Thursday, August 30, 2018


This is an excerpt from UFT President Michael Mulgrew's email to chapter leaders on the start of the school year. This part concerns what can be done on Tuesday, the first day for teachers.

This year, because of the number of school holidays, the Department of Education allotted only one staff day after Labor Day before students return. At our insistence, the DOE has told principals that teachers must be given at least a half day on Tuesday to set up their classrooms. Here is the memo:

“Remember that teachers return to work this year on Sept. 4, which is only one day before students arrive. Schools should make good use of part of the day with staff, providing them with professional learning (or learning opportunities), motivation and advice for the upcoming school year. Schools can also utilize this time to plan future Monday professional development sessions, soliciting and recording ideas to share with the staff development committee. However since there is only one day prior to the arrival of students, teachers must be given sufficient time during the day to prepare classrooms for the students they will meet the next day. If schools chose to utilize the morning for professional development and/or staff meetings, then the afternoon should be set aside for classroom preparation.”

Wednesday, August 29, 2018


I actually heard some honesty from Governor Cuomo during the debate with Cynthia Nixon.

Go to about the 41 minute mark to hear them talk about Paid Family Leave and then 43 minutes for something on unions.

Right to strike for public employees is at 44 minutes.

Cynthia Nixon says it is important for public sector workers to be allowed to strike. She says Triborough amendment keeping old contracts in place after they expire means there is no real way for public sector workers to get a better contract other than cozying up to someone like Cuomo. Unions need to be independent. Nixon then talks about the teachers' strikes from around the country and says they were striking for better pay and health benefits and for better conditions for the kids. Public sector workers need to have every tool in their tool kit. Marcia Kramer, the moderator, interrupts saying even if the strike would paralyze the city? Nixon responds stating that workers only strike as a last resort. Workers need to win strikes in the court of public opinion.

Cuomo's rebuttal surprised even me. He said that if we allow public sector workers to strike, kids wouldn't be educated, sanitation not being picked up which would create a health hazard and subways striking would  cripple the city. That's not the shocking part. His next statement was.

Cuomo declared public unions don't want the right to strike. 

Back to script then saying Trump is the problem with Janus, etc... We can't create mayhem.

Nixon's position is correct but Cuomo's uncharacteristic honesty by saying the public sector unions don't want the right to strike was the line of the evening. I believe him. Union leaders don't want to lead strikes and would rather cozy up to politicians they are in bed with. These are pretty much company unions.

Okay all you folks who say we shouldn't be paying any union dues for the company union. We need to fix the UFT or find or form a new union, not abandon the idea of union.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018


We know from the N.Y. Post who some of the nine new Executive Superintendents are and who a new Chief Academic Officer is.

Can anyone share anything about these people?

 Carranza names 9 new ‘executive superintendents’ at DOE

By Selim Algar

August 27, 2018 | 2:27pm

Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza filled out a new squad of Department of Education bureaucrats Monday, naming nine ‘‘executive superintendents’’ who will cost the city a total of about $2.5 million a year.

The fresh administrative layer will oversee 31 of the city’s superintendents in order to “streamline” their operations, according to the DOE.

Some critics have decried the expansion as needless bloat.

But the DOE said Monday that the new posts are constructive.

“These new appointments will further advance the mayor and chancellor’s Equity and Excellence for All agenda to ensure that, by 2026, 80 percent of students graduate high school on time and two-thirds of graduates are college and career ready,” the department saidin a statement.

The new hires include a range of former city teachers, principals and superintendents who will each earn $190,000 annually.

Barbara Freeman, who has served as superintendent of District 13 in Brooklyn since 2011, will now monitor five borough superintendents in her expanded role.

Bronx District 11 Superintendent Meisha Ross Porter will now oversee six borough districts.

Andre Spencer, who once served as a regional superintendent with the Houston school system — Carranza’s (inset) prior stop — was named as a Queens executive superintendent.

The DOE also tapped a former city teacher and principal who rose to senior positions in Baltimore and Philadelphia to serve as chief academic officer, officials announced on Monday.

Dr. Linda Chen, who once taught at PS 163 in Manhattan and later became principal at PS 165, also in Manhattan, will manage and oversee the DOE’s entire educational framework, officials said.

After her New York stints, Chen held posts in Philadelphia and Boston before becoming Baltimore’s chief academic officer.

“I’m excited to return to New York City public schools as chief academic officer and be part of the mayor and chancellor’s bold Equity and Excellence for All agenda,” Chen said in a statement.

“I’m looking forward to working with our great New York City educators and hearing about what’s working and where we can improve.”

The Seattle native currently serves as vice president at the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship, a nonprofit organization.

“Chen started school speaking very limited English and brings a deep knowledge of serving English-language learners and students with disabilities to her position,” the DOE said in a statement.

We have the names of all nine executive superintendents from Chalkbeat.

The executive superintendents named Monday are:

Recy Benjamin Dunn, executive superintendent for Affinity Schools

Tim Lisante, executive superintendent for transfer schools, District 79, and adult and continuing education

Barbara Freeman, executive superintendent for Brooklyn South, Districts 17, 18, 20, 21, and 22

Anthony Lodico, executive superintendent for Staten Island, District 31

Lawrence Pendergast, executive superintendent for Queens North, Districts 24-26 and 30

Marisol Rosales, executive superintendent for Manhattan, Districts 1-6

Meisha Ross Porter, executive superintendent for the Bronx, Districts 7-12

Andre Spencer, executive superintendent for Queens South, Districts 27-29

Karen Watts, executive superintendent for Brooklyn North, Districts 13-16, 19, 23, and 32

Their start date is Sept. 5, the first day of school for the city’s 1.1 million students

Monday, August 27, 2018


There has been what I feel is a healthy online blog debate going on over the UFT's Paid Parental Leave deal. While I totally agree with the other side that Paid Family Leave is a benefit that should be universal, I find it troubling that the UFT is selling a deal as a win when our members have to pay not only for the benefit but we also have to fork over a substantial gratuity to the city to thank them for giving us Paid Parental Leave.

Blogger Chaz says UFT members were"snookered" by this deal and we agree with him. On the other side is UFT Executive Board member NYC Educator who says that UFT members are better off because of this deal. That is debatable as maybe no deal is better than a raw deal.

To further add to the debate, I want to go back to NYC Educator's Minutes of the June Delegate Assembly where he reported UFT President Michael Mulgrew saying this about the cost of the Paid Parental Leave deal:

PPR—We said we would not let city fleece us. We have done our job quite well on that one. What will be required is nothing in next round of bargaining. One time requirement will be extension of 73 days—that’s it. Equals 30 million dollars and city will pay 51 million a year. We did our jobs well. 

Let's go over this statement in detail. First Mulgrew says that we extended the contract by 73 days. If we examine the actual Memorandum of Agreement, we see that the contract is extended by "two months and 13 days." The last time I looked, December and January have 31 days in them so that adds up to 62 days. 62 plus 13 = 75 so it seems like it is 75 days unless December and January were shortened and I didn't know about that. Maybe a month is defined differently in DOE-UFT terms. Those extra two days, if they are in the deal, add up to over a million extra dollars for the city from UFTers. 75 days of delayed raises or 73 for that matter is not a one time requirement as Mulgrew states since all future raises will now start two months and 13 days later. City saves by delaying them for all time.

Mulgrew says our share of the cost is a one time payment of $30 million but that statement does not hold up. The city's Independent Budget Office did an analysis and they concluded the cost to UFT members will be more like $60.3 million.

