Thursday, May 1, 2014

Vote No! Updated 5/2 with the details on raises.

So we finally have it folks, a proposed new UFT contract.  I have to be honest, I was really optimistic on this one.  I think de Blasio is a decent human being, and we have been out a contract for so so long that things had to get better right?  Wrong.  While the UFT is already spinning this as a huge win for its members, and I see many excited folks on social media, on close examination this seems like a very weak deal.  Here are the highlights that the UFT put out earlier today.  Upon close examination most are not highlights at all.
TEACHER PAY: Updated with the most recent info from ICEUFT
UFT members in the new contract will get the 4 % + 4% salary increases that other city workers unions received back in 2009 and 2010, but we won't see the money until 2015-2020.

For the seven years from 2011 to 2018, where the UFT will set the pattern for raises that other city unions will now follow, we will be getting a total of 10% in raises for seven years plus a $1,000 signing bonus.  That works out to less than 1.5% per year.

Specifically, this is how the CFO crunched the numbers:

2009-2010 = 4% raise
2010-2011 = 4% raise
2011-2012 = 0% raise but we will get a $1,000 signing bonus if we ratify the contract.
Nov 2012- April 2013 = 0% raise
May 1, 2013 = 1% raise
May 1, 2014 = 1% raise
May 1, 2015 = 1% raise
May 1, 2016 = 1% raise
May 1, 2017 = 2.5% raise
May 1, 2018 = 3.0% raise
Total: 18% (compounded it will be a little more)

For those of you expecting to go back in the fall and at least have the 4%+4% added to your pay, forget it.

The 4 % + 4% that other unions received in 2009-10 will not be added to our pay until the increases kick in one year at a time starting in 2015.  Here is how the 8% will be added in:

May 1, 2015 = 2%
May 1, 2016 = 2%
May 1, 2017 = 2%
May 1, 2018 = 2%

All we get added to our salaries now if we ratify is 1% for 2013 followed by 1% for 2014 and the $1,000 bonus.

The 8% won't be added to our salaries fully until 2018 and the retroactive money the city owes us since 2009 won't be coming soon either.  Here is the schedule for the retroactive payments:

October 1, 2015- 12.5% lump sum
October 1, 2016 - Nothing
October 1, 2017 - 12.5% lump sum
October 1, 2018 - 25% lump sum
October 1, 2019 - 25% lump sum
October 1, 2020 - 25% lump sum

