Tuesday, July 4, 2023

Why You Should Vote YES On the Contract Tomorrow

It's raining this morning. I write when it rains. 🤷‍♂️

Let's be clear. This is too much damn work for a lousy 3% yearly raise.  This is bullsh*t. Teachers work very hard stressing every single detail every single day. Teachers know hard work. We're no strangers to it.  Yet even by teachers' standards, this raise is bullsh*t. New York City teachers work twice as hard as even their own colleagues in other urban districts and many of us have been discovering that the teacher shortage has now made its way to New York's suburbs as well. I see more and more leaving for the suburbs every year. This contract will accelerate that process and the reason that process will be accelerated is that this is too much damn work for a 3% per year raise. The realities of financial life will lead teachers and potential teachers to make their own economic decisions from this very practical position. It's too much damn work for that level of pay. We will have a brain drain soon, if not a full-on shortage. That dye has now been cast. 

I am glad that Power's That Be in the UFT and NYCDOE have concluded that, sure, they can probably loose x% of their teaching corps to higher paying jobs in the suburbs or the private sector over the next few years yet still operate a school system. That's nice. It must be nice to look at a whole system in that light.  It fails to capture that those of us who are not going to leave for the private sector or the suburban school districts are going to suffer from a peculiar type of anger that will only seethe toward or employer but will be fully and professionally expressed in union interactions, andso I am sure it must be nice. But that's going to be the tone and tenure of this teaching force over the next several years. Whatever to the DOE and screw the UFT is going to be the theme over the next few years and that is because of this terrible pay increase. 

If I weren't less than 10 years from one of the last livable pensions in the US, I'd bounce, too.  If an Uber driver coupled with a few free-lance gigs from home, can land a person more cash than a tenured teacher's salary in New York City, then why else stay?  I can explain why I would go: Because this is too much damn work for a lousy 3% raise for the next few years. There is no other way to assess this financial package. 

Having said all that, if you haven't voted by today (July 4th) then I suggest you take a subway down to the AAA tomorrow 7/5 and vote yes for this contract. Here's why:
American Arbitration Association
120 Broadway, New York 10271 

1. It's less work than we had in 2018. 

Many of us will be paid for as many as 55 minutes each week for what many of us already do from home; call parents. Also, we will have to be in the building for at least one day less every year (more, actually). It agrees that PTC are remote. This all means less work at work and that frees up time. Some of us may get a jump on traffic so that means even less time commuting! It means less time to be away from the family and friends and more time to be near them. That's what it means. 

The extension of OPW time means less time being droned at by supervisors in meetings. For me, being droned at feels like work. But spending that same time in my classroom, grading papers so I have less papers to grade when I'm at home doesn't feel like work. Maybe that's just me.  For me, that's just getting some work done so that there is less for me to do at home. Don't let people fool you: Extending that OPW time means less work for us. That is now our time to catch up. This is less work. 

This is too much damn work for a lousy 3% yearly raise. And it is still too much work. But there will be less of it because of this contract. That's why I voted yes. 

2. New Opportunities to Make Extra Money

This blog has always been super favorable of UFT HS VP Janella Hinds. I have called her transformative in the past and this contract is an example of the transformative leadership I was writing about. Our remote learning experience has done many things. Among those many things is advance the process of teacherless teaching.  This was a real concern. This is exactly what Bloomberg meant when he said he wanted to cut the amount of NYC teachers in half (half!). At one time in high schools,  classes for credit recovery had as many as 100 students in them or more, each learning from some dumb watered-down not educating online system or another -and one teacher being paid to watch over it. COVID's remote learning experience threatened to advance that process. The technology package of this contract ensures that good paying remote teaching jobs, for teachers, go -to UFT teachers. Not to some website or company sucking on the teet, but to city teachers. And not for per session, but pro rata. (Per session is a fixed amount per hour rate. It is worth roughly half of the hourly rate of top salary teachers. Pro Rata is 20% of your annual pay for each year-long section or course you teach). The UFT and the DOE have guaranteed that remote learning can continue to grow in New York City without watering down the learning process and without preventing teachers from being paid a fair wage for doing so. This whole topic was a lemon for us and had been for years and Janella Hinds and her team turned it into lemonade (that's the transformative part). This is money. This is a chance for teachers to make more money in good paying pro rata overtime jobs -forever- from our homes. 

There are lots of items I choose to indignantly ignore about this contract. For instance, the "signing bonus" is insulting, but I'll probably spend it. The "annual retention bonus" promises -someday- to pay just enough for a suit and pair of shoes to wear on our next job interview, but I'll probably spend that on something else. The terrible pay increase negotiated for para educators ensures that no para will ever be asked to work in my presence again (THANK YOU for coming in to do this with us every day). And keeping track of the time allotment among these new complicated SBO choices for the school day has officially become more difficult than the statistics unit from an AP Psychology course. But I have developed a lot of indignance over the years, so I will continue to ignore. 

I'm angry at the pay. But the creation of new time means less work and the chance to work from home for some good overtime are the two reasons you should head over to the AAA tomorrow (before 5PM) and vote yes for it. 

American Arbitration Association
120 Broadway, New York 10271 

It's just across from Zucotti Park. You can take the 4/5 to Wall Street.