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UFT Contract Proposal – My First Comments

May 4, 2014 pm31 12:20 pm

After the negotiating committee meeting Thursday I had dinner plans – but not until 8, an hour’s walk north of 52 Broadway. So I sat in the back of the lobby, facing the escalator, reading. “Jonathan” a voice shouted “it’s a good contract” – It wasn’t a question. Mulgrew, going down to the garage, had noticed me. I shrugged yes, and answered in the affirmative.

Two and a half days later, I would back off that answer. I wouldn’t call the proposal good, just ok, and with one big question mark left. I can reserve judgment, but not for long. The ballots will be out soon, sometime this month. Wednesday there is a Delegate Assembly where we are expected to vote whether or not to recommend this contract proposal to the members. And Monday there is an Executive Board where we will be asked to recommend this proposal to the DA. And tonight my caucus is meeting to choose our course of action.

So some first thoughts.

If a proposed contract leaves members in worse shape (financially, or rights) than before, that is not ok.

If a proposed contract makes it less likely that teachers will stay in the system, that is not ok. (that weakens the schools, and the union)

If a proposed contract does not harm members, but falls short of what it should be, that is not good. But opposing that contract would depend on our ability to improve the provisions.

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My caucus has been saying:  4 + 4, current contract (no more working under expired contract), full retroactive for everyone, including recent retirees, and no givebacks.

We have the 4 + 4, but deferred. For people in need of a quick infusion of cash, this sucks. We would see an immediate 2% + $1000 one time payment, followed by raises the next four May 1’s (2015, 16, 17, and 18):  3%, 3½%, 4½%, 5%. For most of us, the deferral allowed the contract to move up to 18% total (instead of perhaps 15%).  Future money is cheaper than current money, and easier to budget for and promise. For those of us who can survive the deferral, 18% over nine years is still kind of mediocre money.

Current contract?  Well yes. And we should never have allowed ourselves to work under an expired contract. But nine years is a long time. When will we have a chance to undo the damage from the Weingarten years, especially the 2005 contract?  This extends that damage until 2018, unless some can be renegotiated outside of the contract. And we are setting a low (non-zero) pattern for other unions.

Full retro?  Ironically, that’s taken care of best for recent retirees. For the rest of us, retro payments are broken in 4 shares, the first split between October 1 2015 and October 1 2017, and the other three coming October 1 2018, 2019, and 2020. That’s a long time. But for anyone who was thinking about it over the last year or so, not unexpected.

Givebacks?  Here’s where we need to see the Memorandum. On the surface, I don’t see givebacks that concern me. Not even the ATR piece (though were I an ATR, any change of status would worry me. Remember, the biggest change for ATRs is that no schools were added to the closing list, that’s not conractual). I don’t like the Model Teacher, Master Teacher, Ambassador Teacher (sounds like frequent flyer status, or cruise ship cabin upgrades), but unless the DoE is going to slosh around a lot of cash, it falls short of a merit pay scheme (which I notice some have been calling it). Reconfiguring the 37½ is not a giveback. The two extra parent teacher conferences are a trade-off, not a giveback.

But health?  Neither Mulgrew nor de Blasio have been sufficiently forthcoming about where these billions (with a b, 10^9, 2^30) are coming from. I need better answers on health care before I can support this.

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Oh, is there anything I like?

Yup.  I like trading away the faculty conferences.

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I’ll have more to say in the coming days.

11 Comments leave one →
  1. May 4, 2014 pm31 3:58 pm 3:58 pm

    It is unfortunate that we do not have the negotiated contract document in our hands now. Anyway we would not be able to send the City and UFT back to the negotiations over our concerns and issues after so much media exposure. Mathematically there will not be much in our pockets for years after paying taxes but things are changing in education. Remember, we have a Schools Chancellor who was a teacher and supervisor in the NYC public schools.

    • May 4, 2014 pm31 4:50 pm 4:50 pm

      Thank you, Francis. If the health piece is bad, I can see recommending that they go back and fix it. Aside from that, I believe you are correct.

  2. pfh64 permalink
    May 4, 2014 pm31 5:46 pm 5:46 pm

    The health care savings are coming from all the deferred money, we will never see. You have seen Accountable Talk’s chart. Contract blows and I’m voting no and will try and convince as many as I can to do same.

    • May 4, 2014 pm31 5:59 pm 5:59 pm

      The health care savings are almost certainly not coming out of the deferred money (it’s deferred, we’ll see it, but later than expected).

