Posts Tagged 'DC37 Contract'

DC37 Makes Sub-Inflation Pattern Official

As expected, DC37 has voted overwhelmingly to ratify a new contract. This is important news for teachers, because the contract is pattern-setting. In other words, the economic details will also apply to the UFT. I hope the contract turns out to be a fair one that improves working conditions for our fellow unionists. But, we already know the economic details aren’t good.

The numbers come down to about 3% in annual wage increases, along with a $3,000 signing bonus. In the end, that will come to about 16.21% over 5.5 years. That might sound like a big number, but it’s less than inflation. It’s also less of a pay increase than what workers are getting on average across the United States – and most U.S. workers aren’t in labor unions. For a unionized comparison, in Los Angeles, where public sector workers have and exercise the right to strike, SEIU 99 just negotiated 30% raises. In New York, where labor leaders argue against even having the right to strike, DC37 just agreed to about half that.

Still, DC37 had access to the numbers and still voted in the contract. We don’t know the ins and outs of their negotiations and what led them to settle for less. We do know that DC37’s membership was strongly encouraged by their union leadership to take the deal. We also know that, other than the pertinent financials, DC37 members did not have much information about their contract. They didn’t receive a full copy with their ballots. All they had was this one pager. And, while I hope the document was accurate, we’ve also seen hidden appendixes get voted in before.

Speaking of hidden appendixes, we also know that healthcare is being negotiated in parallel to our contracts. So, we aren’t just looking at a disappointing pattern. We’re also facing the possibility of being switched off our health plans for something cheaper. And unless we are successful with our petition, we won’t even have a say in that decision. Some DC37 dissidents tried to urge a no vote based on healthcare uncertainty alone. However, DC37’s progressive opposition is smaller than the UFT’s, and their union is much larger and more difficult to organize without the advantage of leadership’s institutional resources.

There are still loose ends to uncover. Soon enough, we’ll learn the specifics of in-service healthcare changes. With time, the full DC37 contract will also become available for analysis, and we’ll have more detailed information about what their deal means for us. Once we know more, we’ll publish more. In the meantime, I hope DC37 maximized the improvements they were seeking.

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DC37 Contract, Aetna Medicare Advantage Plan, Charter Fight – 2-27-2023 – UFT Exec Board Minutes

Quick Summary/Analysis: The DC37 contract and healthcare conversations were a big part of the exec board meeting tonight. Nick Bacon pointed out that the pattern being set by DC37 is below inflation and asked what we were doing about that. Barr deflected, saying it wasn’t our place to do anything public about another union’s contract. Bacon remarked that this union’s contract would have the effect of committing our union to sub-inflation wages. Mulgrew also commented that there may be other (bad) costing things in the DC37 contract other than what we already see. However, when asked by Mike Schirtzer what healthcare ‘savings’ would also be a part of the contract, he claimed that none of that costing will have anything directly to do with healthcare (this bargaining round). On the other hand, a new Aetna Medicare Advantage plan is to be reviewed, and Mulgrew confirmed that while he won’t approve it unless it meets UFT’s preconditions, we won’t get to vote on it before it goes to the MLC. He was frankly hostile with new HS Exec Board member, Luli Rodriguez, when she pressed him on this. For more questions on the charter fight, district reports, and info on reso endorsements (all unanimously approved Unity resos this week), please see the informal minutes below.

Minutes:

Minutes approved.

LeRoy Barr: 500 member negotiating committee, tomorrow. March 2nd, fourth installment of Black History Film Series. Film will be Aftershock. Chapter Leader Training this weekend, sold out. Lunar New Year Banquet on March 10th. Lobby Day on March 13th. Thanks Janella Hinds for leading effort against Charter School expansion. Wednesday, March 13th next DA. March 16th, anniversary of the UFT.

Questions:  

Alex Jallot: Bronx H.S. currently has a charter middle school in the same building in D75. They are attempting to expand, which will be a detriment to the regular public school there.

LeRoy Barr: Main pushback in the last fight was parents. To build a campaign in the Bronx, maybe talk to Janella.

Ibeth Mejia: Need support on grievances on operational complaint. Some people telling us to do grievances, some operational complaints. James Eterno, I, and another attempted a grievance. We were told we should file an operational complaint RE curriculum maps. Member got a letter in the file, but CL said there wasn’t enough support from membership to enforce that part of the contract. Aviation’s grievance on coverage pay – they won but haven’t been paid yet. I was told to email Mulgrew and never got a response from anyone in the UFT. What do we have to do to get someone from the UFT to address grievances at Middle College and Aviation. Principal is taking advantage of situation; needs to be stopped.

LeRoy Barr: Many people here can speak to you on that.

