Archive for the 'NYC' Category



Restore Our Parking

(from the New Action leaflet distributed at the June 2014 Delegate Assembly).
For a printable version click: June 2014 Leaflet Front and back

In 2008, Bloomberg eliminated traditional parking passes for teachers. Other agencies had “park anywhere” passes, and there were reports of abuse. But for school personnel, the pass just meant a shot at a spot in front of the school, if they got there early enough.

Bloomberg and the City gained nothing, except for inconveniencing thousands of school workers. The symbolism of undoing this will be huge. New Action proposed that we work with de Blasio, leading to the bipartisan resolution before the June 11 Delegate Assembly. We urge your support.

Transferring? Know Before You Go

(from the New Action leaflet distributed at the June 2014 Delegate Assembly).
For a printable version click: June 2014 Leaflet Front and back

Due to school closures, myriad mini-schools opening, and the creation of the ATR pool, more UFT members have needed to transfer in the last few years, including right now, than at any other time in our history. You should “know before you go.” Check the Learning Environment Survey, the Inside Schools review, any word of mouth you can find. In that spirit, New Action brought the following resolution to the May 19, 2014 UFT Executive Board:

Resolution on Identifying Schools with High Staff Turnover

WHEREAS, the Open Market period runs from the present through the beginning of August; and
WHEREAS, every year thousands of our members apply for schools to transfer into; and
WHEREAS, high turnover rates are an indication that a school may have a problematic administration; and
WHEREAS, our members seeking transfers may not know which schools have high turnover rates, but that information is available to the UFT; therefore, be it
RESOLVED, that the UFT will establish a procedure in which a member can call a borough office and learn if a school in that borough has a high turnover rate; and be it further
RESOLVED, that the UFT will publish a list in the New York Teacher which details which schools have exceptionally high staff turnover.

Unity argued that this would embarrass hard to staff schools, and voted it down.

Time to Fix School Parking

Of all the evil Bloomberg perpetrated on the NYC school system, and on us, the teachers, screwing with our ability park is pretty far down the list.

But the symbolism was immense. The City gained absolutely nothing by taking away many of our parking permits, no spaces were freed up for other purposes, no cost savings was accrued to the municipal coffers. Bloomberg inconvenienced us – because he could.

So, undoing this could be an easy priority for the UFT. Going back to a fair parking system will not cost the city any money. And there would be great symbolism, de Blasio undoing a piece of blatant Bloomberg spite. And, it needs to be done outside of contract negotiations.

So last Monday New Action brought a resolution, calling on the UFT to prioritize this. Unity asked to make one change, which we agreed to. The following became a bipartisan resolution, and passed unanimously.

UFT Executive Board Resolution on parking

June 2, 2014

Whereas, New York City limited parking placards for city workers, including UFT members in 2008, and

Whereas the stated intent of the change was to eliminate abuse of parking placards and to free up curbside spaces, and

Whereas several agencies had placards which could be used anywhere, and were sometimes used unnecessarily and

Whereas teachers had a totally different kind of placard, only allowing access to spaces in front of schools during school hours, on a first come, first served basis, (meaning the permit allowed the holder to park if he or she found a spot, not a guaranteed space) and

Whereas, unlike with other agencies, there were not major concerns about abuse of UFT/school parking, and

Whereas, the City forced a new agreement with the UFT anyway, changing the system from first come first served, to a system where many fewer had permits, outraging many of our members, and

Whereas, the City gained nothing tangible through this agreement, neither freeing up parking nor delivering any cost savings, and

Whereas, “preserving the number of spaces” did no good for those many members who lost their permits, but for schools without sufficient designated parking there is already an appeals process in place, and

Whereas, through this agreement Bloomberg was able to inconvenience thousands of teachers, consistent with his overall treatment of us, and

Whereas, Mayor de Blasio, Chancellor Fariña, and the new city administration have no interest in continuing to harass and inconvenience teachers and other UFT members,

Therefore, be it RESOLVED the United Federation of Teachers will work with the new administration to return to an equitable parking system, where spaces are not pre-allocated, and be it further

Resolved the UFT will push to have this improvement in working conditions in place as soon as possible, and be it further

Resolved the UFT will publicize the appeals process for additional spaces.

