Demand Full Retroactive Pay!

January 2, 2014 — 6 Comments
For most of the past five years, the city of New York’s workforce has been losing ground.
Starting in 2009, Mayor Bloomberg refused to negotiate new contracts for all city workers, effectively establishing a wage freeze while the cost of living in NYC continues to rise. Just over a year ago, city workers brought this city back from Super-storm Sandy.
We keep this city running every day.
We’re working harder and harder for less and less.
Not all New Yorkers have had to make such sacrifices. Since the massive financial crisis in 2008, and subsequent multi-trillion dollar federal bailout, WallStreet has made billions in profits – $24 billion in 2012 alone. Likewise, New York’s real-estate industry continues toboom, greased with hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks. If we simply made the 1% pay their fair share, we would be able to fund city worker’s contract demands and restore Bloomberg-era funding cuts to much needed city services.
We Demand:
  •  Mayor DeBlasio negotiate full retroactive raises for all city workers and grant raises in line with the increased cost of living in New York City.
  •  The Municipal Labor Committee, the coalition of unions representing municipal workers, take a unified position and make these demands to Mayor DeBlasio during negotiation

Please take action now by:

1. Sign and share the online petition here 

2. Print the paper petition out and gather signatures at your workplace here

3. Like our FaceBook page and spread the word to your friends 

To NYC Municipal Labor Committee,

As you begin contract negotiations with the new de Blasio administration, the undersigned implore you to mobilize the full power of a united NYC public sector work force to put forward a powerful message.  After years of effective pay cuts, we expect and deserve not just a new contract, but one with retroactive wage increases and no givebacks.

NYC municipal workers have been working under worse conditions and for less pay than at any time since the recession of the 1970s.

Still, each and every day, we keep the city running. The deadly Superstorm Sandy showed the world, once again, the heroism of our nurses, firefighters, sanitation, transit, and other city workers, who saved the stranded and worked tirelessly to get the city back on its feet.

Why, then, are we losing ground?  Mayor Bloomberg has refused to negotiate new contracts for municipal employees.  With the cost of living on the rise, the net effect has been an across the board wage cut.  We are among the nearly half of New Yorkers — 49 percent — who are paying rents that federal benchmarks consider unaffordable.  Basic necessities increase as well.

Not all New Yorkers have had to make such sacrifices.  Since the massive financial crisis in 2008, and subsequent multi-trillion dollar federal bailout, Wall Street has made billions in profits – $24 billion in 2012 alone.  Likewise, New York’s real estate industry continues to boom, greased with hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks.

To put it plainly, public sector and working-class New Yorkers have been subsidizing the billion dollar profits of Wall Street and the real estate industry with their tax money.

We are the teachers who put in extra hours helping kids learn. We are the health care and social workers taking care of the most vulnerable New Yorkers.  We keep the garbage off the streets, we take people to work and to school, and we respond to every emergency.  We earn what we receive, unlike the billionaires who treat our city budget like their personal ATM.

The city CAN afford retroactive pay for city workers and not cut back on other services. The city has run budget surpluses of over a billion dollars for over half of the last 8 years, even after factoring in the estimated $3 billion in tax breaks businesses receive every year.  Small increases to taxes on high-end real estate, financial transactions, and other taxes on New York’s 1% could turn the pending municipal crisis around.

The fate of New York City’s municipal workers is of critical importance for all New Yorkers.  Underpaid and unemployed workers need subsidies to survive.  As our standard of living decreases, it strains the economy, hurts our families, and makes it harder to do our jobs.  If we fight for a just contract, and stand in solidarity with other important campaigns, like the low-wage workers who are fighting for a $15 minimum wage, then a rising tide can raise all boats.

New York City today is a tale of two cities.  If mayor-elect de Blasio genuinely wants to tackle income inequality, we urge him to start at the bargaining table with city workers.

Fairness, and good economic sense, demand full retroactive pay raises and full cost of living adjustments for all New York City municipal workers.  

Sincerely,

Movement of Rank and File Educators- The Social Justice Caucus of The United Federation of Teachers

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6 responses to Demand Full Retroactive Pay!

  1. 

    It would be nice if someone would consider requesting teachers who were denied tenure based on “premeditated unjust evaluations” be rehired as well!!!

  2. 

    In the interests of equity and solidarity any retro pay for teachers should be distributed as a flat rate and not on a percentage basis. There is no valid reason for the huge disparity between the top and bottom of the pay scale. Percentage based raises for the UFT only exacerbates the gap between the senior and junior teacher and further alienates the younger teachers from unionism all together.

    • 

      Actually, under bloomturd, the younger people got the higher percentage in the second to last contract. You want it skewed to the top. In that way, your final pension calculation is higher. That is why it was always done that way. Wise up kid.