How did they come up with that number?
First they added up the savings to the city from extending the contract. They used the new higher figures from the June DC 37 raises in their calculation. The DC37 increase is about 2% a year for their new contract which because of pattern bargaining (one city union settles on a raise with the city and other unions are then stuck with the same percentage increases), the IBO assumes the UFT will get the same raises. Mulgrew and the city worked with lower numbers from our pathetic 2014 contract when calculating the cost of Paid Parental Leave.

UFT apologists say Mulgrew had no way of knowing what the DC 37 raises would be. This is very hard to believe as the UFT along with the other unions in the Municipal Labor Committee had to agree to healthcare givebacks for the next round of collective bargaining before DC 37 could get to their contract settlement. The UFT is a major player in the MLC. Since the DC 37 contract was announced a week after the UFT Paid Parental Leave deal, I think we can safely conclude Mulgrew had a pretty good idea what DC 37's raises would be.

In addition, Mulgrew in his remarks on the cost of Paid Parental Leave does not count an additional $14.8 million in pension savings to the $45.5 million cost of deferred raises that the city also factors in as part of their savings. Parents on leave will not be accruing time toward their pension or Cumulative Absence Reserve days. That saves the city money. Adding up the savings means we are paying $60.3 million according to IBO, nowhere near the $30 million Mulgrew told Delegates. Dividing that $60.3 million by 100,000 UFT members (approximate number of UFTers working in schools: teachers, paras, etc...) means each member is paying roughly $603 for Paid Parental Leave. To summarize, Mulgrew undersold the cost by $30 million. The cost is double what he claimed and it recurs. If we divide that number by the approximately 100,000 UFTers working in schools, his undercount comes to about $300 a member. That is significant money.

Mulgrew is accurate in saying the city is paying $51 million ($50.8 million to be precise) to the UFT Welfare Fund, who will administer the Parental Leave benefit. IBO figured that the city would only need to pay UFT members $45.6 million for the benefit because it is quite restrictive. The city and Welfare Fund will only need $45.6 million but they are collecting $60.3 million from UFT members.

Therefore, the city pockets an extra $9.5 million (about $95 per UFT member) and the UFT Welfare Fund will have a surplus of  $5.2 million (about $52 per member) according to IBO. I gave the Welfare Fund a pass in last week's analysis because even at my most cynical, I could not believe the UFT would suddenly find that they need an extra $5.2 million to administer Paid Parental Leave so surely they would give the money back to the members. Others aren't so sure the UFT will return the money to the members and have told me so.

To put it all very simply, if the IBO's analysis is accurate, and I have no reason to believe it is way off, UFT members are paying around $603 per member for Paid Parental Leave and that is an overpayment of about $147 per person.

I hope our elected non-Unity Caucus High School Executive Board representatives in September will ask about what happens to this projected surplus.

Here is the cost breakdown summary from IBO:
$45.5 million to the city from UFTers from deferred raises.
$14.8 million from UFTers to the city in pension savings.
$60.3 million total from UFTers for the cost of the Paid Parental Leave program.

$45.6 million needed to go from the city to the UFT Welfare Fund to parents to pay for Paid Parental Leave.

$50.8 million is what is actually going to the UFT Welfare Fund to pay for PPL.

$9.5 million city surplus

$5.2 million UFT Welfare Fund Surplus

Mulgrew told the Delegates according to NYC Educator that "we would not let the city fleece us." The numbers are in from an independent source and yes we got fleeced.

What I cannot get a grip around is how DC 37 got the much more expansive Paid Family Leave Benefit that was part of the state law in the private sector at a much lower cost per member than what the UFT negotiated. Yes they are only receiving 50% of salary and only up to a certain level for their benefit whereas the UFT Welfare Fund is paying 100% of salary for Paid Parental Leave (however no pension, CAR accumulation or time accumulation). DC 37's benefit will go up to 67% in three years and the benefit can be used for 8 weeks now, not just six, and that will expand to 12 weeks by 2021. I couldn't find a requirement that they have to return to work for a year or have to pay the money back like the UFT has either.

More importantly, DC 37's Paid Family Leave can be used not just for parenting but also to take care of a sick relative or if a relative is deployed in the military. The cost is a small payroll deduction of a maximum of $85 per year which comes out to less than $2 a week. I think there are approximately 125,000 active DC 37 members so if we multiply that number by $85, it equals a total of $10,625,000. That is much, much, much less than our $60.3 million. Multiply theirs by 5 and you won't get $60.3 million and that assumes they all make maximum which isn't the case. IBO estimates DC 37 will be cost neutral for the city. How is that possible if UFT members are paying so much more for what seems like a benefit that is limited to fewer possible people? Perhaps they are assuming many more teachers or paras are going to get pregnant or adopt a baby because of our new benefit.

This blog is only partially Monday morning quarterbacking here with 20-20 hindsight since we had a plan to win the state's Paid Family Leave plan back in February that UFT obviously didn't use. We also have to point out again the city's financial picture has never been better.

I also don't believe the DC 37 Paid Family Leave is nearly as good as the UUP (SUNY teachers) deal where they boast that it is free to the membership and included in their contract from the more financially challenged New York State government along with annual 2% raises. The UFT should address Paid Family Leave/Paid Parental Leave in bargaining now as our contract is due in February. Then again, with Mulgrew at the helm, he might come up with something where we pay even more and then misinform us that we are paying next to nothing.

I agree with our critics who say Paid Family Leave should be a universal benefit. In the real world, however, UFTers are now paying for a limited Paid Parental Leave benefit and in addition we are giving the city a tip/tax for the benefit. I just do not feel UFT members should give the city even one extra dime for providing a Paid Parental Leave or Paid Family Leave benefit we all should have.

Sunday, August 26, 2018


I saw this today on Twitter from Cynthia Nixon.

Cynthia Nixon @CynthiaNixon 
In 2011, Gov. Cuomo enacted a $1.3 billion cut to our schools—to fund an enormous tax cut for the wealthy and corporations.

As Governor, I will never, ever, put corporations before our children.

Read my plan to invest in schools not jails.

Why again does NYSUT-UFT not take a pro Nixon position in this race? Are they afraid of Cuomo or thankful that he signed a bill into law getting NYSUT officers double pensions three years ago and one helping unions keep members this year as opposed to doing much at all to support most union workers or anything that I can think of for public schools.

Friday, August 24, 2018


This came in the mail today.

NYSUT is now accepting gifts for its members from Amazon, an anti-worker, anti-union company. This is a bit strange to me.

From the UK:
Amazon warehouse workers are forced to pee in bottles or forego their bathroom breaks entirely because fulfillment demands are too high, according to journalist James Bloodworth, who went undercover as an Amazon worker for his book, Hired: Six Months Undercover in Low-Wage Britain. Targets have reportedly increased exponentially, workers say in a new survey revealed over the weekend, and as result, they feel pressured and stressed to meet the new goals.

Workers who pick up products for delivery at a warehouse in Staffordshire, UK use bottles instead of the actual toilet, which is located too far away, Bloodworth reported.

Here is an excerpt from a story from the Atlantic of a driver who worked Flex delivery for Amazon in the US.

