Monday, October 12, 2015

Retro About Retro Pay and UFT Election Implications Plus Kevin Prossen on UFT 2014 Contract - Why VOTE NO?

.... our union president has said “the cupboard was bare” — that retroactive pay is not a “God-given right,” and that we should be satisfied with this money being further delayed. If workers have not won the right to be paid for the labor they have already done, then the labor movement has fallen very far indeed...
Kevin Prossen, Jacobin magazine on May 12, 2014. 
Jia Lee: A must read for NYC Educators! Kevin Prosen published this piece before the contract was voted in, and at this time, it gives us cause for reflection. 

I agree with Jia. Kevin, one of our most dynamic organizers and chapter leaders, wrote the piece for Jacobin magazine on May 12, 2014.

More from Kevin:
This is money that we are owed, and that those of us who are those mid-career teachers that will have to leave the system in the next few years — who can’t continue working for these wages — will never see. The proposed pay increases fall below the rate of inflation, our rents continue to spiral upward, and every year the conditions of life for working New Yorkers gets worse. We’ve been told by our union that if we vote this down we will go “to the back of the line” — that we could be waiting for years for a contract. We were told that if we could just wait out Bloomberg, we would be richly rewarded. Yet here we are, still waiting.
Before we get back to Kevin's must read piece, a few points.

MORE took a strong stand against the contract. Unity has been ridiculing MORE for its stance in the puny little handout they give out at DAs.

The current retro pay snafu, as reported by James Eterno at the ICE blog, is, you'll excuse the expression, a tip of the iceberg. James emailed:
...please check out the ICEUFT blog where a simple post about the 12.5% retro pay stub being online is getting a significant number of comments.  We haven't seen comments in these numbers since the contract came out in 2014.
There has been lots of internal buzz inside MORE about this issue. I've been out of town and can't follow that closely but there is talk of the UFT dues increase in the midst to a retro snafu and other stuff - so go check it out at ICE.

James continues to point out that Unity battered people to vote YES on the contract in order to keep the city from going broke when there is in fact billions of surplus - after we signed the contract. Our union leaders are not stupid - they know where the money is but sold us a lie.

Yes, when I was leafleting at the contract vote DA I actually had Unity people tell me I was crazy to push the city into bankruptcy.

Mike Schirtzer left this rant:
This week 80,000 are going to be looking at some BS money- while the city withholds about 90% of what's due us. This week my friend who worked the last 9 years like I did, is sitting home taking care of her sick child, without a paycheck and without retro payment to help her-pay her free healthcare (copay after copay).
Roseanne McCosh informed us that "BX UFT is taking our grievances over Oct first retro delay.  Taking them and stuffing them in a drawer is my guess but who knows maybe they'll surprise us."

I replied that I think they will take this grievance for show and PR. Watch Mulgrew announce this at the DA to demonstrate they are "fighting" - I would call it whimpering. You know, they negotiated and signed and shilled for the contract. If it is grieveable then make a big deal about that. But that they would have to grieve it makes them look oh so stupid.

Wait until the health care shit kicks in - but that won't happen until after this year's UFT election - intentionally on the part of the DOE/UFT alliance - which I believe I pointed out at the time (just too lazy to find a link). You all will find out the REAL BAD NEWS sometime after Mulgrew gets re-elected.

The contract was voted on by about 92% of the 108,000 UFT members eligible to vote. (Retirees and non-DOE employees do not vote). I was at the vote count to observe. About 25% of the classroom teachers - roughly 16,000 - voted NO. 47,000 voted Yes. About 20% of the non-teaching staff voted no.

These are interesting numbers vis a vis the upcoming UFT elections. Can these 16,000 classroom NO Votes translate into general election votes for MORE/New Action?

James broke the numbers down after the vote: THOUGHTS ON NEW CONTRACT AND THE RATIFICATION VOTE...

Look at the difference in NO vote numbers between the teaching staff (25%) and the other divisions which mostly topped 80% and indicates the significant control Unity exercises over these divisions. The battle inside the UFT can only be won in the schools, not the general election. I believe the contract vote totals for classroom teachers and non-teachers justifies my theories of concentrating resources on this biggest branch of the UFT and not on retirees or the other divisions - sorry if you are a secretary or para - you guys have to get into your UFT chapter and break Unity total control.

More on election implications of the contract vote in the future.

Back to Kevin's piece in Jacobin where he closes with:
If we vote “no” on this proposed deal, we will, of course, be attacked in the press as greedy labor aristocrats. But this isn’t only about the UFT, and we can’t talk as though it is. We must challenge the idea that we are somehow not deserving of a professional wage. But we also need to point out that this deal will set the pattern for hundreds of thousands of other city workers.
Saying no to this deal is about drawing a line for the entire working class of New York City — about saying there is a limit to what we will suffer and how little we will accept. Many of our students’ parents are city workers: they drop their kids off before making their way to operate buses and subways, to pick up our trash, to direct our traffic and clean the offices of City Hall. This is not only about us, it’s about solidarity with the rest of working New York. It is about making our city a more humane place for the people who love it enough to keep it running. That is the language we need to speak in.
A contract is a negotiated settlement on the conditions of exploitation under which you will spend most of your waking life. Don’t accept arguments that this offer is “the best we can get” from anybody who won’t have to work under its terms. Not from liberal mayors, not from union leaders making generous salaries on your dues money, not from newspaper editors; it’s your life under discussion, not theirs.
I hope you will join me and the majority of teachers in my school in voting no on this contract. By all means, do it for the money. But also, do it for love.
Kevin goes into the details of how the contract supports ed deform, as the UFT has all along. Read it all at:

A Letter to New York City’s School Teachers

New York teachers should vote no on the proposed union contract — for love and for money.


  1. Beware the slippery slope of paying for medical insurance. My take home pay decreased each of the three years of the "historic" contract and it continues to decrease in our current expired contract year.

    Abigail Shure


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