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Politicizing the Trapezoid

May 26, 2014 am31 10:30 am

The trapezoid, is the homeliest of our special quadrilaterals. And it has just been redefined by the Common Core’s David Coleman.

Children will be tested, using definitions that are different from what is in their books

For about two hundred years, when American teachers taught about trapezoids, they were teaching about a figure with four sides, two of which were parallel, and two of which weren’t.

Last year, only the figure on the left was a trapezoid. Now, they both are.

We call that a “non-inclusive” definition, because it doesn’t include the special case when both pairs or sides are parallel (a parallelogram). Readers who are less familiar with math may have encountered the inclusive vs non-inclusive debate when considering squares:  are they special rectangles? or are they something of their own kind?  Math people say squares are rectangles (special ones), the inclusive definition.  Rectangles have four right angles (that fits a square). Rectangles have both pairs of opposite sides equal (that fits a square). We can ask: “Are there four right angles?” If the answer is yes, we say “Rectangle!” – we don’t say, “well might be a rectangle. Let’s first make sure it’s not a square.”  And if we like the inclusive definition for rectangles, why not for trapezoids?

There are conventions in mathematics. Agreements that we have made, that we stick to. We should be aware when something is conventional (electrons flow from the negative terminal) (north is at the top of the map) (x is left right and y is up down) (we use an inclusive definition of rectangle, but an exclusive definition of trapezoid) versus a decision we make with a mathematical reason (1 is not prime is a good example). And we should talk about conventions, with each other, with the public, with our students.

I am not arguing that the change is wrong. I’m saying that change without warning, with no discussion is wrong. And I’m saying that the person making the change should not be a vendor, should not be David Coleman.

We stuck with 200 years of the non-inclusive definition. It is worth changing. But that requires changing every major textbook (geometry, but also many middle school books. It shows up sometimes in algebra too. It’s a lot of books…)  It requires a national discussion. Teachers need to know, need to think about it. Teachers need to realize that the really neat figure called an “isosceles trapezoid” needs a brand new name, if we even think it is worth talking about. And honestly, this discussion is worth having. The change is worth making.

But the change happened with no discussion. Common Core’s testing left arm, PARCC, redefined trapezoid. Without permission. Without telling anyone. Without talking to teachers. Without initiating discussion. Without changing textbooks. Without even giving an opportunity for any of these things to happen. Children will be tested, using definitions that are different from what is in their books, different from what their teachers taught them this year, and every year previously.

When we overtest kids, there are players who can object (parents, kids, teachers, even principals and superintendents). When we cut funding, there are players who will object. When we close schools, there are players who can object. But who stands up when a vendor screws around with a mathematical definition?

Do math teachers have organizations?  Well, yeah, but…  The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) was so ed-reformy that I lapsed my membership over a decade ago and never looked back. The Mathematical Association of America (MAA) and American Mathematical Society (AMS) are for professors and graduate students, not teachers (I should rejoin MAA, they have a journal that I find accessible, and I like the challenge, and I prefer paying the member price for their books). There is a NYC group, but they hold one conference a year, and put out one journal, and nothing else as far as I can tell. The UFT group has some nice people, but not in my area of interest (if you are interested, they did and probably still do some very nice art/math combination stuff).

But I have long maintained connections with the New York State group: The Association of Mathematics Teachers of New York State (AMTNYS). And they are an active group. They have direct connections to the New York State Education Department. They have sometimes campaigned to change rules about calculators, dates for exams. Here, in New York, if there is a place for math teachers to go, it is AMTNYS. Because of this, their listserves, especially their high school level listserve, buzzes when the state screws up a regents exam or a schedule or a new ruling or a roll out. One of AMTNYS stated purposes is “To serve as liaison between the State Education Department and the field.”  This sometimes means communicating SED decisions to us, sometimes conveying our concerns to SED, sometimes organizing teacher voices for or against a change, and sometimes seeking clarification on behalf of their members.

Here is an AMTNYS listserve discussion from last year on the new definition of trapezoid. And here’s one from this year.

