Tuesday, May 13, 2014



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 UFT.org 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


Anonymous said...

If you vote no what then do you want to do? Our last contract expired October, 2009. The bargaining table has just closed. It will not re-open (if it does) until after the other 150 unions negotiate their raises and packages. Guess when that might be... 2016, 7, 8? What will we ask for then? How will the ATR situation be resolved at that time? If we do not sign a contract the ATR pool may grow and grow. Danielson will not change. Had fun this year? Paperwork will increase. No oversight. Will we (the union) demand retro from 2009-2018 to be payable in 2030? Would we even have one leg to stand on to be "entitled" to that? And, why might you think De Blasio will even come back to bargain a new contract? We've worked without a contract for five years, let's make it eight years, ten years...? We can not legally strike. Do you want a strike? If yes, what are you willing to call a strike for? More money? More rights? Better healthcare? Less paperwork? A career path? ATR's are currently being hired in schools across the five boroughs, and their salaries are coming out of central, not the individual schools budget. If you think that by turning down this proposed contract is a great idea, think seriously about what the next steps might be-- like a chess game. If you vote no as your move now, then what might the city's next move be? Oh right, they are committed to playing 150 other games first.

Anonymous said...

Can you thin of something original to say? Same comment on every post is extremely boring.

Anonymous said...

Oh and vote no!

Anonymous said...

Voting no will not advance anyone's cause or agenda. Voting no will not see a raise finally coming to you and yours after five years. You will not see any change in Danielson. You will not see a severance package for those ATR's who are of age and years. Voting no will not give you your deserved retro raises totally in the tens of thousands of dollars. Voting no will not help to ease the paperwork burden you and your fellow teachers face. Voting no will not make a positive"statement". The only statement that it will speak loudly of in the media is more talk (this time even louder) of how greedy teachers are. We are not. Voting no WILL damage our credibility and our standing in our community. Diane Ravitch a friend of teachers supports this contract. I am a ten year veteran in a District 75 school and I support this contract and will vote yes.

Anonymous said...

Voting yes means all the garbage we have already swallowed stays with us forever. Unity should step aside. We need a Karen Lewis style fighter in NYC Chicago just came out against Common Core. Mulgrew just wants a curriculum. Vote yes and you will be sorry.Vote no and there is hope.

Anonymous said...

Now Unity is citing Ravitch. When she came out against your Bill Gates Common Core, you attacked her. Vote no.

Anonymous said...

Greedy? We want more than 1.4% a year and we don't want to make interest free loans to NYC. Since when is that greed? It is self respect.

Anonymous said...

If your raises are below the level of inflation then you are effectively making less in the future. Greediest thing I've ever heard of is to not want to make less. How dare we ask for that!!!

Jeff Kaufman said...


While I agree with your analysis I wanted to comment to applaud you for having the courage, in the face of Unity criticism, to take a principled stand. I am sure there are many Unity members who feel as you do but don't have the cajones to speak the truth. P.S. Are you having a Unity pledge burning ceremony?

Anonymous said...

I'm ready to bet every pro contract Unity commenter that they are in some manner employed by the UFT or getting freebie convention trips or both.

I noticed that... said...

To David,
Thank you for standing up to the union leadership on what's right for all the members, and not just for a particular caucus.

You saw the injustice and the unfairness to our union brothers and sisters and decided to write on behalf of all who strongly believe in voting NO!

Thank you for your bravery!

Anonymous said...

I am voting NO bc our union leader is advocating for eliminating protection for ATRs. Any one of us could be an ATR tomorrow. I am also voting NO bc if I am to give NYC an interest free loan until 2020 I want something in return for it---like the elimination of time instead of 2 more pt night conferences. I have additional reasons but the ATR and the money issues are reason emough for me to vote NO. I refuse to buy into the defeatist attitude that we cannot do better. We damn sure can. And if Mulgrew can't get it done, he needs to resign. Roseanne McCosh, PS 8

Anonymous said...

below are a few questions for mulgrew et al:

1) why did my union leadership create the opportunity to eliminate contractual union protections in 200 public schools (albeit with 65% support of a chapter)?

2) why did my union leadership create a separate, and far lesser, set of due process protections for one group of members (atrs)?

3) why, after so many years of fighting against it, has my union leadership agreed to merit pay (under the woeful guise of a "career ladder" for certain teachers; btw, where does the "ladder" lead to--an administrative position?)?

4) why has my union leadership not specified where the billions of $s of "health savings" will come from? what will happen in the future if those savings can not be found?

5) why has my union leadership broken the pattern in pattern bargaining and allowed its members to have "future retroactive pay increases" when other unions received the 4-4 years ago?

6) why has my union leadership agreed to "increases" that do not keep up with the rate of inflation in nyc (especially in the future when inflation will likely be much higher)?

7) why has my union leadership not published the full contract (only a moa) to allow membership time to review and debate it?

8) will my union leadership agree that members can defer their union dues (or at least the increases) until 2020? we promise we will pay ya!

Mr. J. Reynoso said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Did you hear this person. "I am a ten year veteran" oh please. Then clearly you have been asleep at the wheel. We can do better than this contract. Re-Negotiate. Otherwise it is a NO.

Deal with it UNITY

Mr. J. Reynoso said...

I am voting NO. I am sorry. There are too many unknown variables here.

Anonymous said...

unbelievable how people believe and live with the fear of saying no. This contract is terrible on EVERY issue. We are the biggest union out there so they need to settle with us if not the city's bond rating will take a hit costing them more then it would to give us everything we want. So even if we are the last to settle the pressure will still be on them. VOTE NO!!!!!

Anonymous said...

I voted NO!