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Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Mayor and UFT Agree To Avert Teacher Layoffs

The deal made to avert layoffs seems to me (as well as everyone else not currently working for Mulgrew or Bloomberg) to be another UFT "We're not going to fight Mike Bloomberg" concession that did not have to be made. Another give back was the UFT allowing Geoffrey Canada a green light to co-locate his charter school industry in public schools - I think  this undermines the UFT-NAACP lawsuit which opposes this, now for organizations OTHER that Canada's. This makes no sense. But politics often makes no sense unless you know the backstory.

Betsy Combier

June 24, 2011
Deal Will Avert Plan to Lay Off City Teachers

The threatened layoffs of 4,100 teachers in New York’s public schools were averted under a deal that the Bloomberg administration, the City Council and the teachers’ union reached on Friday night.

Details were still being worked out, but the agreement calls for concessions from the United Federation of Teachers and money from the Council.

Under the deal, the union would agree to suspend teacher sabbaticals for a year and permit teachers without a permanent assignment to be used more regularly as classroom substitutes. In addition, the Bloomberg administration would concede that 2,600 teachers would be lost to attrition, 600 more than estimated, saving additional jobs. On one hand, the resolution spares Mr. Bloomberg from becoming the first mayor in nearly 40 years to impose mass teacher layoffs. On the other hand, though, it threatens to undermine his credibility, given that he has declared for two consecutive years that layoffs were inevitable, only to see them averted in a budget deal.

The budget plan also allows the Council to keep open 20 fire companies that the mayor had ordered closed, and it may be able to restore at least some of the cuts he planned for day care services and librarians.

Still, it appeared that up to 1,000 city workers — many of them in health care jobs — would be laid off.

In a news conference at the Education Department headquarters in Lower Manhattan on Friday night, Mr. Bloomberg said he was disappointed he could not avoid all layoffs. Still, he said, “this is a budget that will keep our city strong, but it is also a budget that faces fiscal reality.”

Asked whether he thought his credibility had been hurt, the mayor defended his approach, saying the city faced extremely bleak and unpredictable economic circumstances.

The City Council speaker, Christine C. Quinn, standing by the mayor’s side, praised the deal. “New Yorkers can rest easy tonight knowing that our children will still have great teachers,” she said.

Mr. Bloomberg had taken an aggressive posture during the negotiations, emboldened over the past days by the victories scored in Albany and Trenton against public-sector unions and becoming more emphatic about his demands. But in the end, he and the teachers’ union, one of his most vociferous opponents, had to reach an agreement, helping to balance a $66 billion budget that had a $4.6 billion gap.

A different rescue proposal fell apart on Thursday, after the city rejected an offer from the Municipal Labor Committee, a group representing roughly 100 municipal unions, for $262 million to be taken from a health care reserve fund they jointly manage. By then, Ms. Quinn and the teachers’ union president, Michael Mulgrew, had been secretly meeting for days.

Once the other deal collapsed, talks between Ms. Quinn and Mr. Mulgrew moved into overdrive.

On Friday morning, officials of the city’s Education Department made their way to the union’s headquarters to determine what would and would not be on the table. By late afternoon, the two sides had come to an agreement.

Ms. Quinn, meanwhile, worked to sell the plan to Mr. Bloomberg, emerging as the crucial figure in the process.

The budget must be approved by the full Council by Thursday.

Javier C. Hernandez contributed reporting.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Deal To Avert Layoffs

I wanted to wait a few hours before writing my take on this because as soon as I saw the headline on the Times story last night around 10:45 PM ("Teachers Union Agrees To Concessions To Avoid Layoffs"), I just about wanted to head down to 52 Broadway and break windows.

I had visions of the UFT handing Bloomberg hundreds of millions of dollars from the health care fund, agreeing to salary step freezes and other payroll concessions or opening up the Pandora's Box of health care costs and agreeing to some kind of containment clause.

Those were the kinds of things the mayor wanted in this fight once it became clear that Sheldon Silver and the Assembly were not going to change LIFO for him and allow him to mass lay off the ATR's.

But as I dug into the story a little, I started to see that the "concessions" the mayor claims he got from the deal aren't exactly the kind of sweeping, money-saving concessions he claimed he needed in order to not lay teachers off.