Mark (director of Grievance): On payment from shortage area, we brought a grievance for a teacher and won a grievance. DOE challenged arbitrator’s award. This is rare, but caused delay. Shouldn’t have done this, but they did. The other case I’ll talk with you about, but can’t go too far into it here because it’s an individual case. We’ll look at that case.

Nick Bacon: DC37 contract – there’s a tentative agreement. I hope the members get the contract they deserve and am happy for them if they do. However, we already know that one aspect is not so good – and that aspect affects us and all other unions in the MLC. The wages are set to be way below inflation. Because of pattern bargaining, that means the DC37 agreement will essentially commit us to a pay cut. What is the UFT doing, whether publicly or privately, to prevent DC37 from setting sub-inflation pay cuts for all other unions?

LeRoy Barr: I’m sure conversations are happening, but we can’t make public statements about another union’s contract. Would you want another union to say something about our contract before we voted on it?

Nick Bacon: This aspect of their contract is effectively part of our contract too. It’s bad for our members. So if that pattern does go through, what are the next steps for our union?

LeRoy Barr: That’s really a question for tomorrow’s (closed) contract meeting.

Nick Bacon: Yes, with its NDAs.

District Reports

Janella Hinds: Lobbied legislators. Thanks many. Next Saturday, Herstory event – celebrate current/historic activists.

Rosemary Thompson: School counselors conference – glue that holds our schools together. March 11th, 9 AM to 3PM.

Social Workers CL: Thanks UFT officers for their support of the pre-k social workers. Next week is social worker appreciation. Share with your CLs and everyone so social workers, who are often isolated, get recognized in your schools.

Seung Lee: UFT Uptown Loves You Event occurred. DRs there.

Mike Schirtzer: We did the DC37 event, good union solidarity event. My school all sat together and ate lunch. Beautiful moment.

Adam Shapiro: Beginning March Madness Tournament. Follow district 21 facebook page.

Lamar Hughes (D25): April 2, first family day. Nets vs. Jazz. Everyone welcome to attend.

Rashad Brown: Black history month events, if you missed, you missed out. Aftershock event to come, hybrid. Thursday at 4:00 PM. Scholarship applications coming out next week.

Joe Usatch: Shanker scholarship deadline is March 10. Thanks Rosemary Thompson and Nick Cruz for helping move over to new IS platform.

President’s Report:

Mulgrew: Europe has done 4 day work weeks. Jokes about putting that in the contract. Some schools in PROSE do have that (sort of – socioemotional instruction, etc; still work full minutes).

We now have a new pattern tentatively. Talk to Garrido all the time. Sure there is stuff in there about costing that has not put things out in the public. We will have a conversation once they do their thing.

Tomorrow, we have the contract event. We need to talk about workplace stuff – stop wasting our time.

See what actions we can commit to tomorrow.

In terms of City itself, talking about negotiations. PBA agreement should come in shortly – 2.5 year arbitration.

Charter school fight – thanks Janella and team fighting in Albany. NY Post front page all about how horrible we are – that we aren’t serving the people of the city. They forget that they don’t serve many kids, and we take them with pride. This kind of bad press from the Post shows we’re doing our job well. People behind the corporate charters are used to getting their own way. They want to chip away at the unions because we stand up to them. Even if we defeat this this year, it’s not going away. There are people in the City’s administration who I think want to see charters prosper.

Lobby day is 2 weeks from today.

Aetna is putting out its current proposal to the MLC. UFT has been at the table, because we won’t approve a MAP program unless it has everything we say it has to have. No agreement until the signatures are there. We didn’t meet the arbitrator timeline, so what – we keep going. We’ll get the info out as soon as we have it.

Context: stuff happening in the South, especially Florida, is off the charts. Like a communist takeover of a state with propaganda all over the place. Just teaching the facts becomes ‘CRT.’ Also destroying the middle class, removing rent and insurance regulations. Teachers are bearing the brunt of the culture war down there.

Mike Schirtzer: City saying healthcare first, then raises. What kind of changes are we looking at?

Mulgrew: Last couple of contracts, didn’t negotiate healthcare. We went to City Hall and said there won’t be any ‘healthcare savings’ in this round of bargaining. But we’ll look at the RFP. This is a straight round of bargaining. Still, understand – that healthcare is part of the compensation package, but not a part of this bargaining negotiation.

Luli Rodriguez: Emergency MLC meeting on MAP with Aetna. But not an MLC vote on Aetna. So will the exec board/ DA get to see the Aetna proposal and vote on it before we vote at the MLC?

Mulgrew: We have not done that in the past. But, I won’t vote on the plan unless it meets our criteria. But we are different than other union, because we have a much closer relationship with our retirees. We have this relationship because it makes us stronger to keep our retirees active and working in the union. That’s not the norm. So here, we actually have an extra check and balance on retiree decisions. Retirees here vote in elections.

