Monday, July 27, 2015

I Gave $350K to the Mayor and All I Got Was This Substandard Contract

Oh, the tangled web our union leadership leads. They insisted on endorsing Bill Thompson four years too late, after Michael Bloomberg reversed the twice-voiced will of the voters to buy himself a third term (and won by such a small margin our opposition might have made a difference).

To thank us for stabbing him in the back he'd carried our water for so long, Thompson told the Daily News the city couldn't afford to give teachers the raise NYPD, FDNY and most other unions got. But that was water under the bridge, and UFT went ahead and made yet another spectacular losing endorsement.

They pulled out all the stops for Bill Thompson, aggressively recruiting people for the call centers. They had some sort of process to determine the nomination, and they claimed it was democratic. It was very reminiscent of the AFT process that ended up nominating Hillary. But there's always something going on with UFT leadership.

Almost concurrently with our contract negotiations, AFT, at the behest of UFT President Michael Mulgrew, donated 350K to Mayor de Blasio's nonprofit, Campaign for One New York. The nonprofit then spent 350K on commercials that praised the mayor's having achieved his promise to bring pre-K to NYC kids. This, of course, happened without the tax on the wealthy the mayor had previously demanded to achieve it. It's a well-established scientific fact that wealthy people are more delicate than those of us who actually pay the taxes. For example, had they been required to pay to support children of the bootless and unhorsed, they'd have been at great risk of becoming brittle, falling down, and perhaps breaking their hair, or even other less visible parts of their anatomy.

Now the thing about this story that got the attention of the reporter was that Mulgrew negotiated a contract only two months after this large donation. There is the hanging implication that somehow MIchael Mulgrew bought off the mayor. After all, there are a lot of teachers and the contract cost a lot of money. We waited years for that contract, even after 150 other unions got theirs, as Mulgrew repeatedly reminded us in the appeal to fear he used to sell the contract. If we didn't take it, we'd have to get in line behind 150 other unions! And retro pay was not a God-given right! De Blasio didn't need to hire people to scare UFT members accepting two-tier due process, or a ten-year delay in payment. He had the President of the UFT doing it for him.

So let me be the first to defend our President. There was most certainly no quid pro quo. Otherwise, why would this contract be such a piece of crap? Why would I, a lowly teacher, be lending the city 50 thousand bucks interest free? I mean, what working person can afford to do such things? Well, thanks to Michael Mulgrew's ingenuity, tens of thousands of UFT members found a way.

And who cares if ATR teachers can be fired for, as Mulgrew suggested, shouting in the halls on two occasions? Who cares if arbitrators can fire ATR teachers for pretty much whatever after a one-day 3020a process? Who cares if they can be fired for missing two job interviews they may or may not even know about? Most teachers aren't ATRs anyway. And who cares about the unresolved payments into health care to be judged by an arbitrator if Mulgrew's financial projections prove inadequate? What's the big deal if we lose the paltry increases we gained (or more)? Nothing's written in stone, and we haven't even bothered to write up an actual contract yet.

Personally, I do not believe Michael Mulgrew had any quid pro quo. If he had, our contract would have been more like the 4 plus 4 no giveback contract other unions got. If he had, we would not have foisted a 10% over 7 years pattern, the worst in my living memory, on our brother and sister unionists.

I wasn't born yesterday. I know there are quid pro quo deals in politics. But any implication that our union leadership indulges in such things is patently false. Unlike LGBT and immigrant groups, we didn't bother to extract any concessions from Barack Obama before we endorsed him in 2012. And indeed, if you don't believe that, just look at the shoddy and disrespectful treatment we've received from corporate stooge Arne Duncan for his entire tenure. I've seen no evidence we extracted any concessions from corporation-rich Hillary Clinton for our early endorsement either.

I absolutely believe we received nothing for our infusion of cash into Bill de Blasio's nonprofit. I absolutely believe we received nothing for our support of Barack Obama, and I'm further confident we will once again receive nothing for our support of Hillary Clinton.

That's one of the biggest reasons we need new union leadership.
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