Wednesday, October 31, 2018

UFT DOUBLES DUES FOR PARENT ON PAID PARENTAL LEAVE (Updated with UFT Response and Parent who did NOT Have Double Dues Taken)

The email below came from a reader yesterday. The UFT Welfare Fund is paying the salaries of parents on Department of Education unpaid parental leave who are eligible for the UFT's Paid Parental Leave program. We learned that the UFT is of course taking a nice cut for themselves. (UFT denies this.)


I am probably one of the first members to take advantage of  parental leave. I thought you and your readers should know that the UFT takes over $400 in dues for the duration of the 6 week parental leave. This is absurd and even worse than the retro situation.

The exact amount was just shared with ICEUFT on email. It is $421.98 in union dues.

Normal dues are around $60 per twice monthly pay period so if we multiply the $60 by three for six weeks, we would get around $180. Therefore, we are talking about more than doubling of dues when on Paid Parental Leave.

Gotta love this union. The fun never ends. Has anyone else had problems?

Update--Dealing with DOE-UFT bureaucracy. We all can relate.

1) The DOE never sends you an email or any communication for that matter after you apply for Parental Leave (aside for a submission received from SOLAS).  Nothing indicating that they received your documentation and nothing about whether or not you've been approved/denied.

2) I found out after hounding the UFT that my parental leave was approved the day before I returned back to school.  Which means that there would be no parental leave lumpsum in the beginning of my leave as originally promised.  I got the actual parental leave check in the mail between 7 to 8 weeks after the birth of my child.

3) I applied weeks before the birth, uploaded all the documentation within 24 hours upon receipt (footprints, birth certificate), but it didn't matter.  SOLAS will state that you are missing documentation even if you've submitted it multiple times.  And again, you will not receive any communication or emails confirming that the docs that you uploaded were received.

4) When you are on parental leave your direct deposit gets disabled when you return back to service.  My first paycheck back (today, Oct. 31st) was sent to 65 court.  I have to go in person to pick up my checks unless I send a notarized letter telling the DOE that I authorize them to mail them to me.  Payroll portal's direct deposit does not allow me to change my information online.

UPDATE 2: Someone from the UFT just reached out to me on this topic on Thursday morning.

The UFT response:
I believe there has been a mistake but can't confirm or fix it without the member's specific information. The UFT does not intend to charge more/extra dues to those on PPL. That is a fact. So, if she was overcharged as you describe, it's clearly a mistake.

We hope this gets cleared up and will keep our readers posted.

UPDATE 3: We are very happy to report that we heard from another parent that the UFT only took out $180 (the regular amount) for union dues from the Paid Parental Leave money. It looks like the UFT's word holds up and the $400 was a mistake.  That member should get a refund.

Monday, October 29, 2018


I was actually going to write a generally pro-Andrew Cuomo piece today as the governor is boycotting Charter-Spectrum's NY1 cable channel and encouraging other public officials to do the same because of an ongoing 19 month marathon strike by IBEW Local 3 technicians. We have supported the strikers since we heard about the labor dispute and would not consider switching to Spectrum cable even when they offered a competitive price. Cuomo is right on this issue but then we read about Cuomo's latest huge donations from the charter school industry so we still deeply distrust and dislike the governor.

First the pro-labor Cuomo.

From the NY Post:
In an extraordinary move, Gov. Cuomo on Wednesday urged elected officials to boycott NY1 and other stations because their owner, cable TV giant Charter Communications, is involved in a labor dispute.

Cuomo, in another rarity, effusively praised Mayor de Blasio for skipping his regular appearance on NY1 Monday night to protest a nearly two-year strike at another division of Charter Communications.

“I have publicly stated my opposition to and outrage at Charter’s conduct on numerous occasions. I applaud Mayor de Blasio for boycotting the network and encourage other officials to do the same,” Cuomo said in a statement.

The governor is also trying to mediate a settlement of the strike as he shows his pro-union side before his reelection.

Other politicians are also boycotting NY1 including City Comptroller Scott Stringer. 

From a Politico NY article on the boycott:
City Comptroller Scott Stringer, Council Speaker Corey Johnson, 28 members of the Council and a handful of members of the Assembly have all signed a letter to Tom Rutledge, president and CEO of Charter Communications — Spectrum News' parent demanding that the company "comes to the table and negotiates with these workers in good faith."

"As elected officials from across New York, we are deeply concerned that after 19 months, 1,800 of your company's workers remain on strike in New York City," the letter reads. "As long as these workers from IBEW Local 3 maintain their informational leafleting action at NY1's studios, we will honor that action by not entering the studios."

It sounds positive. However, now for the reality check on the Andrew Cuomo we all know and despise.

From the Daily News:
ALBANY — Gov. Cuomo received a late infusion of cash from charter school interests, his latest financial disclosure form shows.

Cuomo over the past three weeks since his last filing took in $130,000 from individuals and groups with ties to the charter school industry, the records show.

The influx comes as the charter schools have largely remained on the sidelines in the tight battle for control of the state Senate. In years past, charter interests were among the Senate Republicans’ largest backers.

Cuomo, a charter school backer who took heat on the issue during his Democratic primary against actress Cynthia Nixon, received three of his biggest donations the past three weeks from individuals with strong ties to the industry, including $25,000 each from Jim Walton and Carrie Walton Penner, the son and granddaughter, respectively of Walmart founder Sam Walton.