Luli: So you’ll talk to the retirees on the criteria you want…

Mulgrew: Cuts off. I am not a dictator. We have an exec board, adcom. There are people in our union working with other unions to reduce/eliminate our vote in the MLC. Not fair.

Luli: Just want to make sure that retirees are taken care of.

Mulgrew: Healthcare costs a lot of money, but we’re putting ourselves at the table – not waiting for the employer.

Alex Jallot: Going back to charters. But we do represent some charter school members. What happens where a UFT-represented charter school wants to expand at the expense of the UFT-represented public school at the same campus.

Mulgrew: Last time that happened, we helped the charter school move. Working on that with a relevant charter school (the one Alex mentioned earlier). By the way, that charter school was one of the only ones founded by a group of teachers. But we want to find them a different space. You should talk to them – actually pretty cool people.

Motion Period:

Dave Kazanzky: Motion endorsing Tom Brown to keep post on TRS. Victoria Lee endorses as well.

Motion carries unanimously.

LeRoy Barr: endorses reso on anniversary of UFT founding. You have to talk about things, but you forget. Grateful to have the opportunity to talk about all we had an opportunity to gain over the next few years. I want to push each other up. It’s important to push up. The two groups that were there and came together, it was that same pushing against each other – it almost didn’t form. But they had more in common than differences.

Motion carries unanimously.

Janella Hinds: endorses resolution on Women’s history month. Important to think about the local history of our union. Let’s pull out a bit and think about the historical impact women have had on our union and our country. Important to think of the impact of those who came before us.

Motion carries unanimously.

UFT/DC37 Contract Watch – It Gets Worse 

Surprise, surprise – it’s not looking good for the UFT’s next contract. In an exploitative misuse of pattern bargaining, Adams set up DC37 to vote in sub-inflation wage increases that other municipal unions will be ‘stuck with.’ But, rumor had it that DC37 rank-and-file were overwhelmingly happy about the deal. Many of them were expecting less than the 3% pittance being sold as a win. And some were happy about vague promises of more ‘flexible’ remote work policies even as they would be irrelevant to many DC37 members. (You can’t remotely tune in to cook school lunch). But even among the optimists, there were skeptics. Though the tentative contractual agreement was years late, it also paradoxically felt rushed. What was everyone missing? Most of us guessed healthcare.

This leaked MLC memo suggests we were right. 

Translation: just as DC37 leadership is setting up to push out a sub-inflation pattern for all MLC unions, MLC leadership (predominately UFT and DC37) is gearing up to privatize our retirees’ Medicare. And with constant talk of a mysterious ‘RFP’ to replace GHI/HIP, we can expect further ‘cost savings’ to be dumped onto working municipal employees. In short, we were sadly right to predict that ‘3% could easily become -3%.’ 

The Role of Rank and File

Even before this news, teachers were picking up on our union leadership’s non-willingness to fight for something better. Earlier this week, on the ICE-UFT blog, James Eterno posted an anonymous teacher’s plea to NY’s City Council. This teacher, lacking any confidence in UFT leadership to get us wages anywhere close inflation, begged our City Council to write/pass legislation that would. This isn’t the first time a teacher has gone to politicians for help because our union leadership let us down. Think back to 12-126. Without the consent of membership, UFT leadership tried to organize us to get the City Council to erase our healthcare protections. Indeed, we now know that massive amounts of money were spent by our own union leadership to lobby against our healthcare interests. With union leadership working against us, members were left with no choice but to form their own massive grassroots response. In opposition to Mulgrew, New Action joined thousands of fired up municipal workers and retirees to petition against changing the code. We won that battle. City Council listened to rank-and-file members/retirees over the union leadership who was trying to sell us out. It was proof that rank-and-file could organize even when leadership was actively working against us. But, we all knew it wasn’t over. This leaked memo, with its suspicious timing right before a bad pattern is about to be set, shows the time is now.

These are the odd circumstances we’ve found ourselves in circa 2023. We are left with the need to use real union tactics like organizing members for no-votes and working together to lobby our employer for better pay/healthcare. But it isn’t our official union leadership who is doing this organizing. They, rather, are doing backroom deals and putting forth propaganda to get us to accept crappy wages and healthcare reductions. And yes, I’m sure in their minds, they think they’re doing the right thing. In the context of the Taylor Law, this might be the ‘best’ they can do while using traditional (i.e. legal) negotiating methods. Yes, it’s not a good deal, but it’s the ‘least bad’ deal they can get us.

If we simply go with Mulgrew and Garrido, all we’ll get is the ‘best possible reduction in wages/benefits.’ If we want more than managed decline, we have no choice but to organize ourselves. Short term, that means organizing around healthcare/the pattern. Long term, that means making massive changes to the Taylor Law, so that our unions can function like unions again. Bottom line is: we can’t just sulk and ‘wait for the inevitable.’ We need to be ready to fight. 


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