Mulgrew Surrenders OUR Collective Bargaining Rights

January 31, 2013 — 25 Comments

In a recent email to chapter leaders, Michael Mulgrew stated that he welcomes Governor Cuomo’s involvement in forcing an evaluation system on NYC teachers. At a time when teachers are under attack from many quarters, it seems inconceivable that the UFT leadership would cede its bargaining power to the State Education Department. Mulgrew expressed his relief that should talks once again stall, the governor and the SED, “people who actually understand education”, will be involved. Our teachers, the ones who really understand education, will be left out of the decision making process.

We should remember that it was Mulgrew’s willingness to sign on to the state’s Race to the Top application that got us here in the first place. The UFT agreed to allow teachers to be evaluated by student test data in exchange for a promise of $700 million which has yet to reach city classrooms.

We at MORE categorically oppose any evaluation system that includes flawed student test data as a component. We also reject the virtual elimination of tenure that would result from the proposed evaluation system, in which teachers would be presumed incompetent based on that faulty data.

Mulgrew also states in his letter that we need this agreement so that we will not “risk further loss of state money.”  In truth, the state is under no obligation to withhold any funds and is only doing so to force an agreement. Worse still, the state has threatened to take Title I funds from our neediest students in the absence of a deal, showing their contempt for students as well as teachers. Rather than submit to such blatant blackmail, the UFT should be rallying against attempts to rob our poorest children for the sake of pleasing education reformers.

Furthermore, the UFT has sent out District Representatives  to schools claiming that not enough teachers are found unsatisfactory and “that has to change.”  If the purpose of the new evaluation deal is to help teachers improve and “help teachers help students”, as Mulgrew claims in his letter, it should be focused on giving support to teachers, not on getting them terminated.  It is MORE’s position that it is the union’s obligation to protect its members. We should not collaborate with the city in its attempts to fire teachers at will, nor cede our power to the state. Any data driven evaluation system coupled with a weakening of tenure will surely lead to more firings.

It should also be remembered that any new evaluation agreement was supposed to be coupled with a new contract. Not only have teachers been without a contract or a raise since 2009, but this latest capitulation by the UFT basically gives away our strongest bargaining chip in our ongoing contract negotiations.

If there is to be a new evaluation system, it must be fair and ensure the rights of teachers. It should be collectively bargained and subject to the vote of the full membership as dictated by the law. We, the teachers of the UFT, are the ones who “really understand education” so we must be fully engaged in any process that will impact our practice and our profession.

We should not submit to blackmail or an assault on our collective bargaining rights.

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25 responses to Mulgrew Surrenders OUR Collective Bargaining Rights

  1. 

    How can they tie Federal funding, Title I, to teacher evaluations? I am outraged by what I am hearing from you. It’s really time to shut NYC down parents/teachers you cannot continue to be bullied by the Mayor and now the Governor. They couldn’t find enough qualified teachers to replace any of you nor the worst teachers in NYC. Now you will be in the same boat with the principals, but at least they received a payoff for their tenure. What will teachers receive. Michael Mulgrew has gone too far and it should be undemocratic for him to be making contract decisions without your vote and support. He is giving union a bad name and reputation. As I tell my children, “off with his head”.

    • 

      I sent the following to my C/L in response to a report he emailed to members:

      Did you or the other Chapter Leaders ask to see the agreement that was in place before Bloomberg rejected it? In all likelihood this will be the agreement that is finally reached with some alterations. I think that before you and the other Delegates and C/Ls are asked to ratify any agreement they should be provided with copies of the proposal and given time to confer with their chapters before voting.
      Sincerely
      Sean Ahern

      • 

        If there had been a final agreement, we would have voted at the Delegate Assembly. The chapter leaders and delegates are voted to represent the members of our schools by the members of our school. I hope this clears up your concerns.

  2. 

    I’ve read on your site that your caucus believes the proposed evaluation (and any agreed evaluation similar to it) would reflect, “the end of tenure as we know it”. This in fact, is untrue. As you tell our members that our tenure would be “threatened”, please remember to explain that in the unfortumate even a teacher may be rated, “Ineffective”, the onus to improve that teacher’s rating the following year would fall on administration. In addition, any “Ineffective” teacher would be required to work with an independent validator, one who would also assist that teacher in their area of weakness. If said teacher is found to be “Ineffective” for a second consecutive year, two things must be established: 1) The school’s administration provided the teacher with all necessary and available outlets for improvement, and 2) The independent validator must be in agreement with the principal’s rating based on their own findings.

