Dear Mr. Mulgrew:
I was somewhat dismayed by your letter stating we must make up days in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. I'm a little shocked the union would conclude this without having even consulted rank and file.
This, however, is not at all my only concern. First of all, there has been very public talk of relaxing the minimum attendance requirement statewide. We certainly ought to be open to that, and examine our options before simply agreeing to Chancellor Walcott's very public pronouncements. As you pointed out in your letter, we have worked up to 196 days a year and there was never extra compensation for our efforts.
My primary concern is for my members, many of whom, like me, have not been able to stay in their homes for over two weeks. We have not, in fact, spent our time off watching Oprah and eating popcorn. Most of my time has been spent frantically calling electricians and plumbers to replace walls, floors and appliances destroyed when six feet of saltwater rampaged through my home. Despite being essentially homeless, like many of my members, I've yet to miss a day this year.
Many of my members have already made plans for breaks and are set to lose considerable sums of money if these plans are abruptly altered by mayoral fiat or otherwise. At the last Queens Chapter Leader meeting, I was reminded that article 6C of our Contract lays out the days we are required to report.
I certainly hope I did not make an error sharing that information with my members. Further financial strains on those affected by the storm will not be welcome. As you know, all city employees but educators received raises in excess of 8% between 2008-2010. My members, who have gone four years without a raise, are ill-prepared to take such a hit at this time.
In fact, last year we took no snow days at all, and Walcott, in a bizarre but typical DOE aberration from logic, gave us a choice in June of having kids attend or running an SBO for a PD day. My members were quite confused at the prospect of making up a snow day we did not actually use, and have reminded me of this frequently, most recently last Friday.
Personally, I'm incredulous the UFT seems to have capitulated to Walcott's demands for more days without any discussion, let alone demands. If Walcott wishes for us to be reasonable, the very least he can offer in return is a contract, with the 8% raise he unconditionally granted all other city employees.
Thank you for your attention in this matter.
Very truly yours,
Arthur Goldstein, UFT Chapter Leader
Francis Lewis High School
Grassroots Education Movement
Education columnist, The Wave
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