There I was, wearing a bright-yellow safety vest and working for Amazon Flex, a program in which the e-commerce giant pays regular people to deliver packages from their own vehicles for $18 to $25 an hour, before expenses. I was racing to make the deliveries before I got a ticket—there are few places for drivers without commercial vehicles to park in downtown San Francisco during the day—and also battling a growing rage as I lugged parcels to offices of tech companies that offered free food and impressive salaries to their employees, who seemed to spend their days ordering stuff online. Technology was allowing these people a good life, but it was just making me stressed and cranky.

“NOT. A. GOOD. DEAL,” I scrawled in my notebook, after having walked down nine flights of stairs, sick of waiting for a freight elevator that may or may not have been broken, and returned to my car for another armful of packages.

Welcome to the future of package delivery. As people shop more online, companies like Amazon are turning to independent contractors—essentially anyone with a car—to drop parcels at homes and businesses. Flex is necessary because Amazon is growing so quickly—the company shipped 5 billion Prime items last year—that it can’t just rely on FedEx, UPS, and the Postal Service. Flex takes care of “last mile” deliveries, the most complicated part of getting goods from where they’re made to your doorstep. It also allows Amazon to meet increases in demand during the holiday season, Prime Day, and other busy times of the year, a spokeswoman told me in an email.

But Flex operates year-round, not just during the holiday season, which suggests there’s another reason for it: It’s cheap. As the larger trucking industry has discovered over the past decade, using independent contractors rather than unionized drivers saves money, because so many expenses are borne by the drivers, rather than the company.

Amazon has rolled out Flex in more than 50 cities, including New York; Indianapolis, Indiana; and Memphis, Tennessee. The company doesn’t share information about how many drivers it has, but one Seattle economist calculated that 11,262 individuals drove for Flex in California between October 2016 and March 2017, based on information Amazon shared with him to help the company defend a lawsuit about Flex drivers.

On the surface, these jobs, like many others in the gig economy, seem like a good deal. But Flex workers get no health insurance or pension, and are not guaranteed a certain number of hours or shifts a week. They are not covered by basic labor protections like minimum wage and overtime pay, and they don’t get unemployment benefits if they suddenly can’t work anymore. And when workers calculate how much they’re pulling in on a daily basis, they often don’t account for the expenses that they’ll incur doing these jobs. “A lot of these gig-type services essentially rely on people not doing the math on what it actually costs you,” Sucharita Kodali, a Forrester analyst who covers e-commerce, told me.

One Amazon Flex driver in Cleveland, Chris Miller, 63, told me that though he makes $18 an hour, he spends about 40 cents per mile he drives on expenses like gas and car repairs. He bought his car, used, with 40,000 miles on it. It now has 140,000, after driving for Flex for seven months, and Uber and Lyft before that. That means he’s incurred about $40,000 in expenses—things he didn’t think about initially, like changing the oil more frequently and replacing headlights and taillights. He made slightly less than $10 an hour driving for Uber, he told me, once he factored in these expenses; Flex pays a bit better.

A little of Amazon's anti-union record from 2014 is here.

Currently, Amazon's tactics are a big issue in the debate over the UPS unionized worker contract proposal which would create a lower tiered classification of UPS drivers in part due to competition from Amazon's new Flex delivery service.

Here is an excerpt from a piece from Huff Post on the discussion within the UPS Teamsters who are debating their contract proposal from UPS:

As parcel delivery booms, plenty of delivery companies are willing to undercut traditional operators like UPS and FedEx. Amazon, for one, relies on little-known, non-union couriers that require drivers to deliver out of their own vans for low wages and no benefits. The company is also expanding its use of Amazon Flex, a delivery service that, like Uber, relies on independent contractors with personal vehicles. These drivers take on all the costs of doing business that an employer would normally bear.

In other words, our thirst for next-day and same-day delivery is already devaluing the job of a driver. The question is how long the Teamsters can maintain the relatively high industry standards they’ve set for decades through UPS contracts. 

Here is part of a story on the white collar workers at Amazon.

While shopping on Amazon may be a warm and amiable breeze, working for Amazon is an endless and excruciating violent tempest, according to a New York Times report on conditions among the company’s beleaguered white-collar employees. The Times investigation, based on interviews with scores of professional-level workers, depicts a totalizing, overbearing workplace in which members of every department are under constant surveillance and evaluation, pitted against one another in an endless lethal endurance match.

Amazon’s demands are brutal even by tech industry standards. Where working hours are concerned, 80 is the new 40. The emails roll in well past midnight, followed by the texts asking why the emails haven’t been answered. Employees are required to make constant sacrifices to the needs of the company, with weekends and vacations regularly demanded as offerings. The company shows no mercy even in extreme cases: an employee with breast cancer was told she would be fired because her “personal life” was interfering with her duties, and another who had just given birth to a stillborn child was put on a “performance improvement plan” for her insufficient job devotion. The end result has been a state of almost-universal trauma, with one person sadly relaying that “nearly every person I worked with, I saw cry at their desk.”

But one word is noticeably absent from the whole of the Times’s inquiry into the company’s insidious practices: union. None of the workers speak of the possibility of unionization, and the Times reporters don’t appear to have asked about it. While there are near-universal reports of misery and exploitation, quitting is the only remedy anyone can seem to come up with.

Maybe I would be better off not looking this gift horse in the mouth but shouldn't we be looking to do promotions with companies that are pro-union? There must be some out there. 

Are NYSUT Walmart gift cards next?

Thursday, August 23, 2018


Reality Based Educator has struck again as he comments on the UFT hopefully getting two observations per year in negotiations with the city and Department of Education. ICEUFT has repeatedly asked the UFT leadership to get rid of the evaluation system or at least modify it to reduce the number of observations.

I introduced a Delegate Assembly motion in February of 2018 to repeal the evaluation law; Roseanne McCosh and I started a petition (see right side of page) to repeal the evaluation system that over 1,300 people have signed. I also raised a DA motion to get the annual observations down to the minimum number legally possible two in 2017. We have been repeatedly rebuffed by the leadership from Michael Mulgrew's Unity Caucus. RBE below makes the case that two observations per year is something Mulgrew should have gotten for us years ago. Better late than never but this should have been done once the law allowed it.

His comment:

RBE said...

I agree with some other commenters that getting observations down to two would be a positive move.

I still don't understand why we are the only district in the state to have four. This system we are under was imposed on us by John King at the behest of Governor Cuomo because the UFT and Bloomberg could not come to an agreement on an evaluation system to satisfy Cuomo's APPR law.

Here we are, years later, with John King long gone from not only, the SED but even the USED where he ended up afterward, Bloomberg long gone from City Hall and Cuomo desperate for union support for both his 2018 re-election and 2020 presidential pipe dream, yet we still have four observations and, as of last (school) year, Mulgrew was still hailing this system as a model for the state* and Unity hacks at the DA were claiming the system was the bestest thing since Randi Weingarten's dye job.

Administrators want the system down to two as much as teachers do. Two observations is the requirement under state law. The UFT claimed throughout Farina's reign of error that they had a good working relationship with the chancellor. And yet, here we are still suffering under four mandated observations, eight if you are unlucky enough to be in a district where the superintendent is requiring "formative" observations as well as evaluative ones, and sixteen if you are in special education classes with two teachers, since each needs to be observed 8 times (four "formatives," four "evaluatives.")

What a fucking disaster this system is, people are suffering greatly under it and the UFT has done nothing publicly to fight it or criticize it.

They know people hate it, perhaps they are fighting it behind the scenes as some people say they are.

If so why were they still defending it as of last year, hailing it as a state model and voting down resolutions calling for two observations?

Again, I will come back to the original comment that spurred this post:

Until the UFT leadership are starved of funds and/or forced to fight with a competing entity for members, they will continue to aggrandize and reward themselves and let the crumbs fall off the table to us at best, actively look to harm us at worst.

UFT leadership should have had this system down to two as soon as Bloomberg was gone. That we are almost six years into de Blasio and we still have four observations is a serious indictment of UFT leadership complicity and duplicity against their own membership.

Thursday, August 23, 2018 10:23 AM

Very well said sir.

On the larger issue of starving the UFT of dues, I agree with RBE that as long as the money keeps flowing in, nothing will really change in any substantive way. Since there is no realistic possibility of ousting the UFT leadership in an election (we can't get to most members particularly the retirees who are scattered all over the country), we have to think creatively. There has to be a better way to make our point than for members to just individually become non-dues payers. Not having NYC teachers in a union is not the way to go. It will weaken us.

*ICEUFTBLOG added the link there.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018


Arguably the best UFT blogger out there is Reality Based Educator. We have all taken a step backwards because RBE stopped blogging last year. Whenever RBE comments here or emails something, I read it and take it very seriously.

In response to Friday's post showing that an Independent Budget Office analysis of the recent UFT Paid Parental Leave agreement concluded that both the city and UFT Welfare Fund will profit from the deal at our expense, RBE commented:

RBE Sunday, August 19, 2018 8:05:00 AM

UFT leadership yucks it up daily as they stick it to us time and time again, sell us out over and over, lie to us, cheat us and tell us the shit they concede to scrapes the skies.

Until leadership is starved of the goody money and/or has to compete for dues-paying members, this will continue.

I do not see either of those happening any time soon, but that will be the only way we will ever see changes to how UFT leadership operates (i.e., as an ancillary entity to the city, in cahoots with the NYCDOE, to enrich themselves via power, perks and privileges and screw members.)

These are very powerful words from a very reasonable and informed UFT member.

I sadly agree with him that the UFT is an ancillary entity to the city out for themselves for the most part. The answer, however, is not to have everyone out of a union. We need a real union now more than ever.

The problem is UFT can go on like this because we the membership allows it. Please spread the word about how we can get together and change things.

ICEUFT is scheduled to meet on August 30. Why not show up some of you? Together, we might make a difference.

Sunday, August 19, 2018


Verizon workers approved a four year extension of their current contract
 The original deal was agreed to after a strike in 2016. Verizon workers will receive 11.2% over four years. This is a contract that is a year early. Management does not want a struggle here. There is labor peace through 2023.

Meanwhile, the municipal pattern setting DC 37 deal was ratified by 98% of their members who voted. It calls for increases that with compounding amount to a total of 7.42% over three years and 8 months.

UFT's contract will almost certainly be based on the DC 37 precedent.

Verizon workers are at least close to the current 2.9% U.S inflation rate. DC37's deal doesn't even get in the neighborhood.

Friday, August 17, 2018


The Independent Budget Office has crunched the numbers on the UFT's Paid Parental Leave and DC37's more expansive Paid Family Leave. Thank you budget expert Harris Lirtzman for sending this report to me.

The IBO conclusion: DC 37's Paid Family Leave should be cost neutral for the city while the city should net a $9.5 million surplus from the UFT deal. That surplus will be paid for by UFT members.

This is taken right from the IBO summary:

IBO estimates that under the deal with the United Federation of Teachers cost and savings will not be equal. We project that in the first year deferral of raises will save the city more than $45 million while the de Blasio Administration estimates the delay will save about $36 million.

We agree with the estimates by the Mayor’s office that pension and other fringe benefit savings tied to the agreement will save the city about $15 million annually.

While the de Blasio Administration projects the cost of parental leave for teachers’ union members will be about $51 million a year, we estimate the annual cost will be about $46 million.

As a result of our differing savings and cost projections, IBO estimates the city will garner over $9 million more in savings than necessary to pay for the teachers’ parental leave and the union’s welfare fund will accrue a surplus of more than $5 million.

The cost to the city for parental leave is fixed under the terms with the teachers’ union, and effectively zero for the deal with District Council 37.

How does the IBO reach their conclusion?

This is from their detailed analysis:

IBO estimates that the UFT’s parental leave benefit will require $45.6 million to be paid out each year by the UFT Welfare Fund, a figure that includes the cost of managing the program. With the city providing $50.8 million to the UFT, we project that the welfare fund will have $5.2 million left over after the first year, surplus funds that can only be used for parental leave. The UFT’s members paid for this benefit by delaying a pay increase for two and a half months and by structuring the PPL benefit in a way that reduces the city’s pension obligation. The de Blasio Administration estimates that delaying the pay increase will save the city $36.0 million and values the pension savings at $14.8 million—combined savings equal to the $50.8 million the city provided the UFT. 

Based on the pattern of wage increases set by the new DC 37 contract, however, IBO projects that delaying the pay increase will save the city $45.5 million, which—together with the pension and other fringe benefit savings—means that the city will save a total of $60.3 million. (Note: do not confuse the $45.5 million IBO estimates the city saves from delaying the pay increase with the $45.6 million we estimate will be paid out in benefits.) After subtracting the city’s $50.8 million payment to the welfare fund, the city would retain a surplus of $9.5 million.

To put it simply, IBO is estimating the savings based on the raise that DC37 was about to agree to with the city in June that UFT members will now have to wait another 2.5 months to receive because of the extension of our current contract.

Am I to understand that UFT President Michael Mulgrew had no idea what the DC37 settlement would be when he was negotiating Paid Parental Leave?

Let's go to the IBO conclusion:

The de Blasio Administration and UFT have stated publicly that paid parental leave would cost $50.8 million in benefits and administrative expenses, funded through UFT members’ concessions on wages and fringe benefits. Based on our estimates, IBO projects that this new policy will not be cost-neutral. We project that the city will accumulate $9.5 million of savings annually while the UFT will accrue a surplus of $5.2 million a year in its welfare fund. 

Meanwhile the union membership, through a deferral of their contract, will have given up $45.5 million in wage and fringe benefits. 

UFT members deferred a raise to get Paid Parental Leave but part of that deferral won't be needed to pay parents. Therefore, each member will be donating an estimated average of about what I would say is around 95 bucks to the city coffers as part of the deal. Thank you Michael Mulgrew.

Bottom line from IBO analysis: city wins, UFT membership loses. So what else is new?

This loss, while not huge, was easily avoidable by just using an updated set of numbers.

Thursday, August 16, 2018


From the NYPost:

Hedge fund investor John Petry — who sits on the board of the city’s largest charter school network, Success Academy — contributed $45,100 to Cuomo’s re-election campaign last month, records show.

That’s the largest contribution the campaign received during the 32-day pre-primary period — and represents more than 10 percent of the $394,000 the governor collected.

Why won't the UFT oppose Andrew Cuomo?

 Cuomo is not our friend.

Cynthia Nixon has said some really dumb things and she is way too close to Bill de Blasio but when it comes to public schools and labor issues, she is a thousand times better than Cuomo.

Nixon favors repealing the horrific teacher evaluation system; she opposes the inferior Tier VI pension for NYS public employees and she favors giving public employees in NYS the right to legally strike that is protected by international law.

Cuomo is no fool. He signed legislation making it easier for unions to have access to potential members to convince them to pay dues and he signed a bill into law giving NYSUT officers double pensions.