The governor also received $40,000 from Sonia Jones, a yoga booster for youth and wife of billionaire Paul Tudor Jones, a big backer of charter schools.

He also received $15,000 from the Great Public Schools PAC created by Eva Moskowitz, the CEO of Success Academy Charter Schools, and $15,100 from New Yorkers for Putting Students First, a pro-charter political action committee.

Billy Easton, executive director of the teacher union-backed Alliance for Quality Education, knocked the donations to Cuomo.

“Here we go again with Andrew Cuomo and his pay-to-play relationship with charter schools,” Easton said.“The Wall Street charter donors lost big when the Independent Democrats got wiped out in the primary, they are investing in Andrew Cuomo now in hopes that he will be the one person still carrying their water in Albany."

Cuomo, according to his latest disclosure filing made public Monday morning, has $6.75 million left in his campaign account after spending $3.1 million, largely on TV ads, the past three weeks and raising $638,687 during the same period.

In addition to charter school money, some of his biggest donations in recent weeks included $33,400 from developer Richard LeFrak, $25,000 from the Building Contractors Association PAC, and $25,000 from Saratoga Gaming Resources.

Now there is the Cuomo we all loathe and he certainly hates public schools and public school teachers. We won't be voting for Cuomo (probably voting Green) although I wish the Spectrum workers the best and totally support their fight for a fair contract. 

Workers don't necessarily have to strike to get a good deal but they sure better be able to have a credible threat of militancy. It is one we will need when Cuomo is reelected and pays back his charter school supporters.

Sunday, October 28, 2018


As voting concludes early this week on the proposed new UFT contract, it's time to show just a little more evidence on why a significant NO VOTE is the best hope we have to actually change the schools in NYC.

Voting no is the easiest way right now we can voice our opinion that the Department of Education-UFT alliance is bad news for everyone except the union and DOE hierarchies. If 90% vote yes, we are signing on to Mayor Bill de Blasio's school agenda as UFT President Michael Mulgrew wants to continue things as they are.

We pointed out in one of our 25 bullet points against the contract that Mulgrew is linking this contract to mayoral control of the schools. Here is what Mulgrew said at the press conference announcing the deal:

“Given the importance of the issues and the long-term initiatives that are part of this contract, the UFT is calling for the continuation of mayoral control as the governance structure for New York City public schools.” 

Mayoral control leads to mayors having to ramp up the public relations machine to show how wonderful their education policies are. 

This is from Twitter from an education reporter:

On the subject of Renewal, the de Blasio admin is hiring someone to study its education agenda. Part of that brief: "providing detailed and compelling stories about the positive transformation of NYC schools resulting from those initiatives."

Detailed and compelling stories about the positive transformation of NYC schools? That's what we taxpayers are shelling out money for.

Anybody want this job?

This is the system Michael Mulgrew wants to continue.

There are many great things happening in the schools. They often occur in spite of how the schools are run.

Friday, October 26, 2018


There is plenty of positive happening in the NYC schools. Tonight, we just spent two hours at the PS 191 Halloween dance. Great kids, parents, teachers, PTA, administration school safety. What a great time!

Left to Right: Erika, Gurleen, Kara, Shivani, Shankar and Matthew

Wednesday, October 24, 2018


Most UFT members are voting in their schools on the proposed new UFT contract. When a teacher who does not have a permanent assignment gets a ballot on the new agreement in the mail, the ballot comes with the UFT pro-contract propaganda and nothing else. I am confident that only the pro-contract view is being presented in most schools too before the vote. Therefore, opponents are fighting a large uphill battle. Imagine a state referendum where there was a proposal and the state sent out only information in support of the proposal. It would be totally unfair but that is how the UFT operates its organization.

Under these conditions, it is amazing I have seen a number criticisms of the contract proposal in the last ten days on the internet.

This is the latest from blogger Chaz calling for a no vote.

Three critical pieces were written by parent activist-leader of Class Size Matters Leonie Haimson over at the New York City Public Schools Parents Blog, although Leonie notes that her critique is about certain parent issues and she is not taking a position on the contract.

In this one, Leonie gives a history of class sizes in NYC and reaches this conclusion concerning the UFT and lower class sizes:

If the UFT leadership was doing anything else to push for smaller classes, either through court action or advocating for targeted funding for class size reduction through the state or city budget, their lack of attention given to reducing class size in the contract would be more understandable.  Sadly, for too long, they remain Missing in Action on this crucial issue. 

Leonie has two other pieces that focus on the new contract. In one she is critical of the UFT for cutting out the parents in certain schools and in the other she once again focuses on the class size issue in the UFT contract. Anything Leonie writes is well worth reading.

Marian Swerdlow is a retired teacher-chapter leader from FDR High School in Brooklyn. She wrote two critical pieces for MORE (Movement of Rank and File Educators). One was the basis of some of my criticism in Monday's piece on the role of the new committees in the UFT contract where of course we cited Marian. The other tells the story of the 1995 contract defeat and how the UFT promised dire consequences if we voted down the contract. We voted no on that contract and the UFT's dire predictions all turned out to be wrong. Marian's 1995 history lesson is posted in full below.

What Happens if We Vote it Down?