In this case, a vendor was imposing a change in definition with little warning, and no discussion. Teachers haven’t heard about it (the majority probably still haven’t), textbooks aren’t updated. And the decision was made implicitly, by accepting a test, not by people responsible to the public. AMTNYS should have worked to stop SED. Instead, they told teachers about the new definition. AMTNYS’ leaders can claim they are not an advocacy organization. But when they accept the new testing regimen without complaint, education reform, including in mathematics, without complaint, new curricula without complaint, changes made to a mathematical definition by a vendor, without complaint, and in fact transmit each of those to mathematics teachers – they are in fact adding their weight to the direction of change advocated by the Ed Reformers in Albany, they are advocating, and they are advocating against teachers and against students. I am disappointed.

Of all the bad things ed reform is doing and has done, changing a definition without discussion is not high on the list. And, in this case, its not that Coleman is out to screw kids (he is, but does he care about trapezoids?  He has millions of children who he treats with disregard, what’s a silly shape to him?)  It’s not that John King and Andrew Cuomo were out to get kids to get one more question wrong (they don’t care). It’s not that Barack Obama and Arne Duncan, when they pushed Common Core on the states thought about ways to change one definition. And it’s not that AMTNYS’ leadership is so badly compromised by needing to be friendly with powerless state bureaucrats that they forgot to speak up.

No, it’s just one more, small, bizarre episode: Common Core redefines Trapezoid.


Where my niece got her non-commutative model of multiplication

May 24, 2014 pm31 10:15 pm

Way back last fall, I played math with my niece and nephew, and wrote about it.

Along the way, a curious thing happened.  My niece saw a 6×2 rectangle, horizontally oriented, and wrote 6 x 2 next to it, and saw the same size rectangle, vertically oriented, and wrote 6 x 2, then crossed it out to write 2 x 6 (my sister-in-law thought to “correct” her, but I asked to leave it alone).

Last week I went to my niece’s school, where she goes as a 3rd grader, and where I went as a 3rd grader, in a city 70 miles from New York. I visited math classes at several grade levels. And here is what I found in a second grade class:


I also found a woman who was friends with my nursery school teacher’s daughter. And I learned that my teacher is still alive and kicking. I’m going to dig out some old photos and pay her a visit. And thank her.

If the contract is not ratified…

May 24, 2014 am31 7:19 am

Probably the contract will be ratified. Across the city, teachers, while not enthusiastic about the money or the language, are relieved to be getting something. Now, if it were just the Bronx high schools voting, it would fail, 2:1 or even 3:1, but that’s the high schools, and the Bronx. How can we really know what happened across the City?  With the rush, and the $1000 signing bonus, and little time for teachers to talk to each other and ask questions, I think it’ll pass. But if I had to guess I’d say this contract passes with an unenthusiastic 70% or so. Compare the TWU, who just ratified by 83%, or the 90% for the last UFT contract. I don’t expect it as tight as the 2005 UFT contract, which was approved by just 60% of teachers and 63% overall. (You can imagine Bronx HS numbers that time!)  But I don’t know.

But what if somehow there are more no voters, and the thing fails. The UFT leadership will go back to the negotiating table. We will be first in line (ignore the rhetoric – I think it’s clear we go first). What do we want our leaders to change?

Some might be tempted to ask that every aspect be renegotiated. But imagine a contract defeat. Maybe 45% yes – 55% no. Both the UFT negotiators and the City will want to quickly come back with an agreement that does just enough to get the thing passed, which means, just enough to get 6% to switch. (Actually, they will shoot higher, since they would want a slightly safer cushion.) That speaks to one or two changes. What would you want them to change?

1. Health Care. Take it out of the agreement. Might cost money on wages. Probably can’t be done while improving wages. Making health savings a material part of the contract, and giving an outsider the right to determine if we are in breach, and another the right to mandate changes – this is an astounding error. It should be removed.

2. ATRs. People who are ATRs (few of us), were ATRs (more of us), have former colleagues who are ATRs (many more of us), etc, get nervous when their status is changed. Changing the 3020a process, even for a small number of teachers, raises fears. Read Lynne Winderbaum’s moving appeal. I don’t care how benign the intent was, that’s enough to say, let’s get rid of that language. There is nothing that stops the DoE from bringing charges, we know that, we see that. This wasn’t necessary, and it scares the hell out of some people. Plus, you know, unions, sticking together, all for one – the kinds of ideas that say separate provisions for separate groups, especially a targeted group, are just plain wrong. Get rid of the expedited 3020a.

