnerable group of teachers.

The city has been looking for a way to fire these teachers since before Klein’s Chicago jaunt. The Memorandum of Agreement now under consideration makes this much easier. It streamlines the process for ridding the city of the ATRs. It proposes a separate and unequal disciplinary system that will end the career of an ATR in a way that cannot happen to an appointed teacher.
Memorandum of Agreement:
If a principal removes an ATR from an assignment to a vacancy in his/her license area because of problematic behavior as described below and the ATR is provided with a signed writing by a supervisor describing the problematic behavior, this writing can be introduced at an expedited §3020-a hearing for ATRs who have completed their probationary periods
The term “problematic behavior”is unacceptably vague. What is it? It can’t rise to the level of a violation of Chancellor’s regulations because that has always allowed for removal. In instances of language belittling or causing emotional distress, corporal punishment, misappropriation of funds, excessive absence and/or lateness or any other clearly defined violations under the Chancellor’s regulations, teachers could be removed and charged. Two years of unsatisfactory ratings could lead to removal and charges.

So “problematic behavior”must fall into a category of actions beneath these violations. Let me give you four examples that I have heard from ATRs: Leaving four minutes early on a staff development day after receiving a phone call about a son’s medical emergency, scolding in front of students for not wearing a tie, dozing off in the teachers’lounge on a day when he was given no assignment or classes to cover, making a statement in the classroom that sounded like religious proselytizing. One might concede that these actions are “problematic”but they never would have led to more than a file letter in the past! Now, they can rise to the level of such severity that the career of the beleaguered ATR can be ended forever. Who will decide what’s “problematic”? The panel of arbitrators whose standard we agree is a mystery at the moment? The two consecutive principals who may have marked certain teachers for discipline possibly because they spoke up when they were given five classes in a row to teach, or reported a special ed violation, or cheating on a Regents? Or maybe they just seemed too confrontational or not compliant enough? Or maybe didn’t wear a tie! Without clearly defining “problematic”behavior, we have provided a roadmap for showing the door to ATR’s.

I have read that the ATR’s cannot “automatically”be fired. They would feel more secure without the modifier. The grounds for their removal and ultimate firing are far different from those required of regular appointed teachers. Do we have the right to create a new and lesser category within our own family?

The speed with which an ATR can be dispatched is breathtaking. No regular appointed teacher could be pushed out the door with such haste. There is due process and then there is what the MOA calls the“exclusive”due process for ATRs. The union should stand behind one 3020a process for all its teachers.

If, within a school year or consecutively across school years, an ATR has been removed from a temporary provisional assignment to a vacancy in his/her license area by two different principals because of asserted problematic behavior, a neutral arbitrator from a panel of arbitrators jointly selected for this purpose (the panel presently consisting of Martin F. Scheinman, Howard Edelman and Mark Grossman) shall convene a 3020-a hearing as soon as possible Based on the written documentation described above and such other documentary and/or witness evidence as the employer or the respondent may submit, the hearing officer shall determine whether the ATR has demonstrated a pattern of problematic behavior. For purposes of this program, problematic behavior means behavior that is inconsistent with the expectations established for professionals working in schools and a pattern of problematic behavior means two or more instances in a vacancy in the ATRs license area of problematic behavior within a school year or consecutively across school years. Hearings under this provision shall not exceed one full day absent a showing of good cause and the hearing officer shall convene a §3020-a hearing as soon as possible.

The parties agree that in order to accomplish the purpose of establishing an expedited §3020-a process, the following shall serve as the exclusive process for §3020-a hearings for ATRs that have been charged based on a pattern of problematic behavior in accordance with this agreement.
  • The ATR shall have ten (10) school days to request a hearing upon receipt of the §3020-a charges;
  • At the same time as the ATR is charged, the Board (DOE) will notify the UFT as to where the ATR is assigned at the time charges are served;
  • The employer shall provide the Respondent all evidence to be used in the hearing no more than five (5) school days after the employer receives the Respondentrequest for a hearing;
  • Within five (5) school days of receipt of the employerevidence, the Respondent shall provide the employer with any evidence the Respondent knows at that time will be used in the hearing;
  • The hearing shall be scheduled within five to ten (5-10) school days after the exchange of evidence is complete;
  • The hearing time shall be allocated evenly between the parties, with time used for opening statements, closing statements and cross-examination allocated to party doing the opening statement, closing statement or cross-examination and with time for breaks allocated to the party requesting the break;
  • The hearing officer shall issue a decision within 15 days of the hearing date.
For the purposes of charges based upon a pattern of problematic behavior under this section only, if the DOE proves by a preponderance of the evidence that the ATR has demonstrated a pattern of problematic behavior the hearing officer shall impose a penalty under the just cause standard up to and including discharge