According to Gotham Schools, the two concessions that the UFT granted Bloomberg are canceling sabbaticals for 2012-2013 (supposedly will save $17 million) and allowing ATR's to be used as day-to-day substitutes in their districts (supposedly will save $43 million.)

The total savings from the UFT concessions is $60 million.

The mayor was saying he needed somewhere between $240 million and $377 million in savings in order to avoid layoffs.

Instead he got (at least according to Gotham Schools), $60 million.

Now the city council supposedly agreed to pony up more money for schools too, though I have not seen a number figure on that, so perhaps the "savings" Bloomberg got out of last night's deal is closer to $100 million, but nonetheless it is nowhere near what he claimed he needed in order to avert layoffs.

On the mayor's side, he admits that he lowballed the number of teachers that will be lost to attrition, that schools WILL still take huge cuts to their budgets (while central office at Tweed and the technology consultants will NOT) and will STILL see higher class sizes and fewer teachers next year.

So there is no doubt that the UFT DID concede on issues here that they should have NEVER conceded on.

To review, there is a budget surplus.

Bloomberg was lying about the need to lay teachers off.

He was making a political gambit to get LIFO changed so he could lay off ATR's this year and then lay off senior teachers every year thereafter, dramatically remaking the teaching corps. of NYC into at-will employees.

But he lost that gambit when the Assembly didn't jump when he said "Cash!"

So he was left with a difficult choice - either back down and lose face (and once again be revealed as a lying sack of shit when it comes to layoffs) or continue with the farce and say he needed to do layoffs anyway, despite the surplus.

The UFT had the moral and the political high ground on this.

Public opinion polls show that people despise the mayor, despise his policies, and REALLY despise his education policies.

People KNOW that Bloomberg has been wasting hundreds of millions of dollars on crooked technology projects.

Consultants hired by Bloomberg are being arrested left and right for stealing hundreds of millions of dollars from the city.

And Bloomberg has budgeted $900 million in additional technology spending for the DOE next year even as he claimed he needed to save $377 million by laying teachers off.

So as I say, the UFT had almost all the cards in this game.

In my opinion, they should have conceded nothing.

They should have gone on the air in mass with CityTime scandal commercials, showing the parade of criminal consultants arrested for stealing hundreds of millions of dollars in city funds, played tapes of Bloomberg on his radio show claiming victory on CityTime and saying what a swell project it is and the stolen money just, you know, slipped through the cracks, and then noted that the mayor plans to hand out another $900 million in consultant funds and technology upgrades next year even as he refuses to conduct oversight over these projects, refuses to take responsibility for all the stolen cash so far and insists that he MUST lay teachers off to save the city money.

Seriously, on the face of it, it was absurd for Bloomberg to claim he needed to lay off teachers to save $377 million in the same week that the U.S. attorney announced $600 million had been stolen by crooked consultants in Bloomberg's CityTime project.

So the UFT should not have conceded a thing when they had these kinds of cards.

In addition, the ATR concession is worrisome to me - it is just another sign that ATR's will eventually be sold out by Mulgrew and Company.

It is just a matter of time.

Next year when Bloomberg claims poverty again and starts handing out cash in Albany to get LIFO changed, you can bet that one of the concessions he will want in order to avoid layoffs will be on the ATR's.

And the UFT looks like they are ready to sell them out.

But all things considered, the concessions the UFT made could have been worse.

They could have conceded a couple of hundred million from the health care fund, money Bloomberg would have used to pay outside consultants for his crooked technology contracts.

They could have conceded health care or pension containment costs.

They could have conceded furlough days (or furlough weeks) or agreed to a salary step/longevity freeze.

They didn't do any of that (though on the health care fund front, Mulgrew certainly tried!)

I dunno if it's just that I have gotten cynical about the UFT in my middle age, but when I thought about last night's deal a little, my take was "Sure, the UFT snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, but it's not as bad a defeat as I thought it was going to be."

Not exactly a ringing endorsement of the union.

But given the serious defeats suffered by labor unions in Jersey and other states and given the concessions agreed to by CSEA in contract negotiations with New York's Tea Party Governor Cuomo, I guess it's not as bad as it could have been.

I know that's the official line from the Unity and New Actions parties at the UFT.

In a way they're right.

But it also doesn't bode well for the future that the official line of the UFT is "Sure, we had to give stuff up even though Bloomberg had a surplus and didn't need to do layoffs, but hey, it could have been worse!"