October 18, 2018 — Leave a comment

“What happens if we vote it down?”

“What will happen if we don’t approve the contract?”
People ask and want to know the answer.  Whatever happens, experience says it won’t be the “doom and gloom” scenario that UFT leaders threaten it will be.
In fall, 1995, UFT leaders unveiled a tentative agreement with no raises in the first two years, and givebacks in pay, benefits and working conditions.  As the membership ratification vote proceeded, it was obviously in danger of rejection. Then-president Feldman wrote in a letter to the membership dated November 12, 1995:
“What would happen if the members reject this agreement and send us back to the bargaining table?  I believe we would be faced with chaos and crisis. Job security would be gone and massive layoffs could begin as early as February.  By next year, between the city, state and federal cuts, the layoffs of teachers and paraprofessionals could reach into the thousands.

“In addition, if we reject this settlement, we probably would lose some of the very positive gains we won in the agreement such as longevity on eligibility date and electronic deposit.  And all those givebacks we successfully fought off such as loss of prep times, sabbaticals and the mid-winter recess – would go back on the bargaining table. Nor is there much of chance that a rejection of this contract would result in a better agreement . . .”
These scare tactics failed, and the contract was voted down.  How did the results compare with Feldman’s fearmongering?
  1. There was no chaos.  There was no crisis.
  2. Not a single UFT member was laid off.
  3. A new proposed pact was negotiated before the end of the same school year.  
  4. It retained all of the modest gains in the rejected pact.
  5. It didn’t have any new givebacks.  Prep times, sabbaticals and the February recess stayed.
  6. It was a better agreement, if only slightly.  The worst givebacks were axed: a provision to hold back 5% of the salary of new teachers was removed.  Instead of 25 years to top pay, it was reduced to 22 years. A few small sweeteners were added.
The takeaway is that union leaders will use threats to get a contract approved, but in the one case where a contract was rejected, all those threats proved baseless.
But the second proposal, which the membership accepted, still had no raises in the first two years. Although the union went back to the negotiating table, it did not organize the members to fight and pressure the city for a better deal.  So, it takes more than just voting “no” to get a significant improvement in a contract. It takes a struggle by the rank and file and allies.
-Marian Swerdlow,
Chapter Leader, FDR High School, Brooklyn

Among the sweeteners that were added in 1996 was a retirement incentive. As I recall the incentive was a major reason why the second version of the contract passed so easily. People could take the money and run and that is when the school system treated teachers and other UFT professionals much better than they do now.

Voting is going on in the schools this week. Please read the criticisms of the contract as well as the UFT propaganda.

Monday, October 22, 2018


I sent these 25 bullet points to Diane Ravitch as a response to Arthur Goldstein's pro contract piece.

Update: Arthur is a decent guy and an excellent chapter leader. We just disagree politically on the contract.

 This is everything you could want and more on why the contract should be voted down.

My wife's ballot.

On October 11 the UFT and the City-Department of Education reached agreement on a new 43 month contract. The UFT’s Delegate Assembly sent it to the schools for ratification votes. Those of us in opposition have no way of countering the UFT’s huge spin machine but here are 25 reasons to oppose the proposed contract. If there is a fair debate, I am confident we would easily win and the contract would be voted down but don’t hold your breath waiting to see any of these criticisms in the union’s newspaper or the mainstream press.

  •   Salary increases don’t keep pace with expected inflation.

 2% on February 14, 2019,
  0% on February 14, 2020
  2.5% on May 14, 2020,
   3% on May 14 2021,
    0% on May 14, 2022.
  • Contract doesn’t end until September 13, 2022. That is 7.5% over 43 months. It is 7.7% compounded but if we look at the expected inflation rate for four years from the International Monetary Fund, U.S. Inflation is expected to increase at an average rate of 2.2% a year through 2022. Our raises are spread out so they won’t make 2.2% annually. If we agree to this contract, we are expected to take a de facto pay cut.
  •   UFT Propaganda only counts inflation through 2021 when trying to sell the deal as if it were a three-year agreement but the contract extends through almost ¾ of 2022. Why doesn’t the UFT tell the truth about the salary increases most likely not beating inflation?
  •   The Cost of Living Adjustment for Social Security for 2019 is 2.8%? NYC is a very expensive city to live in. Can’t we even win a cost of living adjustment in our contract?
  •  The City of New York is swimming in cash. This year’s city surplus was $4.6 billion and there is an additional $4.4 billion squirreled away in the retiree health benefits trust. The NYC economy has never been stronger. Growth is at 2.7% in the latest quarter. City investments are beating expectations. The city says this contract is costing them only $570 million plus the minimal cost of what they put aside for this round of municipal labor settlements. The city can afford much more for raises for its employees. I understand pattern bargaining (one municipal union settles on a raise and it sets a pattern that other unions are stuck with) and DC 37 set a pattern for municipal unions in June for these paltry raises. However, pattern bargaining is a tradition and not the law. The state law from PERB (Public Employees Relations Board) considers as part of their calculations if a union can’t reach an agreement with a government employer:“b. the interests and welfare of the public and the financial ability of the public employer to pay;” The city has the ability to pay much more. It is in the interest of the public to have the best teachers in NYC. Yonkers teachers should not make tens of thousands dollars more than NYC teachers.

