Saturday, July 21, 2007

Opinions for Sale (Part 2)

The most egregious and short-sighted giveback of the 05 contract was that of seniority transfers. While there is a school of thought that downsizing is part of industry, and should therefore be part of education as well, there's another that says you don't exchange very valuable benefits for compensation increases that don't even meet cost of living. I'm not an expert negotiator, but it stands to reason if they want to remove very valuable benefits, they ought to pay to do so.

Well, here's the UFT's City Sue on precisely that:

Specifically, Klein complains about the contractual right of teachers who have been "excessed" to another position in their license area in the district. He wants to eliminate that right and force these excessed teachers, whose positions have disappeared through no fault of their own, to pound the streets and find their own jobs or be laid off.

Tell 'em, Sue! Why on earth should teachers pound the streets and find their own jobs if their schools disappeared though no fault of their own? You wouldn't stand for that! I'm glad you're in our corner, fighting for us. Otherwise, the DoE could arbitrarily close schools and screw the entire union.

That, of course, was before the 05 contract. Afterward, she sang a very different tune:

In fact, there’ll be more transfer opportunities. The only thing is, like in the real world, you’ll have to sell yourself. See a vacancy? Just apply! All vacancies will be declared, not just half. No limits on how many jobs you can apply for. No release needed from your principal. No limits on how many teachers can transfer out of a single school. No discrimination in hiring allowed, not even for union activities — or age, race, etc. No involuntary transfers. It’s a free market, for those who dare! And for excessed teachers, there’s always a job for you back home (in your school or district) if you can’t find anything else.

Now, you can pound the streets and find your own job after all, or become an ATR. Of course, it beats unemployment (assuming the accompanying insecurity and frustration doesn't actually drive you to give up). Still, it's hard to see how it beats having your own classes and your own job. And now, even some from Unity are complaining about the plight of the ATR teachers the party's lack of foresight has created.

But on the official union blog, they say problems with the "open market" plan are an urban myth, and virulently refuse to answer any questions on, or even acknowledge, the situation of ATR teachers. Since there are more transfers, it's better. Period. There will be no discussion of ATR teachers, and don't look at that man behind the curtain.

Our leaders change their opinions at the drop of Ms. Weingarten's chauffeur's hat. They've signed a loyalty oath to Unity, the monopoly party that's dominated the UFT for half-a-century. Their opinions are issued by the leadership, and they alter them as the leadership demands. In the 60s, they tossed people out for the sin of opposing the Vietnam War.

And their priority is neither your welfare nor that of the kids you serve. They've tossed your hard-won rights into the trash for less than cost of living, and their principled stands evaporate as their leaders drool over national offices.

It costs us 40 million dollars a year to grease the Unity patronage mill, fully half the dues we pay them, and they aren't going to tell the truth if it means giving that up. On Edwize, you're not even allowed to mention Unity. You're not supposed to know its name, its loyalty oath, or how much you're compelled to pay to support it.

How much of it does Unity get back in caucus dues? They don't have to tell us, but patronage is never exactly free. When I was a kid, my father sold construction supplies to Nassau County. He whispered that everyone working for the county had to kick back 1% of their salaries to the local GOP. Ten years later I read about it in Newsday, and it was a scandal.

Don't hold your breath waiting for the tabloids to expose the Unity Caucus. Unlike political parties, they're allowed to charge dues. They're like the old USSR Communist Party--you need an invitation to get in, and absolute loyalty is required. They feed the state, the state feeds them, and they look out for one another.

No one who's cast a critical eye on the terms of the 05 contract could say they look out for working teachers.

ATR teachers are wearing targets on their backs, custom made by Klein-Weingarten designing team.

Part One here

Thanks to Schoolgal

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