The "Disappointing" New NYC Teachers' Contract
Michael Mulgrew, UFT leader
After five years of working without a contract, on Tuesday a new agreement was ratified. Many educators we met with expressed their disappointment with the terms of this contract. It was not an improvement in our students' learning conditions or our working conditions.
The UFT is reporting nearly a quarter of all teachers voted against it. John Giambalvo, teacher in Information Technology High School voted no because "we have a contract that codifies the testing regime, ignores class size and caseload limits for guidance counselors, and makes it easy to terminate some of our colleagues."
Michael Mulgrew and his Unity caucus negotiated this deal behind closed doors without the input of our membership.
Mike Schirtzer, teacher and UFT delegate at Leon M. Goldstein expressed his disappointment "With these so called raises we are actually taking a pay cut, because it amounts to less than 2% annually over the 9 years of the deal. Our cost of living will rise more than that."
Under this new contract, teachers who were excessed from their schools because they were closed will have weaker due process than those whose schools survived. Different titles of teachers with different pay and different expectations will now be created and over ten percent of our schools will operate outside of UFT contractual rules and DOE regulations. This is divisive and may result in a weaker union.
Lauren Cohen, teacher and UFT delegate of P.S 321 added "we wanted an end to high stakes stakes testing, the seemingly non-stop test preparation that goes along with it and an immediate halt to the failed implementation of developmentally inappropriate Common Core standards"
Instead teachers will now be rated on fewer categories from the Danielson rubric. Just a few months ago our union president assured members it was in our favor to be evaluated on more than twenty "domains", now he says otherwise. A large percentage of our evaluation will still be based on student's test scores, which has never been proven to be an accurate measurement of pedagogical skills.
The city and our own union leadership accepted a deal that gives us zero percentage raises and deferred retroactive payments. Many other unions, including NYPD's PBA and SBA, have publicly stated they will not accept such a deal.
The Movement of Rank and File Educators (MORE) will continue to organize with parents and mobilize our entire membership to gain the public schools that all our children deserve. In the Spring of 2016, MORE will proudly field its second full slate of candidates to run against Unity. We will transform our union into one that involves all it's members, not the select few.