UFT Contract Update and Analysis – Get Ready for a Pay Cut

Bad news abounds on the upcoming UFT contract. Teachers, paraprofessionals, and the rest of our members deserve answers on why. While, I’m bound by NDAs not to disclose what is said in the 500-member negotiating committee, I have more flexibility with information given in the Executive Board, Delegate Assembly, and other sources. So, in this post, I’ll go through some of the public information we have right now and analyze what it means for our members and for our union.

Committing to a Pay Cut

It’s no secret that DC37 is about to set the economic pattern for all other New York City municipal unions. A roughly 3% annual salary increase is absolutely dreadful. Even when accounting for the one-time $3000 signing bonus, DC37 is committing to sub-inflation increases. The exact numbers for UFT may be slightly more or slightly less depending on other ‘economic’ decisions made in DC37’s contract. But, we have the big numbers here. DC37 is effectively committing us to a pay cut in real wages. And, because their contract will last for more than five years, DC37 is also committing to a pay cut for a very long time. If that’s hard to stomach, it’s even worse when we look at the pattern in context. Nationally, non-unionized workers are getting better raises on average than unionized municipal employees are about to agree to here in New York.

That’s why at Executive Board this Monday, I asked LeRoy Barr why we weren’t publicly taking issue with the pattern about to be set. His response, that ‘we can’t make public statements about another union’s contract,’ astonished me. First of all, let’s be clear that UFT leaders have publicly criticized the pattern set by other unions before. For instance, back in 2001 Randi Weingarten stated that a pattern set by DC37 was too low for teachers to take. Second of all, why on earth would current UFT leadership place being courteous to other union’s leadership over the interests of our members? If our raises are about to be set at horrendous levels by DC37 leadership, it is the absolute duty of Mulgrew et al to do whatever they can to stop that. The fact that UFT leadership isn’t publicly fighting for pay increases that exceed that of non-unionized workers frankly raises existential questions about our union.

A ‘Gentlemen’s Agreement’ on Healthcare Reductions  

At this week’s executive board meeting, Mulgrew claimed that ‘there won’t be any ‘healthcare savings’ in this round of bargaining.’ In the next breath, however, he said ‘but, we’ll look at the RFP.’ There are currently two RFPs, both of which were designed so that the MLC could realize cost savings for the City. The problems with the first RFP, Medicare Advantage, are well known. In short, retirees could lose access to traditional public Medicare and face diminished networks and tons of red tape. The second RFP, which is more mysterious, is for in-service members. Union officials have stated that they are seeking a plan similar to GHI at around 10% less of a cost. They have also threatened the possibility of premiums. So, call me crazy, but if healthcare isn’t a part of this round of contract negotiations, why are we humoring plans that potentially reduce our benefits or increase member responsibility for healthcare costs?

The only possible answer here is that clearly healthcare is a part of contract negotiations. This shouldn’t surprise anyone. The City was blunt with all unions that new contracts would be predicated on finding healthcare savings first. And frankly, the City and the MLC have been lock-step on many of the proposed changes. Now, on the eve of DC37 ratifying a new contract, we see two RFPs in the mix to reduce the City’s fiscal obligation to our healthcare. This isn’t rocket science.

Where does this leave us? As Mulgrew has stated time and time again, healthcare is a part of our overall compensation package. So, if the City reduces our healthcare or increases our costs, the already bad 3% annual wage increase could be much worse. Heck, we might see a pay cut even without adjusting for inflation.

Settling for Minor Workplace Changes

So, if salary is down the drain and healthcare reductions are already in the works, what’s left? All UFT can do is negotiate for workplace stuff. There’s potential here, but I’m still pessimistic. First of all, if we can’t even negotiate raises above inflation, do we really think we can get the City to improve our working conditions? My guess is that we’re only going to get the City to agree to stuff they want anyways. Mulgrew kind of hinted at this at the last Delegate Assembly, where he said ‘[The DOE is] listening on us to some extent on things we need just to be able to do our jobs better.’ I’d love to see those improvements that make it easier for me to do my job well. But, changes that are mutually beneficial to both the employee and the employer are easy fights. We see those types of wins in places that don’t even have unions. But, we do have a union. What we need to be fighting (yes fighting) for is precisely the stuff that is good for teachers and not necessarily good for the City (as an employer): things like smaller class sizes, caseload reductions, and yes – better wages and healthcare. Bottom line: the UFT must do better than settling for what the City wants anyways. We aren’t going to get anything more than the bare minimum unless we act like a union and organize.