He may have no use for working people beyond election day and his attack on public education should not be forgiven or forgotten but he knows how to buy off union leaders and pivot to the left when necessary.

I am not totally sold but I will vote for Cynthia Nixon in the primary next month.

Cuomo taking $45,100 from someone on the Success Academy Board is just more evidence that Cuomo has not changed.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018


Civil service newspaper The Chief Leader has an in depth article on a discrimination complaint filed by multiple Absent Teacher Reserves.

From the Chief:

ATR Instructors Claim Age, Pay Led to Bias


More than two dozen educators in the Absent Teacher Reserve pool have filed complaints with the state Division of Human Rights arguing that they were discriminated
against because of their age — and the seniority and higher salaries that come with it.

The complaint argued that the Department of Education’s Fair Student Funding budget system, which was implemented in 2007, was discriminatory because it determined how much money schools get (including for hiring new Teachers) based on how many students they have, and granted Principals control over hiring.

High pay a Drawback

Teachers in the reserve earned a $94,000 salary on average, with those at top salary earning twice as much as new educators.

Teachers in the ATR pool typically had 18 years of experience, greater than the average Teacher’s 10 years on the job, according to the DOE.

Last month, 27 Teachers filed age-discrimination claims to address the problems plaguing the 1,202 educators in the reserve.

"It appears that there is an agenda to rid the employee pool of veteran, high- salaried educators,” according to the complaint by attorney Bryan Glass. “The means to do so are through unjustified excessing in violation of the ‘last in, first out’ method where veteran Teachers are pushed out before younger and less-senior Teachers.”

Similar complaints were filed by 13 educators over the age of 50 who worked in the DOE’s troubled Office of Adult and Continuing Education. The veteran Teachers claimed they were targeted with poor ratings and discipline because of their age.

ATR Teachers have previously decried the stigma of being in the reserve that has contributed to the difficulty of being hired permanently. The complaint noted that
ATRs also lose financial opportunities, such as after-school work and teaching summer school.

The article continues by quoting some of the teachers involved including Francesco Portelos, one of the founders and leaders of an opposition group called Solidarity.

We believe this case has merit. Let us see where it goes. The only real question is why didn't the UFT file this complaint instead of members having to pay a private attorney?

Tuesday, August 14, 2018


The ICEUFT blog may look like a one trick pony the last few days as there has surprisingly been fairly extensive press coverage of Democratic primary candidate for governor Cynthia Nixon's campaign proposal to legalize strikes in New York State for government employees.

She has found a wedge issue where Governor Andrew Cuomo cannot out flank her on the left. The problem is union leaders to my knowlege are not embracing Nixon's proposal up to now as they should be. Do we need any further proof that these are company unions in bed with management?

The latest article is from the go-to civil service newspaper The Chief Leader.

Some main parts:

Jane Latour, a union activist and labor historian, said in an email exchange that Ms. Nixon’s message could resonate with some union members, especially “younger voters, fed up with incrementalism and looking for a fresh, direct-action politics.”

And Richard Wolff, an economics professor at the New School University, observed that European public unions can go on strike because authorities that punished them would quickly face a more-widespread strike.

“The right to strike is the closest thing to an equal playing field for employees and employers to bargain and negotiate,” Mr. Wolff said. “Without that right, employers have much more power to force their wills on employees. Public employees should never have been deprived of that right by the power and pressure of employers, public and private together. Bravo to all politicians with the courage to return the right to strike to public employees.”

I cannot overemphasize how important having the ability to withold our labor is for working people. We should demand that union leaders endorse this proposal as well as only supporting with UFT COPE money (voluntary political contributions) politicians who are on board with legal public sector strikes.

Maybe we should threaten a statewide action in support of Nixon's proposal.

More from the Chief:

In a phone interview, Doug Muzzio,  a Political Science Professor at Baruch College, said that after trying for months to find a wedge issue to set herself apart from the Governor, Ms. Nixon had finally got one with her call to lift the prohibition against public workers striking.

“The Governor has successfully adopted her other progressive policies and positions, which has muddied the distinctions between the two. But this [lifting the Taylor Law] is concrete,” he said. “Cuomo has been adept at adopting her other policies, but this is not going to be one of them.”

Mr. Muzzio continued, “This is likely to appeal to younger progressives who are in an economy where wages are stagnant, and then for them there’s also the issue of student debt. The other open question is whether it is wise or not.”

Nixon's proposal works for older workers too but can we force union leaders to get behind it? That is debatable. It is up to us to put pressure on union leaders to get us back the right to strike.

Monday, August 13, 2018


I am somewhat surprised the Daily News printed an op-ed piece in support of Cynthia Nixon's position that public employees should be legally able to strike.  The author Joshua Freeman is a renowned labor history professor.

Here is the main part:

Since 1947, it has been illegal for public workers in New York State to go on strike, first under the Condon-Wadlin act, which called for strikers to be fired, and after 1967 under the Taylor Law, which penalizes them two days pay for each day off the job.

Now Cynthia Nixon, who is challenging Andrew Cuomo for the Democratic nomination for governor, has called for eliminating the strike ban as a way to strengthen unions in the face of fierce legal and political assaults.

No one likes strikes, especially ones that disrupt the lives of the public, but Nixon has a point. There is no reason why public employees should not have the same rights as privately-employed workers. In 1919, Massachusetts Gov. Calvin Coolidge crushed a Boston police strike in the name of defending the sovereignty of the state.

But such arguments have long been outmoded, as private-sector style labor relations have been imported into the public realm without undermining the power of government. Several states, including Pennsylvania, allow public sector strikes without the sky falling down.

New York unionists have long complained that the Taylor Law strips them of their most powerful weapon, the right to withdraw their labor. Complicating the situation is a provision of the law that says when public employee contracts expire, their terms will remain in effect until a new contract is signed. This protects workers when public officials and union leaders fail to come to an agreement, but eliminates the pressure to do just that.

Employers often simply wait unions out, not fearing a walkout. Mayor Michael Bloomberg allowed over 150 city labor contracts to expire by the time he left office. For workers, such rope-a-dope means decreased spending power as inflation eats away at their salaries. Meanwhile, without the right to strike, public employee unions turn to politics, mobilizing their resources on behalf of candidates with whom they may end up bargaining.

Strengthened public employee unions might drive up government labor costs, but they also will benefit workers far beyond their own ranks by setting higher benchmarks for wages and benefits and sustaining hundreds of thousands of middle-class families who live within New York State, paying taxes and spending money.

Freeman goes on by citing a possible compromise if there is no new contract and he also makes the case that unions should not be reckless with the strike weapon.

It is an excellent read. This blog fully endorses the Nixon proposal as the way to level the playing field between workers and management.

Sunday, August 12, 2018


The United Nations agrees that workers are entitled to free association rights. A UN commission ruled that the NYS Taylor Law's prohibition on strikes by public employees is a violation of international law. Twelve states in the US allow legal public employee strikes. Supposedly progressive N.Y. is not one of them. Our so called liberal leaders Andrew Cuomo and Bill de Blasio agree teachers and other public employees should not have the right to strike.

Cynthia Nixon came up with a pro-worker campaign proposal in her quest to unseat Cuomo as governor. Nixon wants to change the Taylor Law to allow public employees in NYS to exercise what under international law is a protected right: the right to strike.