I know many ATRs because the displacement of veteran high school teachers has been so great. It is a problem of the Department of Education’s own making. From the dumping of these teachers into a special pool, to the changing of their assignments every semester, to their bouncing from school to school every week, to the special and unique expedited 3020a hearing that adheres to a timetable that no other teacher must be suffer, these life-long teachers have been beaten down.

They have been mandated to apply for jobs online, mandated to attend interviews, and mandated to accept assignments for years. But many are never offered jobs because principals prefer to hire probationary teachers that can be fired at will. I served on many hiring committees for new schools every June. They were looking to staff their entire schools. There was a constant parade of new, uncertified teaching fellows getting hired to the exclusion of the veterans who interviewed.

The unsettling feeling I have now is that the worst fears that the ATRs shared with me all of those years have been realized.


There was a tremendous vibe outside the the State Democratic convention in Melville yesterday as Arthur Goldstein and I joined what looked like close to a thousand educators from Long Island for a very spirited rally.  Do you think Governor Cuomo is noticing?

Francis Lewis HS's Arthur Goldstein talking to Port Jefferson Station Teachers Association President Beth Dimino along with Rockville Center Principal Carol Burris and her husband (a retired UFT member)!

Unionism looks to be alive and well east of the city.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014


For those who want the Mulgrew spin from his internet meeting yesterday, here it is at Capital New York

This part struck me on Absent Teacher Reserves: "Mulgrew defended some instructors in the pool as victims of struggling schools shut down during the previous administration, but relented that not everyone in the A.T.R. is cut out to be a teacher and encouraged those members to find other employment."

Whatever happened to union leaders saying "All for one and one for all?" It looks to me like the new weakened tenure hearings for ATRs is there to try to thin our ranks. 

Sunday, May 18, 2014


We interrupt our non-stop coverage of the proposed UFT contract (at least partially) to bring you some other education news.  Jamaica High School has lost its final attempt at getting a reprieve from the new Chancellor and Mayor.

Regular readers know the community has fought hard to save our 122 year old storied school.

Unfortunately, we received the word this month that our final valiant effort to save Jamaica High School has been rejected by the Chancellor's office.  Thanks to the amazing community activist Jackie Forrestal's lead, we were able to put together a fantastic coalition of elected officials, civic leaders and school leaders to try to convince the new Chancellor to save our 122 year old school.

Jamaica was slated for closure in 2010 but was temporarily saved by a lawsuit.  As one of Joel Klein's final acts as Chancellor, he decided to phase out our school a second time at the end of 2010.  We have been slowly downsizing since that time but never giving up our dream of keeping the school alive.

In January of 2014 (Jamaica's last year), our fully functioning School Leadership Team wrote a highly detailed proposal on how Jamaica could still exist in September. Councilmember Karen Koslowitz, new Borough President Melinda Katz, Assembly-member David Weprin and others lobbied Chancellor Carmen Farina strongly on behalf of Jamaica being saved.  The local Community Board unanimously passed a resolution in support.  We had major momentum behind us.

Principal Enric Kendall had a meeting with Deputy Chancellor Phil Weinberg in March. Kendall also met Chancellor Farina.  Weinberg toured the building back then and visited some of us. It looked as though we had a chance to keep a piece of the underutilized building for a reconstituted smaller Jamaica High School. However, in the end the same deafness to the wishes of the community that plagued us in the Bloomberg years continued under the new regime.  We recently found out they would not be starting a new Jamaica High School or keeping what is left of the old one.

As for the UFT, it appears they just abandoned the lawsuit they filed back in 2011 to save Jamaica and many other closing schools.  I can't say I'm surprised by these results but I am truly disappointed. 

We did our best ladies and gentlemen but in the end it seems very little has changed with Mayor de Blasio as compared to Mayor Bloomberg when it comes to the schools except they didn't close any schools this year.

