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.


Anonymous said...

In the 90's I was one of those young teachers threatened with layoffs and still voted no. I know a crappy deal when I see one. Although I'm retiring soon enough for none of this to have much of an effect on me (increased healthcare concessions will eventually hit retirees once active members have been totally screwed), I voted NO yesterday in support of the teachers in my school who keep themselves informed (helathcare costs will increase, raises do not keep up with inflation, Danielson still in play and no language regarding maximum number of observations) and do not want this contract passed. Roseanne McCosh

Anonymous said...

How unfair is it to observe a teacher in a classroom of strangers, with no ownership of their grades, and no idea how much rigor to put into a lesson since the ATR has no idea of the students’ academic ability? It is just age discrimination. Older teachers are discriminated, and harassed in NYC.

Anonymous said...

"How unfair is it to observe a teacher in a classroom of strangers, with no ownership of their grades, and no idea how much rigor to put into a lesson since the ATR has no idea of the students’ academic ability? It is just age discrimination. Older teachers are discriminated, and harassed in NYC"
Quite possibly the most insane treatment of employees I have ever seen with regard to treating ATR teachers with this sick observation of people who are down right now because their school closed. Who treats its employees like that? WHo are these people? Are these still the insane bloomberg klein people still keeping this sick way of observing our atrs??
Shame on NYC and shame on the system for implementing a gottcha mentality to its most treasured employees...

Anonymous said...

This contract does nothing to combat administrators without a conscience.

This contract does not take away the open market.

This contract is below cost of living.

No one knows about medical givebacks.

Mikey ‘givebacks’ mulgrew and Randi ‘things are great’ weingarten have killed this profession long term.

Anonymous said...

Mulgrew should be an ATR, and he should be harassed by a Field Supervisor observing him out of license and in classes of students he met for the first time.

Anonymous said...

There's too many clueless teachers. That's why UFT keeps pushing the same harmful agenda. They know there will be minimal pushback.

Bronx ATR said...

In 95, we protested the proposed contract every morning for a month with pickets and chants between 8 and 8:30 AM. This was in the middle of the south Bronx and many of the neighboring schools were doing the same. I had real probability of being laid off, but being treated fairly was more important. All these years later and things are worse, but I don't see the outrage - even from the most ill treated. I expect the contract will pass with a score that could easily get even Mulgrew into Bronx Science.

Anonymous said...

How unfair is it to observe a teacher in a classroom of strangers, with no ownership of their grades, and no idea how much rigor to put into a lesson since the ATR has no idea of the students’ academic ability? ATRs should vote NO to this nonsense. We should be evaluated when we have our own classes,. and when we are evaluated under the same system like the rest of the teachers. They should stop giving blank checks to supervisors coming with an agenda. We are the ones paying UFT dues. It is time for the UFT to treat us with respect. It is time to end the apartheid system based on age. The UFT has no right to make secret deals behind our backs, and not negotiating in good faith. The proposed new contract continues with the same apartheid system.

Anonymous said...

Can anyone comment on a statement that my chapter leader made ... retiree's not voting on the contract this time, agreed by 'union'? I said, I'll believe it when I see it and wrote the blog name for c leader to enlighten his/her knowledge of the union. Kudos if he/she is reading this. Contracts always pass because of the rigged retiree vote. Comments?

ed notes online said...

Retirees never vote on contracts. I've been one for 17 years. I observed the contract vote count in 2014 -- the only place they can rig it is on the school level and I imagine some Unity CLs may do that by voting for people not interested. But unless it is close no way that makes a difference.

Anonymous said...

You have it mixed up. Retirees DO NOT vote for the contract . They DO Vote in the Election for UFT Officers, Executive Bd and Convention delegates.

Anonymous said...

Same failed policies, and the same corruption.

Anonymous said...

What was worse negotiating, the 2014 uft deal o the iran deal?

Anonymous said...

People are mixed up because most of the bloggers pushing a No vote are retired and they can even vote. People are reaching for a reason to say No to this contract. It cant be compared to the 2005 or 2014 Contracts.

Anonymous said...

How can you say most of the bloggers are retired. Think again.

Anonymous said...

Eterno retired, Scott retired pushing a No
In service ... Goldstein , Shirtzer, Halabi voting Yes

James Eterno said...

My wife helped me come up with the 25 bullet points. She is definitely very active. The MORE people on their site like Dan Lupkin and others are active too. The generalization, is just not accurate.Chaz is not retired either nor is Portelos. All recommended a no vote.

Anonymous said...

What are they doing with corrupt Principals like Dwarka?

Anonymous said...

Nothing, our UFT likes corruption and harassment.

Anonymous said...

They need to stop targeting older teachers, and the UFT needs to do their job.

Anonymous said...

Our Union is a complete disgrace for allowing its more experienced teachers to be targeted because they became expensive.

Anonymous said...

Veteran teachers and ATRs are being harassed through 3020A hearings to retire or resign. Most of the time these charges are only an excuse to push older teachers out. Most of the time these charges do violate tenure rights by not being voted in Executive Session of the PEP (Article 2A of Education Law 3020A). Only the PEP can determine probable cause. The UFT, and NYSUT will look the other way, and will blame each other. They are openly pushing experienced teachers out the system with the compliance of the UFT, and by violating our due process. This has all been planned for a long time by relaxing the rules, and making it easier for supervisors to abuse the system. Remember the UFT negotiated in a secret deal to have ATRs observed without having any assigned classes in 2014. Now even a roving ATR Field Supervisor can recommend termination since 2016. This is not a fair game anymore. They can start targeting anyone with no consequences if they are acting in bad faith. They will target anyone outspoken first, and they will go after you until they finish the job. The observation process is being manipulated in a way that a good lesson can turn into a bad one because the UFT will not challenge unfairness, further more they are not following on legitimate grievances. It is shameful to see so many teachers in their 50s, and 60s in the rubber room. All this is happening while they hire less qualified, and inexperienced teachers because of Fair Student Funding agreed by the UFT in 2007. It is just a matter of time before they will start targeting you. It is open season, and these supervisors have a blank check to go after ATRs. Once they start targeting you they will continue, and it does not matter if you had 20 years or more of satisfactory service. Even the arbitrator will be pressured to rule for your termination because the DOE will not hired him back.

Quinn Zannoni said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Quinn Zannoni said...

For paras who have more than 15 years of service, how do the changes in longevities affect them?

Anonymous said...

The union's failure to protect their senior teachers is disgraceful and for the UFT to allow Tweed to practice ageism in the teacher removal process is aiding and abetting the DOE practice of age discrimination.