Teachers for a Just Contract
By G. Dunkel
New York
Published Oct 27, 2005 10:13 PM

Several independent organizations of teachers are organizing a “vote no” campaign against the contract negotiated by the United Federation of Teachers with the New York City Department of Education. Over 200 teachers demonstrated outside the UFT headquarters on Oct. 21 urging the “no” vote.

Teachers for a Just Contract and the Independent Community of Educators-UFT organized the protest.

The voting, conducted by the American Arbitration Association, started in the schools on Oct. 24; the result will be announced on Nov. 3.

The proposed contract sounds good: a 15 percent raise over four years, compared to just 5.17 percent for the city’s largest union, District Council 37 of AFSCME. But the raises are back-loaded. For the first six months covered by the contract, members will get no raise. The last raise of 3.25 percent will be on Oct. 1, 2006, just 12 days before the contract expires.

What bothers teachers the most is that these raises really amount to payments for a significant amount of increased work time. Schools are going to be open for a new 37-minute period on Monday through Thursday; its exact purpose is unclear.

New teachers, who are struggling to learn their trade and create lesson plans, are worried that this new period will mean a new class, with more lesson plans, and that their supervisors will observe them in this class.

Many other teachers are angry that they will have to return from their summer vacations two days early, before Labor Day, to do whatever the DoE wants them to do.

The union also gave up grievance rights and seniority rights—which are very important when schools are closed. It accepted harsher disciplinary rules and allowed the principals to assign teachers to monitor bathrooms and lunchrooms.

As one teacher put it, “Why do I need a master’s degree to be a potty monitor?”

Members of the UFT voted down a contract in 1995. There is a good chance they will vote this one down, too.

This article is copyright under a Creative Commons License.
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