The cone of silence descends on the UFT negotiating committee.
Here is a follow-up to our post on the UFT Survey on Thursday (The UFT Survey Says (Gag, Gag).....) which included an analysis by TJC and an opportunity to get a copy of Marian Swerdlow's point by point comparison titled
2006 vs. 2009: A Section-by-Section Guide to What Can We Learn from Comparing Two Questionnaires
Marian said it was ok to include some quotes. Here is a sample of this insightful analysis:
I. Negotiating Priorities
Twenty out of twenty-two of these questions are identical to the 2006 survey. Mostly, this is because we did not get any of the "priorities" we were asked about three years ago. (Examples: "an enforceable process to identify and reduce excessive workload," "less restricted use of sick days," "stronger contract language requiring supervisors to honor program preferences.") The changes are instructive. Gone is a question about "improved medical benefits." This omission, and other changes I'll describe below, make it clear to me that there is a de-emphasis on our medical benefits. My guess is that this is because we are about to make concessions on our medical benefits. Also omitted is "maintaining current pension benefits." As of June 22, that patient died.
She does this for every section. Email me for a copy at email@example.com.
ICE's Vera Pavone also did some analysis:
A couple of points to add to the discussion on the Contract Questionnaire and the Contract Committee. Maybe they were made and I missed them:
1. The contract questionnaire has been distributed to all working members including nurses. Pages 1 through 7 are to be answered by everyone, and then subsequent pages are for different job titles. The questions for every member include items on: class size; adequate equipment and supplies; the 37 ½ minutes; improved working conditions in after-school and summer activities; relief from involuntary coverages; safety and discipline; training and materials for mandated programs; money for instructional materials; hours spent outside school for calling parents, preparing lessons, grading papers. Why should nurses be weighing in on these questions?
2. The issue of class size is posed in the usual divisive manner that we have come to expect from the Unity leadership: We are asked to rate in terms of importance:
“5. lower class size as a part of the contract, but not if it takes money from salary” and
“6. lower class size as a part of the contract, even if it takes money from salary”
Why were questions on class size coupled with salary? Why not all other questions that involve costs—improved facilities, salary supplements, adequate equipment and supplies, improved working conditions in after-school and summer activities, reducing excessive workload?
Of course for almost 40 years the Unity Caucus leaders have consistently posed lower class size against salary as a way of confusing and dividing teachers from one another.
3. The only item on the 37-1/2 minutes is “address concerns regarding use of 37 ½ minutes”. What about the choice of calling for the elimination of the 37 ½ minutes?
4. “School-wide bonus programs should be expanded.” (p. 10) So the choice is between expansion and leaving as is. Shouldn’t teachers have a chance to weigh in on “School-wide bonuses should be eliminated.” Or “School-wide bonuses should not be tied to student test scores.”
4. Student Assessments and Tests (p. 11):
What about the elimination of the high-stakes aspects of tests?
Questions on the Negotiation Committee: How are people chosen to be on this committee? Of the 350 committee members how many are in Unity Caucus? Does secrecy mean that Unity Caucus members don’t discuss the issues brought up for discussion among themselves? Are we to believe that the only discussion that takes place among Unity Caucus members is in the committee room?
Good questions Vera. Ahhh, the negotiating committee and the cone of silence or gag order. I didn't cover some of the aspects of the undemocratic nature of the 350 (it might as well be 3000) negotiating committee. I got this email from someone on the committee:
Each member (secret cult) had to sign a contract that swears them to secrecy. They may have to leave work (school) and if they are requested to do so, they will be paid. Members have to promise to attend all meetings. The issue of discussing what goes on at the meetings is strictly prohibited. That part was in the contract several times.
I'll do more on this farce in the future but here is another interesting email I received:
I have a newbie teacher friend. Very, very new to the UFT and not aware of half the things we have struggled with forever. Anyway, was invited to participate on the UFT Negotiation Committee. What's the story on that?? How are they "choosing" random teachers to work on the new contract? Not to mention brand new people who know nothing about the contract and how members have been sold out over the years. I think this is crazy!LIFT THE CONE OF SILENCE. CALL FOR OPEN NEGOTIATIONS THAT WILL KEEP THE MEMBERS INFORMED ALL THE WAY AND STOP BACKROOM DEALS