Thursday, May 23, 2019


Maybe I should just forget it when our budget expert Harris Lirtzman sends me new information showing that NYC's finances have never been better. I don't know why something inside just compels me to expose the reality about how the UFT and other city unions have not gotten us a fair share of the city's unprecedented prosperity over the last decade.

Ronnie Lowenstein is the Director of the Independent Budget Office. She testified at the City Council Finance Committee earlier today. Here are some highlights:

IBO projects the city will end the current year with a $3.9 billion surplus, $375 million more than estimated by the Mayor’s budget office.
We anticipate the city will end fiscal year 2020 with a surplus of $675 million, which would reduce the projected budget gap for 2021 to $1.7 billion—an amount largely covered by the reserves already built into the budget.

Lowenstein projects slower job growth but continues:
Likewise, we expect slower but continued growth in city tax collections. IBO projects that tax revenue growth will average 3.7 percent annually from 2018 through 2023

Are UFT salary increases under the current contract equaling the city's projected 3.7% increase in tax revenues?

Year   Salary Increase
2019- 2%
2022-0% through September 13th.
2023-To be determined

As for waiting until 2020 for half of the back pay (lump sum payments) from 2009-2011 that UFT President Michael Mulgrew said the city couldn't afford to give us back in 2014 because the city's cupboard was bare and he repeated this in 2017 because he said the costs were too large, IBO  told one of our readers back in 2016 what those costs would be to the city.

While IBO does not have an exact cost for how large these retroactive lump sums will be, because they are directly linked to the number of union members who will be employed on the days the payments are scheduled to be made, we can estimate the maximum cost of these lump sums based upon the total PS costs for pedagogical employees in 2009-2011.  Based upon the total PS costs from those years we estimate that the entire lump sum payment would be a maximum of $560 million if every member were to remain employed by the DOE through 10/1/20.
This total would translate to a maximum of $70 million paid out in 2017 and $140 million paid out in 2018 – 2020.  These funds, if not already accounted for in DOE’s financial plan, would increase the city-funds portion of DOE’s budget by less than one percent in 2017 and around one percent in each subsequent year. 
IBO has not made any estimates about what the final cost of this portion of UFT’s collective bargaining agreement would be although we assume, as a result of attrition and other separations, that it will be somewhat less than the $560 million.  

A maximum cost to the city of $140 million for 2019 and the same for 2020 (it is less because of the UFT members who resigned or were terminated since the 2014 contract was signed and won't get the remaining lump sum payments). The city could afford to give us that money today and it would not make an even tiny dent in their huge $3.9 billion surplus. 
I don't expect the city to even entertain the thought of giving us the money now or both the 2019 and 2020 payments combined this year (some would complain about the higher tax bracket) but the point is to say that other than UFT incompetence or the UFT lying in bed with the city, there was absolutely no reason for us to have to wait ten years for money we earned back from 2009-2011. We should have been paid in full years ago.


Anonymous said...

Mulgrew is a well documented liar and cheat. He isn’t lying or cheating for us, but to us. Why is he continually re-elected? Rigged election processes and the comatose rank and file. Why is Mulgrew afraid of dissent, democracy and transparency? He knows if the rank and file wake up, his regime is finished. Stop paying dues next month. Send the UFT a message, so they know you are alive.

James Eterno said...

How will that improve our situation? We will just look weak. Name one time when thousands dropped their union membership and working conditions then improved? It never has happened. It won't now either.

Anonymous said...

How is paying dues helping? What are they doing with all that money other than Yankee tix, tennis tix and quail? No more lies from the fat cats - it’s time for the UFT to start working for my money, I will no longer hand it over to them.

James Eterno said...

If thousands pull out, we will be seen as totally weak by the city and they will treat us worse than they do now.

Anonymous said...

The city already sees us as totally weak and they get everything that’s asked for. Name one thing that the city has asked for and that the UFT hasn’t handed over in any contract since 2005. From the discriminatory provisions, just for ATRs, to undefined health care savings - it’s just disgusting. Mulgrew knew about the 23rd, by the way and agreed to it. James you are an intelligent and ethical person and although you couldn’t beat the UFT (Unity), at least you didn’t join them.

James Eterno said...

The 8 page contract Joel Klein proposed was not agreed to. ATRs were half the kill that Klein got. The UFT, to their credit, did not agree to a time limit for ATRs to get a job in a school or be fired. That is a big reason, along with Linda Siegmund taking a chance on me, that I made it to retirement.

As for Mulgrew knowing about December 23 and agreeing to it, where's the proof?

James Eterno said...

Oh and thanks for the kind words.

Anonymous said...