      • 

        You are obviously not old enough or informed enough to know that it was not “always done that way.” In 1969, the most renumerative contract that the UFT ever won, reduced the years to top pay to seven and a half years by 1972. UFT local President Albert Shanker described it as “the finest contract for teachers in the United States. No school system in the country reaches a maximum salary of $16,950 in just 7 1/2 years.” AFT President at the time, David Selden described the 1969 contract as “one of the most remarkable documents in the field of education.”

        When the banksters subsequently refused to lend the city any money and forced the layoffs of thousands of teachers during the mid 70’s fiscal crisis the UFT leadership, in an effort to secure the support of members who had struck in ‘67,68 and ’74, shifted its negotiating strategy towards the era of the longevity clauses to pacify them.

        Why the UFT abandoned even the pretense of solidarity is another matter. But from a union point of view there is no defensible reason why teachers doing the same job should be paid at such disparate rates. At one time this was the stance of the UFT. The current salary schedule for NYC teachers is the result of the austerity regime instituted in the mid 70’s by the corporate elite and the Unity Caucus’ response which was based on pre empting the emergence of serious challenge to their misleadership by dividing the membership, particularly the more senior members from the junior and the “unborn.”

        The current salary schedule is the product of over 40 years of backsliding. It worked for the Unity Caucus but not for a strong union. A retroactive pay increase of 4% today would raise the starting salary by around $2000 and the top salary by $4,000, further expanding the divide. Further extentions of the working day in lieu of a salary increase, one of Weingarten’s favorite ploys, will increase final average salary and win ratification votes from senior teachers nearing retirement but will only move the bar that much further away for junior and mid career teachers. Anyone seriously considering a challenge to the current leadership must oppose their divide and rule strategy in contract negotiations. Otherwise the purported “opposition” is reduced to just another gripe session going nowhere.

        It should come as no surprise that retirees now constitute the largest voting bloc in the UFT local elections and the bulk of active members are sitting on the sidelines totally disengaged from their union for the most part. I’m not against UFTretirees, my father is one and far from being a “kid” I plan to become one in a few years if I can stick it out. If you think unions have always embraced and defended pay inequity you are simply wrong. If you think the current pay inequity benefits you as a presumably senior teacher I think you are being penny wise and dollar foolish.

        Consider for a moment what stands between your top salary and your pension and a “bail in?” A “bail in” is not just something just for Cypriots. Its when the banks go belly up next time and there is no more “bail out” or “quantitative easing” for them. The too big to fail banks are now authorized, indeed instructed by the Bank of International Settlements to seize deposits and issue equity credits (in a bankrupt bank) to depositors. The TRS and TDA are not secured or insured. Even your deposits in a bank technically belong to the bank. Depositors are “unsecured creditors.” I can see a bunch of old timers waving their “equity credits” at the supermarket. Good luck. Senior teachers and retirees need the active members and should reconsider how they are being played by the current leadership to believe otherwise.

        Read up on what pensioners in Detroit are facing. The hedge funds and holders of derivatives are first in line, before your pension, before your savings. The Unity caucus leadership promotes a smug indifference among those nearing retirement which is evident in your remarks. It is a penny wise dollar foolish thinking that all you have to do is reach the end line and you are safe. Wrong, but some, maybe most, don’t wake up until the ball drops on their head. Dazed, striped of the false sense of security they are left wondering, what happened? What happened is the smug indifference that leads working folks to believe that they are not their brother’s keeper, that “solidarity” is just a word or a quaint old song and that they need only concern themselves with themselves. I paid my dues and now let the “kids” pay theirs. We need a union run by the active members to defend living, learning and working conditions and pensions. Turning the UFT into an association of pensioners who have turned their backs on the younger generation beset with college loans and housing costs unknown to their senior colleagues is not a credible defense.

  3. 

    I THINK AN IMPORTANT POINT IS MISSING FROM THE PETITION:

    RETRO PAY IS ABOUT MORE THAN MONEY. IT’S A BASIC QUESTION OF UNION POWER. AS
    MUNICIPAL WORKERS WE GIVE UP THE LEGAL RIGHT TO STRIKE, SUPPOSEDLY IN EXCHANGE FOR GOOD
    FAITH BARGAINING. IF WE DON’T GET RETRO PAY, WHAT WILL PREVENT FUTURE MAYORS FROM
    REFUSING TO NEGOTIATE IN GOOD FAITH FOR NOT JUST 4 YEARS AS BLOOMBERG DID, BUT 5 OR 10
    YEARS ? RETRO PAY IS A CUTTING EDGE ISSUE !

  4. 

    Interesting comments….I never thought of the union as being an “association of pensioners who have turned their backs on the younger generation beset with college loans and housing costs unknown to their senior colleagues is not a credible defense”. It made me think… and as a teacher for 8 years, I have worked in four schools… and I do agree the politics in all the school’s are similar. The senior teacher’s are mainly interested in pension and when their time is up to get out. My issues were dealing with finding a way to pay housing, and student loans. There is not a lot of grants out there to help me with my student loans. Can’t afford to get a second job, because the amount of work, prep time and lesson plan for classes takes up all my time. I don’t get paid for that.

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