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Saturday, September 22, 2012

Remember Occupy NYSUT? 
"Occupy" NYSUT Headquarters? Might Find Some of that "1%" - UPDATED

This blog post was updated on Friday, Nov. 4 to reflect substantial corrections made by the Times Union to its original story.

Many a credible analyst believes the country is experiencing the worst economic period since the Great Depression of the 1930's. That may be true, but not if you work in the upper echelons of the New York State United Teachers' 
offices just outside of Albany, where it's "Happy Days Are Here Again." In fact, those days never left, even if they changed for the worse almost everywhere else.

The Albany Times Union 
today has a front-page story on NYSUT staff receiving massive salary increases in 2010 which included some one-year pay raises "equal to more than an entire year's worth of earnings for the average teacher." [NOTE: The TU has since substantially corrected this story that renders this quoted assertion by the paper as inaccurate.] Turns out, NYSUT president, Richard Iannuzzi, received a pay hikes in 2008 through 2010, including a one-time 11 percent increase, for a base salary of $240,180 (not including tens of thousands of dollars more in benefits and perks); while the organization's other executives got raises ranging from 2.75 percent to nearly 4 percent. [See further "Follow-up" discussion, below.]

Now, I do not begrudge anyone at NYSUT or most anywhere else their compensation package. They are professionals, they work hard, and can be very good at what they do. Look no further than the teacher evaluation law it 
negotiated into ambiguity and litigated to virtual meaninglessness. One can argue the union hasn't otherwise accomplished much else with the retrenchment in school aid for the last two years, but not even NYSUT can defy the laws of mathematics and economics indefinitely - the state's cupboard is bare.

Pay Hikes at HQ; Pink Slips in the Classroom
It remains ironic that NYSUT would reward its hierarchy this way since they knew, at the start of 2010 when more pay hikes took effect, that the state's economy remained in the doldrums and public budgets were
tightening further. In fact, during the time of the NYSUT salary hikes, the state government, due to cash flow problems, already was withholding school aid payments to school districts and teachers were facing layoffs.

This past year, numerous NYSUT locals voluntarily 
agreed to forgo contractual pay hikes to minimize teacher layoffs. In other words, many teachers gave back scheduled salary increases so that other teachers could avoid pink slips. According to NYSUT, the organization froze executive salaries for the 2011-12 school year.

How 'bout that "Social Conscience?"
The irony is more so considering how NYSUT has weighed in about the "Occupy Wall Street" 
protests. In a column this week by Mr. Iannuzzi, he writes: "Beyond the social contract, I believe exists a social conscience and a social compass" that, in effect, demands tax fairness which he says is "about values." Should NYSUT's headquarters, which is not on Wall Street but still five times the size of a WalMart store, get a carve-out of this social contract?

In contrast to "corporate greed" that at least makes its money mostly via the private market, NYSUT's treasury is comprised primarily of mandatory union dues from teachers and other members who are paid by taxpayer dollars. At a minimum, this suggests the union should have more sensitivity about its own organizational wealth disparities, especially when Mr. Iannuzzi decries societal disparities that can "make our blood boil."

Reading the front page of today's Times Union, a few dues-paying NYSUT members may get that same feeling.

Peter Murphy
for The Chalkboard
Facebook: Chalkboard Nycsa

FOLLOW-UP: As mentioned above, the Times Union in its November 4th edition, made substantial correctionsto its original October 28th story that was used by The Chalkboard for its original post on the same day. Primarily, Mr. Iannuzzi did not receive a "45 percent" pay hike, nor did the Secretary-Treasurer get a 54 percent pay hike of $75,000.
posted by Peter Murphy at PermaLink 11:52 AM

On the Possibility of a UFT/DOE Buyout....

To all teachers who think that a buyout is a good thing: be careful, be very careful, that your rights to legal action in the future will be compromised!!

Think long-term, and rely upon only yourself, if offered any buyout or settlement of any kind.

Betsy Combier

09/21/2012 11:50 PM

DOE, Union Release Desired Figures For Teacher Buyouts

By: NY1 News
The United Federation of Teachers and the Department of Education have been at odds over buyouts for city teachers who are on the payroll but don't have permanent jobs. Now, both sides have released their version of acceptable terms for those buyouts.
The DOE is offering to pay teachers taking a buyout of three months' salary, up to $25,000. That would end up costing between $14,000 and $25,000, depending on the teacher.

The UFT is asking for 6 months salary with a minimum of $35,000. That comes to between $35,000 and $50,000.
The DOE says there are about 1,800 such teachers on the books, costing the city a huge amount of money.
The chancellor and union president released statements Friday blaming each other for misrepresenting the facts and not negotiating in good faith.

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09/20/2012 07:57 PM

NY1 Exclusive: Buyout For Teachers Not Likely To Happen

By: Lindsey Christ

The city and teachers' union have been fighting for years over what to do with a pool of teachers who've lost their jobs at schools but are still employed by the school system. Now, it looks like a buyout offer the city hoped to make is unlikely to go through. NY1's Lindsey Christ filed the following report.
There are 1,800 teachers who lost their jobs at schools but are still employed by the school system. Many worked at schools that closed or teach subjects schools have cut back on, like art. They work as substitutes, collecting full salary and benefits. It's up to principals whether to hire them or not.
But the city wants them off the payroll. So in May, Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott announced a somewhat radical plan: he'd offer these teachers the first buy-out program for public employees in recent city history.
"If you're a teacher who can't find a permanent job in our schools after a year, we will offer you a generous incentive to resign and pursue another career," Walcott said in May.
He said it would be the most generous buyout any city has ever offered teachers and he hoped to have it in place by the beginning of the school year. But sources now tell NY1 it may never happen. Meanwhile, the number of teachers without permanent work has swelled, from 800 in May to 1,800 now.
"We are spending more than $100 million on teachers who aren't interested in teaching," Walcott said in May.
But try telling that to the dozens who came to a job fair Wednesday evening hoping to find permanent work.
"I want a job," said teacher Jonathan Dobbs. "I want to teach. I want to be in the classroom."
When the Chancellor announced the buyout, leaders of the teachers union said they were on board and had been asking for a such an option for years. But since then, NY1 has learned that the two sides have not been able to agree on terms because the city's idea of a generous buyout hasn't come close to matching the union's definition of an acceptable one.
Teachers who might qualify were already skeptical.
"They wouldn't offer me enough," said teacher Judith Allainer. "$10,000? Come on. When I'm making much more than that?"
"What would I like?" said Gibbs. "Give me years on my pension. If I'm a 15-year teacher, give me 20 years and I'll take a buyout."
Many say the system is stacked against them finding jobs, saying principals prefer new teachers with much lower salaries.
In fact, minutes after walking into the hiring fair Wednesday, teachers began streaming out.
"It's basically an empty room with five principals," said teacher Caroline Schulz.
"There's no one up there," said teacher Jame Torres. "There's no schools. Mostly math, special ed and nothing is being offered."
The DOE says it expects many will find jobs soon and says negotiations over the buyout continue. But NY1's sources say the chances they'll reach a deal, particularly under the current mayor, are very slim.