Then two changes that do not need to be negotiated. These are wrongs committed the first time around by the union leadership. And the union leadership can (theoretically) address these (if a second ratification vote is needed).

3. No rushing us. Give members time to read, ask questions, discuss. The question “Why the Rush?” has no good answer, unless you think that ‘giving people time to discuss would have made ratification less likely’ is a good answer. You should not. Publishing the details of the Lump Sum Payments from the 2009-2011 Round, and the MoA language on Health Care (care to guess why that is in the Wages section?) on the Friday before the ballots went out is just bad practice. If your agreement cannot withstand serious scrutiny, you should not bring it to us.

4. No selling. Some people in the schools were annoyed when they learned that the immediate raise from this deal would be 2%. The leadership sold this as 4 and 4. But some people were angry when they realized that they’d been sold a line. Same mix of reactions when people realized that the “retro” had not yet been earned, or that there was no interest. Of course the special reps in the schools are individuals – but some were heavy spinners, others clearly did not understand what they were saying. That’s just not the right way to treat members. One man’s selling or spinning is another man’s misleading or misdirecting. There are people who are still voting yes, but are feeling distrusted by the leaders because of this behavior. But this is tough. This leadership spins every mistake they have ever made. Could they actually stop long enough to provide members accurate information?

The perils of the ATR

May 20, 2014 am31 6:25 am

by Lynne Winderbaum, retired ESL teacher, JFK HS, and former Bronx High School UFT District Rep

For the greater part of the 44 years that I have been a member of the UFT teachers truly believed that an assault against one of us was an assault against all of us. The idea of union was that if we all held together, we could accomplish what we never would be able to as individuals. There was one job title of teacher and we all enjoyed the same rights. I am puzzled now, or maybe just too old and nostalgic to understand, how under our most recent agreement, a certain category of teachers has been singled out for disparate treatment. The teachers in the Absent Teacher Reserve have required more protection, not less. Their job security and their outlook have been shaken to the core by the fact that they are no longer appointed to a school.

When the wholesale closing of traditional high schools began under the Bloomberg administration, the borough hardest hit (and most embracing of small school creation to replace them) was the Bronx. Morris, Monroe, Taft, Roosevelt, Walton, New School, Evander Childs, Stevenson, and soon Kennedy and Columbus, shuttered. Veteran teachers were displaced not through any fault of their own, but as collateral damage in the effort to show that a reform was underway that would benefit students. Well, no such benefits have been the result and the loss of the large high schools has been an irreversible destruction. Graduation rates inflated by bogus “credit recovery”schemes (Education critics blast high school credit recovery – NY Daily News)  (Students earning credit with dubious make up work – NY Post) , changing of IEPs, waivers on providing special education and English Language Learner services, screening of students, and closing of many of the replacement small schools that were supposed to provide better instruction. (The New Marketplace: Executive Summary – The New School, Milano Institute of International Affairs, Center for New York Affairs)

In the final year of these closing ghost schools, the last students going down with the ship were often underserved as the Department of Education staffed them with a handful of remaining teachers to teach the last seniors. The city abandoned these students. But there was always a cadre of teachers in each school that refused to turn their backs them. These were usually veteran teachers, nearing retirement, who told me they felt an obligation to the students in a dire situation and would not leave for another school and make matters worse for them. When the doors finally closed, these dedicated teachers were in excess.

At a staff meeting of the UFT I rose to point out that this category of excessed teacher created by the massive school closings were unlike any other prior group of excessed teachers. For years “last in, first out” (LIFO) put in excess the most junior teachers in license on a staff that had a contraction of positions. So teachers who had one or two years of service were at risk. But the excessed pool now included hundreds of teachers with 20-30 years of satisfactory classroom service who had dedicated their entire professional lives to the students of New York City. This was new.

Since 2005, when the category of Absent Teacher Reserve was created, teachers in the ATR have always had a sense of uneasiness. I cannot recall a single school visit when an ATR teacher did not approach me and ask if the union would protect them. Will the next contract let us be fired? I always assured them that the UFT would stand by them. And that the ATR category was created to give them job protection. ATR’s could not be fired without the same due process as every other teacher in the system.