I believe their strategy next year might be to threaten closure if schools don't agree to become "charter schools lite" that can basically ignore the contract under the Mulgrew-Farina agreement.  Why else would teachers agree to throw away their contract in the so called PROSE schools that have been proposed in the new contract?

I want to thank everyone who was involved in the fight for Jamaica at any point.  No other closing school that I know of made it this far in terms of possibly rising from the ashes.


In bold below is much of the first two pages of the final Memorandum of Agreement between the UFT and the City/Department of Education that is finally online.  Everything else has been available already but I have several specific concerns after reading the finished document.

It is clear from the MOA that retirees and those who will retire in June are jumping to the head of the line in terms of getting their full 2009-11 pay immediately while active people have to wait up until 2020. This flies in the face of union solidarity.  All should be treated equally.

Active people staying beyond June have to settle for 2%, + a $1,000 bonus and an IOU from the city for 2009-2011. Our loan to the city will be paid back without interest in five installments between 2015 and 2020. On our salary scale, we are looking at four years of 0% increases from May 2009-May 2013.

Keeping this in mind, the new contract seems to provide the city with a financial incentive to get rid of as many of us as possible before we can retire to keep from having to pay off on those significant IOU's. Those who resign before the payout dates get nothing. In the past, we didn't worry because of fairly strong tenure laws but the loan terms and the contract's weaker due process provisions (burden of proof is now on teachers after two ineffective ratings and Absent Teacher Reserves face one day dismissal hearings) are worrisome. 

For newer people, there is also an incentive for the city to throw probationary UFT members overboard so as not to have to pay off the IOU's.  You think it's tough getting tenure now?  Just wait.  Their replacements get a pittance or nothing depending on when they are hired.

Unfortunately, some of those Bloomberg era Leadership Academy principals will know what to do to save the city some real cash.

Also, the healthcare agreement asks us to trust the UFT to make unspecified savings in healthcare costs or we could end up with a new healthcare agreement as part of this contract that costs us more money and/or cuts benefits.

Some of the actual language of the MOA in bold:

B. 2009-2011 Round – Salaries and rates of pay as customarily done:

 i. 5/1/15: 2%

 ii. 5/1/16: 2%

 iii. 5/1/17: 2%

iv. 5/1/18: 2%

C. Structured Retiree Claims Settlement Fund

Upon ratification, the City shall establish a Structured Retiree Claims Settlement Fund in the total amount of $180 million to settle all claims by retirees who have retired between Novem- ber 1, 2009 through June 30, 2014 concerning wage increases arising out of the 2009-2011 round of bargaining. The Fund will be distributed based upon an agreed upon formula.

D. Retirements after 6/30/14 shall receive lump sum payments based on the same schedule as actives as set forth below in paragraph E.

E. Lump Sum Payments stemming from the 2009- 2011 Round and schedule for actives for those continuously employed as of the day of payout.

i. 10/1/15 – 12.5%

ii. 10/1/17 – 12.5%

iii. 10/1/18 – 25%

iv. 10/1/19 – 25%

v. 10/1/20 – 25%


F. General Wage Increases Salaries and rates of pay as customarily done:

i. 5/1/13: 1%

ii. 5/1/14: 1%

iii. 5/1/15: 1%

iv. 5/1/16: 1.5%

v. 5/1/17: 2.5%
vi. 5/1/18: 3%

Here are some possible questions to ask your friendly Union salesperson in the next two days before most people vote. I Highly doubt most of these questions will make it to Michael Mulgrew's video webcast on Monday, particularly question 5.

1-Since there is no payout of money from 2009-11 for people who resign or are terminated, doesn't that give the city a financial incentive to terminate or force as many of us as they can to resign before the full payouts are made?
  • Won't this financial incentive to not keep people from 2018-2020, when the bulk of the 2009-11 payments are made, make getting tenure even harder than it is now?
  • Isn't there also a financial incentive for the city to use the weakened due process provisions (one day hearings based on undefined "problematic behavior) to terminate as many Absent Teacher Reserves as possible before we can retire so as not to have to pay us the 2009-11 money or pay us full pensions? 

2-People who retired in the last four years get full back pay now for work done from between November 2009 and the time they retired.
  • People retiring in June 2014 get full back pay (10%) and a thousand dollar bonus (pensionable).
  • Those who can't retire now get 2%, a thousand dollars and an IOU from the city.  (If one can't retire in the next three years, the bonus won't matter when counting final average salary for pension.)

