Monday, May 07, 2012

The Emperor Speaks

To kick off teacher appreciation week, Mayor Bloomberg has unilaterally declared that there will be no retroactive pay for teachers. In Mayor Bloomberg's New York, as in much of the country, putting "children first" means teachers, alone among city employees, get nothing. They should be happy they get paid at all. Billionaire Bloomberg takes a dollar a year to run his fiefdom and thinks that ought to be enough for anyone, except cops, firefighters, clerks, and everyone else but educators.

This is a remarkable position for several reasons, and particularly so if you've followed the contract history of the United Federation of Teachers. There were many of us who opposed the 2005 contract, viewing its draconian givebacks as highly detrimental to the profession. If you doubt that, ask any ATR teacher who hasn't received a permanent assignment anywhere. Think about it while you patrol the halls, or bathrooms, or dodge a flying cheeseburger during lunch duty.

Denial of retroactive pay, of course, is not the Emperor's only salary decree. A few years ago he declared that he would avert teacher layoffs by denying educators the raise he'd granted all city employees--something in excess of 8% over a two-year period. The 05 contract comes to mind because the pattern at that time was crap, and PERB declared that if we wanted anything above it, we needed to surrender the sun, the moon, and the stars in exchange. And this we did. At that time, PERB specifically declared the pattern to be sacrosanct. Haven't heard a peep from them this year.

Now, Mayor4Life, while demanding we accept an evaluation system designed to fire as many teachers as possible, simply says, "Screw the pattern, you guys get nothing." I'm very curious in what astral plane this is acceptable. Does the pattern apply when it saves money for the city, but when working people are screwed, become strictly optional? That's tough to understand. In case you haven't been paying close attention, teachers have been without a raise for four years this month. And employees who got the last round of raises were not asked for givebacks, let alone to evaluate themselves out of their own jobs.

It seems to me that collective bargaining entails negotiation. Clearly Mayor Bloomberg feels otherwise, preferring to spout nonsensical merit pay schemes rather than acknowledge that even teachers have cost of living increases.

Bloomberg is an anachronism. Having gotten absolute power over schools via his PEP, our fake school board, he thinks he is royalty, a feudal lord who requires tribute from the serfs. In this case, Lord Bloomberg demands we forgo the raise granted everyone else, and loudly proclaim, "Thank you sir, may I have another?"

I have a slightly different message for this mayor. What would you like to tell him?
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