  • ·         Healthcare givebacks are for all of us in this contract, not just new teachers. The Municipal Labor Committee agreed to huge healthcare savings in June. This is from the City Hall Website article on the new UFT contract: “The agreement will provide total health care savings of $1.1 billion through Fiscal Year 2021 and $1.9 billion of annual savings thereafter.” Putting new teachers on HIP managed care for their first year, which is a major contractual concession as our contract says the city has to offer us a choice of free health plans, will not save the city $1.1 billion or $1.9 billion annually after 2021 as the city will still be paying their health insurance. Where are the new $1.1 billion in healthcare savings ($600 million must recur annually) going to come from? They will come from all city workers just like when we agreed to this kind of deal in 2014 to settle a contract and then in 2016 we received emails saying Emergency Room copays would rise from $50 to $150 and Urgent Care copays in GHI would go from $15 to $50. More to come like possibly tiered hospitals where we would have to pay more to go to certain facilities. The UFT is not being completely up front about our out of pocket costs probably rising. Why not?  The letter from the city Office of Labor Relations will become part of the UFT Memorandum of Agreement.  Even though the MLC negotiates healthcare for city employees, UFT members have the final say with our vote on whether to  accept this huge concession as part of the contract.
  • ·         Class size limits are not reduced at all by this contract and haven’t been lowered in half a century. The state passed a law in 2007 to settle a lawsuit so average class sizes in NYC schools had to be reduced by law to 20 in grades k-3, 23 in grades 4-8 and 25 in high school core classes. Back in 2005, the UFT contract called for a labor-management committee in Article 8L to use money from the lawsuit settlement for “a program for the reduction of class sizes at all levels.” Money is there from the State. It’s called Contracts for Excellence. Why do principals have discretion on how to use that C4E money and all we get in the new contract on class size is new labor-management committees on oversize classes who will meet before oversize class grievances go to arbitration. The last thing we need is more committees where full-time appointed union representatives can talk to their DOE friends, but teachers still have classes of 34 in high schools and exceptions the DOE can drive a truck through to go above 34. There are several labor-management committees in this agreement. Does the UFT want to represent us or be co-managers of the school system? I think we can conclude the answer is the latter.
  • ·         Labor-Management committees on paperwork, curriculum, professional development, adequate instructional supplies, workloads and space are free to set new standards, thus basically rewriting the contract after it is ratified. As Marian Swerdlow noted in her critique of the Tentative Agreement for the Movement of Rank and File Educators (MORE), the committees are not limited in what they can change in these areas. This is directly from the MOA: “Nothing precludes the parties from agreeing to the addition of new System Wide Standards with respect to operational issues.” To make matters worse, only chapter leaders, not individual UFT members, will be able to file official complaints about operational standards not being adhered to.
  • ·         Safety: It says in the MOA we have further rights on school safety but School Safety Plans still go into effect if we don’t sign off on them. In prior times, a lack of a Chapter Leader or Parent Teachers Association President’s signature meant the principal had to negotiate on the plan. According to this new contract, all we are acknowledging by our signature is that the Chapter Leader participated in making the plan and has received a copy. That has no teeth.
  • ·         Speaking of no teeth, what happens to administrators who violate the new no retaliation against UFT members for whistleblowing contractual clause? We already have Article 2 in the contract that prevents retaliation against us for engaging in union activities. Some of us with perfect records for many years ended up as Absent Teacher Reserves (teachers who don’t have a regular class but must instead be a substitute) because we exercised our union rights. Best UFT could do was to parachute members out of schools via transfer in many cases. People left behind just put their heads down so they won’t be the next person targeted. Nothing changes because we will have a new provision against retaliation for whistleblowing. Where is the sanction for an administrator for retaliating? That certainly could be inserted into a strong Chancellor’s Regulation which would become part of our contract via Article 20 (Matters not Covered). It’s not part of this deal. Put something in or no deal.

This contract did not fall from the sky. It must be seen in the context of prior contracts. The givebacks from the infamous 2005 contract (the next five bullets) remain in 2019. *