At the same time I recall when Joel Klein, former chancellor of New York City schools, returned from a trip to Chicago. He learned there that the Chicago school system resolved their teacher displacement problem from school closings by firing excessed teachers who could not find a new teaching position within twelve months. “For years, Chancellor Joel Klein has trumpeted Chicago’s method of laying off teachers, which gives out-of-work teachers a year to remain on salary and find a new job in the schools. Klein’s new list of demands would shrink that window to four months.” (Among City’s Contract Demands: Flexibility to Lay Off Teachers - Chalkbeat)

But in order to make such a move palatable, the teachers in the ATR had to be vilified and portrayed in the media as unemployable losers who could not find jobs and were a drain on the budget of the Department of Education and the taxpayers. And how the city officials threw themselves into that campaign! Joel Klein wrote, “We’d also be forced to keep teachers in what’s called the “Absent Teacher Reserve”pool—a bureaucratic name for those let go from downsizing or closing schools but who remain on payroll. Many of these teachers haven’t applied for new jobs despite losing their positions as long as two years ago. And many who have looked for a job can’t find a school willing to hire them despite many vacancies. Yet none of these teachers can be laid off, even during a budget crisis.” (We’re firing the wrong teachers – Joel Klein)

Steven Brill, wrote in his book “Class Warfare: Inside the Fight to Fix America’s Schools”. “These were the teachers who were excessed but had not taken positions elsewhere. Some hadn’t even gone on job interviews…the prospect loomed that they would continue to be paid even if the city had to dismiss thousands of real teachers because of the budget crunch.”p. 129

Of course nothing could be further from the truth. I remember the day that Randi Weingarten, then president of the UFT, put out a call to the district representatives to counter such arguments by bringing a group of ATRs to a press conference. I went to Evander Childs HS and gathered a group of about a dozen from the library and brought them downtown from the Bronx to tell tales of the many online applications sent through the Department of Education website, the many resumes they sent out to principals, and the interviews they went on, all to no avail. None had ever received an unsatisfactory rating. But they were tenured, older, expensive, and they were turned down in favor of fresh new hires, many on probation. They were losing hope and to add insult to injury, they were being painted with the insulting brush of pundits like Brill. Eventually, even Brill saw the superficiality of his opinion in 2011 and reversed course. (Teaching with the enemy – The New York Times)

But the drumbeat did not stop. Even now, the New York Post writes, “Ineffective teachers from the Absent Teacher Reserve are headed back into the classroom.”And the New York Daily News warns “The mayor must hold firm [against forcing principals to hire ATRs]. Otherwise, he would dump teachers of poor quality on unlucky students and schools (Expel these teachers – NY Daily News)

So they insist that the 2/3 of the ATR pool who have never been accused of wrongdoing or had unsatisfactory performances be characterized as “poor quality”and “ineffective”and worthy of firing. The truth is that the Department of Education has never made a secret of its desire to fire the ATRs. It’s been raised in every contract negotiation. But the union has up to now provided protection for this group because they are valuable teachers and members whose predicament was created entirely by the Department of Education. As a 31 year veteran teacher from Kennedy High School, a school not slated for closing for many years as other Bronx high schools met their demise, I often thought “There but for the grace of God go I”.

The UFT not only saw that displaced teachers were not fired, we reached agreement with the Department of Education that they could only be moved once a semester. This gave them stability for at least half the school year. It was humane. Many got regular assignments saving the city money on hiring long term substitute teachers for teachers on leaves for child care or health issues. (Although the city and the press still just multiply the number of ATR’s by their salaries and calculate that as a drain on the city’s resources without deducting the savings). ATRs were also serving as per diem substitutes for daily absentee teachers. Another savings. A survey we were asked to do by the union in 2009 showed that hundreds of ATRs were serving in this capacity—not sitting around idly doing nothing and collecting salaries.

Recently, this all changed for the ATR pool. They are now shuffled around week to week, from school to school. They are observed teaching students they do not know while covering classes out of license. It is not only a recipe for wasting talent if there ever was one but a sure path to thinning the ATR pool. “Until recently, the city allowed ATR teachers to remain at a posting for a full school term, during which the school principal could decide whether to hire them. That changed with the weekly reassignments, which went into effect in October as part of a deal with the United Federation of Teachers to avert layoffs.” (City’s Unwanted Teachers Drift Through a Life in Limbo – DNA Info)

This brings us to the new contract and it’s agreement regarding this maligned and vulnerable group of teachers.