17 Responses to “UFT Contract Update and Analysis – Get Ready for a Pay Cut”

  1. 1 Mike D. March 1, 2023 at 11:30 am

    Hearing how you are not optimistic regarding the changing of our workplace conditions, disturbs me since you a member of the 500 Member Contract Committee. This sounds like you have no faith that despite it looking like we are going to essentially be getting a pay cut AND have our healthcare eroded that we will get nothing in return. It also seems like you have a first hand view that Mulgrew is setting us up for yet another sellout contract. If we are indeed only getting a 3% raise and a new, shitty healthcare plan, the city must throw us a bone and allow remote time for PD/Parent Engagement time. Furthermore, we should be allowed more use of vacation time from our CAR days. If the DA votes to agree to a tentative agreement without giving us something back besides a sign on bonus, I do not think it will be ratified by the rank and file. Even after almost 30 years in the DOE, I still get further disgusted by the way Unity Caucus runs the show.

    • 2 baconuft March 1, 2023 at 6:17 pm

      I’m very nervous on contract. I’ll keep fighting, as I have been. Pattern stuff is 95% of contract though IMO. The articles I wrote criticizing the pattern circulated throughout DC37 networks as well, so hopefully I’ll have an impact on their vote. But, Mulgrew would have had more reach than me had he vocalized any opposition. We’d have a better chance of a no vote on the DC37 contract and getting something better. This is dereliction of duty.

      • 3 Mike D. March 1, 2023 at 6:23 pm

        Damm! 95% of contract discussions is pattern bargaining issues? It’s pretty damn obvious that DC37 is more than likely going to ratify their contract with the 3% raise which means that’s the best we are gonna get too. I think Mulgrew knew about that deal way before the rest of us. Thus, the “pattern” is already set. I am furious that Mulgrew and the committee leadership has not focused on other pressing issues to the rank and file such as the extended time, vacation days, etc.

      • 4 baconuft March 2, 2023 at 5:47 am

        I’m with you, but keep in mind that some of what you’re talking about could be committee stuff that actually may be a part of discussions, but that I can’t disclose here due to NDAs.

  2. 5 Mike Green March 1, 2023 at 9:46 pm

    Can we get 8.25% fixed TDA back? Many members want this.

    • 6 baconuft March 2, 2023 at 5:45 am

      That’s also something I think is worth pushing for, especially now that inflation is making 7% feel like a rate just needed to break even. That would be economic though, so it would ‘cost’ us.

  3. 7 Don March 24, 2023 at 4:45 pm

    How about getting back 10 yr vesting for medical like the rest of the city workers. I’ll never understand why that was given away.

  4. 8 Andy S March 28, 2023 at 11:03 am

    This contract negotiation process is very shady.
    I keep hearing that city is offering 3% annual raise. I don’t know what percentage is UFT asking. The union that is representing me is not telling their client base what percentage raise are they asking. The inflation is hovering between 8 to 10 percent for many months. Any pay raise in that range is not going to be pay raise at all. Anything less would be a Pay Cut. Negotiations happen when the power play is leveled. But UFT leadership seems week and they need to grow a backbone. UFT needs to ask the members about a fair number. And then negotiate with city on members’ behalf. And that is not happening at all.

    • 9 baconuft March 28, 2023 at 1:04 pm

      Agree, Andy. UFT leadership has been quite candid that they plan to accept the 3ish percent pattern being set by DC37. They also opted not to do anything to stop that pattern from being set.

  1. 1 UFT Leadership’s Contract Teach-in Legacy is to Sue Members for Organizing | New Action - UFT Trackback on March 3, 2023 at 7:05 am
  2. 2 New Action Caucus Meeting – Thursday, 3/9, 5:30 -7:00 PM | New Action - UFT Trackback on March 4, 2023 at 6:43 am
  3. 3 UFT/MLC to Greenlight MAP Nuclear Option | New Action - UFT Trackback on March 5, 2023 at 8:42 am
  4. 4 It now costs $100 for UFT to use an Urgent Care. A few months ago it was $50. UFT, it’s time to start paying attention. | New Action - UFT Trackback on March 8, 2023 at 7:17 pm
  5. 5 Why doesn’t UFT leadership want us to have the right to strike? | New Action - UFT Trackback on March 19, 2023 at 12:22 pm
  6. 6 UFT Members Deserve to Vote on Healthcare Changes | New Action - UFT Trackback on March 21, 2023 at 9:06 pm
  7. 7 UFT: Is Striking Really Antiquated? | New Action - UFT Trackback on March 24, 2023 at 7:01 am
  8. 8 Organizing against a stacked deck: analyzing the UFT ‘Grade-Ins’ today | New Action - UFT Trackback on March 30, 2023 at 7:00 am

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

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.
March 2023

%d bloggers like this: