Archive for April, 2013

The Fight for Salary Parity!

(from the New Action leaflet distributed at the April 2013 UFT Delegate Assembly).
For a printable version click: NA/UFT Leaflet 2013 April

The Fight for Salary Parity!

In 1997, New Action began a fight to win salary equality with surrounding school districts. In March 1998, the seven New Action members of the UFT Executive Board proposed a resolution to make salary a number one bargaining demand. The leadership caucus (Unity) unanimously REJECTED that proposal.

In 2000 New Action organized informational picketing in front of schools for salary parity. The picketing began ½ hour before school. Picketing continued on the 11th of each month (our demand was raises of 11%, 11%, and 11%.) In January we started picketing in front of 30 schools, we continued in February and March, and by April the number of schools had grown to over 100. In May 2000, New Action cancelled our picketing because the union leadership announced picketing would take place in May and June. It was a great victory and lesson for rank and file educators.

Here we are again in 2013 and New Action is once again raising the demand for SALARY PARITY!  We need a thorough survey of surrounding districts, but here’s just one point of comparison (and the New Rochelle numbers are from 2010!):


5 years/MA

10 yrs/MA + 30


New York City





New Rochelle








Several school systems in the NYC metropolitan area have addressed the need to be competitive and raise their salary schedules to the level of surrounding districts. New York City teachers now earn up to 40% less than teachers in neighboring districts. Our union leadership, which has allowed this to happen, has yet to propose a solution.

Parity is Possible!

Levittown and Yonkers, two working class communities without large corporate tax bases, implemented parity plans in 1989. The Yonkers plan called for 4.5% salary increases every six months for five years. (This has nothing to do with just negotiated three year 11% package which raises their MA+30 salary to $80,963 next year). Salaries in Yonkers, which were lower than NYC and most Westchester districts, are now much more competitive and much higher than NYC.

The Levittown plan was based on first determining average salaries of 13 surrounding school districts. Their plan called for seven years of a fixed percent raise above the annual average raise of the surrounding 13  districts. Last year maximum salary was $80.,672.

Based on these two successful models NYC can develop a plan to achieve parity.

-develop a formula and determine the average salary of school districts in Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester, and Rockland counties-select a time frame (5-7 years) and a predetermined set raise, or

-select a time frame and pay raise that is a fixed percent above the average raise in surrounding districts. The fixed percent is calculated to achieve parity with those districts in the 5-7 year time-frame.


On 9/22/97, New Action/UFT proposed such a plan to the UFT Executive Board. It was rejected by the Unity majority.

The plan is necessary, reasonable, and achievable. It should be presented to the Board of Education, the Mayor, parents, politicians, media and the public. Now is the time while education is a top priority and money is available.

Educational Parity for `Students.

The plan for “pay parity for teachers” should be linked to “educational parity for students.” The UFT must also fight to achieve full funding from Albany, lower class sizes, and guaranteed safe, well equipped and uncrowded schools equivalent to those in surrounding districts.

It is more than two years before negotiations begin on our new contract. New Action/UFT believes that the campaign for pay and educational parity must begin now.


Resolution Presented On Salary Parity March 11, 1998

Whereas, New York City is experiencing a second year of record windfall surpluses of over one billion dollars, and

Whereas, the salary gap between UFT members and educators in surrounding districts ranges from 10-25% for new teachers, to 25-40% for senior teachers, and

Whereas, the need to attract and retain qualified staff has taken on greater significance, be it

Resolved, that the UFT establish a working plan based on Levittown, Yonkers or similar plans to achieve salary parity with surrounding school districts


UFT Elections – New Action wins 10 seats – Disappointing Turnout

Based on yesterday’s unofficial returns (and as expected), New Action will have 10 seats on the new UFT Executive Board. New Action returns Douglas Haynes, Francisco Peña, Maria Ramos, Michael Shulman (at large) and Bill Goldman and Jonathan Halabi (high schools), and adds Joel Garcia, Regina Gori and Kate Martin-Bridge (at large) and Keith Fessel (high schools).

New Action’s vote was 9.4%, a decline from 2010, but better than the previous two elections.

The big story, unfortunately, is the overall drop in turnout. Less than one in four UFTers returned ballots. Among in-service members, just 18% participated.

This is symptomatic of many members not feeling part of the union, not being involved. But that is where a union’s strength should lie, in an active membership. New Action will continue to prioritize rebuilding chapters and organizing at the school level, to involve members in the life of our union.

The drop in vote is also symptomatic of members being overwhelmed, angry, and confused: Overwhelmed by the unreasonable and unceasing demands of a system that seems designed to punish educators with paperwork and impossible requirements, not to allow us to educate children; Angry about colocations and school closings, about the threat of being forced into the ATR pool, about losing 20 or more days each year to testing and test prep, angry about maltreatment at the hands of abusive administrators; Confused that our union is not doing more, and is cooperating with Danielson and a new, potentially dangerous teacher evaluation system. Each of these is a challenge to our strength. New Action remains committed to addressing all of these issues – be it by supporting the leadership, by urging a more active approach, or by opposing the leadership where they have taken a wrong stance.

There is much work going forward.

UFT Elections coming to a close

For those of you who voted for us, thank you. For those of you who actively supported us, thank you.