The city has been looking for a way to fire this teachers since before Klein’s Chicago jaunt. The Memorandum of Agreement now under consideration makes this much easier. It streamlines the process for ridding the city of the ATRs. It proposes a separate and unequal disciplinary system that will end the career of an ATR in a way that cannot happen to an appointed teacher.

Memorandum of Agreement:

If a principal removes an ATR from an assignment to a vacancy in his/her license area because of problematic behavior as described below and the ATR is provided with a signed writing by a supervisor describing the problematic behavior, this writing can be introduced at an expedited §3020-a hearing for ATRs who have completed their probationary periods

            The term “problematic behavior”is unacceptably vague. What is it? It can’t rise to the level of a violation of Chancellor’s regulations because that has always allowed for removal. In instances of language belittling or causing emotional distress, corporal punishment, misappropriation of funds, excessive absence and/or lateness or any other clearly defined violations under the Chancellor’s regulations, teachers could be removed and charged. Two years of unsatisfactory ratings could lead to removal and charges.

So “problematic behavior”must fall into a category of actions beneath these violations. Let me give you four examples that I have heard from ATRs: Leaving four minutes early on a staff development day after receiving a phone call about a son’s medical emergency, scolding in front of students for not wearing a tie, dozing off in the teachers’lounge on a day when he was given no assignment or classes to cover, making a statement in the classroom that sounded like religious proselytizing. One might concede that these actions are “problematic”but they never would have led to more than a file letter in the past! Now, they can rise to the level of such severity that the career of the beleaguered ATR can be ended forever. Who will decide what’s “problematic”? The panel of arbitrators whose standard we agree is a mystery at the moment? The two consecutive principals who may have marked certain teachers for discipline possibly because they spoke up when they were given five classes in a row to teach, or reported a special ed violation, or cheating on a Regents? Or maybe they just seemed too confrontational or not compliant enough? Or maybe didn’t wear a tie! Without clearly defining “problematic”behavior, we have provided a roadmap for showing the door to ATR’s.

I have read that the ATR’s cannot “automatically”be fired. They would feel more secure without the modifier. The grounds for their removal and ultimate firing are far different from those required of regular appointed teachers. Do we have the right to create a new and lesser category within our own family?

The speed with which an ATR can be dispatched is breathtaking. No regular appointed teacher could be pushed out the door with such haste. There is due process and then there is what the MOA calls the“exclusive”due process for ATRs. The union should stand behind one 3020a process for all its teachers.


If, within a school year or consecutively across school years, an ATR has been removed from a temporary provisional assignment to a vacancy in his/her license area by two different principals because of asserted problematic behavior, a neutral arbitrator from a panel of arbitrators jointly selected for this purpose (the panel presently consisting of Martin F. Scheinman, Howard Edelman and Mark Grossman) shall convene a 3020-a hearing as soon as possible Based on the written documentation described above and such other documentary and/or witness evidence as the employer or the respondent may submit, the hearing officer shall determine whether the ATR has demonstrated a pattern of problematic behavior. For purposes of this program, problematic behavior means behavior that is inconsistent with the expectations established for professionals working in schools and a pattern of problematic behavior means two or more instances in a vacancy in the ATRs license area of problematic behavior within a school year or consecutively across school years. Hearings under this provision shall not exceed one full day absent a showing of good cause and the hearing officer shall convene a §3020-a hearing as soon as possible.

 The parties agree that in order to accomplish the purpose of establishing an expedited §3020-a process, the following shall serve as the exclusive process for §3020-a hearings for ATRs that have been charged based on a pattern of problematic behavior in accordance with this agreement.