  • Why are June 2014 retirees and those who have retired since November 1, 2009 moving to the head of the line in terms of getting their full arrears from 2009-2011 now

    3-How is the payout schedule equitable for active members compared to retirees?

    4-Didn't the city just move $725 million to the current year's budget to pay for this settlement while the cost to pay off the retirees is only $181 million according to the MOA?  Why aren't all of us getting more than 2% and a $1,000 bonus now? (Even Bloomberg left some money in the labor reserve fund.)

    5-Since, retirees are the most loyal constituency for the Unity Caucus (Michael' Mulgrew's political party), could that be why retirees or those leaving in June jump to the head of the payout line?

    6-Why is there no interest on our loan to the city?  (In 1976 and 1991 when UFT members lent the city money, they paid us back with interest.)

    7-What happens if someone takes a Leave of Absence during this contract?  In section 3E it says, "Lump Sum Payments (notice they don't call it retroactive pay) for actives for those continuously employed as of the day of payout."  I hope someone who takes a childcare leave, for example, still receives the full payouts. This one should be easily answered.

    8-Look closely at 3D where it states: "Retirements after 6/30/14 shall receive lump sum payments based on the same schedule as actives as set forth below in paragraph E." Does that mean these retirees would get everything they are owed or only the payments as of the date they retire?  For example if someone retires in 2015, do they only get a lump sum payment for 2015 or are they paid for the 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020 payments for their past work?  UFT has assured us, both orally and in writing, we would get the full payments for 2009-2011 if we retire after this June but why doesn't it explicitly say that in the MOA?

    9-Why are other unions like the SBA and TWU Local 100 criticizing this deal as subpar?

    H. Healthcare Savings
    a.  The UFT and the City/DOE agree the UFT will exercise its best efforts to have the MLC agree to the following:

     i. for fiscal year 2015 (July 1, 2014-June 30, 2015), there shall be $400 million in savings on a city- wide basis in health care costs in the NYC health care program.

    ii.  for fiscal year 2016 (July 1, 2015-June 30, 2016), there shall be $700 million in savings on a citywide basis in health care costs in the NYC health care program.

    iii.  for fiscal year 2017 (July 1, 2016-June 30, 2017), there shall be $1 billion in savings on a citywide basis in health care costs in the NYC health care program.

    iv.  for fiscal year 2018 (July 1, 2017-June 30, 2018), there shall be $1.3 billion in savings on a citywide basis in health care costs in the NYC health care program.

    v.  for every fiscal year thereafter, the savings on a citywide basis in health care costs shall continue on a recurring basis.

    vi. The parties agree that the above savings to be achieved on a Citywide basis are a material term of this agreement.

    vii.  In the event the MLC does not agree to the above citywide targets, the arbitrator shall determine the UFT’s proportional share of the savings tar get and, absent an agreement by these parties, shall implement the process for the satisfaction of these savings targets.

    viii.  Stabilization Fund: (1) Effective July 1, 2014, the Stabilization Fund shall convey $1 billion to the City of New York to be used in support of the pro rata funding of this agreement.
    (2) Commencing on July 1, 2014, $200 million from the Stabilization Fund shall be made available per year to pay for ongoing programs (such as $65 welfare fund contribution, PICA payments, budget relief). In the event the MLC does not agree to provide the funds specified in this paragraph, the arbitrator shall determine the UFT’s proportional share of the Stabilization Fund monies required to be paid under this paragraph.

     I. Dispute resolution regarding paragraph H.

    a.  In the event of any dispute, the parties shall meet and confer in an attempt to resolve the dispute. If the par- ties cannot resolve the dispute, such dispute shall be referred to Arbitrator Martin F. Scheinman for resolution.

    b.  Such dispute shall be resolved within 90 days.

    c.  The arbitrator shall have the authority to impose interim relief that is consistent with the parties’ intent.

    d.  The arbitrator shall have the authority to meet with the parties at such times as the arbitrator determines is appropriate to enforce the terms of this agreement.

    e.  The parties shall meet and confer to select and retain an impartial health care actuary. If the parties are unable to agree, the arbitrator shall select the impar- tial health care actuary to be retained by the parties.

    f.  The parties shall share the costs for the arbitrator and the actuary the arbitrator selects.