We will not be made "whole" for Bloomberg denying us the raises that other city unions got 5 years ago until 2020.  
This seems to be the big highlight for everyone but let's think about what we are really getting.  After the 4 + 4 for 09/10, we get 1.3% a year over 7 years (below the rate of inflation).  Just think about how much your rent has gone up in the past few years alone.  This is the awful pattern we are setting for every other union in the city, who are by all reports (rightfully) outraged that we would agree to this. UPDATE: It has been brought to my attention that I may have been misreading part of this.  Not only are we not going to get the back pay until 2015-2020, but the step increases that go with that as well.  So for all of use foolishly thinking that at the very least we would be making about 10% more than we do now this September were wrong. In fact we will only be making about 2% more, and we won't see the rest of that money for years and years to come.
The new contract clarifies and simplifies the evaluation process. Evaluations will now be focused on 8 components instead of the current 22.
Under the current system, teachers in grades or subjects not covered by tests can be evaluated in part on schoolwide measures that include results for many students they do not teach.  Under the new contract, teachers in non-tested subjects or grades will have the option to be evaluated on the results of students they actually teach.
The union and the DOE will work to expand the available assessments. 
All this basically does is lighten the load on administrators.  Will we be observed fewer times?  Will our evaluations still be tied to our students' test scores?  Will we still have to waste 4+ days a year giving ridiculous MOSL exams?
Under the new contract, the DOE is obliged after Oct. 15 to send an ATR to any school in the district/borough with a vacancy in the teacher’s license area. The principal retains the discretion to keep the teacher or return him or her to the ATR pool.
This is probably the most egregious part of it all.  While the UFT is not "highlighting" this, apparently once these ATRS are dumped by the Principal, which according to the Chancellor can be in as soon as "one day" after they are assigned,  the city can move to terminate them in a 3020 hearing.  Call me cynical, but this certainly looks like the ATRS were sold out, and that there will be mass firings in the coming years.
The union’s 2005 contract lengthened the school day by 2.5 hours each week, or 150 minutes.
The proposed contract reconfigures the 2.5 hours added to the week in 2005, and recovers an additional 80 minutes each month by eliminating a number of faculty meetings and conferences.
Under the new contact – unless a school votes for an alternative — an 80-minute block of time on Mondays will be devoted to school-based professional development and a 35-minute period every Tuesday for professional work, such as collaboration between teachers across subjects or grades. The remainder of the repurposed time will be used for parent contact (see below).
All I can say is, that this sounds like it will turn out to be an absolute mess.  I honestly have never met one teacher who thinks the solution to the educational crisis is less time with students and more time in PD.  In fact, I know a lot of teachers who save up their sick days just to call out on Brooklyn/Queens day.  I am all for meaningful PD, but 90% of PD I have ever attended is anything but meaningful, and it certainly seems a lot less meaningful then tutoring struggling students.
The agreement creates a 40-minute period every Tuesday for teachers to reach out to parents by email, letter, telephone or face-to-face meetings. Teachers can also use this time to create newsletters, school or class websites or other strategies to increase contact between parents and teachers.
It increases the length of the parent-teacher conferences from 2.5 to 3 hours and doubles the number of evening parent-teacher conferences from 2 to 4 each school year. Evening conference will be held in September, November, March and May.
The first part of this actually does not seem like such a bad idea.  If I had built in time every week specifically for parent outreach I believe I would do more or it.  I also won't complain about the second part since parents have a right to get involved in their child's education.  It does seem kind of like a waste to do this at all levels though, since the vast majority of high school parents don't attend parent teacher conferences to begin with.
The new contract provides a mechanism for schools to innovate by seeking exemptions to certain Chancellor’s Regulations or UFT contract provisions that could result in initiatives such as a different school day and year; greater teacher voice in hiring decisions; or wider variations in how a school day is laid out.
A joint DOE-UFT panel will review proposals and select up to 200 schools for the program.  For a school to participate, the principal and 65% of UFT staff in the building must agree to the proposal.
I honestly was stunned when I read this.  Did the UFT actually just agree to turn 10% of the schools in NYC into pseudo charter schools?  Why would any public school teacher vote to take away their own contract provisions?  I doubt many (if any) schools will sign up for this, but once you make changes like this it will be very hard to go back.  Besides, schools already have the SBO provision and can make minor tweaks to the contract (including work day) if they like.  I honestly only see this ending very badly.
The agreement obligates the Department of Education to provide all educators in core subjects with appropriate curriculum.
It also includes new rules to reduce excessive paperwork, including the creation of duplicative and unnecessary electronic records.
Another silly clause.  The DOE should have always been obligated to provide curriculum, but even if they do the likelihood that it is good curriculum is slim.  The only way I see this working, is if the city pays teams of teachers to come in over the summer and develop curriculum together.  Anyone who has used EngageNY or Pearson ReadyGen knows just how much most provided curriculum is worth.   As for excessive paper work, this is already (supposedly) protected in our current contract.  However, I have never seen a successful "excessive paperwork" grievance and I doubt this will change a thing.
The proposed contract includes leadership positions that will allow teachers to remain connected to the classroom while still expanding their reach. “Model Teachers” will be empowered to work with teachers in their own school to improve instruction by opening up their classrooms to their colleagues. “Teacher Ambassadors” will be paired with a sister school for a year to share and develop best academic practices. Both posts pay $7,500 a year on top of salary.
“Master Teachers” will be responsible for sharing best practices in their school and reviewing its impact on student achievement. The post pays $20,000 a year on top of salary.
Finally, this is the biggest change in the entire contract.  I would like to see the details of these proposals before I give major comments, but it seems like these gigs always cost a lot of money and have little results in improving student outcomes. From what I have seen generally, these jobs end up being hundreds of extra hours of work that are not worth the extra pay.  If you want to do more to develop curriculum, or work with other teachers, there are plenty of per session opportunities at both the school and city level that can earn a teacher a few thousand extra dollars over the course of a year, and if you want to be an administrator you might as well just become an administrator.

