Thursday, August 16, 2012

Does the UFT Wish Tenure Would Go Away While Hoping the Taylor Law Stays for a Lifetime?

New York’s Taylor Law banning and penalizing public worker strikes violates fundamental workers’ rights protected by international law. -- ILO
If you start digging into the UFT response, or lack thereof, on the tenure issue, they want tenure to go away so they don't have to answer for it...
Would UFT leaders be happy if we had the right to strike like teachers in Chicago despite the limitations? What do you think? Let me try to connect a few dots.

There is an interesting article on tenure and the politics behind granting, not granting, extending, etc. at Gotham Schools:

Amid tenure crackdown, some targeted teachers get good news

Making tenure go away

It is worth reading along with some of the comments. Watching the behavior of the UFT/AFT leadership based on lots of anecdotal evidence and some observations I added the comment below which I expanded into a general analysis of the motivations behind the actions of UFT/AFT/NYSUT complex. Before going to the analysis there are a few points to make about the tenure issue.

First, meet any untenured teacher and the concept of getting tenure is absolutely on their minds -- except if you run across a TFA or E4E slug on the way out of teaching. I met quite a few at the Gotham party yesterday and that fact was reaffirmed.

Secondly, I want to tell a brief story about a UFT DA I attended last spring where Mulgrew was asked what to do if a teacher keeps getting tenure extended year after year -- like a 3rd time. His response: let us know. Too bad the person asking the question didn't follow up with "But if we let you know what will you do about it." Oh, I know the answer: We'll look into it. OK, after you look into it what will you do?

In fact, I believe the UFT wants tenure to go away as an issue and would breathe a sigh of relief if the politicians took it away while they put up a feeble fight (see New Jersey, Cleveland, and the rest of the AFT sell-out tour).

In fact the more you dig the more you find all sorts of revised unwritten tenure issues that have come up that the UFT is ignoring. Like teachers who transfer to a new school in their 3rd year are told that they can't get tenure because they have to work under the principal for 2 years. Or teachers who switch from middle school to high school have to go through some sort of retenuring process. And of course the big enchilada, principals who want to show their bosses how tough  they are --- like how does it look if 100% of your teachers get tenure even if they are all John Dewey? And finally, the denial of tenure to teachers at schools branded as failures, the main point of the Gotham article. In other words, the entire process of not granting tenure for political and not educational reasons.

Send me any info you find on any UFT response or comments on these issues. Is this the fear of Campbell Brown-like attacks operating?

You know this is reminding me of what was done in NYC during the 1930's depression when they had 2 classes of teachers, regulars and permanent subs who made less money and had less rights -- they found all sorts of ways to keep people in the permanent sub category. And I believe the denial of tenure, possibly year after year is returning us to those years.

Taylor Law outlawing strikes takes union leaders off the hook

This is from an interesting article in the Labor Press about an International Labor Organization ruling:
A November 2011 International Labor Organization decision ruled, after the Transport Workers Union Local 100 filed a complaint with the ILO in November 2009 after the union struck in December 2005 and was heavily fined, that New York’s Taylor Law banning and penalizing public worker strikes violates fundamental workers’ rights protected by international law. With 200,000 city public workers without contracts, in some cases over five years, the ILO decision would seem to have presented the city’s public sector unions the economic leverage they have desperately needed to win new contracts. ...... However, since the November 2011 ILO decision regarding the TWU’s complaints ... there hasn’t been a unified response from the city’s public unions, although 200,000 members are working without contracts.
What does that tell you about our labor leaders?

Here was my comment at Gotham:

I believe if you start digging into the UFT response, or lack thereof, on the tenure issue, they want tenure to go away so they don't have to answer for it ala Campbell Brown attacks, etc. But if they are too open about it they face some wrath from the members. So in the ideal world of the UFT, the politicians take it away and they say, "See, it wasn't out fault we just have to give more money to COPE to elect OUR politicians," which of course they know they never will but it takes them off the hook. This is part of the consistency of the UFT/AFT/NYSUT policy -- try to appear as one thing to the members but as another to the rest of the world.