    10-What are the unspecified healthcare savings we have to come up with?

    11-What are the consequences if we don't meet the savings targets?

    12-Will the savings mean cuts in benefits at some point?

    13-Aren't we leaving too much up in the air here?

    14-Why won't the leadership allow open debate on the contract? 

    15-Why are you telling Chapter Leaders to push the contract when they are running the vote?  In the current weekly Chapter Leader Update there is a section called "The chapter leader's role in the contract ratification process."  Here are the last two sentences: "As a chapter leader, you represent the voice of the UFT in schools. Please share the message with your members that this contract is a victory not only for UFT members but also for the students and the communities we serve." Shouldn't Chapter Leaders be neutral concerning the vote?  I will do my best not to push a no vote when people are voting. It's their decision.

    Friday, May 16, 2014


    Sergeant's Benevolent Association President Ed Mullins told Capital New York the following concerning the proposed UFT contract:

    “I think Mike Mulgrew is out of his mind for doing a deal like that," Mullins told Capital in an interview. "I really do.”

    On the proposed substandard pay raises UFT members are being asked to accept, Mullins stated the following: “Pay raises in the future are nice if you live that long. What about the people who are there today?” UFT members, if we vote for this deal, will defer wages up through 2020 for work we did as far back as 2009.  Getting 18% over 11 years is no great deal.

    The SBA President also rejected the argument that the city is broke.  He declared, “There’s plenty of money in the city. This is not Detroit.”  He pointed to expensive initiatives for affordable housing and increased access to education to show the city has money.

    Labor leaders from the Transit Workers Union Local 100 and now the SBA have criticized the UFT agreement. 

    The only people who can stop it now are the members of the UFT.  Workers in this city as well as opponents of so called education reform are counting on us to reject this contract proposal.

    The Memorandum of Agreement is finally out in its entirety.  We will have more commentary soon.


    Wednesday, May 14, 2014


    No need for much editorializing here: the facts speak for themselves on a comparison of UFT and transport Workers Union Local 100 (city bus and subway workers) contracts.  The piece below was put out by TWU.

    I can't understand why any UFT member would consider the argument that we can't do better after looking at this.


    Tuesday, May 13, 2014

    Mulgrew Admits He'll Leave Critical Issues to Others in Proposed Contract

    In an amazing admission our UFT president was quoted in a Wall Street Journal article yesterday that a critical issue, the definition of "problematic behavior" will be left to arbitrators to discern. Illusory promises and predictions for our precious health benefits, the future of the proposed"no-contract" PROSE schools, merit pay for a new class of teachers and the impact of inflation on 9 years of earned pay all demonstrate that this proposal must be defeated.

    Mulgrew told the Wall Street Journal, "[that] a panel of hearing officers would "solidify the definition" of problematic behavior. "If someone says a teacher is screaming in the hallway, that's a problem," he said. "If you do that once, you should be written up. If you do that again you should go through an expedited hearing process."

    This quote clearly shows how disconnected the proposers are. 

    First, the statement assumes the truth of the allegations. A fundamental part of due process and 3020-a hearings is that charged teachers have the absolute right to cross-examine witnesses against them and present a defense if they wish. Our due process system has, until now, withstood the test of time and while some ed deformers might argue it does not work the bottom line is that based on the number of teachers charged and teachers returned to teaching and the settlements entered into by all sides it is clear that this right is taken seriously and mere allegations must be clearly proven before they become the basis for disciplinary action.

    Secondly, the example used by our anti-tenure president, even if true, would probably not lead to disciplinary action for teachers working and maintaining personal relationships with their supervisors. If the teacher displayed psychotic behavior (I assume Mulgrew did not mean the teacher was trying to stop a fight or call attention to serious problem) we would hope that the teacher would be referred for proper medical attention. Instead Mulgrew further maintains and supports the ed deformer myth that ATRs are mentally ill people who should be terminated.

    Progressive discipline is the hallmark to good labor relations. With 80,000 teachers we would expect some problems (including whatever "problematic behavior" turns out to be) but to strip away some of our most basic protections is outrageous and must be stopped.

    Send these alleged negotiators back to the table to get a real contract without give-backs or illusory promises!



