Why New York City teachers are angry
By G. Dunkel
New York
Published Sep 30, 2005 11:02 PM

The report from a state fact-finding board sounds great: an 11 percent raise over three years for teachers. By contrast, the largest city union, District Council 37 of AFSCME, got barely a 5 percent increase over the same time frame.

The Delegate Assembly of the United Federation of Teachers, Local 2 of the AFT, which represents 87,000 teachers and 17,000 school staff, voted Sept. 20 to use this board’s recommendations as the basis for negotiations with the city.

The billionaire mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg, responded that he would indeed restart negotiations but wouldn’t let a threatened strike or the upcoming mayoral election influence him. In other words, he will take the give-backs the report suggests but doesn’t want to grant the raises it proposes in return.

Many teachers are fuming about this report. Some have called for a strike, which is illegal under New York State’s Taylor Law. A union-run blog called it “disgusting, disgusting, disgusting.” Others said it was “atrocious” and “we were screwed.”

Looking at the details of the report, one can see why.

One UFT member pointed out the flaws to Workers World. “Zero percent for the first year, 2 percent for the second. This means that for the two-and-a half years we worked without a contract, we’ll get about a thousand dollars. Not much for New York City.”

To get this, UFT members will have to work three extra days, 10 minutes extra every day, give up 10 free periods without compensation, forgo the right to grieve adverse letters placed in their files, take on lunchroom and hall monitoring at the will of the principal, and take on other administrative tasks, like managing all the tests that the federal and state governments are now requiring.

The fact-finding board estimated that only 4.17 percent of the raise was an increase; the givebacks and extra work funded the rest of the increase.

The UFT held chapter meetings on the report, some of which got quite heated. The heat made it to the floor of the delegates’ meeting, which vowed to consider a strike and also endorsing Bloom berg’s opponent if the UFT doesn’t have a contract by October.

Since Bloomberg is confident going into the November election that he will win, the UFT is in a hard position.

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