Monday, December 29, 2014

Not in Our Stars

It makes me very sad to read pieces like this on the ICE blog or elsewhere. Evidently, UFT President Mike Mulgrew was busy calling bloggers liars, saying there would be no compromises on health care. Mulgrew later admitted whether or not that was the case would be up to arbitrators, told us the cupboard was bare, and the substandard contract was the best he could get.

In fairness, I believe it was the best he could get. After all, he was willing to stand up and tell us the cupboard was bare. We now know it was not.

And in that, we can blame Mulgrew for misleading us. We can blame him for not being cognizant of the facts. We can blame him for not doing sufficient research. We can blame him for being dead wrong, no matter what the cause. I certainly blame him for all of the above.

I blame UFT leadership for selling the contract on a logical fallacy, to wit, an appeal to fear. It was no coincidence that, at the DA where the contract was endorsed by a large crowd of loyalty-oath signers, the first question was something like, "Hey Mike, you're a rock star and we love you, but what happens if we don't accept this contract?"

The answer was something like, "Well, if we don't take this, we have to get in line behind 150 other unions." There were also statements like retro pay isn't a God-given right. What was really odd was that these statements did not come from the city, but rather our own leadership. You'd think the city would make these arguments so that we'd buy the lie that it was the best they could offer. In fact, several uniformed unions have already done marginally better, and they didn't have to accept two-tier due process in order to achieve it.

Mulgrew and his top-down leadership team did an awful job of negotiation. They sold out our brother and sister ATRs for virtually nothing, and Mulgrew publicly suggested ATRs could be fired for shouting in the halls a few times. He did abysmal research. Leadership treated us like fools, arguing that anyone who opposed the contract opposed teacher empowerment.

Mulgrew did a terrible job negotiating the only contract he negotiated. He has done a terrible job representing us, and in fact when he gets all bellicose over Common Core, he doesn't represent us at all. Certainly we'd have liked to see that kind of belligerence while we went six years without a contract, but it was nowhere to be found.

I can say plenty more about our disappointing President, but ultimately it isn't his fault. 75% of us voted for that contract. Mulgrew can say what he likes all day long, but it's up to us whether or not to accept it.

We bought it hook, line and sinker, and sentenced our brother and sister unions to the worst pattern in my living memory, even as the city is well in the black. We can blame Mike Mulgrew. We can blame Bill de Blasio, but in this case he is our adversary, and despite the nonsense in the tabloids, he in fact saved NYC a ton of cash by getting us to accede to this piece of crap. 

We can blame anyone and everyone. But it's on us. We bought it, and we are now stuck with it for two years after it expires. The balloon payments in 2019 and 2020 will discourage the next mayor from being reasonable with us or indeed our brother and sister unions.

Until and unless we wake up, this is our destiny.
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