New Action’s message – we support the leadership when they are right, and oppose them when they are wrong – got out to tens of thousands of UFTers. We want members to know we are progressive, influential, and independent.

Tomorrow is the last day for ballots to arrive at the American Arbitration Association.

The count will be Thursday. We will write something about the results here.

New Action and MORE representatives met in November

Three representatives of New Action met with three representatives of MORE back on November 27.

MORE brought one agenda item: what was New Action doing in the upcoming election? At that point we were working on an agreement to run a full slate, cross-endorsing Mulgrew and Unity’s high school people, with some cross-endorsements in return. That agreement had not been finalized.

New Action brought 3 items. We asked about having a formal means of communication, when issues came up where the caucuses needed to reach other. That was achieved. We asked about assisting each other where we agreed on an activity (such as the petition campaign against mayoral control; MORE probably would have participated, but we did not have a way of getting each other involved). MORE was not as interested in that discussion, although they agreed in a general way. They were more concerned with the immediately upcoming election, but the discussion was positive. The third was what we would do if a bad contract agreement came down. We discussed a joint effort from almost 20 years ago that helped defeat a bad contract.

Then New Action added an item. We raised with concern the level of hostility from the last election period (2010). Kit Wainer said that MORE planned to attack Unity, not New Action. He thought that New Action would have a hard time campaigning without going after MORE – but we disagreed. Then we asked about the bloggers, we mentioned recent disparaging posts. Kit said he never reads the blogs, and that MORE does not control them. We pointed out that if the blogs support MORE and write outrageous things, and MORE does not dissociate itself from those comments, then it looks like MORE supports those comments. Kit did not respond.

MORE’s Hidden Secret

The MORE caucus and the bloggers who write for them want UFT members to believe they are a brand new caucus. The truth is MORE consists of several formations and groups that have a track record. One spokesperson/blogger recently alluded to the record of two of their members when they held seats on the UFT
Executive Board—James Eterno and Jeff Kaufman. This blogger noted the sterling record they had from July 2004 through June 2007.

It is worth looking at the role ICE played on that Board. Certainly we should know their record in order to judge what we can expect of MORE if they were elected again.

During those years they had a record of failure. In the spring of 2010 New Action stated that they (not just James or Jeff) “were an embarrassment and actually hurt the members.”

Today MORE makes claims about what they will do if elected. WHAT DID THEY (ICE) DO THEN? They claimed they would fight for “job rights for ATRs.” How many motions did they make at the UFT Executive Board from 2004-2007 to fight for ATRs? ZERO! What about their claim that they would fight for an end to school closings? How many motions did they make? ZERO!

They claimed they would fight to “Restore and strengthen the right to grieve unfair and inaccurate letters and observations.” How many motions? ZERO! The same for their claim to fight to “end harassment, “ reduce class size,” “win parity for paras and secretaries.” YOU guessed it. ZERO! ZERO! ZERO!

When given the chance to provide leadership, ICE did nothing!

We will repeat what we said in the spring of 2010: “Don’t waste your vote on an opposition” caucus that has produced nothing for the members except empty promises. Don’t waste your vote on a caucus that (STILL) refuses to acknowledge its own leadership failure. Don’t vote for a repeat of 2004-2007.”

They often seemed more concerned with delaying or disrupting proceedings than with promoting the interests of the members.

Don’t waste your vote on MORE which offers more empty rhetoric (and more history than they would care to discuss)

The Last Ten Years?

The following quotation is prominently featured in MORE’s election literature. And it is an astonishing statement. It shows the apparent lack of knowledge or disregard MORE has for the history of the UFT. Before we all wax ecstatic about the UFT from its founding until 2003, there are some issues we need to make MORE’s candidates aware of.

In the last ten years, in a departure from the roots of our union’s founding, the leadership has failed to organize and mobilize the membership at the time we have needed their leadership the most.” – J. Cavanagh

Working conditions have always been a major issue in the schools. Since the 1970’s members were faced with class size grievances. It was a major concern along with the loss of teaching positions and layoffs. There were numerous challenges that faced the schools. Schools and classes without adequate supplies, the lack of books and uncovered classes were common. Schools went into decline physically. While there is a hiring freeze today, over thirty years ago teachers would not be hired until one or two months after the start of school. In the mid-seventies we witnessed wage freezes. In the mid 1980’s teachers were were excessed mid-year in the high schools. Anyone teaching at that time (and there are not many left) remember the half-class loophole. A common refrain was “just leave it up to Al.”

On the social justice front, the UFT record was against community control. Albert Shanker declared himself a “certified hawk” and a group of teachers formed to oppose the Vietnam war and call for ending that unjust war and diverting military spending to social services. Later the New Action caucus would call on the UFT to demand an end to the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. During 1985, when New Action leader, Mike Shulman, was elected to be the VP for Academic High Schools one of his first actions was to call on the union to divest its pension funds from companies doing business with the Republic of South Africa. Starting in the 1990’s New Action made salary parity a priority issue and pointed out that NYC once had the highest salaries for teachers. It had fallen to one of the lowest paid in the region. Many opposition groups and independents pointed out that union democracy was another major issue in the UFT.

The lack of organizing and mobilizing the membership at the school level has been an ongoing, major concern for many more years then the ten Julie Cavanagh cites.

“The last ten years”???