Negotiations 101 – a personal reminisce

by David Kaufman

David is a co-chair of New Action/UFT. He currently is a member of the UFT Executive Board and is co-chair of the UFT Action Committee and an active member of the Organizing Committee. He spent most of his 35 years teaching Science at MS 135X (now Whalen Educational Campus) where he was UFT Chapter Leader for 24.5 years until he retired.

More than fifty years ago I would watch in awe as my late mother would negotiate for the carp she needed for the gefilte fish she would make for the holidays. The process started with the selection of the live fish from a huge tank. My mother would point out the fattest, healthiest carp. That was the easy part. The negotiation of the price came next. It was difficult- the fish salesman new my mother needed the fish, but the fish was already dead laying on the counter waiting to be gutted.

My mother was relentless. She always got her price. I usually felt sorry for the fish salesman, but my mother said not to worry, that he did not take a loss.

The Collective Bargaining Agreement (contract) between the United Federation of Teachers and the Department of Education of the City of New York has expired. To date there has been no settlement. For almost forty years I wished that my mother could negotiate for the UFT. Unfortunately the DOE negotiated like my mother and the UFT didn’t even hold out for a little profit like the fish salesman.

My mother explained “negotiations 101” to me. You can’t make your first offer close to what you really want. She explained that your first offer can be unreasonable. There will be a give and take as the offers come closer together and fairer.

Over the years the UFT has ignored Negotiations 101 in lieu of its own pattern of asking for very little and creating very low expectations. In this the UFT was very successful, succeeding in getting little and sometimes giving up a lot.

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1 Response to “Negotiations 101 – a personal reminisce”



  1. 1 Second New Action leader makes statement on negotiations « JD2718 Trackback on November 13, 2009 at 7:35 am
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