Saturday, October 13, 2018

UFT Contract: Delegate Assembly Approves

The uft engaged in a bum’s rush to judgement. I’ll go into my speculations why the rush later. But here is a report from a ch ldr on the MORE listserve.

The DA voted to recommend passage of the contract to the membership. Mulgrew did not call on any oppositionists to speak during the discussion. However, three people not affiliated with us spoke against it. One basically used the arguments we made in our leaflet. One opponent emphasized that we were not give enough time to review the MOA to know what we were voting on. The third was a paraprofessional who insisted that the UFT should have fought to get paraprofessionals the same longevity increments that teachers have. There was a fourth speaker, an OT/PT, who spoke critically because there were no significant financial gains for OT/PTs. It wasn't clear if she was against the pact overall, however. Mulgrew responded to her that they didn't get bigger raises for OT/PTs because the city didn't want to pay them more.

Mulgrew presented his usual dazzling sound and light show. He presented a good number of "gains" which seemed dubious to me. He claimed we had made important steps forward on safety and harassment issues. However, all the forward steps consisted of allowing the chapter leaders to raise issues with principals, or have DRs raise them with Superintendents. There were no new enforcement mechanisms. And chapter leaders always had the right to raise these issues with administration anyway. He claimed that by speeding up the class size complaint (no longer really a grievance) process he was addressing the class size problem. But nothing in the language of the MOA prevents schools from continuing to use the contractual exceptions to avoid lowering class sizes to their contractual caps. The time frame of the grievance process was never really the problem. The problem was that the contract actually allowed schools to oversize classes. And it still does. Preventing the DoE from suspending paras without pay is good. But paras are still at-will employees and can be fired for only minimal cause. This deal does not address that. 

This isn't the worst contract I've seen. But the bottom line for me is that a teacher hired in September 2022 will have less purchasing power and worse health benefits than a teacher hired in September 2018. Even Mulgrew couldn't dispute the point that the salary increases do not keep up with inflation, no matter how you calculate the inflation rate. If you were at the DA it undoubtedly seemed like Mulgrew's argument was overwhelming and that the vast majority of members buy it enthusiastically. It is important to remember that there is never as much excitement in favor of these contracts in schools as there is in a DA. At a DA Mulgrew gets to speak as much as he wants and has a caucus full of people who get up and cheer over and over again. At chapter meetings that doesn't happen and members are more concerned about how this contract will affect them. The sound and light shows don't work in those settings.

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