The bottom line here, is that the money is not nearly as good as it sounds (or the UFT is spinning it), and there are a lot of give backs, and proposals which I am very very skeptical about.  Maybe I will change my mind once I read all the find print, but as of right now I plan to vote no on this contract.  If de Blasio is really a labor friendly mayor I think we could have done far better than this, and it is worth holding out for a better deal.


  1. We must vote no. The high schools will vote no. Let them go back to the negotiating table.

  2. I think besides campaigning to vote NO for this contract-we as a community need to begin the process of campaigning to get Michael Mulgrew out of office. I don't want this man representing my voice, needs, or welfare anymore. I am ashamed to be associated with this man who calls himself first an educator and a union member. When you don't protect your weakest members you don't protect any of your members. He is not helping the ATRs, the children of the city and certainly not the working teachers! VOTE NO FOR THE CONTRACT and VOTE MULGREW OUT OF OFFICE in 2016!

    1. I agree, Our Leader Michael Mug-You must go!!! There was a time when the Union stood solidly together and we were strong. I hope that is heard loud and clear with this proposed contract. If this passes we as an union deserve what we get...

    2. If Mulgrew wasn't doing anything for the ATRs, they would all have been fired long ago. That's why he didn't reach a contract with Bloomberg. It seems like you don't like Mulgrew because he doesn't suit your personal interests.

  3. Like many at forst I was niavely optomistic about the contract... however after becoming more and more aware of what it actually says I'm actually insulted that the Union "leadership" could possibly think anyone who actually looked at this believe what they are saying... we'd have to be complete fools... as the old saying goes... "don't piss on my shoes and then tell me it's raining"....

  4. My advice to everyone who wants to vote down this bogus contract is come Monday morning go into your school with a battle plan. Speak to every uninformed UFT member about how bogus this contract is. Retro delay is retro denied. While you are at it..... lay the seeds to vote Mike Mulgrew out of office in 2016. For now make Mike, Carmen and Bill and the 300 members earned their pay from your dues by bringing back a fair wage contract. Spread the word and be the educators we are suppose to be! Teachers all we have to do .... is do the math! This contract doesn't add up. Speak to everyone in your building! Vote NO

  5. Agreed, let them renegotiate. We want the 4 + 4 added now. Only a fool would agree to defer an already 5 year retroactive raise another 4 years. de Blasio got what he wanted--that is, very low rate increases going forward to establish a pattern for his subsequent negotiations. He needs to give us those retroactive raises now. That's it. I am not a bank prepared to make a free loan to the City.

  6. If you do not take lump sum you die witlhout retro pay
    Retro pay does not go to your estate "

  7. I am chapter leader in the Bronx. After the terms of the contract where made clear, that is to say after the headlines faded and the streamers fell to the ground at Unity/UFT headquarters, or should I say pixalated on the UFT website, I began to read. The terms made me angry. The money was not coming anytime soon. It would be no easier to pay the mortgage in 2015 or 15. The cost of living would keep rising and my salary would lag behind it. I presented my discontent over the contract to my father. That the money would be worth nothing by the time I got it. He told me, you have a job. That's good. You will have a pension and your family's health care is still in place. Your retirement is still secure. In that moment I realized that my father was right. The truth of the matter is that with pensions like ours on the endangered species list, with anti-union movement afoot in the Democratic party, with pension rape run wild in Chicago, this contract still granted basic benefits to our members. So I opened up a conversation between my staff. We debated and spoke about the contract for a week. At lunches, in the hallways, with our principal, a former teacher and union- man, even at grade meetings. Then we voted. 57 individual decisions. If I had to guess we voted about 70% in favor. I saw it as a fragile vote at best. A vote for a good relationship with our first left-leaning mayor in 21 years, and as a vote for some form of back-pay. (which do not forget, is bargained for not granted contractually.) It was not a vote of joy. Unlike the UFT website we threw no streamers. Here it all is. The bill of goods the UNITY caucus sold us was weak. Bloomberg is a criminal for spending money that had been left for the teachers and DeBlasio owes us one. As for the Unity party. It better begin behaving more democratically and find a way to bring political debate back to the UFT or that 30% will look a lot more like 45 and 50% next time.