    • 

      Wait we should trust this union leadership that they’re going to protect us and our tenure- the same unity leadership that allows our teachers to be harnessed with Danielson rubrics, common core unit writing, sesis data entry day and night, experienced teachers and counselors to be shuffled from school to school every single week spent in lunch duty and book rooms, schools closed or taken over by charters- oh yeah we trust you to protect us- get out of here and get out now let Julie and MORE in to save our union. You all have had too long to ruin it. If you had any Shame you would never show your face after all the harm you’ve done to our teachers and kids. Shame on you UNITY

    • 

      ……you forgot to add that only 13 % of those deemed ineffective would be able to fight their rating…..the other 87% would be SOL…..we all know that the “available outlets for improvement” will be bull crap…ie log of assistance, coaching by incompetent coaches, interclass visitation into classrooms of teachers who taught for two years…..let’s tell the truth…..we are screwed!

    • 

      Lamar, I see what you are saying, but something like that is in place now with Peer Intervention. However, I have a brilliant guy in the rubber room with me who was a professor and decided to teach middle school ESL. His principal told others she will get rid of him, then U rated him, gave him PIP and then told people “watch I’m gonna get rid of him.” He’s in his 50’s , makes too much and there was no way he could do anything to stop the gotcha observations. I don’t know, maybe I’m biased because Danielson was used on me in a gotcha style observation. http://protectportelos.wordpress.com/first-unsatisfactory-observation/

  3. 

    Perhaps it takes someone who understands collective bargaining to realize that binding arbitration is still collective bargaining. It is the mayor who asked Albany to impose an evaluation system and they said no. It was the mayor who opposed mediation. The governor proposes binding arbitration with hearing officers from SED. The same people who have called Bloomberg on his lies about a sunset clause. The same people who agreed to limit the use of test scores to 20 percent when other states were creating evaluations based on 50 percent. The same people who have blamed the DOE for insufficient training plans. The same people who have turned down the mayor’s past attempts to fire teachers at will. Both sides still argue their positions; positions the DOE negotiators accepted, only this time Bloomberg doesn’t have the option of placing a phone call.

    • 

      The question continues to be why won’t Uft leadership Allow for a membership vote, Unity leader Leroy Barr admitted members have the right to vote on contracts, in case he didn’t realize evaluations are part of contract negotiations between the city and union, not imposed by the state. Why is unity leadership scared to let the members know what was in the agreement the city walked away from. Union democracy–allow members to vote

      • 

        If Cuomo “forces” a new teacher evaluation plan in NYC there will be a massive lawsuit. Why? Because a change to our evaluation system is a change to our legally binding contract between the UFT and the DOE. Our current contract is protected by the Triborough Amendment which means that the current UFT contract stays in effect until a new contract is NEGOTIATED between the UFT and the DOE. Cuomo would not only have to change the teacher evaluation law, he would have to change the Triborough Amendment law which would impact every single municipal union in all of New York State. Labor lawyers would be lining up in droves if Cuomo tries to pull this off.

  4. 

    More Caucus, the information you are printing couldn’t be further from the truth.
    Lets start with the definition of Collective Bargaining. Collective Bargaining is “a process of negotiations between employers and a group of employees aimed at reaching agreements that regulate working conditions.” When an agreement cannot be reached a third party is asked to step in to mediate. Mulgrew and the UFT have been working diligently to preserve our collective bargaining rights which is why we still do not have an Evaluation.
    Part of the reason why this new evaluation system was important was because it was designed to protect the collective bargaining rights of our teachers. An example is the appeals process that was put in place to ensure that teachers are not being unfairly rated. More Caucus have you not seen what this current evaluation had meant for teachers today , with a subjective rating without a need to provide evidence of why that teacher was rated unsatisfactorily? The current system does not make room for a teacher to develop. It gives AP’s and Principals power away from the teacher over an Evaluation.
    More Caucus, do your homework. The Evaluation is a state mandate. Governor Cuomo is not taking rights away from the union, nor is Mulgrew giving those rights to him. He is asking that we negotiate a State Mandated Evaluation. Mulgrew has stated many times that he wants to Negotiate a fair Evaluation that does not worsen the working conditions of the teachers, it seems that the preservation of our Collective Bargaining Rights is a priority for Mulgrew and the UFT.

    • 

      Stuart, let’s forget definitions of collective bargaining for a second. If I remember the contract it says something about how teachers are rated — S or U I think. Now this new plan seems to change that to 4 categories and put in procedure that do not appear in the contract. Now this seems to be a change in the contract which even Leroy Barr said need to be voted on by the entire membership. Do you disagree with Leroy? Or do you claim an eval deal will not change the contract?

