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.


Anonymous said...

There’s no rational way to argue what you’ve presented. You’ll be off Arthur’s Xmas list for sure.

Anonymous said...

Excellent summary of the situation. Thank you for writing this for us all.

Quinn Zannoni said...

Can someone explain what is bad about going on HIP? I looked and there are two HIP plans. Is it HIP Prime or HIP Prime POS? HIP Prime looks the same as GHI.

ed notes online said...

My wife worked in the health field and knew about all the different plans and said hip was the worst. That was a number of years ago so things may have changed. Some like it. But from what I remember the key was the lack of ability to choose doctors. And you had to go through a chain of sorts. Like if you need a specialist you needed to see primary first and so on.

caprice240k said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
caprice240k said...

James, Read 5 a. from the 6/28/18 MOA side letter from from Robert Lin to Harry Nispoli. What does self insurance for the HIP/HMO plan mean? Will the city try to force all future city employees onto HIP and self insure the plan to create a financial incentive to limit or deny coverage. BillP

Unknown said...

Well this was concise. I share it with my colleagues. I hope an honest debate and discussion will happen. I doubt it, as we will likely be steamrolled and bamboozled at our chapter meeting to vote yes without a discussion.

James Eterno said...

Hey Quinn, Nothing against HIP but the contract says we are supposed to have a choice of health plans and as Norm describes, to go to a specialist, someone on HIP first has to get a referral from their primary care physician. It meets some employee's needs but it is a concession not to have a choice of health plans for new city employees.

MrsHanning308 said...

I do not have one HIP By me.....

Anonymous said...

Most people will probably toss the ballot in the trash and spend the rest of year complaining about the new contract.

Anonymous said...

When do we get the lump sum for per session?

Quinn Zannoni said...

Thanks for the info!

Quinn Zannoni said...

Thanks for the info!

Anonymous said...

Great article James but unfortunately way over the heads of NYC "Brightest".
They have already proven they dont understand simple math,let alone such lofty concepts as inflation and co pays. Got to hand it to Meathead Mike, he knows how dumb his members are.This will be voted up.

Anonymous said...

Is there another lump sum for teacher per session coming November 1st?

Anonymous said...

Should be.

Unknown said...

Psychologists keep getting screwed. A sprinkle of psychs with bite isn't enough. So so discouraging. Vited no as soon ballot was received. Thank you for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Voted no too.

Naomi said...

As someone who is 5 years in the DOE, I'm embarrassed to say that I don't know about a lot of these details. I'm an OT - so the teacher-specific details aren't my bag but I do wish that this was written for people who don't know the situation. And not for people who are already angry about the situation. The inflation point seems like it's being addressed. I realize the HIP is a loss. I do wish that OT's had more parity, yes or somewhere to grow.

Anonymous said...

UFT wrapped this contract real tight in the bag and pushed it down our throats. What do they care?