Saturday, June 07, 2014

The Waiting Is the Easiest Part

It's been over five years since any NYC teacher has seen a raise, despite the nonsense purveyed by tabloids. I've repeatedly read arguments that step increases are raises, from Bloomberg and various teacher-bashing op-ed columnists. That most other city workers got not only step increases, but also actual raises, was neither here nor there.

Now, at last, there is a UFT contract, the skies are all blue, and all the people are singing songs of joy. Except, of course, those who resigned before the contract signing. And anyone who resigns before receiving that fabulous retro, now at a staggering and life-altering 2%. And, of course, those who rose within the ranks to be supervisors, who are now hearing there may be a fight before they get their money.

There's a certain cynicism at work here. After all, neither those who resigned nor those who moved up will likely join the 52% of retirees who decide UFT elections. So who really cares what they do or how they feel?  We've already established second-tier due process for working members of the ATR, so what's it to us if we screw a few thousand people out of money for which they've actually worked? It's not like they're cause make the elite Unity Caucus to have fewer or less gala luncheons.

It turns out, though, that some teachers who resigned actually read the news, and have decided they should be recipients of the money they actually earned. Not only that, but they're now contemplating a class action suit to get that money. And it appears there is precedent:

In May 2001, the Hoosicks Falls school district and local teachers union approved a new contract that included retro pay for the years 1999 and 2000.
The agreement said the back pay only covered current employees, and excluded those who worked those years but then left the payroll.
But 11 former teachers sued the union and the school district for back pay and won.

Maybe it isn't a good idea, when negotiating what is clearly an inequitable monstrosity for working teachers, to simply say screw everyone who can't vote for us. Maybe it wasn't a good idea to promise no increase in health care, publicly label bloggers who questioned the program liars, and then say they weren't actually sure what would happen. Maybe it wasn't a good idea to say people who questioned two-tier due process were against teacher empowerment.

Maybe it wasn't a good idea to browbeat and frighten working teachers into accepting a substandard contract.

Of course UFT leadership never, ever admits fault in anything. That's not the Unity way.

But maybe they should start figuring who'll be responsible for paying all those people who earned that money. I hope they do. And I hope, if I'm still even alive in 2020, that they don't expect me or any of us lowly non-Unity members to pay for their mistakes. Those who signed the loyalty oath ought to all pitch in and show their money is where their mouths are.
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