    • 

      That’s Cool!!!. I get into a dispute with my AP over my teaching practices and, instead of having a strong union to turn to for support, I ask my principal -who created the policy to begin with!- to act as some sort of “independent arbitrator” to ‘settle’ the dispute.

      I am laughing out loud, Mr. Kaplan. It sure sounds like SOMEONE here doesn’t understand the basics of Collective Bargaining, but that someone isn’t MORE. Perhaps WE could help you with YOUR homework?

    • 

      Hey keyboard warriors from Unity- IS this type of debate allowed on the UFT edwize blog-hell no Old Leo will be goin Delete Delete Delete
      instead of wasting our $$$ commenting on blogs why dont you try actually fighting for our teachers- while your busy typing away, our members are being hit over the head with danielsion, common core, test prep, 10 minute evaluations, oh thats right you wouldn’t know this because last time you walked into a real classroom I was still in diapers- you old fakakatas get out of the way-take your double pensions and let the young people in

      • 

        Oh Mike, I love it! …….lol…..old fakakatas!……you tell them!…..I hope teachers turn out by the masses if this deal goes thru!….I am ready for us all to call in sick on a given day to show them how the schools could be shut down…….btw, could we do this?….I feel we need to do SOMETHING….

  5. 

    Stuart, let’s forget definitions of collective bargaining for a second. If I remember the contract it says something about how teachers are rated — S or U I think. Now this new plan seems to change that to 4 categories and put in procedure that do not appear in the contract. Now this seems to be a change in the contract which even Leroy Barr said need to be voted on by the entire membership. Do you disagree with Leroy? Or do you claim an eval deal will not change the contract?

  6. 

    At the end of the day, Cuomo is our boss. At the end of the day, the people in the SED are management. When management imposes something from on high, it isn’t “binding arbitration”, it is a directive. The integrity of binding arbitration is is naught when the binding arbitrator is not independent. Independent means someone insulated from outside pressures (like Rhee’s group lobbying state lawmakers). Independent means someone does not have a dog in the fight.

    You can call a directive “binding arbitration” all you want. It does not make it so. Your argument pretty much boils down to “we trust Cuomo”. Maybe that should be the new UFT slogan “we trust Cuomo”.

    Why not, next time, you let Cuomo impose a new contract on us. I mean, it would be just as good as “binding arbitration”, right?

  7. 

    “If there had been a final agreement, we would have voted at the Delegate Assembly. The chapter leaders and delegates are voted to represent the members of our schools by the members of our school. I hope this clears up your concerns.”

    This makes no sense to me in terms of reality. Should it not be that the delegates first hear the proposed evaluation and later call a meeting with the teachers within the building that they work in to then educate the teachers of the proposed evaluation and finally take a vote from all the teachers within the respective building? Yes, this is as it should be but it is not. I repeat again: This is not how it is done. If bloomberg would have accepted the deal, the delegate assembly would have voted that night. How could that be possible if the teachers they represent were never educated about the specifics of the deal that the mayor denied at the “eleventh hour”? This is what infuriates me with the current structure of the Union headed by UNITY. This is unacceptable to me and I have even told my CL at my school. I along with thousands of other classroom teachers am not informed about SPECIFICS.

  8. 

    What makes you guys think your proposed slate is qualified to represent the 200,000 members of the UFT?

    Julie Cavanagh might be intelligent, well spoken, and a wonderful teacher, however MORE keeps talking about her role in a single school, a relatively small elementary school at that. I haven’t see one example listed of her taking on a more global role. Would she rely be prepared to take on the shrewd enemies knocking on our door? I think not.

    Portelos seems to be very good at using technology. Up until a year ago, nobody ever heard of him before. It wasn’t until he found himself being targeted that he’s gotten involved. Where was he before that? What was his involvement? Did he care? Do anything to help others?

    Fiorillo seems to be highly intelligent also, though living in the past talking about Marxist ideals and conspiracy theories. It’s 2013, the 1960s are over.

    Finally, your slate is rounded out by a delegate that has done what? No really, what? How is she qualified?

    • 

      Elliott, I’m honored to even be mentioned in the same comment as Julie and Michael Fiorillo. You are partially right about me. A little over a year ago I became UFT delegate. Prior to that I would miss union meetings and thought tenure was for ineffective teachers that couldn’t get fired. I know crazy “…and this guy is running for executive board? ” Well in the last year I’ve been baptized by fire. I’ve picked up a lot of knowledge, had these great members from MORE backing me up and am ready to be a voice for you and any other educator. I’m open minded and my tech skills mixed with a backbone will help us protect our members.

  9. 

    Spot on with this write-up, I absolutely believe this web site needs
    much more attention. I’ll probably be back again to read more, thanks for the advice!

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