The Cost of Lowering Class Size

(from the New Action leaflet distributed at the April 2014 Delegate Assembly).
For a printable version click: April 2014 Leaflet Front 2014 and back

Lower class size is often at the top of the list when members are asked what changes could improve schools. There is more than one way to get this done, but we often think of doing it contractually, since there already are class size limits in our Contract. Article 7M caps kindergarten at 25, elementary at 32, junior high school at 33, and high school at 34, with larger classes allowed in Phys Ed and required Music, but with several (often frustrating) exceptions allowed.

We have been warned that lowering class size limits contractually would require a trade off in money. That’s as far as that conversation usually goes. But how much money? It turns out, reducing the class size limits by one student would cost about 1%. Now that would lead to interesting conversations in schools – if we tried to lower class size contractually, would members forego 1% for a decrease of one? 2% for two? 3% for three? 4% for four? or prefer to maximize raises and seek to lower class sizes through some other route?

Abusive? Unqualified? Both? – The Office of Adult and Continuing Education

(from the New Action leaflet distributed at the April 2014 Delegate Assembly).
For a printable version click: April 2014 Leaflet Front 2014 and back

Most New Yorkers are unaware that thousands of adults across the City attend free ESL, GED, and job training programs run by the NYC Office of Adult and Continuing Education (OACE), a branch of the DOE.  Many of the adults who come to improve their lives are parents of children in NYC public or charter schools.  OACE teachers are dedicated adult education professionals.

Since September 2012, the OACE has been run by an elementary/middle school superintendent, Rose-Marie Mills, and her numerous elementary and middle school administrative appointees, whose mission has been to impose an elementary school curriculum for teaching adult students. Large sums have been squandered this year on children’s books with inappropriate elementary themes to be used in adult education classrooms.  Teachers had absolutely no input in selecting these materials.  Moreover, all suggestions for adult appropriate materials were ignored or denied.

There are boxes and boxes of unused warehoused children’s books, and OACE teachers have been left with a dearth of appropriate instructional materials.  Nevertheless, Superintendent Mills demands test scores gains, and teachers who don’t make the cut will receive unsatisfactory ratings.

Mills is obsessed with data.  OACE teachers have been harassed and disrespected nonstop since she commenced her reign of terror. Morale is at an all-time low.

The new DoE administration needs to take a close look at the OACE.  Misspent funds?  Completely data driven program?  Terrorized teachers?  Is this any way to run an educational program?

Contract Vote – Why the Rush?

(from the New Action leaflet distributed at the May 2014 Delegate Assembly).
For a printable version click: March May 2014 Leaflet Front 2014 Leaflet Front and back

New Action believes this contract- any contract- should be the subject on discussion at every school in NYC. At the UFT Executive Board Monday night, May 5, 2014 we were informed that the details about savings in our health plan would not be available for the delegates to read. Mike Mulgrew said that the 47 page educational segment would be up Tuesday on the website. And it was. But this is inadequate.

President Mulgrew stated, “We’re way ahead of where we thought we would be.” New Action members of the Exec Board asked to table the vote until Delegates and Chapter Leaders had a chance to see the changes. We also asked for a later DA, so delegates could get the MOA before voting on it.

But we are being asked to vote on this before the health component is in front of us, and before members in the schools have seen it! This is not about trust. This is not about delaying a vote of the membership. New Action asked to reschedule for one week. Frankly, it’s hard to understand why we are rushing when the President says we are weeks ahead of where we thought we would be.

Health Care

 

(Get the point?)