  • ·         On Absent Teacher Reserves, the UFT said this was a temporary position back when we gave up in 2005 the right for teachers to be placed in a school in a district if excessed because of budget cuts and the choice of six schools on a wish list- and we were placed in one of them- if a school closed. We gave that up to allow principal discretion for hiring which created the ATR pool. As reported by City Limits, “Now, most agree that the ATR has led to more problematic consequences, and many teachers in the pool assert many of these consequences were in fact the intention all along.”  That temporary situation will go to 17 years through 2022 if this contract passes. That’s a lifetime for HS seniors and a career for many of us. Why can’t the UFT just say no deal until the ATRs all have a position in a school of their choice?
  • ·         On transfers, the open market system created in 2005 is a joke. It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. Why doesn’t the UFT even attempt to win back Seniority Transfers or the progressive SBO Transfer and Staffing Plan where a committee that had a majority of teachers and included parents did all of the hiring so at least there was a check on principal power? Hiring is now principal patronage and that does not change in this contract. The bias against senior teachers being able to transfer continues as nothing in the new contract changes Fair Student Funding which makes principals average the cost of their teachers on their budgets so they are charged more to have a veteran staff.
  • ·         Circular 6R (Professional Activity Assignments). Why didn’t the UFT get teachers out of lunchroom and hall duty in 2019? Instead, we gave principals the right to create more deans and lunchroom coordinators without our approval. That could increase class sizes right there as those new deans won’t be teaching for part or most of their day. How about some extra funding for those new deans?
  • ·         Extended time: No changes on extended time which started in 2002, was lengthened in 2005 and was altered in 2014 to include 80 minutes of “Teacher Detention” on Mondays for endless professional development and 75 minutes on Tuesday for parent outreach and other professional work. Former UFT President Randi Weingarten pledged to get us “voice and choice” in how extended time was used. In too many schools that have difficult principals that choice has never come to pass.
  • ·         Letters in the file. UFT members must wait three years to get an unfair/inaccurate letter removed from a personnel file. That is too long. Since there are these so called improvements in the grievance process in the new contract where the DOE is agreeing they will attempt to abide by the timelines that are already in the contract and are routinely ignored with no sanctions, why didn’t the UFT get an expedited process to have letters removed from our files quickly if they are inaccurate or unfair as we had before 2005? (Note that in 2002 the UFT gave arbitrators the authority to rewrite letters so the UFT had already weakened our rights on this subject.) What kind of union allows its members to be reprimanded and then tells them to go write a response and then wait three years? By then, a probationary teacher can easily have been terminated and never had recourse to a neutral person unless they go to court which can be quite expensive.

  • ·         Paraprofessionals winning better due process is all well and good from their contract which is a totally separate contract from teachers. The UFT has many distinct bargaining units. What about paraprofessional pay? They too are receiving paltry salary increases so that the starting salary for paras will be $28,448 a year in 2021 in this contract. In NYC that is basically subsistence wages for paras. That is less than half of what a starting teacher makes. Another non-teacher chapter in the UFT isn’t catching up with teacher salaries either. Occupational-physical therapists are not anywhere near pay parity with teachers and these professionals have advanced degrees. That is an outrage that has not been addressed. In addition, guidance counselors, school secretaries and other non-teaching titles did not get an arbitration provision in their workload dispute complaint procedures so administrators are free to just pile on the work and the dispute is never heard by an outside neutral party. Most of the non-teacher UFT contracts are not any better than the teacher deal. Because the paras have better due process, it is no reason to say yes to the teacher or guidance counselor or any other of these UFT contracts.
  • ·         A minimum of two observations for some teachers is a gain. It is better than this year’s minimum of four observations. However, it only impacts tenured people who are rated highly effective the prior year or effective the past two years. The teachers who need relief are the people rated ineffective who will now have a minimum of one additional observation for a total of five and many of the probationary teachers who are drowning in work. Their observations remain unchanged at a minimum of four. How about a maximum number of observations like they have in Buffalo and many other districts in NYS? How about agreeing with the DOE to jointly go up to Albany to attempt to enact legislation to rid New York of the whole stupid evaluation system where teachers are rated based on scores on invalid-unreliable student assessments and classroom observations from the awful cookie cutter Danielson Framework?
  • ·         The UFT now wants to continue mayoral control of the schools. This is a quote from Michael Mulgrew from the press conference announcing the deal: “Given the importance of the issues and the long-term initiatives that are part of this contract, the UFT is calling for the continuation of mayoral control as the governance structure for New York City public schools.” Mayoral control is linked to this contract. Here’s what contract supporter Arthur Goldstein said about mayoral control of NYC schools in 2015, “…mayoral control, in the long-run, it's a disaster for democracy, for New York City, and for 1.1 million schoolchildren.” He had that right. The closing schools, ignoring the voice of parents and communities, the constant reshuffling of the bureaucracy, the 300 DOE lawyers from the Bloomberg days who are still around to do everything to destroy teachers, etc. will continue.
  • ·         Psychological testing for new teachers: Why would the UFT agree to invalid- unreliable psychological testing for new employees? It’s more money wasted that will not go to the classroom. Becoming state certified to teach is difficult enough.
  • ·         A+ differentials: Why is the UFT saying new teachers must take courses the UFT and DOE design instead of college courses for much of the final pay differential (30 credits beyond the Masters)? Isn’t that just a way to make more money for both the UFT and DOE from our lowest paid teachers? We need to diminish, not increase the bureaucratic DOE-UFT patronage gravy train.
  • ·         Where is paid family leave? We got 0% raises for an additional 2.5 months in the current contract. In exchange, all we obtain is unpaid DOE leave for new parents and the UFT Welfare Fund agrees to pay them their salary for up to six weeks but they cannot even guarantee it will be at 100% pay. What about paid time to take care of sick relatives? UUP (SUNY Teachers) won that benefit  as part of their new contract earlier this year.
  • ·         How is extra money for these titles not discredited merit pay?

-Teacher Development Facilitator
-Teacher Team Leader
-Master Teacher
-Model teacher
-Peer Collaborative Teacher
Put these 1,500 teachers in the classroom fulltime and we could actually lower class sizes a little.
·         How is it helpful at all for the UFT to set up a two-tiered pay structure? This seems antithetical to trade unionism. By agreeing to the Bronx Plan as well as the merit pay scheme described above, the UFT says it’s okay to pay more for certain schools and certain teachers. Here is how CUNY Professor David Bloomfield reacted on his Twitter page to the differentiation of teacher salaries.

