Archive for the 'Teachers Contract' Category

Retroactive Pay and Fairness

(from the New Action leaflet distributed at the October 2015 UFT Delegate Assembly)
In a disheartening turn, after unusually harsh commentary by a teacher who is employed by the union,
the Unity leadership, followed by its caucus, voted en bloc against letting the delegates debate the issue.
For a printable version click: Leaflet 2015 October

Many members are happy to find the first lump sum payment from the 2014 contract in our checks. There are a flurry of questions – as is expected. When money is involved, we want to get it right.

The contract left out some groups of UFTers. People who have been discontinued are not entitled to the pay. Nor are people who resigned. Nor are people who left before age 55, waiting to retire when they turned 55. And people who died in service – their survivors are not entitled to the money they should have earned from 2009 – 2011. There is, unfortunately, nothing we can do to correct this unfairness.

But we can help another group. UFTers on maternity leave are not receiving the money due them this week. The City intends to pay them next round, in October 2017. There is a proposed resolution to get our folks the money they are due now. We urge you to vote to put this resolution on the agenda.

Advertisements

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?

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.

LET’S WORK WITH DE BLASIO TO PUSH OUR PRIORITIES

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

The election of Bill de Blasio and the appointment of Carmen Fariña opens the possibility of correcting 12 years of Bloomberg’s destructive policies.  The damage done cannot all be repaired overnight. However, some important advances can begin now. High on the list is negotiating a good contract with retroactive pay. New Action/UFT proposes some additional priorities.

Abusive, Unqualified, or Both?

New Action has always acknowledged that there are many collaborative and professional administrators. But unqualified principals, often with no or little teaching experience, are running too many of our schools. A principal can avoid a conversation by saying, “I have to run this past Legal” knowing full well that these Bloomberg appointed lawyers tell principals to deny everything. Those with who never were decent teachers, or with inadequate experience can feel threatened by our members’ knowledge, and treat suggestions as insubordinate. Many become petty dictators. Their orders are sometimes arbitrary, sometimes nonsensical. They don’t discuss issues with members, because they cannot. And some target Chapter Leaders.

Work together to resolve issues of abusive admins

IT IS TIME to press this issue with de Blasio and Fariña and modify the behavior of all of these abusive administrators, and long overdue that the Unity leadership demand an end to the harassment of chapter leaders. The leadership has targeted problem principals in schools where the entire chapter is ready to fight back. But this is a drop in the bucket. In most of these schools members are scared, intimidated, not ready to stand up on their own. We must help them at the school, AND bring these cases to the new administration. And we have progress already: Carmen Fariña has announced that all new principals will need to have at least seven years experience.

We can work with Mayor De Blasio and Chancellor Fariña, and at the same time help our membership to become active at the school level to tackle these and other issues.

De Blasio Compromise on Co-locations – an Error

On charters and co-locations de Blasio sent a badly mixed message. He declared a moratorium, while he and Fariña examined the 45 proposals that Bloomberg rushed through last fall. But late last month they approved 36 of them, including some charters. This was not what we wanted; this was not what New York City needed. They thought that they could play nice with the private charter operators/ hedgefunders. But Eva Moskowitz, who lost one expansion, and two new schools, organized a demonstration in Albany, where Andrew Cuomo lent his support, and has been blasting de Blasio. His administration has been taking a beating in the media. Compromising with the charter operators was a mistake.

No New School Closings – a big step forward

But there is good on co-locations as well:  this is the first year in memory when there has not been a single school closure. Several charter collocations were denied. We should stand with de Blasio against Moskowitz, and against the NY State Senate’s current proposal to allow charter management companies unfettered, free access to New York City’s school buildings.

Contract?

There is also potential progress on a contract. The UFT’s Negotiating Committee met last Thursday, and while those discussions are confidential, the major media are reporting that there have been real conversations in the last few days. Given our desire to have a contract done by June, it seems that the process is moving at the right time. A hopeful sign: The New York Times reports that chief factfinder, Martin Scheinman, is now acting as a mediator between us and the City.

