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2022-2027 UFT Contract Approved: An Analysis
This contract, despite its faults, is now our contract. Indeed, it will be for some time. Repost from the New Action blog at https://newaction.org/
Yesterday, the 2022-2027 contract was ratified by a roughly 3/4 majority of voting UFT members. We have yet to see all data on divisional groups and functional chapters, some of whom were particularly ill-affected by sub-inflation pay increases and are thus expected to have closer numbers. To that end, OT/PTs once again voted down their functional contract (1,129 no to 782 yes), along with nurses, audiologists, and supervisors of nurses and therapists. But, teachers overwhelmingly voted to ratify – albeit with a much smaller ‘yes’ margin (under 75%) than in 2018 (87%) and a smaller margin than 2014 (77%).
While New Action Caucus recommended voting ‘no’ on the contract, it’s no surprise that the result was ‘yes.’ Unlike 1995, when the givebacks were so blatantly obvious that teachers voted ‘no’ in overwhelming numbers and somewhat successfully negotiated a better deal, the issues for the 2023 deal were subtler. A record-fast voting process met with a bombardment of intimidation and misinformation made it easy for Unity to sweep many of the problems and potential problems under the rug, while implying that minor wins were far more major in scope than they actually were. But make no mistake, the givebacks and potential givebacks are there. Until 2027, here is some of what we have gained:
PD is now 20 minutes shorter each week, though most of that time has been repurposed into parent outreach rather than OPW time.
Teachers can perform parent outreach remotely, but with new paperwork requirements and other red tape.
We now have more flexible bereavement time.
Elementary school teachers now get dismissal responsibilities factored into their workdays. They also should not be made to work more than three periods in a row, although only when administratively possible.
We get a few other minor and conditional perks here and there, most of which I go over in this post.
But, here is some of what we must now worry about:
Wage increases that are significantly below inflation.
If all healthcare givebacks weren’t factored into the record-low 3%ish salary increases, we could also see additional healthcare cuts going forward, as Mulgrew has already prepped us to accept. This possibility goes double now that Judge Frank has ruled in favor, even temporarily, of retirees not having their healthcare pillaged.
A portion of our income is now in the form of unpensionable bonuses that could have just been a pensionable part of our salaries.
There is no explicit language in the new TA specifying class size caps for virtual schooling. We do not want to have to rely on an arbitrator if our implicit assumptions aren’t shared by the City. This could be a disastrous situation, especially in the high schools.
As a condition of remote parent outreach time, there is new language requiring excessively collected paperwork/documentation. A principal can also take away your right to work from home without due process. Consequences without procedural guidelines or recourse is a blatantly anti-union premise and opens a pandora’s box for further future language chipping away at our due process rights.
We now have new paperwork possibilities. Curriculum Mapping is against the language of the previous contract. But in the new contract, it’s a C6 option. Should teachers who were promised reduced paperwork in fact be preparing for new paperwork responsibilities?
Teachers now have less of a say in what is done with their professional time. Specifically, principals no longer must wait for chapters to SBO non-credit bearing advisory. Because of its class-size limits, in fact, advisory will likely be the only real C6 option for most members at schools who adopt it. Not office hours. Not IEP time.
Many of the supposed ‘gains’ in the contract were also misrepresented, somewhat blatantly, by Unity staffers. Teachers at many schools will soon learn the hard way that:
Principals don’t have to give you a single PD that grants CTLE hours. They simply have the option to give you up to two.
Only multi-session schools get an unassigned professional period. The majority of us (who work in single session schools) will still get 5 assigned C6 periods a week.
No, we don’t get new ‘choices’ for C6. Rather, principals have new choices of what to put as the menu options for ‘their’ schools. As I discussed above, that will primarily be a loss for teachers where hitherto regulable options (like non-credit bearing advisory) can now be exercised without chapter consent at the expense of necessary activities like IEP writing.
Moreover, until 2027, we will be locked into a contract that did nothing to solve problems like:
The lack of due process for untenured teachers, who can remain probationary for indefinite amounts of time.
Lack of real recourse for teachers who are discontinued for unfair reasons.
The many bargainable issues that face special education teachers.
Class sizes, which now may even be worse for teachers with new remote responsibilities.
Massive caseloads for related service providers.
This is all disappointing, but unsurprising in the context of a union whose leadership does everything it can to pre-empt debate, sweep inconvenient facts under the rug, oversell mediocrity, and convince members that the tactics we would need to get real gains for labor shouldn’t even be an option. Still, a note: while a number of irregularities characterized the voting/mailing process, thus prompting the High School Executive Board to pre-emptively seek out chapter-specific data, the surprising turnout numbers and margin of ‘victory’ were enough to suggest that the results (ratification) would not have been different. UFC affiliates were also present during day-time portions of the count to observe what they could of the process, but didn’t see any concrete malfeasance resembling what DC37 officials were caught doing to rig a ratification vote back in the 90s.
This contract, despite its faults, is now our contract. Indeed, it will be for some time.
Nick Bacon is a member of the UFT High School Executive Board and a co-chair of the New Action Caucus (NAC).