Historic teacher contract line is crossed by @UFT on differential pay, allowing higher salaries for some teachers over others. What further differentials might be engineered? More for STEM teachers than humanities teachers, etc.?
  • ·         Distance learning is another step in the wrong direction. Having teachers lead classes of students not in front of them is a bad idea. Let’s go to David Bloomfield again. This time from City Limits: “Increased distance learning poses an existential threat to teacher jobs and is of dubious instructional worth.”
  • ·         Why settle the contract four months early? The only reason to have an early contract is if it is a great contract. Certainly, a contract that has raises that are not projected to keep up with inflation, has significant healthcare concessions for all of us and gets us back none of the huge givebacks from 2005 cannot be agreed to unless we have to settle for it after losing a fight. If a union asks for very little, that union will get very little; no guarantee but if you fight for more, you may win more. We’ll never know what we could obtain, however, unless the unlikely happens and a majority vote NO!
  • ·         A majority voted no on a proposed new UFT contract in 1995. UFT leadership predicted layoffs and other dire consequences that never happened. Instead, a few months later the city and UFT negotiated a better deal where new teachers weren’t forced to withhold 5% of their pay until they survived four years in the system, longevities went from 25 years to 22 years and there was a generous retirement incentive thrown in that was not in the deal that we rejected.

·         PS Why is the UFT taking union dues when the city pays us back the huge interest free loan we gave to the city in the last contract that is being repaid in five installments in 2015, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020? Before the 2014 contract, the UFT never double dipped by taking dues twice. We paid dues on this money during the original pay periods.

*There is one exception on 2005 givebacks. The one concession that was taken out of the contract was having school for the final two weekdays before Labor Day for professional development. That has been changed. Getting those two days back in summer vacation cost us the guaranteed 8.25% interest on the fixed TDA that our supervisors and CUNY teachers still have. UFT members since 2009 get 7%. The city gained $2 billion from that deal so I would not exactly call it a takeback of the giveback.


I came to know Professor CUNY Education Professor David Bloomfield in the closiing schools fight earlier this decade. He was a real supporter of Jamaica High School staying open. Today, he has an op-ed piece in City Limits where he comes out against the UFT Contract. He cites a number of problems.

Here is an excerpt:

Indeed, it’s hard to understand what the union was thinking in negotiating the new deal. After Janus v. AFSCME, where the U.S. Supreme Court barred compulsory public union agency fees for non-member employees, it was important for the UFT – a national symbol of public unions’ strength – to demonstrate its worth so that dues-paying membership would be promoted. Instead, President Mulgrew posed for a back-slapping photo-op with the Mayor and Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza, who called Mulgrew his “brother from another mother.”

At almost every turn, the contract benefits the Department of Education and does little to improve the lot of the vast majority of union members. Salaries are at best stable with raises unlikely to meet increases in the cost of living. More importantly, the city undercut a decades-long union policy that, except for seniority and educational attainment, would not allow the DOE to pay some teachers more than others. Under the Bronx Plan, STEM teachers in certain schools will make more than their citywide colleagues. It is hard to imagine the rank-and-file submitting to such inequity, undermining the very idea of union solidarity. As detailed in a recent City Limits story, teacher supply varies enormously. Are elementary school teachers to be paid less than high school teachers? Will science teachers be paid more than those in the arts and humanities? Will teachers in Harlem, an area of high teacher turnover, be paid more than those in Staten Island, the district with lowest attrition? What was Mulgrew thinking?

Provisions like expedited class size protocols and greater consultation roles do little to improve the day-to-day lot of teachers. Most won’t even notice these changes. And even new teacher leader positions help just a few. Increased distance learning poses an existential threat to teacher jobs and is of dubious instructional worth. Course-specific professional development stipends may target the DOE’s instructional needs but limit teachers’ choice. The contract continues to protect educators in the Absent Teacher Reserve (ATR) pool, those who lost jobs as a result of school closures and the like, but these are an infinitesimal segment of its 185,000 members. What was Mulgrew thinking?

 What was Mulgrew thinking?

We'll have more Vote NO pieces soon.

Saturday, October 20, 2018


Our new contract definitely includes real healthcare givebacks, most of which haven't been announced and aren't in the Memorandum of Agreement which led to speculation about what was involved.

Appendix B of the MOA is a letter from the City Office of Labor Relations to Municipal Labor Committee Chair Harry Nespoli. This document outlines savings in healthcare but the UFT omitted it from the posted MOA. A reader asked the UFT and the UFT provided him with a link to the letter. He forwarded it to me.

$1.7 billion is the savings for the city from the MLC agreement that the Chief Leader reported through the end of the contract and then the city saves another $600 million annually thereafter. The UFT spin that it is $1.1 billion is technically not correct because they are not adding in the recurring $600 million savings for 2022 which is the year the contract ends. If we add in the recurring yearly $1.3 billion in savings from the 2014-18 MLC deal with the city, we will be saving NYC on a recurring basis $1.9 billion annually forever. In return, we get a bigger contribution to our Welfare Funds and money from the savings is used to self fund some of our meager raises.

This is how the city boasted about their savings:

Healthcare Savings
Continuing to build off the health care savings reached during the first four years, this agreement incorporates the second health savings agreement with the Municipal Labor Committee reached in June of this year. The agreement will provide total health care savings of $1.1 billion through Fiscal Year 2021 and $1.9 billion of annual savings thereafter.

