Wednesday, May 7, 2014

MORE Press Release: UFT CONTRACT: NOT A DONE DEAL UNTIL THE MEMBERSHIP VOTES

I should be at the MORE press conference outside the Hilton as this is published at 6PM just after the Unity Caucus dominated Delegate Assembly votes YES without having had a chance to read the full 46-page Memorandum of Understanding. (If I'm not check local hospitals.) Watch the Unity trolls throw everything they can against the wall trying to disparage the MORE campaign. Readers know that I have urged MORE to not just talk about the money even though that seems most on the minds of people. To put all the things in and not in the contract aside from the money issue in context. (I spoke about these aspects at the UFT Ex Bd meeting the other day.) Look for a great piece written by Julie Cavanagh that puts all if it in perspective --a piece that may be published by one of the mainstream media.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 7, 2014
CONTACT: Harris Lirtzman  (during the school day) OR Megan Moskop, media@morecaucusnyc.org

**PRESS RELEASE**

UFT CONTRACT: NOT A DONE DEAL UNTIL THE MEMBERSHIP VOTES

MORE --  A UFT Caucus -- Calls for Teachers to Vote “No!;”
Launches grassroots campaign for a “Contract NYC Educators Deserve”
New York:  Today, members of MORE-UFT (The Movement of Rank and File Educators) launched their campaign urging UFT members to vote “no” on the UFT contract proposal. MORE represents a growing number of educators who believe that the long awaited contract should do more to bring us closer to the schools our students deserve.

The contract proposal under consideration spreads what UFT leaders call an “18% raise” over nine years. This amounts to a 2% raise per year - the approximate rate of inflation. A 2% raise does not adequately address widening disparities between New York City and surrounding counties in class size, pay scale, or working and learning conditions.

The UFT’s own NY Teacher newspaper reported that more than one in eight New York City teachers over the last eleven years have left to work in “nearby suburban systems that have higher pay, lower class sizes and better teaching conditions.”  

If we truly want to reduce teacher attrition, recruit a diverse force of highly qualified teachers, and give all NYC students the education they deserve, we need a contract that demonstrates respect for educators through competitive salaries and improved working conditions in our schools.

A contract that demonstrates respect for educators would move away from pay inequity and “merit pay” schemes that reward some teachers and students at the expense of others. It would provide due process and protections for all teachers, including those who are in the Absent Teacher Reserve.  A contract that honors educators would allow them to choose and create appropriate assessments for measuring and shaping their students’ learning. It would not ratify the use of use of new one-size-fits-all standardized tests to evaluate students and teachers.

Teachers across the city generated MORE’s, The Contract NYC’s Educators Deserve. On their website, MORE provides resources for teachers to lead discussions in their own schools as UFT members make decisions about how to vote on the contract in June.

“The proposed contract had the power to right the wrongs of the last administration, and while there were clear efforts aimed at improving communication and collaboration, too much as been left on the table.  I will continue to urge the UFT and the City to go back to that table and come back with a contract that both respects educators by improving our working conditions and also provides for improved learning conditions for our children.” - Julie Cavanagh, a teacher at PS 15 in Red Hook Brooklyn who ran as MORE’s Presidential candidate in the last UFT election

“The UFT can negotiate a better contract because there is power that is not being harnessed here: the thousands of rank and file teachers, and their communities. MORE is calling for an end to the tiered, corporate-model provisions of this deal, and instead, a grassroots negotiation process driven by members’ participation.” -Jia Lee, a teacher and parent at the Earth School, and a “Teacher of Conscience” who refused to administer standardized tests this year.  

“UFT members never got to vote on ‘Advance’ (the new teacher evaluation system) or the resulting High Stakes Tests, but we will all vote on our contract this year, so it is important that each UFT member makes an informed vote.  The contract is not just about our ‘bread-and-butter’ issues. It is a legal document that dictates working conditions in our schools.”  - Kit Wainer, High School teacher, UFT Chapter Leader

“Allowing the city stretch it out so that money we were owed since 2009 won't be fully paid back until 2020 really lets the city off the hook. As for setting the pattern of 10% over 7 years, this is an abysmally low pattern to establish. We did better monetarily under the anti-union Mayors Bloomberg and Giuliani.  I can understand why other labor unions in the city are angry with Mulgrew, particularly when it is considered how much surplus revenue the city has.” - James Eterno, Chapter Leader at Jamaica HS, and member of the UFT’s negotiating committee.

"We need a contract that includes a fair and research-based evaluation system. It is already obvious that the new test-obsessed evaluation system is not only an inaccurate, inauthentic, and harmful way of sorting students and teachers, but it is also unfair to English language learners and students with special needs.” -Seku Braithwaite, middle school teacher

“Alongside other mobilized teacher unions in Portland, Chicago & St. Paul, MORE is fighting for the schools our children deserve. Starting with the premise that our working conditions are our students learning conditions, MORE is fighting for smaller class sizes, more arts and enrichment programs and less testing for our students. Teachers in Chicago and Portland have shown us that when teachers fight side by side with parents and students for the schools we all deserve, we can win.” –Megan Behrent, high school chapter delegate

About MORE: MORE, a growing UFT caucus in the UFT, organizes for a democratic, member-driven union, based on the motto "Our working conditions are our students’ learning conditions!”  In 2013 MORE co-organized the “More than a Score: Talking Back to Testing Forum” with parents in Change the Stakes and the “Fair Pay for City Workers Forum” with members of over a dozen unions. MORE ran candidates in the New York State Teacher’s Union (NYSUT) elections in April (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AbkqXmDz62Y).

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The Movement of Rank and File Educators is the Social Justice Caucus of the United Federation of Teachers.  To learn MORE, visit www.morec

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