    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 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

    Monday, May 12, 2014


    and come out for the Take Back Our Schools rally on May 17!
    Weekly Update #97
    May 12, 2014
    Forward to Friend

    Click to download flyerGet informed!
    Get connected! 

    Come to a MORE Happy Hour this week to discuss the contract proposal, get your questions answered, and pick up Vote NO flyers.

    Don't forget to download and print the flyer from the website and distribute to your coworkers and other schools.

    Queens (Districts 30, 24)
    Thursday, May 15th
    Studio Square
    35-33 36th St. (QNS)
    RSVP on Facebook

    South Bronx
    Friday, May 16
    Wish 37
    37 Bruckner Blvd. (BX)

    Inwood/West Bronx
    Friday, May 16
    Inwood Local
    4957 Broadway (b/w 207th St. and Isham)

    Bay Ridge (Districts 20, 21, 22)
    Friday, May 16
    Harp Bar
    7710 3rd Ave. (BK)
    RSVP on Facebook

    Park Slope and Sunset Park (District 15)
    Friday, May 23
    Freddys Bar and Backroom
    627 5th Ave. (BK)
    RSVP on Facebook

    Lower Manhattan (Districts 1, 2)
    *Book reading, signing, and discussion of Dante's Inferno: Ten Years in the New York Public School Gulag
    Wednesday, May 14
    Nuyorican Poets Cafe
    236 E. 3rd St. (Man)
    RSVP on Facebook

    Join us on May 17, 2014
    to Take Back our Schools
    2:00pm, City Hall Park

    Click here to RSVP Today!

    View event page - Watch the video!

    On Saturday, May 17th at 2:00 pm, thousands will join Diane Ravitch, Carol Burris, Leonie Haimson, Brian Jones to fight to preserve and protect public education. Save Our Schools is proud to partner with MORE, NYSAPE, BATs, CTS, and other advocacy groups in calling for community activists, parents, educators, and lawmakers to join together and march in support of a developmentally appropriate and equitably funded public education free from the influence of corporate reform and high stakes testing.


    Pre-Rally Brunch and Sign-Making Party
    Saturday, May 17
    Megan Moskop's house in Upper Manhattan (near City College)
    Email to RSVP and get address

    Post-Rally Happy Hour
    Saturday, May 17
    4:00-7:00pm (near City Hall Park)
    Educators and concerned citizens! Come relax after the big rally, meet and chat with other activists, and check out Jacobin Magazine's new Class Action: An Activist Teacher's Handbook. 
    RSVP on Facebook

    Copies of the handbook will be available- we recommend using them as an organizing tool.

    SchoolBook: Here's Why NYC Teachers Should Reject Labor Contract (Julie Cavanaugh)

    The Nation: Should New York Teachers Reject De Blasio's Proposed Contract? (Michelle Chen)

    MORE Caucus: The Contract We Do Not Deserve

    A Report: Why Vote No

    Saturday, May 10, 2014


    I keep hearing that some teachers are afraid to vote no on the contract because they think that in the context of the anti-union and anti-teacher times we are living in, we cannot do any better. This type of defeatism has to be stopped if we ever are to regain our professional dignity. 

    Many of us have been beaten down so long by Bloomberg style teacher bashing that we are suffering from a fatalistic belief that conditions can only worsen.  Some believe that if we don't accept what most agree is a subpar contract offer, then the powers that be will only be angrier at us and beat us down more.  Accept Bloomberg friendly conditions or they will make them even worse.

    I can't tell you how wrong these people are.  Perk up ladies and gentlemen: Things are changing in our favor.

    For proof I submit as evidence a meeting that took place between Governor Andrew Cuomo and representatives of Stronger Together on Thursday.  Stronger Together is the group that is now the opposition caucus in our statewide union NYSUT but is the majority caucus outside of NYC.

    Governor Cuomo is in trouble politically with parents and educators statewide in large part because of his horrible education policies so he agreed to meet with five Long Island teacher union leaders who oppose his radical anti-public school agenda.  Long Island teachers and parents led a 2,500 person protest outside a Cuomo fundraising party on Long Island on April 29.  They will be rallying again on May 22 at the NYS Democratic Convention in Melville.  Cuomo is not happy about how his popularity has fallen recently. 