Since there are around 350,000 city employees, if we divide $1,900,000,000 by 350,000 employees, each individual city employee's contribution comes to around $5,429 per year. That will cut into your raises a bit!

In the last round of bargaining, we paid for the givebacks with significantly higher copayments for ER and urgent care visits and HIP members were stuck with copays for the first time for a new category called non-preferred providers. What will be next?

I'm not being an alarmist here by pointing out that right in the city's OLR letter to the MLC we learn that the MLC and the city are forming a committee along with an arbitrator to figure out modifications to our health plans that must be recommended for implementation by June 30, 2020. From the OLR letter to the MLC:

The Committee shall study the issues using appropriate data and recommend for implementation as soon as practicable during the term of the agreement but no later than June 30, 2020, modifications to the way in which healthcare is currently provided or funded.

Funding changes? What does that mean? Will we be funding more?

And what will the modifications be?

Here are some of the proposals that are in the OLR letter to the MLC that will be discussed:

Centers of Excellence for specific conditions; Hospital and provider tiering; Precertification Fees; Amendment of Medicare Part B reimbursement; Reduction of cost for pre-medicare retirees who have access to other coverage; Reduction of cost for Pre-Medicare retirees who have access to other coverage; Changes to the Senior Care rate; Changes to the equalization formula.

Some of the changes look like they won't hurt us but others like the Centers of Excellence for specific conditions and the tiering of hospitals are downright scary. Putting new employees on HIP managed care for year one is a step in the wrong direction. Charging us more for certain hospitals and having Centers of Excellence for certain conditions are definitely on the table. Now is your only chance to have a voice in this process.

Active members of the UFT have the ultimate say on our contract including this OLR letter to the MLC which will become a part of the contract if we vote yes. You are voting for unknown changes to healthcare that will be implemented between 2019 and 2020.

I hope we have made you more informed voters on the contract ratification ballot.

Friday, October 19, 2018


On Monday we wrote about the healthcare concessions in the proposed new UFT Contract. We did some further research and through the help of a reader found Appendix B which concerns healthcare.

Since we obtained the help we asked for in this post that is now totally obsolete, we are deleting the rest of this post but leaving the comments and asking you to check out our post from Saturday, October 20 to find out the whole story about healthcare givebacks buried in the announcement of the city's agreement with the UFT.

Thursday, October 18, 2018


Here is an excerpt from a UFT bulletin trying to sell the proposed new contract by saying raises will beat inflation.

New salaries: Raises of 2%, 2.5% and 3% produce a three-year compound rate of 7.7 percent, above expert predictions of inflation of 6.2 percent (Federal Reserve Bank) and 6.8 percent (International Monetary Fund).

UFT spin, spin, spin=mislead, mislead, mislead.

Here is a link to the IMF site.

This is a proposed 43 month contract that does not end until 2022 so it is closer to four years than three. If we calculate the start as including the 2.5 extra months in the current contract for paid family leave and an extra month to pay the retirees lump sum payments, it should be 46.5 months or almost four years. However, since we in opposition to Unity go out of our way to be fair, we will just do 43 months which is still closer to four years than three and won't end until almost three-fourths of 2022 are through. 

Let's look at the actual data from the IMF because people love data so much these days. (The Fed projections only go through 2020 on their site so we can't use them for comparisons.)

The proposed contract starts in 2019 and ends in 2022. If we use the IMF calculator, we can see the actual inflation projections for these years.

Find the US on the right side and then click on the years 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022 on the left. It's kind of tricky to do but the US expected inflation rate will show for each year next to the US. 

Year:   Expected US Inflation Rate 
2019:    2.1%
2020:     2.3%
2021:     2.2%
2022:    2.2%
Total:     8.8%

7.7% compounded raises while inflation is expected to increase by 8.8% over the next four years.

Bottom line: 1.1% pay cut for UFT members in terms of expected inflation. Yes, I know it isn't a full four years but don't forget the healthcare "savings"  that all of us, not just new teachers, will be paying for. Healthcare savings will be thrown in at a later date.

You want facts or UFT Bullshit?*  Your call. 

*Sorry, I usually don't curse in the postings.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018


Reality Based Educator left this comment on a previous post.

In case there was any misconception that the latest UFT contract is garbage, the anti-teacher NY Daily News editorial board calls it "solid."

The editorial, as so often happens with the Daily News, contains misinformation and/or lies.

For example:

"They’ll get average annual raises of about 2.5%, which is roughly the rate of inflation."

Salary increase is 1.9% for 46 months,as James points out.

Even if you leave out the extended months at the beginning of the contract that were the offset for the parent leave program and take the contract at 43 months (as both the UFT and the DOE call it), the increases are still only 2.09%.

As usual, DN editorial lies.

Would also note, DN wanted more health care givebacks but does like what city got:

"And for squeezing modest, though still insufficient, health-care savings out of the city’s single largest public-sector workforce."

Dunno how many readers of this blog need to be convinced to vote no - given the tone of the comments, probably not too many.

But the DN editorial, lying about the "raises" and bragging about the health care givebacks, ought to help convince any thinking about voting yes to reconsider.

No matter - the contract will probably pass with 90%+.

