UFT Contract: 2 Questions You Need to Ask Before You Vote
Let’s not forget that the “U” in UFT stands for United. Like it or not we have what we have now because of the decisions of others before us. The work of many others before us gave us benefits that we might take for granted that, such as preparatory periods and other benefits we just assume were handed to us.
So now comes again a point where we have to make a decision, not only for ourselves, but for future members. Just like others did before us. So I believe before anyone votes on the tentative contract they need to ask themselves two questions
1. Is this contract good for me and my family?
2. Is this contract good for my fellow UFT members (all present and future)?
My own personal answers and how I am voting.
For starters, my wife and I are both NYC teachers, so our household income will be even more impacted from the proposed raises. No that doesn’t mean we are getting household income raises of 4%, 5% and 6%, because of the However w darn distributive property. However, we are not really complaining that much. When you really look at the numbers, it is at or just below the standard cost of living. That, coupled with some extra payments in healthcare we will be forking over, it doesn’t really amount to the raise in yearly income you think it would.
Evaluations do not negatively impact us. My wife is rated effective, with a great administration. I, as an ATR, have no negative ratings in my file. We are not really concerned about the evaluation aspect of the contract.
I have had horrible experiences with grievances. Both for me and those I filed grievances for as a chapter leader . They led down a black hole of rubber stamped denials in Manhattan. I’m thinking this contract change, where the grievances are more localized can be better than some Office of Labor Relation strangers denying you at 100 Gold St..
Now, what about everyone else? If I just stopped here I would vote yes. However, UFT Solidarity and I receive countless emails and messages on social media about issues that this contract does not fix.
For example, did you know that if you are a probationary high school teacher, it takes just one bad experience with a principal or assistant principal to knock you out of all high school positions across the city…FOREVER? Yes, according to regs and bylaws, when you are discontinued you cannot work in the same district under that license again. For high schools, they fall under the same district. You would then have to work in a middle school. Why? Why if you are Teacher A, and Principal B doesn’t like you do you have to be banished from your district? It’s OK to teach at one district in Brooklyn, but not another? VOTE NO and let’s try to fix that for the hundreds of probationary teachers discontinued a year.
ATRs still have that lingering term around their contract clause….temporary. Why? If they really want to take experienced educators and put them into permanent positions, then use the term permanent. About 6,000 to 7,000 new teachers are hired, or substitutes, for vacancies that can be filled by experienced staff. instead this contract uses the words temporary and provisional. VOTE NO for these ATRs and all the future ATRs. You can become one too one day. Let’s break the money over age policy.
There are 30,000 paraprofessionals, who are working with our neediest students and they work below livable wage. Sure many paras may have spouses or second and third incomes, but why should they have to. VOTE NO and send the contract back for para pay reform. The NY Post published an article 3 years ago stating that over 300 NYC employees are homeless. Their salaries were those of most paraprofessionals.
Did you know that the DOE can hire outside, non-licensed educators to teach music and the arts, while actual licensed music and art teachers are left in limbo without permanent placement? did you know that many schools hire substitutes full-time for the year to fill vacancies that can be filled by experienced educators? VOTE NO to make sure our students are taught by licensed and certified educators. See here
Class Size caps are not changing at all? The class size limits in the UFT contract have not changed in more than fifty years. In the mean time, rigorous research has shown that smaller classes is one of the most effective ways of boosting student learning and engagement, improving school and classroom climate, decreasing disciplinary disruptions, and lowering teacher attrition rates. There should be no more than 20 students per class in K-3 grades; 23 in 4th through 8th grades and 25 in high school classes in order to comply with the Contract for Excellence law and the original class size reduction plan submitted by DOE and approved by the state in 2007. VOTE NO to fix the class size issues.
I mean look, Is it as bad as waiting years for payment like the 2014 contract, or like the 2005 contract that created the ATR mess? No, but we can polish it up by voting now. We have a huge NYC budget surplus and non combative relations with the chancellor and mayor. Why not tweak it? Oh, and please don’t listen to the excuse of “If we vote now, we will go to the back of the line in contract negotiations.”
Vote for you and others, like we are united.