There were no givebacks in the 2008-2010 round of contract bargaining for FDNY, NYPD, or DSNY. They got 4% one year, and 4% the next. That was pretty much it.
UFT, on the other hand, went to Albany to help write a draconian junk science law that makes every teacher in the state subject to VAM, which AFT President Randi Weingarten now refers to as a sham. Would that we had known that before agreeing to it. In any case, we were told, the system would have to be negotiated, and we would get a say, and that's why the system was so incredibly wonderful.
Of course we got the evaluation system without the contract, nothing was negotiated, and fanatical ideologue John King unilaterally decided on our system. Though neither the DOE nor the UFT wanted 4-6 annual evaluations, King did, so that was it. Now supervisors had to spend as much time observing teachers doing a great job as those who needed help, so less help was available for teachers in need. Yet another stroke of brilliance from the man who deems Common Core a panacea for our children (but not his own).
A UFT rep came to my school and told my members that the UFT was very smart, and that we would get our contract. After all, he said, there could be no evaluation system without a modification to contract. Alas, we did, in fact, get the evaluation system without the contract. Members routinely ask me to invite this rep back so they can scream at him. I've thus far declined.
Did FDNY, NYPD, or DSNY get a new junk-science based evaluation system for their relatively great increases? I think not. Yet our leadership not only enabled it, but placed it in the hands of a three-year charter school teacher who sees fit to fail 70% of our children. I suppose you could say that wasn't a contract giveback, since our leadership saw fit to enable it for nothing. The day after it was passed, Mayor Mike Bloomberg boasted he'd gotten the most draconian observation system in the state, and didn't have to give one dime to do so.
Mayor Bloomberg also threatened to lay off teachers. UFT responded by canceling sabbaticals for a year and sending our ATR teachers as week-to-week wanderers, homeless travelers with very little chance of settling anywhere. I was at the DA where we voted on this and several highly-placed UFT-Unity told me this would never happen. "The DOE is too inept," they said.
So perhaps that wasn't a giveback either. But they were wrong about the evaluation plan being tied to a contract. They were wrong about the DOE being unable to rotate ATR teachers. They were wrong about being able to negotiate the junk-science plan.
Perhaps they're right about there being no givebacks, if you don't consider lending tens of thousands of dollars to the city a giveback, if you don't consider waiting four more years to get the raise other unions got four years ago a giveback, if you don't consider not giving teachers who resigned retro pay a giveback, and if you don't consider one day 3020a hearings for ATR teachers a giveback, and if you don't consider setting a new pattern that fails even to keep pace with inflation a giveback.
But guess what?
We are not, by any stretch of the imagination, achieving parity, or even the pattern that NYPD, FDNY, or DSNY got. Maybe that's not a giveback either.
And maybe this is the best our leadership can do. I acknowledge that.
I can only conclude that what we need is leadership that can do what NYPD, FDNY, or DSNY leadership can do. We need leadership that can get the pattern that other unions receive, which should be a no-brainer. We need leadership that can establish a pattern that at least meets the rate of inflation.
I further conclude that UFT members deserve at least the same consideration our brother and sister unionists received, and what we're being offered is far from it.
Views expressed herein are solely those of the author or authors, and do not reflect views of my employers, the United Federation of Teachers, the MORE Caucus or any other union caucus.
Stories herein containing unnamed or invented characters are works of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.