But some of us should register our discontent with the contract, the union leadership that negotiated this garbage, and editorial boards like the Daily News that feel the need to lie when writing about contractual agreements instead of telling the truth.

Here's hoping the next time Tronc does mass layoffs, the fucker who wrote the DN editorial gets it.

At the ICEUFT blog, we are pointing out the reality of this deal. It is costing the city peanuts when they have the money and anyone who tells you there are no givebacks, isn't looking. The Daily News editorial board looked. $1.1 - $1.7 billion in health savings that the Municipal Labor Committee (umbrella group of city unions the UFT is part of) is part of this deal if we approve the contract

The city will save money. Why do you think the Daily News is praising this deal? Because they love teachers? Maybe not.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018


I hear all kinds of talk about the proposed new teachers' contract that since salaries went up last June and then will go up again in Feburary, it is better than an annual salary increase. This statement is kind of incomplete. What I want to do in this post is make sure that the discussion of the proposed contract has some context with the previous contracts in terms of salary.

The 2007-2009 contract ended on October 31, 2009. Its final raise that moved the top teacher salary to $100,049 was on May 19, 2008. Let's see how top NYC teacher salaries have fared since that time. Before our analysis, please be aware that it takes teachers 22 years experience and earning a Masters degree and then 30 credits beyond that master's before one reaches maximum salary. It is no easy feat surviving that long in NYC schools.

In 2008, DC37 set a pattern that other city unions followed with 4% raises for two years. Mayor Michael Bloomberg denied UFT members those raises for years. Mayor Bill de Blasio agreed to give the teachers $1,000 for our troubles in 2014 and he said we could have those two 4% raises with a huge catch. We would only get the money piecemeal added to our salaries between 2015-2018 and we would have to wait for the money we earned from 2009-2011 that should have been in our salaries since then, but instead is being paid to us in five installments between 2015 and 2020 without any interest. The third installment of our loan repayment was paid back to active teachers yesterday. The final two payments will come in 2019 and 2020. The remainder of the last contract was 7 years for a total of 10%. The contract was then extended twice: once for a month to pay lump sum payments in 2014 for 2009 to 2014 retirees ( we also had to defer the 2018 raise for six weeks) and a second time for 2.5 months to pay for Paid Parental Leave. We can now add on 7.5% over 43 months if the next contract is approved as it almost certainly will be.

To get a true picture of how we are doing, we must also note the interest on the fixed TDA was reduced by 1.25% in 2009 while our bosses kept their rate steady as did CUNY teachers while our healthcare costs keep rising and will continue to do so as we pointed out in a previous post.

Over the period from 2008-2022, a top salaried teacher (it's just easier to figure it out at the top) will have gone up from $100,049 to $128,657 in fourteen years and four months.

You are welcome to praise the UFT since their 2% raises have been enough for us to up with some of the suburbs and NYC top salaries are ahead of other major cities in the United States. However, the cost of living in NYC is greater than most places in this country and the city has billions of dollars in surplus funds and a booming economy. In addition, we don't have to deal with the 2% property tax hike limit in NYC like the rest of the state. Add in that inflation, with the Trump tax cut pumping a stimulus into the economy and Trump tariffs going into effect, is very likely to increase. It is very doubtful that these teacher pay hikes will keep pace with inflation.

I don't see NYC teachers doing horribly but I don't think we are doing all that well either financially.

To see what our top NYC teacher salaries look like from 2008 to 2022 in the current contract and into the proposed new contract, we have broken it down.

Date                         Increase                            Top Salary                  Pension Calculation Increase
May 19, 2008       5%                                       $100,049                      5%

May 19, 2009*         0%                                      $100,049                      0%

Nov 1, 2009            0%                                      $100,049                      4%= $104,051

Nov 1, 2010             0%                                     $100,049                       4%=$108,213

Nov 1, 2011              0%                                    $100,049                        0%=$108,213

Nov 1, 2012             0%                                      $100,049                       0%=$108,213

May 1, 2013            1%                                       $101,050                       1%=$109,295

May 1, 2014            1%                                        $102,060                         1%=$110,388

May 1, 2015             1%+ 2% from 2009-11         $105,142                          1%=$111,492

May 1, 2016           1.5% + 2% from 2009-11       $108,811                           1.5%=$113,164

May 1, 2017           2.5% + 2% from 2009-11        $113,762                          2.5%=$115,993

May 1, 2018             2% from 2009-11                    $115,993                          0%=$115,993

June 15, 2018             3%                                          $119,472                         3%-$119,472

Oct 31, 2018-Nov 30 2018  0%  Contract extension 1 to pay 2009-2014 retiree lump sum payments.

Dec 1, 2018-Feb 13, 2019  0%      Contract extension 2 to pay for Paid Family Leave.

Date                           Increase                                 Top Salary
**Feb14, 2019               2%                                        $121,862

Feb 14, 2020               0%                                        $121,862                                       

May 14, 2020               2.5%                                    $124,809

May 14, 2021                 3%                                      $128,657

May 14-Sept 13, 2022    0%                                       $128,657

In the final analysis we should be making Yonkers money, not being second to anyone, if we truly had the most powerful union on the planet as we are so often told the UFT is but we are not in poverty either.

We will deal with more of the non-financial issues a little later.

*Starting date of 2009-18 Contract
**Starting date of 2018-22 Contract