From the Daily News,
first Mayor de Blasio:

"I have a lot of respect for Cynthia but I disagree with her on this,” de Blasio said. “I acknowledge and appreciate that she said there should be an exemption for first responders, but I don't agree with changing the Taylor Law.”

The mayor said “the Taylor Law serves an important public purpose and at the same time there are lots of ways for workers rights to be acknowledged and their voices to be heard. I think we have the right law now."

Is the mayor serious? Voices heard? DOE workers filed many hundreds of sexual harassment complaints and almost none of them were substantiated. I am not surprised he would like the current law. After all, city employees under his leadership are receiving salary increases that do not even keep pace with inflation and giving back on healthcare. He is no friend of working people.

Governor Cuomo is a long time enemy of workers.

Cuomo in that same Daily News piece:

The premise of the Taylor Law is you would have chaos if certain services were not provided,” said Cuomo, citing police, firefighters, and prison guards.

He didn't mention how countries like Bitain and France as well as 12 US states manage to survive with public sector employees being allowed to legally strike. Cuomo also has not negotiated with state workers raises that keep pace with inflation in two terms as governor.

Nixon and her campaign blasted Cuomo, her opponent for governor, not de Blasio in a response.

“While Cuomo has done an election year about-face and started aggressively courting the support of union leaders, today’s comments make clear that the governor remains anti-worker at heart,” Nixon said. “We should be standing alongside our brave teachers, not cracking down on them for fighting for fair pay and dignity and better education for their students.”

Most of the public employee unions have endorsed Cuomo this year.

She noted that the president of the Transit Workers Union served time in prison and the union fined $2.5 million after transit workers illegally walked off the job in 2005.

Nixon campaign spokeswoman Lauren Hitt told the Daily News de Blasio’s comments don’t change Nixon’s stance on the issue.

“We still feel public sector workers should be able to strike,” Hitt said.

Nixon has made transit issues a top priority of her campaigns. Hitt dismissed the idea that giving transit workers the right to strike could further derail the subway system.

“The problems with the subways is not because transit workers are striking,” she said. “The problems with the subways is because of decades of mismanagement, most recently under Gov. Cuomo.”

I don't see the gutless public employee union leaders making a big deal, or saying much of anything, on the strike issue. That is not surprising unfortunately as they seem more interested in their seats at the Democratic Party table than with improving rank and file working conditions.

Friday, August 10, 2018


Many will be shocked by a lawsuit filed by a guidance counselor claiming an assistant principal sexually harassed her and when she reported it to the principal, he retaliated by attempting to fire her. The principal then directed her to work in a storage closet.

From the Daily News story on the lawsuit:

An ex-Queens high school guidance counselor was sexually harassed at work — and then banished to a filthy closet and brought up on fireable charges after she reported the abuse, a shocking lawsuit charges.

Former Humanities and the Arts High School counselor Sandhya Thomas, 53, of New Hyde Park, claims in the suit filed in Brooklyn Federal Court Monday that she was groped by her supervisor, Humanities and the Arts assistant principal Ghandi Moussa, who also allegedly masturbated in front of her in a series of sexually inappropriate interactions between 2013 and 2017.

“Upon Moussa’s arrival at the Humanities,” in 2013, the suit states, “he would regularly make Thomas stand close to him, using that as an opportunity to touch her or brush up against Thomas’s arms, breasts, buttocks, and other body parts.”

The harassment worsened in 2017, according to legal papers, when “Thomas observed Moussa begin to rub his genitals over his pants while starring at Thomas’ breasts, masturbating in front of her, while moaning.”

Thomas, who’s worked in city schools since 1998, reported the harassment in 2016, the suit says. Humanities and the Arts principal Kayode Ayetiwa retaliated and banished her to work in a room filled with broken chairs that had no heat, the lawsuit alleges.

When Thomas complained, Ayetiwa sent her to work in a nastier place — a dusty, moldy storage closet in the Cambria Heights school, the suit says.

Thomas claims Ayetiwa and Moussa also brought her up on bogus charges and tried to get her fired. A hearing officer suspended Thomas for poor job performance, for six months without pay starting in May.

Sadly, we are not at all shocked by this story. ICEUFT has been covering the Humanities and the Arts High School's awful administrators for several years.

For full disclosure, this is the school my wife worked at for over a decade. I can confirm that Ms. Thomas is a decent person who should be credible. She is sane. This is not some crazy disgruntled employee.

Principal Ayetiwa, thanks to the Department of Education's "My principals right or wrong" culture  set up by Joel Klein that  continues to the present day, has been empowered to make life miserable for anyone who questions anything he does. Ayetiwa is very anti-UFT.

He visciously went after the Chapter Leader, the Delegate (my wife Camille) and next  the tracher who had the guts to step up and get elected to relace the first CL. The UFT hierarchy knew all along what this principal was about. Their response was not exactly strong. Complaints went as far up the UFT ladder as an in person meeting with Staff Director Leroy Barr. The Union would not fight in public even when union activists were forced out of the building one after the other.

Do you think anyone who remained in the building was going to speak up after seeing good people removed and not much done about it? Better to hide.

How many more of these stories have to be exposed before the UFT demands, and will accept nothing less than, an end to the anti-UFT member culture spread across too many schools?

We need a real union.

Thursday, August 09, 2018


August 7 every year is the official date that the so called "Open Market" transfer system officially closes. Teachers and other UFT members working in the schools will now need a principal's approval to transfer unless they are in excess.

If UFT members are in excess, there are subsidies to schools for hiring Absent Teacher Reserves so don't give up looking for positions. Unlike many, I don't believe Fair Student Funding which charges schools more for having more senior teachers is the reason most of us who are in excess don't get hired. I believe it is our institutional memory more than the cost of seniority that makes it difficult to get a new permanent teaching position. Senior people are not likely to say how high when a principal tells them to jump. Newer teachers need to obtain tenure and therefore are much easier for administrators to control and will pass everyone if told to do so.

If you have sent out ten, or twenty or thirty, or forty resumes and you haven't heard anything back, we understand your frustration. If you are an experienced educator but you lack connections, you don't know the right people, we completely get it and today we salute you.

Giving up our seniority rights has turned out to be one of the stupidest givebacks from the infamous 2005 contract that ICEUFT vociferously opposed back then and have ever since.

I remember former UFT President Randi Weingarten telling us at the time that the Department of Education  proposed the concept that principals should have control of all hiring and the Union responded that this would create a huge pool of excessed teachers with no permanent school. If I recall correctly Randi informed us that this would be totally unworkable but if the DOE wanted this, they could have it. Little did she know that an unworkable situation was exactly what Joel Klein wanted so he could continue to push for the termination of ATRs both publicly and in negotiations. Killing seniority is still the big goal of the union haters.

The UFT, to my knowledge, has not asked for the return to seniority transfers which were done based on strict seniority. I don't even think the UFT has asked for a return of SBO transfers where seniority was a major factor in hiring decisions done by school based committees made up of a majority of teachers. Giving Principals complete power over hiring was one of the worst givebacks ever and has led to turmoil for so many teachers and a patronage hiring system that needs to end. Principal power needs to be checked from below more than from above. That should be a major UFT priority.

This is how we wrote about the 2005 UFT seniority surrender last year:
Ending seniority rights altogether is the holy grail of union busting that Joel Klein pushed for and is still the treasured goal of the zealots who want to destroy our profession.

Don't take my word for it. Read it from the horse's mouth. Chalkbeat did a summary of Steven Brill's 2011 book called Class Warfare.  Former Chancellor Joel Klein says all you need to know on why the ATR issue is a major issue for the union busters and it is something they will fight on for every inch of ground.