I suspect next year when we do this shit all over again (and make no mistake, unless Bloomberg is arrested, resigns in disgrace or dies suddenly of an ego attack, we will do this all over again next year), it will be worse.

And if you're an ATR next year, they will try and make your life a living hell, worse than they have already made it, in order to get you to quit.

That's the goal - get senior teachers and ATR's off the payroll.

The concessions the UFT agreed to last night will help the mayor do just that on the ATR front.

And there will still be fewer teachers next year, class sizes will still be higher than they were this year and Bloomberg still gets to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on crooked consultants.

Not the worst deal the UFT leadership could have made, but certainly not the good one they're claiming it to be either.

Posted by reality-based educator at 6:43 AM


Pogue said...

To me, they let him off the hook once again. As politicians, and parents, and students, and teachers are banding together more and more, the UFT provided him an out.

I would've preferred he sweat this summer, and all its political heat, out.

We have given so much over the years. I look forward to the day when the UFT says Stop, and then starts getting some things back.

That day was not yesterday.

June 25, 2011 7:55 AM

Anonymous said...

Well said folks!!

June 25, 2011 8:02 AM

ed notes online said...

Perfect analysis. I just shot from the hip last night the minute I heard of the deal. The UFT did have the high ground and let it slip away instead of hammering Bloomberg. But they are not our advocates but mediators.

June 25, 2011 8:31 AM

Anonymous said...

Hey...they gotta protect that double-tenure cushiness at 52 Broadway, no ?

UFT sucks and needs to be overthrown.

June 25, 2011 8:41 AM

Anonymous said...

Do you think sabtaiclas will EVER be reinstated...?

June 25, 2011 8:41 AM

Anonymous said...

I agree with most of your opinion however there are a few wrinkles that should be looked into. Currently per diem substitutes are for the most part are denied unemployment insurance for the summer months. In years prior to 2007 most claims for unemployment if denied were won at appeal. Then Joel Klein began the Sub-Central Registry and had the city claim that per diems were ASSURED of finding day to day work via the registry. The administrative law judges bought into this position and since then have interpreted the part of labor law that denied per diem teachers unemployment benefits. Now with the influx of more than 15oo absent teacher reserves to cover day to day substitute assignments it is the responsibility of the uft to inform the per diem members (dues paying members)of their right and urgency to file for July and August. Also the DOE has reorganized districts and schools within the geographic districts now are miles and boroughs apart. If an ATR lives in Brooklyn and is assigned to a coverage in Staten Island when will they be informed? By public transportaion the trip is a minimun of 2 hours. Will the DOE honor pre-2001 district lines or the current reorganized district area?Food for thought.

June 25, 2011 8:42 AM

Anonymous said...

Frankly, the UFT disgusts me. Whatever happened to ORGANIZED labor? It seem to me that the many unions across the country have to work together and support one another's causes. The UFT trying to claim that it did what it took to avoid massive layoffs is a sad, pathetic joke.

June 25, 2011 9:55 AM

Anonymous said...

Read Mulgrew's "victory" statements last night, praising that fat blowhard Quinn, and "Bloomberg-with-a-tan Walcott"...Mulgrew is just another political hack making his way in city politics for his own cushy self interests...what a hack.

There NEVER were going to be layoffs this year, and ANYWAY if there were layoffs, they would have been newbie Teach For Americas, and the like. So instead he dumps on the mostly veteran ATRs...? The hand writing is on the wall's time to overthrow the UFT...they are double agents in this war.

June 25, 2011 10:24 AM

Anonymous said...

i think the deal makes it transparent to the broad public that bloomberg was lying about the need for layoffs.

the sabbatical concession is laughable as a substantial cost reduction--i can't imagine that at any given time there are more than 100 teachers out of 75,000 on sabbatical; please correct me if anyone knows better. while on sabbatical, teachers take a 30 % pay cut and i'm sure are not replaced by new hirings.

the atr deal seems to be more problematic, and as noted previously here, needs to closely monitored as to where it's leading.

here's what needs further watching for me : the fact that bloomberg would withdraw his claws so relatively easily, and look so bad in doing so, while future mayoral candidate quinn , who has promised to continue the crusade against seniority and tenure, emerges as a heroine of sorts. there's more here than meets the eye. to our uft leadership : what's the deal ?

June 25, 2011 11:52 AM