Archive for June, 2009

Resolution on Agreement Securing Pension Benefits and Ending Two Work Days Before Labor Day

On Monday, June 22, 2009 the UFT’s Executive Board overwhelmingly approved a resolution that created a new pension tier (of poorer quality) for future UFT hirees. It also, effective immediately, ended the requirement to report to work on the two days before Labor Day.

New Action/UFT enthusiastically and unanimously supports the return of the first day of work to the day after Labor Day.

In return for this change, the UFT agreed to modifications to the pension plan of future UFT members. New Action has always opposed the creation of any pension tier that was in any way inferior to what already existed.

This new pension tier for future UFT members is inferior. It stipulates eligibility at age of 55 with 27 years of service. In addition there is a member contribution of 4.85 % for 27 years (reduced to 1.85% after 27 years).

New Action opposition was not unanimous. The reality of the present economic crisis threatened to put future UFT members into an even more inferior tier- Tier III, which requires an age of 62 years and reduces your pension by your Social Security benefit (probably $1500-$2000/month). Governor Patterson has already put this modification in place for two unions. Two other unions agreed to modifications that were not as severe as Tier III. So did the UFT. The present chaos in Albany also has the potential to create even more mayhem. So for some New Action Executive Board members, the agreement was the lesser of two evils.

For New Action the main issue in this agreement is the pension deterioration for new UFT members. We are unanimous in making a commitment to eliminate this tier and return all members to the present pension plan.



The Executive Board of New Action/UFT, including its eight members currently serving on the United Federation of Teachers Executive Board have unanimously endorsed the candidacy  of William Thompson for Mayor of the City of New York.

Thompson the recipient of the UFT’s prestigious John Dewey Award (2008) has been a strong advocate for education and a friend of the educational community including students, parents and educators. He was a former president of the New York City Board of Education whose agenda of reform resulted in improved student achievement.

The New York Teacher quoted President Weingarten in April 2008 saying, “For as long as I’ve known him, Bill Thompson has been a fierce advocate for public education. He has often stood alongside us to demand improvements in the schools, promoting such things as increased safety, more accurate reporting of incidents by principals, expansion of CTE programs, better funding for public schools and, most important, greater participation by the public in decisions that affect the school system.”

The same article pointed out that Thompson “is a lifelong resident of Brooklyn…is the son of a judge and a public school teacher, and is a product of the New York City public school system.

New Action/UFT is supporting the Educators for Thompson campaign and urges all members to sign up as supporters, as well. We applaud those chapters who have passed motions to endorse him, encourage everyone sign petitions of support and join the growing list of endorsers. For more information contact: Educators for Thompson or New Action/UFT.

Klein must go!

Klein must go!

No matter what contract is negotiated, New Action believes Chancellor Klein must be replaced. We have stated on several occasions that we cannot tolerate him for another four years.  No chancellor has done more to destroy, ignore, and disrespect teachers, parents and students. Chancellor Klein has continued to scapegoat teachers and the UFT at every turn for his own failure to reform the educational system. The glowing statistics used to hail “advances” made under his watch has been debunked by Diane Ravitch in an April 10th New York Times Op-Ed piece “Mayor Bloomberg’s Crib Sheet. “ She states:

“On the federal National Assessment of Educational Progress – widely acknowledged as the gold standard of the testing industry – New York City showed almost no academic improvement between 2003, when the mayor’s reforms were introduced, and 2007. There were no significant gains for New York City’s students – black, Hispanic, white, Asian or lower-income – in fourth grade reading, eighth grade reading or eighth grade mathematics. In fourth grade math, pupils showed significant gains (although the validity of this is suspect because an unusually large proportion – 25% -of students were given extra time and help)…”

A recent report by the Center for NYC Affairs at the New School  showed that while Klein closed one high school after another he had no plan to deal with the thousands of students who had to seek placement. While the new schools gave choice to many students, 26 out of 36 remaining large high schools saw enrollment soar. Thousands of students were assigned to schools that they did not choose or were inappropriate for them. Students as well as staff became collateral damage.

In June 2008, the UFT initiated a membership survey regarding the performance of Chancellor Klein. An overwhelming majority of those surveyed (between 75% and 85% on each question) said Klein was doing a poor job of running the schools. Klein has indicated that he would like to continue as Chancellor under the next Mayor. In May 2009, our union has once again initiated an Accountability Survey. New Action will not be surprised if the survey shows an extreme dislike for Joel Klein’s policies. If we are correct, the UFT MUST launch a campaign to replace him. We should craft such a campaign under the guise of “What we need in the next chancellor!” New Action believes that the union must campaign for a chancellor who:
   Is a realistic and progressive educator, not a corporate attorney
   Respects educators and parents and will make collegiality the centerpiece of his or her policies
   Accepts tenure and respects due process rights
   Understands that experience counts and end the on going discrimination against senior teacher and ATR’s
   Makes a commitment to funding the classrooms first and restoring draconian budget cuts
   Understands the validity and legality of a negotiated contract
   Stops closing schools wholesale based on unproven statistical data

Since the reelection of Bloomberg is not guaranteed, a new mayor, hopefully Bill Thompson, would have to select a new chancellor. In any case, the public must be educated.

Content Policy

Content of signed articles and comments represents the opinions of their authors. The views expressed in signed articles are not necessarily the views of New Action/UFT.
June 2009