  • The ATR shall have ten (10) school days to request a hearing upon receipt of the §3020-a charges;
  • At the same time as the ATR is charged, the Board (DOE) will notify the UFT as to where the ATR is assigned at the time charges are served;
  • The employer shall provide the Respondent all evidence to be used in the hearing no more than five (5) school days after the employer receives the Respondentrequest for a hearing;
  • Within five (5) school days of receipt of the employerevidence, the Respondent shall provide the employer with any evidence the Respondent knows at that time will be used in the hearing;
  • The hearing shall be scheduled within five to ten (5-10) school days after the exchange of evidence is complete;
  • The hearing time shall be allocated evenly between the parties, with time used for opening statements, closing statements and cross-examination allocated to party doing the opening statement, closing statement or cross-examination and with time for breaks allocated to the party requesting the break;
  • The hearing officer shall issue a decision within 15 days of the hearing date.

For the purposes of charges based upon a pattern of problematic behavior under this section only, if the DOE proves by a preponderance of the evidence that the ATR has demonstrated a pattern of problematic behavior the hearing officer shall impose a penalty under the just cause standard up to and including discharge

            I know many ATRs because the displacement of veteran high school teachers has been so great. It is a problem of the Department of Education’s own making. From the dumping of these teachers into a special pool, to the changing of their assignments every semester, to their bouncing from school to school every week, to the special and unique expedited 3020a hearing that adheres to a timetable that no other teacher must be suffer, these life-long teachers have been beaten down.

They have been mandated to apply for jobs online, mandated to attend interviews, and mandated to accept assignments for years. But many are never offered jobs because principals prefer to hire probationary teachers that can be fired at will. I served on many hiring committees for new schools every June. They were looking to staff their entire schools. There was a constant parade of new, uncertified teaching fellows getting hired to the exclusion of the veterans who interviewed.

The unsettling feeling I have now is that the worst fears that the ATRs shared with me all of those years have been realized.



The phrase “Retroactive Payment” is not in the MoA

May 19, 2014 pm31 6:30 pm

Instead, what we have been calling retro appears as:

Lump Sum Payments stemming from the 2009-2011 Round and schedule for actives for those continuously employed as of the day of payout.

This is the title of one section of the Memorandum of Agreement (with the payment schedule below). And in the entire MoA, there is not another word about retroactive payments for in-service members. For most of us, there will be no difference between retroactive raises on the one hand, and a “2009-2011 Round” on the other.

But there are details in the agreement which are worth pointing out. We did not earn this money, according to the agreement, in 2009, 2010, and 2011. We will earn it when have been continuously employed as of each payout date (and once we retire, the payments are locked in).

What difference does it make if we earned it in 2010, or we earn it in 2015, if the first payout is in 2015 anyway? The difference is for those who do not receive any payout at all.

  • People who have quit, or will quit before 2015. They may have worked in 2009, but they did not earn retro.
  • People who quit between 2015 and 2020. They will have worked for a chunk of time that retro was theoretically accumulating, but they will only receive 12.5% or 25% or…
  • People who are discontinued, or will be discontinued before 2015. They may have worked in 2009, but they did not earn retro.
  • People who will be discontinued between 2015 and 2020. They will have worked for a chunk of time that retro was theoretically accumulating, but they will only receive 12.5% or 25% or…

Not every discontinuance is undeserved. We know that. But in the age of Bloomberg, hundreds of teachers were unfairly discontinued each year. We expect this number will fall under de Blasio and Fariña, but we don’t know. It hasn’t happened yet. And we worry because the new administration has been slow to make its presence felt in the school system.

The word “continuous” raises questions. I do not know the answers, but will ask:

  • People who leave now, and retire later (eg, you reach 30 years and you are only 53. Stop working now, but retire in two years. Have you been continuously employed?)
  • People who take childcare leave for a year (do they get all the payments up to that point? All the payments?  All the payments except the one due when they are out?)
  • People who take childcare leave for more than one year
  • People who take a leave for personal reasons, and return a year later (do they get all the payments, or none?)
  • People who take a leave for personal reasons, and return a year later, and that leave includes one of the payout dates (do they get all the payments, all but the one when they are on leave, or none?)
  • People who are brought up on charges (often now they agree to a lesser charge of wrongdoing and pay a small fine – will the DoE start exacting a ‘break in service?’


Remaining questions about health in the UFT contract

May 19, 2014 am31 7:36 am
  • How will the way we access benefits change?
  • Where will the health care savings come from?
  • What changes can the arbitrator make to our health care?
  • Where is the list of possible changes to health care that the City and the UFT agreed to?
  • Why did the UFT leadership wait until the Friday before the vote to release the MoA language on healthcare?


