2014-05-09 / Columnists

School Scope

What’s Wrong With the UFT Contract?
By Norm Scott

I’m on deadline so I’ll keep this short and not so sweet. I’m writing this on Wednesday morning, May 6. Later today, the UFT Delegate Assembly, dominated by Unity Caucus, the ruling party of the UFT, will vote to support the new contract, basically without reading the 46-page Memorandum of Agreement (MOA), which may – or may not – be handed to them upon arrival. I can predict this will happen, because on Monday night the 100-member UFT Executive Board overwhelmingly approved a contract they never saw.

The Movement of Rank and File Educators (MORE), the only serious opposition party is organizing a VOTE NO campaign. Full disclosure: I am a member of MORE. Every working UFT member will get a chance to vote in their schools. (Retirees who so dominate regular UFT elections, don’t get to vote.)

MORE points out that the proposed contract:

Spreads what UFT leaders call an “18 percent raise” over nine years. This amountstoa2percentraiseperyear-theapproximaterateofinflation.

Ratifies a teacher evaluation system based on the use of student test scores to evaluate teachers, despite a growing movement against over-testing, including parents who are opting children out of the tests.

Does not address pay disparities, such as the salary cap for occupational therapists and physical therapists and low starting salaries for teachers.

Ignores members’ calls for stronger checks against abusive administrators.

Divides teachers with extra “merit pay” for those picked by administrators.

Undermines due process protections for teachers in the Absent Teacher Reserve.

I’ve never been a “money” guy when it came to contracts because to me working conditions like class size came first. Thus, I didn’t vote in favor of contracts for most of my career because I never once thought working conditions were being improved in the contracts.

The contracts under Bloomberg didn’t make an attempt to improve working conditions. It was all about what he wanted and what he was willing to pay teachers to get his way. Unfortunately, the short-sighted UFT always bites at the money.

Here was the chance, with a friendly mayor in office for the first time in 20 years, to turn the tide in the schools with this new contract. It didn’t happen. The blogosphere and social media is loaded with teachers expressing their outrage, so I won’t go into more detail.

Anyway, I’ve got to get ready to leave for the NY Hilton on 54th street where the vote will take place later between 4 and 6. MORE will be handing out VOTE NO leaflets,followedbya6p.m.pressconference.YoucanfolloweventsattheMORE blog (morecaucusnyc.org) and on Facebook and twitter (MOREcaucusNYC). And of course, my own blog at ednotesonline.org will do wall to wall coverage.

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