There would have been no ATRs or school closings if not for the UFT’s incompetence. I watched Wall Street last night for the first time since 1987. There was a point in the movie where Gordon gecko/Michael Douglas sold the union president of the company a bill of goods. I Couldn’t help but thinking of Mike Bloomberg. His protégé was bud fox/Charlie sheen. He was put in charge of the company and he quickly found out that the wonders that were promised were going to be abject betrayals. Bud had to make the decision whether or not to sell his soul or protect his now union brethren. He chose the latter. Randy Winegarden did not. There would have been no ATRs if she had properly informed us of the ramifications of the 2005 contract. Before presenting that contract to us, she had refused to meet with Bloomberg - after a Private luncheon she presented the contract as a way to protect our positions as teachers, in that we could not get bumped or bump others and we’d get a substantial pay increase. Saying the UFT protected you is like saying the guy who pushed you on the train tracks moved you out of the way of the third rail so you could only be hit by a moving train.
As for the 23rd Dash it is Mulgrew’s responsibility as union president to approve the upcoming school calendar. The buck stops with him. Especially so, since that calendar was written during new contract negotiations and had to be approved. Open brackets sorry if there’s any grammar or spelling issues – I’m using speech to text]’s

James Eterno said...

See Chicago for an example of where the union agreed to a time limit for ATRs to get a job or be fired. Bloomberg knew this was the kill and went for it. Pressure was put on UFT by other unions not to agree to that from 2010-2013. To their credit, UFT did not cave in contract talks and Sheldon Silver, at the request of UFT and other unions, did not let a bill that would end seniority layoffs get to Assembly floor. UFT could have had a contract in 2010 had they agreed to a time limit for ATRs. I probably don't make it then to retirement.

When de Blasio got in, the UFT had major non monetary leverage by agreeing to 10% total raises over 7+ years while the city economy was starting to boom but Mulgrew completely blew it by getting none of the 2005 givebacks back.

I agree on UFT knowing about calendar problem as of last September and agreeing but do we have evidence UFT signed off on actual calendar but then got angry only when rank and file rebelled? My guess is that is what happened.

Anonymous said...

Chicago teachers got their positions back with back pay, if I remember correctly. The reason you and I were saved from being fired was LIFO. LIFO is for all state workers - Pat Lynch and the other union presidents put the pressure on the State - Mulgrew was and still is regarded as a joke. If the UFT had still agreed to a 2010 agreement after the other unions stepped forward, it would have lost all legitimacy. To plainly see how the UFT feels about ATRs, all one must do is look at FSF and the Open Market. FSF was agreed upon, never fought and remains in effect today. The Open Market is touted as Wunderbar by Mulgrew and friends. Also let’s not forget the outrageously open discriminatory ATR special provisions of the 2014 contract. No ATR should be paying dues. No untenured teacher should be paying dues.
As you know the 23rd is not the real problem. It’s the indifference and incompetence from the UFT that it represents. Cheers

James Eterno said...

I stated that other unions put pressure on UFT and Sheldon Silver never let LIFO bill that would have ended last in first out layoffs from ever getting to Assembly floor.

Chicago never got jobs back and back pay as far as I know. When schools close, it is hook on somewhere else in 9 months or good bye.

The question I keep asking that nobody has yet answered: When in history did thousands of workers leave their union and then that union improved working conditions for its members?

It gets like WV teachers when unions are weak and then people become desperate. Does it need to get that bad in NY before teachers wake up?

Dec 23 got teachers to notice. Perhaps some will dig a little deeper.

Anonymous said...

Historical trends are no guarantee of future events. I remember that phrase being used as a warning to those investing or divesting funds. There are several details that make this unprecedented historically, namely that the mandatory dues are not mandatory anymore. The unfettered indifference and incompetence that that allowed can now be checked dramatically and effectively. No longer can the UFT tell us to go f—k ourselves. We can tell them that. Their monopoly has ended. Will this improve things? If hundreds or thousands drop out, the UFT will be forced to act like a union. How can they show this now, so many don’t drop out? Publicly shame crazed principals, publically speak out against FSF, call bullshit on the Open Market, fairly represent ATRs and actually help untenured and discontinued teachers. Then there are the rigged elections, voting in blocks and lack of transparency. I think many teachers aren’t necessarily looking for marked improvements, they are looking to hold on to what they have while the UFT trades all for a hearty hand clasp from the mayor, chancellor and CSA.

James Eterno said...

We have plenty of precedent for states becoming right to work, thousands dropping out of unions and working conditions worsening.

No precedent for things improving for workers after a state goes right to work.

UFT will not get better if thousands leave. They may fake a bit of militancy but the city will see us as more of the joke that they already see us as.

I am enjoying this debate. Hope others are reading it. I doubt it is occurring in too many other places.