 

Health Care

Imagine your son came to you and said he needed to update his health care, and found a plan that he was going to sign up for.  “Have you read it?” “No, it won’t be available for a week” “Do you have to sign up right away?” “No, I have a month” “Then why don’t you wait a week, and read it first?” “But my friends, who I trust, tell me it’s fine”

When we sign something important, we read it first.

On the up side

For months New Action has emphasized: no more working under an expired contract, full retro, including for retirees, no givebacks, and 4 and 4. The 4 and 4 is there, but is deferred for in service members. It is possible to interpret some work rule changes as givebacks, (thought that’s a stretch). Otherwise, those requirements have been met.

The paperwork (and computer work) provision is an important (grievable) gain. And few members will miss faculty conferences.

Education Reform is a Mistake

The PROSE schools (Progressive Redesign Opportunity Schools for Excellence) open the door for charter-style “reforms”. These reforms swept the country in the last decade, without providing better places to learn or better places to work. New Action also opposes the “career ladder” institution of Model Teacher, Ambassador Teacher, and Master Teacher.

Recovering from the Bloomberg Years

Substantial damage was done to our schools, to our contract (especially 2005, which Unity pushed so hard) and to our members while Bloomberg was in office, while Klein, Black and Walcott ran the show.

Fariña and de Blasio are pro-public education, and will be much better for us. Mulgrew says there is no comparison. But the new attitude has not made it to the trenches. The Chancellor needs to take steps we feel in the schools, so all of us begin to experience the difference.

In this contract proposal we get one piece back from 2005: the system of billing each principal for the salary of each teacher – thereby fostering discrimination against senior teachers – is being waived for teachers in excess (ATRs). We need this citywide. New Action pushed for this to be in this contract. But it can still be negotiated outside of the contract. Likewise, many practices including extending tenure, unfair discipline, colocation, can be negotiated, even after a contract has been signed.

Fariña and de Blasio are silling to work with us. We need to show them how to provide our members immediate relief.

Retro is there, but Money is Deferred

We expected 4% and 4%, that was the pattern, plus some weaker numbers moving forward. And that’s (almost) what we got. By deferring the 4/4 to late in the contract, it was possible to get a slightly larger total number, 18%. Members who can wait to see the money will end up a bit better off from the deferral, with a higher base going forward. But members who needed money in their pockets today have a right to be disappointed. The first raise we will receive since 2008 will be just 2%, plus the $1000 one-time bonus.

The retroactive money will be complete, but takes a long time to pay out, as expected.

The Smelly Elephants in the Room: Abusive, Incompetent Administrators

Some elements of this contract, for example repurposing time, can be quite positive where administrators and UFT members collaborate. But too many of our schools are led by abusive or incompetent. In those places, how can collaboration work? This union’s leadership has too often looked the other way. We must prioritize correcting the behavior of these administrators, or removing them. We must all benefit from the positive parts of this contract.

UFT Executive Board Resolution: Election of District Representatives

(from the New Action leaflet distributed at the April 2014 Delegate Assembly).
For a printable version click: April 2014 Leaflet Front 2014 and back

The following is drawn from a resolution, motivated by New Action’s Jonathan Halabi at the Executive Board meeting of April 7, 2014. Before any discussion occurred, Assistant Secretary Leroy Barr, a leader of Unity Caucus moved to table, which passed, cutting off debate.

In June 2003 the UFT Executive Board changed the District Representative position, an elected position for 34 years, to an appointed position, and then President Weingarten argued that the change was necessary based on the DOE’s move to Regions and would not have a negative impact on the service relationship between the chapter leader, the members, and the DR. She also maintained that with the movement to Regions we were not going to have districts and an appointed position would be a better one for our UFT. Regions no longer exist and networks appear to be on the way out. The democratic process is best served when elections determine who will represent the membership, and the election of DR’s by Chapter Leaders can only cement the relationship between the two and further union democracy.

“Therefore be it resolved, that the UFT Executive Board calls for a change from the current appointment to the election of District Representatives.”


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.
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