  • On labor issues, Bloomberg sometimes undercut Joel Klein. Klein’s team thought they could get the UFT to sign off on a change in the teacher termination process. But Bloomberg, who was nearing reelection, told them not to push their luck. “The mayor blinked,” the DOE’s one-time labor chief, Dan Weisberg, told Brill. “The mayor just gave up.” Weisberg said he “clashed almost daily” with City Hall over back-channel contract negotiations in 2005.
  • Similarly, Brill reports that in 2006, Bloomberg told Klein and Weisberg to “stand down” on pushing a time limit for teachers in the Absent Teacher Reserve. As Klein left office last year, he was still calling for that policy.

Weisberg is still pushing to fire ATR's in 2017.

Chalkbeat's synopsis of Brill's book continues:
  • Bloomberg was weighing a third term even a year into his second, and his education policies reflected that. The 2007 teachers contract included little in the way of substantive policy, an oddity at a time when Klein was setting an aggressive tone at Tweed. In fact, the only major change, a schoolwide bonus program, was spiked this year. “The plan,” Klein told Brill, “was to make some progress in the 2005 contract — which we did, though not enough — and then go in for the kill in 2007. Mike deciding to run for a third term completely killed that.”

Note how Joel Klein brags about making some progress in 2005. That is the god awful contract that Randi Weingarten should never have agreed to that 40% of the NYC teachers rejected. Weingarten and Klein created the ATR mess and did so much more to undermine the rights of teachers in that settlement.

Bloomberg went for "the kill" after he was safely reelected to his third term in 2009 and did not relent while he was the mayor. It's why we had no contract from 2009-2014 and why we are still waiting until 2020 to get paid back in full the money the city paid its other workers between 2008 and 2010.

The UFT has never moved the center of gravity even a milometer back toward teacher rights since 2005. The 2014 contract's biggest gain was to form a new committee on excessive paperwork, something that was already in the existing contract. We have not made a substantive work place gain since Circular 6 was added in to the contract in 1996 to get us temporarily out of potty patrol. 2005 put us back in the potty.

It isn't your fault ATRs. That's why we are saluting the ATRs today. This situation is the fault of Randi Weingarten, Joel Klein. I won't condemn the 60% of teachers who voted yes on that contract. They were misled by their Union.

As for the 40% of teachers who voted no in 2005, we honor that wisdom today too.

If only we had the chance to flip about 7,000 votes, so many teaching careers might not have been permanently changed for the worse.

Wednesday, August 08, 2018


This is from Democratic Party candidate for Governor Cynthia Nixon's Fair Economy for All platform:

Strengthen Unions
Cynthia has been a proud union member for over four decades. She believes it is in all working people’s interest in New York to support the work that unions do on behalf of their members. As Governor, Cynthia will resist federal, right-to-work attacks on organized labor by amending Taylor Law to allow public sector workers the right to strike and support organizing drives for larger and stronger unions and protect union jobs from abusive non-union contractors. As public sector workers across the country are under attack, Cynthia does not support undermining workers’ wages and benefits, unlike Governor Cuomo who added a Tier VI to the state pension system and reduced benefits for newly hired state and local public workers.

When I read this first thing this morning in the press, I had to look at it closely three times to actually believe that a serious candidate for governor on a major party is endorsing amending the Taylor Law to allow public employees in New York State the right to strike.

Cynthia's policy position should not be considered radical. International law gives workers free association rights. Back in 2011, a United Nations agency ruled that the Taylor Law prohibition of strikes by public employees violates core principles expressed in international law and a treaty ratified by the United States Senate.

This blog covered that decision at the time and we fully support the UN ruling that international law gives us a right to strike. Nixon's position on public sector workers being allowed to legally strike is legitimate.

Without an ability to withhold our labor, workers have little leverage in bargaining for better working conditions. The gains teachers made in NYC came in an era when we were not afraid to strike. Please don't tell me we have arbitration. Arbitration panels use pattern bargaining to settle disputes. They look at what other unions have received to guide them. Governments know they can just come to a contract agreement with a weak union and everyone else will be bound by its basic terms.

The mainstream press is already going nuts over Nixon's support for legalized public employee strikes. It is interesting how Andrew Cuomo apologist TWU President John Samuelsen agreed we should have a right to strike but said Nixon doesn't care about workers. It's also fascinating how TWU took the links to the UN decision off of its website.

Tuesday, August 07, 2018


The official wait to find out about Teacher's Choice for the 2018-19 school year is finally over. This was on the UFT Twitter this afternoon. Leadership may have finally moved because High School Executive Board member Mike Schirtzer sent an email to the UFT officers yesterday asking for clarification on Teacher's Choice. Mike monitored our postings.


Why couldn't we get this information for almost a week?

Why didn't the UFT just provide a simple posting that said the actual Teacher's Choice allocation hasn't been finalized yet but spending for Teacher's Choice started August 1 and it should be close to last year's level?

The answers to these questions is that honesty and openness are just not UFT strengths.

I'm glad this is done and happy spending everyone.

Here is the UFT Teacher's Choice page.

Also, I guess I should kind of thank the UFT for not saying really anything official for almost a week on Teacher's Choice. Since this blog was giving out updated information, our spike in traffic was noticeable. Hope some of you keep coming back to us.

Monday, August 06, 2018


The email below came to us from the Communications Workers of America. Please sign their petition for a good contract at AT&T Midwest. CWA workers are involved in a contract dispute with AT&T management. Workers have voted to authorize a strike. 
This is yet another union that is not afraid to tell its members and the public basically what is on the table in contract negotiations. 
In contrast, the UFT negotiating committee members sign a confidentiality statement. Having served on the negotiating committee twice, I think the UFT wants the Cone of Silence in part because they are afraid that the members would not be happy to learn how little we actually demand in contract negotiations and then how we concede on issues so easily.

I can only guess, as I have no inside information, but I very much doubt the UFT is asking for seniority transfers, placing Absent Teacher Reserves in schools of their choice or the ability for members to grieve the fairness and accuracy of file letters.

On the other hand, I can also make an educated guess, based on the astroturf organizations writing articles in the papers, that DOE is demanding a time limit for how long a teacher can stay as an ATR before they are terminated. That would basically kill the union if we agreed to it.

For the guy who says he wants two observations per year on every comment, I predict the UFT will ask for it but DOE will want a pound and a half of flesh for it. We have virtually zero leverage since we have done no preparation to mobilize if necessary.

Image result for cone of silence
Maxwell Smart and the Chief under the Cone of Silence in Get Smart TV Show
We’re three AT&T workers about to embark on an epic road trip from Detroit, MI to AT&T headquarters in Dallas, TX to save jobs and win fair union contracts for 14,000 workers across the country.
We’re hitting the road because AT&T broke its promise to working families. AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson promised to deliver thousands of new jobs if the company got a tax cut. Well, AT&T got a $20 billion windfall but that didn’t stop them from laying off over a thousand workers across the country in the past few months.
That’s why we’re calling our trip the Broken Promises Tour and we’ll meet workers along the way whose communities have been devastated by AT&T’s job cuts.
Throughout our trip, we’ll meet with other workers to share their stories about the impact AT&T's job cuts have had on their families and communities. We’ll stop at closed AT&T call centers and other workplaces where working people are struggling to save jobs. The trip kicks off from Detroit on Monday and you can follow our journey at

AT&T workers like us across the country are fighting back for fair union contracts that guarantee good jobs, affordable healthcare, and a secure retirement. We won’t just sit back while greedy corporations like AT&T make billions off our backs and destroy our jobs. I hope you’ll stand with us and sign the petition if you haven’t yet:

Saturday, August 04, 2018


The piece below came to us from Los Angeles, California where the United Teachers of Los Angeles are fighting back against austerity and privatization. They are calling for a strike authorization vote later this month. UTLA's president is Alex Caputo Pearl, a one time dissident who we met in Chicago in 2013.

Read below to see how UTLA does not have a secret negotiating committee like the UFT here in NYC. We can tell you what LA teachers are demanding and the response from the district.

In addition, please don't tell me how it is different in NY because the Taylor law prohibits strikes by public employees here. We do not involve nor mobilize teachers so we could actually engage in a real fight for a good contract. We negotiate behind closed doors and then the UFT leaders send their paid staff out to sell the contract to us rather than involving the membership in the process. It is different in Los Angeles.

From UTLA:

PERB Confirms Impasse; We Gear Up for Strike Authorization Vote

Although LAUSD claims otherwise, the California Public Employment Relations Board today confirmed what UTLA declared two weeks ago – that negotiations between UTLA and LAUSD are in a deadlock – and a state mediator has been appointed. UTLA is also preparing to conduct a strike authorization vote Aug. 23-30.

“PERB’s decision agrees with UTLA in our belief we are at impasse,” said Arlene Inouye, Chair of the UTLA Bargaining Team. “While we move forward with a state mediator, and continue to try to reach an agreement with the district — one that respects students,educators and the community — we also must mobilize our members for a strike, if one becomes necessary.”

Chapter Leaders will be holding critical chapter meetings on the first day back at school, on Aug. 13, regarding a strike authorization vote at the end of the month.

UTLA’s bargaining team has negotiated for more than 16 months. During that time, UTLA has done informational leafleting, school site picketing, rallies at the School Board, coalition actions with parents, faculty meeting boycotts, regional rallies, delegations to elected officials and a 12,000-member demonstration in downtown LA on May 24.

“Led by Supt. Austin Beutner, the district is trying to blame UTLA members, saying we are being unreasonable in our contract demands. We want to reprioritize LAUSD’s $1.7 billion in unrestricted reserves back into the classroom. Those funds can go a long way to give our educators a fair wage, lower class sizes and hire more nurses, counselors and librarians,” said UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl. “The district has chosen a path of austerity and cuts, and we are fighting to reinvest and save public education. Enough is enough.”

When UTLA declared impasse last month, LAUSD officials said they would bring significant proposals to July 24 bargaining. Instead, they brought a previously proposed 2% ongoing salary increase, an additional one-time 2% bonus and a $500 stipend for materials and supplies.

“Our working conditions are our students’ learning conditions. We must continue to fight for a sustainable future, yet we don’t have a partner in the very school district we are trying to save,” Caputo-Pearl said. “We have been pushing for real change, they are keeping the status quo.”

Some key deadlocked bargaining issues:

Class Size Matters. LAUSD gave no proposals to reduce class size. LAUSD has some of the highest class sizes in the nation, yet refuses to eliminate section 1.5 of the contract, which allows the district to ignore class size caps.

Improve School Safety. With a student-to-counselor ratio of 945:1 in California and student-to-nurse ratio of 1,224:1, LAUSD refuses to add more school nurses, counselors, social workers, librarians and other staff; rejects greater educator and school employees input on campus safety plans.

Fund Our Schools. LAUSD gave no proposals to address funding issues. California is the richest state in the nation, yet ranks 43 out of 50 in per-pupil funding.

Support Community Schools. LAUSD gave no proposals to fund Community Schools. Community Schools meet the needs in the surrounding community, including wrap-around services, broadened curriculum and parent engagement.

Less Testing & More Teaching. LAUSD gave no proposals to address overtesting. Our kids are being overtested. Their teachers should have more discretion over what and when standardized assessments are given.

End the Privatization Drain. LAUSD gave no proposals for reasonable charter accountability and co-location measures. LAUSD refuses to address the $590 million lost to the unchecked expansion of charter schools each year.

We support the UTLA efforts to win a good contract.

Friday, August 03, 2018


Yesterday we reported on how the PBA will have a very difficult time in contract negotiations because of pattern bargaining.  Pattern bargaining is when one government union settles on a raise with the government and that sets a pattern that other unions are basically stuck with. Arbitrators have upheld pattern bargaining many times.

Last evening a Professional Staff Congress (CUNY Teachers) member sent me a bargaining update from their President Barbara Bowen and her bargaining team. They make a strong case that CUNY Professors and Lecturers are under paid and need a major salary increase.

Here is a key part of the update:

Management responded that any targeted increases for CLTs and Lecturers (including Doctoral Lecturers) would have to be discussed as part of an overall economic package. They stressed that the "collective bargaining pattern" for public-sector workers in New York City and State in this round of bargaining includes limited raises of just 2% per year.

 CUNY-and PSC members-have needs that exceed this austerity approach. While the bargaining team is fully versed on the current limited economic "pattern," we will continue to demand a contract with both economic and non-economic gains that meet our members'needs.

I think it is great that PSC sends members periodic updates on negotiations. UFT negotiates in secret but we can pretty much figure out what is going on based on past practice and what we hear from other unions.

On the specifics, PSC leadership has no plan to break pattern bargaining. How does PSC intend to beat the pattern? Osmosis? Prayer? Visit the Wizard of Oz? I don't see a strike. Perhaps PSC leaders are talking big on salary so they can get some non-economic gains and declare victory.

Teachers who want two observations a year should encourage UFT negotiators to emphasize how we got 10% over 7 years plus 3.5 months and have to wait 11 years to get back all the money we earned in 2009 and 2010 but only if we literally survive and don't quit or get terminated. The current contract was a very poor deal.

The city is not budging on the pattern for us but if we scream loud enough, there could be real gains in non-economic areas like fewer observations, bringing back grieving letters in the file, getting teachers out of involuntary cafeteria duty, restoring hiring committees with teacher majorities for transfers, placing Absent Teacher Reserves where they wish to teach and more.

Oh wait, it's Unity-Mulgrew negotiating. Regardless, I'll try to stay optimistic. At least the PSC tries to tell their members what's going on.

Thursday, August 02, 2018


A day after posting, we received the details from UFT on Instagram. Teacher's Choice is $250 for 2018-19. Spending commenced August 1. Save those receipts. However, please also read the update below.

We have been attempting to get some confirmation on Twitter, Facebook or the UFT's own website for this instagram posting and so far have not been successful. We did get this comment on our earlier Teacher's Choice Post:

Anonymous Karen said...
I called the DOE phone number for Special Projects on August 1st, and was told that the City Council had not approved Teacher's Choice funding, that I should not buy anything until the announcement was made at the end of the week (meaning today, 8/3), that there was a possibility we would not receive funding. So frustrating- so many sales have come and gone and I've already spent quite a bit out of pocket. There's enough to be done over the next few weeks that having the $250 would make it easier! Wish they would just make an announcement.

If the Department of Education and the UFT cannot get their act together to announce what is going on with a program as popular and non-controversial as Teacher's Choice, we may be even more trouble than we think. Yes, I know this isn't the biggest problem in the world but symbolically this delay just looks bad.