1. The way we access benefits may change (according to the UFT’s Frequently Asked Questions). How might that change?

2a. The Memorandum of Agreement (Original here, or health only here) makes health care savings, in the “Wages” section of the agreement, a material part of our contract. But where will the savings come from?

2b. If the health care savings targets are not met, an arbitrator will impose changes. (from The Memorandum of Agreement, Section 3.I. original here, or health only here). What changes is the arbitrator allowed to consider?

2c. Almost two weeks ago a leaked document from the City listed some areas of potential savings. Mulgrew mentioned this at the DA, said that we rejected that list.  Where is the list of potential savings that the UFT accepted?

3. Why did it take three days to release the MoA, but over two weeks to release the MoA language on healthcare?

Health Care Agreement? Let’s Look Carefully

May 16, 2014 pm31 8:36 pm

Sometime in the last day, the UFT website was updated with the healthcare agreement. It is not easy to read, but must be read. It follows, at the bottom of this post. (formatting errors may have occurred in converting the pdf. Please point them out, and I will correct them – jd)

There are still nagging questions – including my favorite. The factsheet says: The way that you access certain benefits may changeIt’s no clearer what that might mean. How will I access benefits differently?

I want to post this right away, so I will give me and others more time to look over where the issues might be, although I suspect some will jump right out at you.

One last note. The agreement with the City was made 15 days ago. The Exec Board approved sending the agreement, unseen, to the Delegate Assembly 11 days ago. The DA voted on this, without having seen the money or the health in print, 9 days ago. Yet the changes to our health were only published today, the Friday before schools get ballots. And still without knowing what options the arbitrator has, and where the savings are to be found.

The facts make the accusation. I don’t have to.

H. Healthcare Savings

a. The UFT and the City/DOE agree the UFT will exercise its best efforts to have the MLC agree to the following:

i. for fiscal year 2015 (July 1, 2014-June 30, 2015),

there shall be $400 million in savings on a city- wide basis in health care costs in the NYC health care program.

ii. for fiscal year 2016 (July 1, 2015-June 30,

2016), there shall be $700 million in savings on a citywide basis in health care costs in the NYC health care program.

iii. for fiscal year 2017 (July 1, 2016-June 30,

2017), there shall be $1 billion in savings on a citywide basis in health care costs in the NYC health care program.

iv. for fiscal year 2018 (July 1, 2017-June 30,

2018), there shall be $1.3 billion in savings on a citywide basis in health care costs in the NYC health care program.

v. for every fiscal year thereafter, the savings on a citywide basis in health care costs shall continue on a recurring basis

vi. The parties agree that the above savings to be achieved on a Citywide basis are a material term of this agreement.

vii. In the event the MLC does not agree to the above citywide targets, the arbitrator shall determine the UFT’s proportional share of the savings tar- get and, absent an agreement by these parties, shall implement the process for the satisfaction of these savings targets.

viii. Stabilization Fund: (1) Effective July 1, 2014, the Stabilization Fund shall convey $1 billion to the City of New York to be used in support of the pro rata funding of this agreement. (2) Commencing on July 1, 2014, $200 million from the Stabilization Fund shall be made available per year to pay for ongoing programs (such as $65 welfare fund contribution, PICA payments, budget relief). In the event the MLC does not agree to provide the funds specified in this paragraph, the arbitrator shall determine the UFT’s proportional share of the Stabilization Fund monies required to be paid under this paragraph

I. Dispute Resolution Regarding Paragraph H

a. In the event of any dispute, the parties shall meet and confer in an attempt to resolve the dispute. If the parties cannot resolve the dispute, such dispute shall be referred to Arbitrator Martin F. Scheinman for resolution.

b. Such dispute shall be resolved within 90 days.

c. The arbitrator shall have the authority to impose interim relief that is consistent with the parties’ intent.

d. The arbitrator shall have the authority to meet with the parties at such times as the arbitrator determines is appropriate to enforce the terms of this agreement.

e. The parties shall meet and confer to select and retain an impartial health care actuary. If the parties are unable to agree, the arbitrator shall select the impartial health care actuary to be retained by the parties.

f. The parties shall share the costs for the arbitrator and the actuary the arbitrator selects.


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