What would a fair UFT contract look like?

Contract negotiations are under way, though without an end-time in sight. We’ll soon see if the City was bluffing when it made its ultimatum that healthcare must be ‘fixed’ before they really sit down to negotiate, especially on raises. Their deadline for the City Council to amend Administrative Code 12-126 was Nov. 23rd. That’s only a few days away, and despite heavy lobbying from the Unity-led UFT, there doesn’t seem to be much interest by our representatives to remove healthcare protections for in-service and retired municipal workers. The ‘either’/’or’ vision of our contract–decent healthcare or raises–was always an absurd premise for our own union to champion. We should have been fighting for other funding methods, like a stock transfer tax, to strengthen and expand our healthcare resources. Instead, Michael Mulgrew misled us, placing a massive giveback in a hidden appendix of the last contract that committed us to find millions of dollars of recurring ‘healthcare savings,’ despite knowing full-well that healthcare costs were rising. Then, he had the audacity to say that there were ‘no givebacks‘ to a room full of delegates and chapter leaders. I was in that DA. I believed him. I told my members to believe him. I was wrong.

UFT leadership used to mobilize membership to fight for more. When the City tried to take things from us, we struck. Now, UFT leadership hides things from us, so we don’t notice it’s being taken away. If we notice, they throw propaganda at us, misdirecting members on their motives. Or they sit us down and tell us we deserve less, because the rest of the country is also getting less. A sea of blue shirts in solidarity for a ‘fair contract’ creates a façade masking the reality: our leaders are merely managing decline. Healthcare, wages, and working conditions are all on their way down. Union management will take on the task, not of organizing us to fight, but of disorganizing overworked members into acquiescence.

We can talk about what a fair contract would look like all we want, but until UFT leadership agrees to organize rather than obfuscate, we aren’t getting anything close to what we deserve. If that day comes, here are New Action’s demands for a fair contract:

NEW ACTION/UFT PROPOSALS FOR CONTRACT DEMANDS

  1. Pay raises in line with surrounding districts
  2. Maximum salary should be reached in 10 years like many other unions
  3. Reduce class size in every division
  4. Reduce caseloads of counselors, school psychologists, and other titles
  5. No agreement to place new hires into HMOs 
  6. End Fair Student Funding/Return to Unit Costing to end discrimination/harassment of veteran teachers
  7. Fight the attacks on Chapter Leaders and chapter members
  8. Fight abusive principals and place abusers on a UFT Watch List/Send teams into these schools
  9. Reinstitute seniority transfers
  10. End ATR pool by placement in vacancies
  11. Work to end school segregation
  12. Work to increase staff diversity
  13. Restore the right to grieve letters in the file
  14. Allow members to challenge principal’s judgment on observation reports
  15. Remove the Danielson Framework and decouple test scores from evaluations. Reform the evaluation system to be teacher led.
  16. Set penalties for administrators who repeatedly violate class size provisions
  17. And NO MORE healthcare givebacks!!!!

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