    Our friend Beth Dimino, the President of the Port Jefferson Station Teachers Association, and the four other teacher union leaders told the governor on Thursday how awful his education policies are.  Here is the key paragraph from the PJSTA website:

    At the meeting the team raised concerns about high stakes testing, APPR’s, the tax cap, charter schools, Pearson, and RttT, among other things.  Dimino told the governor that given his actions up to this point she could only assume that he didn’t know the truth about the harmful agenda he had been pushing.  After the group gave him the perspective of real classroom teachers they suggested potential solutions to the disastrous situation his policies have created.   Dimino then warned him that he now knew the truth and that there is no excuse for the continuation of such policies.  She stated that there would be a price to pay if swift action is not taken to undo much of what has been done up to this point.  Dimino explained to the Governor that there were two things he could do immediately to mitigate the devastating impact his agenda has had on NYS students, first decouple the testing from teacher evaluations and then decouple all of the unfunded mandates from the tax cap, either by funding those mandates or by making them exclusionary under the cap. (Bold added by me.)

    Now is the time to kick the living daylights out of the teacher evaluation system.  Let's end rating teachers based on student test scores, not embed it into our contract as UFT President Michael Mulgrew is asking us to do.

    The political winds are at our back. We can move ahead to a better place or we can keep trying to appease the people whose ultimate goal is to destroy us.  The Mulgrew contract's acceptance of Bloomberg style working conditions will likely take us another step closer to our demise.  The reconfigured time, merit pay, forced unit plan writing, much weaker tenure protections, horrible evaluation system placed permanently in the contract, charter school like contracts in up to 200 schools, the mystery on health care, wage deferrals without interest and wage increases that do not keep up with inflation are not gains.  There is a better way forward; our friends on Long Island and upstate are blazing the trail.  Let's join them.

    Friday, May 09, 2014

    Health Care Benefits Under the New Contract Proposal: Betting on the Unknown

    In his hour long spin at the DA in which he attempted to extol the virtues of our new contract proposal, Michael Mulgrew made certain that we were certain that there would be no changes to our health insurance plans under the new, friendly era of “everything will be fine” contract negotiations. In fact an FAQ on the UFT website states the following in a section labeled “Health Care”

    Will I be able to keep my current insurance plan and will my network of doctors and hospitals remain the same?
    Yes and yes.

    No question about, we will save money (perhaps even get a bonus) and you will get to keep your doctor (a promise someone else couldn’t keep).

    Health insurance for City workers has, for many years, been negotiated not only separately from contracts but with the Municipal Labor Coalition, a group of 152 municipal employee unions. The strategy weakened individual member union bargaining strength but the idea that providing health insurance for a much larger group benefited the smaller unions and to a lesser extent larger unions.

    Mulgrew knew that in a climate of rising health costs (projected to be at 6.5% per year) and the attempts to rein in costs especially since ObamaCare (the City’s benefits could be penalized under the Cadillac provisions of the ACA, see there had to be some ingenious way to tie our raise and retro to health care benefits.

    So what did he agree to? He agreed to a guarantee of nothing. We have learned through leaked memos and other sources that the projected savings (tied to a bonus nonetheless) will take care of any health care insurance inflation by combing through the rolls and deleting ineligible people (actually done last year) and using a special reserve fund (oh, I didn't think you could transfer money except in certain designated parts of the budget)

    The bottom line is, like the proposed contract that wasn’t delivered to the Executive Board and the Delegate Assembly, we’re supposed to accept on faith that the savings will not cause a loss in benefits.

    The FAQ even admits this in their second question and answer.

    Why did the unions agree to $1.3 billion in health care savings? How can the city save on health care without decreasing my benefits?
    We have been paying too much for health care. The last mayoral administration had no interest in addressing this, and the municipal unions had no motivation to work with them. Now the city and municipal unions will convene a joint citywide health care committee that will work collaboratively and transparently to identify ways to deliver health care more efficiently and streamline the administration of benefits.
    We could not have made these changes with the previous administration because of the former mayor’s utter disrespect for city workers and their unions. We are confident that we will meet the savings targets set in this program. The way that you access certain benefits may change, but benefits should not decrease. (emphasis supplied)

    How can you answer one question, “Yes and yes” and contradict yourself in your own spin document? Don’t approve an illusory contract. Make them go back and get contractual guarantees, not hopes.