Posts Tagged 'UFT Contract'

UFT Leadership’s Contract Teach-in Legacy is to Sue Members for Organizing

I was cautiously optimistic about the contract teach ins. So were a lot of people in the UFT’s progressive opposition. We had questions, to be sure — doubts. As I put it in January, “We need to make sure that the ‘teach in’s in our schools are not just infrastructure for an undeserved ‘yes’ vote, but a true means for chapters to think about what the contract means to them – and what sorts of contracts are worth that ‘yes’ vote.”

Unfortunately, the materials UFT gave us did resemble propaganda for a yes vote. They overstated the power of our current contract, slid over give-backs that have weakened it over the years, and made the negotiating process for a new contract seem much too fool proof.

Then, on the eve of the Teach Ins, I published this: “Luckily, at this point, we have some new materials. The good folks over at MORE published a much better version of the UFT’s official powerpoint. It looks to resemble the original powerpoint well enough that it could be switched out without any new planning.’ I used this powerpoint at my own chapter’s teach in. It allowed me to tailor that event in an honest way that provoked real discussion amongst rank-and-file members.

Then, a few weeks ago, MORE got a cease-and-desist letter from a law firm to which the UFT pays millions of dollars in our dues money. They were threatened not to use the UFT logo in their materials, which I now understand were written by individual MORE members and not even authorized by MORE itself. Opposition was stunned. Norm and James already published good think pieces on this, so I just have one extra point today.

This is the work going on at 52 Broadway. UFT leadership did nothing to stop DC37 leadership from committing us to a sub-inflation pattern. No matter how much we organize at this point, we’re going to be stuck with sub-inflation wage increases below the non-unionized U.S. average. I’ve written a lot about this (here, here, and here), but the main point is this: when well-paid DC37 leaders, who Mulgrew has described himself as talking to ‘all the time,’ put us in financial jeopardy by championing a bad pattern, UFT leadership does nothing. However, when opposition unionists try to organize members to help UFT get a critical mass of rank-and-file members ready for a contract fight, they get challenged to be sued, using our dues money. See the difference?

This is the legacy of our teach ins: actual organizers were given cease-and-desist letters by the UFT’s law firm, while our union leadership sat on their hands and let our real wages plummet.


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 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.


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.

DC37 Sets Pattern Below Mostly Non-Unionized U.S. Average

It’s the last day of school before a much needed vacation, so just a few words on the terrible pattern set by the DC-37 contract. I’ll write something more in depth later.

A 3% wage increase is absolutely horrendous. It’s far below inflation, which is running into the double digits. It’s literally a pay cut. 3% is also below the national average. Most of the country isn’t represented by unions. So unionized New York City municipal unions are getting crappier raise increases than people who are working at-will. That’s terrible. And things will only get worse if we also end up paying for premiums, as Mulgrew has already prepped us to accept. 3% could easily become -3%.

Adams took advantage of DC37. DC37 is a large and diverse union, but most of its members make offensively low salaries. The union’s website stresses the reliance of its membership on public assistance programs to make ends meet. A 3% wage increase with a $3,000 signing bonus would go a long way for people who are already making non-living wages during a time of record inflation. Knowing full well that DC37 members would be the most in need of an immediate raise, Adams weaponized the increased cost of living (which he himself had a hand in driving up) to get the City’s lowest paid workers to agree to a wage increase that would never be accepted by other unions. And now everyone is stuck with that rate.

This is an absolute abuse of pattern bargaining. Pattern bargaining is supposed be a means of efficiently organizing fair wage increases for like-unions. Larger or more powerful unions negotiate first, ensuring that smaller and less powerful unions get the same deal. Everyone wins because less negotiating energy gets spent on figuring out financials, leaving more room to discuss workplace improvements and other non-economic factors. Here, in an absurd reversal, the City exploited the union with the most disadvantaged members so that it could force an unfair deal onto everyone else.

The blame doesn’t just go to the City. For MLC labor leaders, who make hefty compensation packages and don’t have to live with the consequences of sub-inflation wages, this is win-win. DC37 leadership gets to quickly get out wage increases to its membership, who is after all willing to take the deal. Then, labor leaders of unions whose membership would not take the deal get to sit back and blame DC37 for the crappy wages. They can now say ‘sorry, all we can negotiate now is non-economic factors.’ Hiding behind the pattern system and the Taylor Law, union leaders and bureaucrats can rest at ease, spending the rest of their time convincing membership why their hands are tied. This is a perfect example of what I meant when I said that “[UFT Leadership] will take on the task, not of organizing us to fight, but of disorganizing overworked members into acquiescence.”

But, Mulgrew isn’t off the hook. I’ll ask question number one: if we are conceding to the pattern–and recent communications seem to suggest that we are–are we also conceding to the work day that no longer makes sense under said pattern? About 20 years ago, we agreed to work extra time (now called PD Mondays and OPW/PO Tuesdays) in exchange for raises in excess of other unions. But now, we are likely to have to take a pay cut. In my view, if we aren’t getting the raises we deserve, that means it’s time to sunset extra time. To be frank, we now need that time to find extra jobs to afford living in this city.

Unions can and must achieve more than non-unionized America. The nurses just proved this. Their leadership didn’t hide behind patterns or find reasons not to organize. They struck and now will get 19% over 3 years. DC37 and the rest of us will be getting 16.21 over 5.5. See the difference? DC37 deserves far more than a 3% increase, as do the workers represented by other municipal unions. We can and must push for better, Taylor Law or not.

That’s all for now. I look forward to analyzing the situation more and publishing something longer in the coming weeks. Hopefully DC37 members vote ‘no,’ but we’ll see. It’s tough when your union recommends you do.

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March 2023