Mobilization

We need to get our membership involved – getting out there to support those good steps de Blasio and Fariña have taken – and pushing on our contract issues. There are stalwarts, UFTers who come to any rally, anywhere we ask. But to bring the full weight of our union to bear, we need to engage the majority of our members, and that means in school, and in front of school. School-based actions will show how serious we are, and they will give us a stronger, united voice.

Welcome Back, Chapter Leaders

(from the New Action leaflet distributed at the September 2013 Citywide Chapter Leaders Meeting).
For a printable version click: NA/UFT Leaflet 2013 September

Welcome! New Action welcomes you to the Citywide Chapter Leader meeting.

New Action/UFT is one of several caucuses (political parties) in the United Federation of Teachers. There are differences between the caucuses. But we believe that whatever differences there are, that the external enemies of our union and the threat to the members outweighs our differences.  Today we see that, as our entire union faces the challenge of the new teacher evaluation system.

We work with our leadership, yet remain independent and critical of the leadership when warranted. To that end, we have worked with Michael Mulgrew and Unity Caucus in a bipartisan relationship that we believe benefits the membership. New Action chairs Michael Shulman and Jonathan Halabi, and eight additional New Action supporters, give voice to members’ concerns on the UFT Executive Board.

ABUSIVE ADMINISTRATORS

We sincerely hope you are in one of the many schools with collaborative principals. That relationship makes for a healthy work environment and benefits staff and students. Too many principals, however, are not collaborative, and many are downright abusive. We need to modify the behavior of all abusive and troublesome administrators.

Particularly troubling are principals who target UFT chapter leaders. We need to prioritize standing up for Chapter Leaders – they are our members’ first line of defense!

Organizing a response requires a strong chapter. Chapters that regularly meet and discuss issues of importance are chapters that are in a better position to mobilize.

CONTRACT

We have been working without a contract, or rather, under an expired contract, for 47 months. On Halloween it will be a full four years. The settlement of our contract is long overdue. The hold up? Bloomberg and his demands for unreasonable concessions, or for breaking the pattern and trying to pay us less.

But there will be a change in City Hall come January 1. We look forward to a contract, before this year is out:

  • with RETROACTIVE PAY – for EVERYONE – including recent retirees.
  • with NO GIVE BACKS
  • with 4% and 4% for the first two years (2009-10 and 2010-11)
  • and that allows us to work under a CURRENT, UNEXPIRED CONTRACT

Teacher Evaluation

(from the New Action leaflet distributed at the September 2013 Citywide Chapter Leaders Meeting).
For a printable version click: NA/UFT Leaflet 2013 September

TEACHER EVALUATION

New Action opposed the adoption of this new teacher evaluation system every step of the way. It weakens tenure and introduces rating teachers on students standardized test scores. We advocate changing or repealing the state law.

Already chapters are seeing disagreements between the DoE and the UFT about how the system should work. This was not ready for 2013 implementation.

But today the system is here. We are immediately faced with complexities: school-based committees have already chosen local measures (MOSL). Members must choose which observation model soon. There will be artifacts, discussions. At the September 9 UFT Executive Board, Regina Gori, Exec Board member and Chapter Leader at the Brooklyn New School, asked what recommendations we can make to members for the choices they are facing. The answer directed them to the “Quick Start Guide” for information, but the leadership is not willing to make recommendations, indicating this is a personal choice.

Our members come to Chapter Leaders seeking advice. They do so because the CLs often have greater knowledge or insight. Likewise CLs approach our union’s leadership. It is unseemly to deny advice to chapter leaders. This should change, now.

With good information, Chapter Leaders can lead informed chapter discussions. And discussion of issues that matter, including teacher evaluation, helps build stronger chapters.

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!):

Starting

5 years/MA

10 yrs/MA + 30

Top

New York City

$45K

$56K

$74K

$100K

New Rochelle

$52K

$67K

$90K

$130K

 

TWO FROM THE ARCHIVES

Fall 1997 –  SALARIES at ALL-TIME LOW! SALARY PARITY FOR EDUCATORS

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