Thus the policy of pushing collaboration because the alternative would be to engage in a war which given the way they operate internally (lack of democracy, total top-down, lack of engagement of the members) they cannot win. (Vs Chicago TU which has mobilized its membership to engage in the war). Why won't they do what Chicago TU has done? You can only mobilize people effectively if they feel they have a say in union policy and the ability to influence it. Giving people such a say is a bigger threat to the union/Unity Caucus leadership than the ed deformers. Thus the support for charter schools and even co-locations in the hope that they can organize teachers in charters even if a small percentage. (See: Exposing UFT/Charter Connections as UFT Supports Co-location)

They know that in the long run the teachers unions without a fight will suffer slow strangulation but given that within the straight jacket of their political framework they are helpless to stop it, at least the people at the top can exist for quite a while and if they make the proper deals with ed deformers (Gates, Broad, etc) they might be able to keep the shell of a union going with them at the top. Ed deformers are not unified. The right wing Republicans want to kill the unions and the leadership completely while the Dem/liberal deformers (Obama, Bloomberg, Gates) see the usefulness to them of keeping the shell and as long as the union gives them pieces of what they want and keeps giving they will support the existence of the current leadership. That is why Chicago is such a massive threat to the entire arrangement between the unions and the Dem deformers.
The opinions expressed on EdNotesOnline are solely those of Norm Scott and are not to be taken as official positions (though Unity Caucus/New Action slugs will try to paint them that way) of any of the groups or organizations Norm works with: ICE, GEM, MORE, Change the Stakes, NYCORE, FIRST Lego League NYC, Rockaway Theatre Co., Active Aging, The Wave, Aliens on Earth, etc.


James Eterno said...

Tenure has been slowly chipped away at by the UFT, NYSUT, the state and DOE. It is at the point where tenure will soon not mean much more than a two year delay when administration goes after a teacher. Teachers will not have much of a hearing in the end under the new evaluation system. If and when that system goes into effect, it will be much easier to get rid of us, whether we are good or bad. I have written about this on the ICEUFT blog for some time now.

Anonymous said...

Question: If New York State "officially" got rid of tenure by eliminating it from the law, would teachers who already have it be grandfathered in with it? My understanding is that some cities/states have had tenure laws eliminated but teachers who already had it get to keep it.

ed notes online said...

Tenure gives you the right to a hearing before dismissal. If the state removes it that covers everyone unless the law grandfathers people in. But why would they do this when the very idea of getting rid of tenure is for them to remove higher priced senior teachers? For newbies as we are pointing out they don't even have to change the law -- just keep extending most people year after year. For older people, just make student performance a factor allowing them to fire you. So the idea of tenure can be worked around without a law and we are saying that the UFT is complicit in this move by agreeing to using data to eval tchrs even if 20 or 40%.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info James. I agree with your post. However, I am still glad that I have tenure due to the fact that tenure provides a certain level of protection against retaliation for political affiliations and or beliefs. There are many vindictive administrators out there who would love to get rid of tenured teachers for no other reason than they are politically active and vocal. Are you going to run for UFT president again? (I voted for you on the ICE ticket during the last election)

Anonymous said...

I realize this is a sensitive issue, because HOPE SPRINGS ETERNAL. But guess what? There's no hope NYC teachers can get their tenure back unless they do something about it, SOON!

At this moment, tenure in NYC is just an issue because tenure (the extensive procedural protections of NYS Education Law § 3020-a) was dismantled for principals and administrators in 2000 through an agreement with their union and the addition of Subdivision (3) to NYS Education Law § 3020, and for teachers the enabling legislation was enacted in August 2006 with the addition of § 3020(4)(a) which eliminated § 3020 (1) except for one phrase: "FOR JUST CAUSE". § 3020 (1) is the real tenure, still operative for NYS but not for NYC. § 3020-a simply outlines the disciplinary procedures. NYC teachers should finally realize that the extensive protections of § 3020-a are no longer available to them because NYS Education Law § 3020 (1) is no longer operational for them, so what part of tenure is still available?

It is simply wrong for the UFT to dismantle tenure without notice to teachers (who are public employees) and then continue deceiving the members of the bargaining unit. For example, in October 2005, NYC teachers were tricked into ratifying the 2003-2007 CBA with promises of financial gain but without notifying them that the UFT would soon go up to Albany (see MOA dated November 28, 2005) to push, along with the DOE, the enactment of NYS Education Law § 3020(4)(a), eliminating for NYC teachers only the protection of 3020(1) and establishing that the CBA can replace the disciplinary procedures of NYS Education Law § 3020-a. In addition, the UFT negotiated the 2007-2009 CBA that sealed the fate of NYC teachers not in 2007 but a year before, on November 18, 2006. See newspapers.

In 2009, the New York City Law Department responded in a legal document I have cited before that "plaintiffs cannot establish their entitlement to the procedures set forth in § 3020(a)" [sic]. The New York City Law Department should have responded as follows: "After the enactment of NYS Education Law § 3020 (4) (a) NYC teachers have no tenure".