      And I have read AT’s chart. He needs to recalc with the raises in May, when they occur, not September – it’ll leave a gap of 49 thousand instead of 57.

      • May 4, 2014 pm31 6:33 pm 6:33 pm

        More people are expected to access healthcare services with the Affordable Care Act and in line with the law of supply and demand, emerging medical and managerial technologies the cost of healthcare will become lower for all parties concerned over the years. And that is precisely why it is anticipated savings in healthcare cost. Among the proposals city labor director Bob Linn raised were among others:
        Getting more than 100 unions that all currently administer separate prescription drug programs to join in one mega plan to lower drug prices.
        Creating a series of wellness centers to sharply reduce hospitalization costs.
        Pressing for lower health insurance premiums from EMBLEM health, the main insurer of city workers.
        Another example provided by another De Blasio’s officials is “Blood tests that will be done in a central lab as opposed to an individual doctor’s office.

        • May 4, 2014 pm31 9:21 pm 9:21 pm

          Is there a document where they explain this? I’d like to see it.

          And I have to make two appointments – one for my check up, and a second to get blood drawn? Two appointments, separate places, show up early for each…pay twice for parking… I see big savings.

        • May 5, 2014 am31 1:17 am 1:17 am

          As You Requested JD2718

          Re Healthcare Savings Expectation

          Robert Linn, the city’s labor relations director, said the administration will get “savings in health care of specific targets,” which he identified as $400 million in FY15, $700 million in FY16, $1 billion in FY17 and $1.3 billion in FY18.

          “We feel certain those targets are achievable,” Linn said.

          When pressed for details, he referred to “perhaps radiology and blood work done centrally and not in a doctor’s office, central purchasing of prescription drugs, centers of excellence for providing services … all sorts of items together we think are certain that we will achieve the targets and we’ll go beyond the targets.”

          Read More :
          From Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)

          The Affordable Care Act: Lowering Medicare Costs by Improving Care
          Efforts Will Save Over $200 Billion for Taxpayers Through 2016, Nearly $60 Billion for Beneficiaries in traditional Medicare

          Read More :
          From NYDAILYNEWS

          “Other cost-saving measures under consideration include conducting audits to find supposed dependents like ex-spouses who are improperly receiving city health-care benefits. Such audits could save as much as $250 million a year, union sources said.
          1. Another proposed change is the creation of clinics for city workers that specialize in non-emergency health care.
          2. Unions who opt in will be required to send their members to these centers for treatments including cardiac care and knee and hip replacements.
          3. Although the savings plan passed thanks to support from the teachers union and District Council 37, the largest city union, not all labor leaders were happy.
          4. Steve Cassidy, president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association, and Michael Palladino, head of the Detectives Endowment Association, voted against the proposal.
          5. In a heated discussion before the vote, Cassidy said he had not received sufficient information on how the $3.4 billion in savings would be secured.
          6. The Fire Officers Association voted for the health plan but also denounced the UFT contract as a bad precedent.

          Read more:

  3. Michael permalink
    May 5, 2014 am31 2:58 am 2:58 am

    For the very first time the City has successfully gotten its hands into the MLC health fund. This is where the real money for savings will come from. As health care costs continue to rise, the initial mechanisms cited to save money will fall short of the goal and tapping into the fund will be the alternative. Once that starts, it will only be a matter of time before the fund is depleted and the only alternative will be for city workers to pay an ever-increasing percentage of their medical costs.

    In addition, you are missing the tentative contract’s clause that provides for a 3-person arbitration panel, headed by Marty Scheinman, to affix a remedy if there is a savings shortfall. No one knows how far reaching that panel’s decision might be. Can it reduce future raises to make up the difference, can it order members to pay a premium.

    Also, just to mention one other thing among the many things that should be considered in the short time that Mulgrew is giving us to find the answers on our own, there is a big question that goes unanswered about the viability of the final two years of payments that fall after this contract expires in 2018. Can they be challenged? Can they be bargained await in the next round of negotiations? Remember, this would be after an election and we have no guarantee that DiBlasio will be a two-term mayor!

    There are just so many questions left unanswered. This was a very poor job of negotiating for the members benefit and a poorer job of selling it. When you have to cite feel-good line items, it’s a sign of diminished expectations. If this offering were brought back to a corporate board by its negotiating team, they would thank the team for its efforts and either get another team or hand it back to them with the directive to go back to the table and make it better.

    • May 5, 2014 am31 8:10 am 8:10 am

      May 5, 2014 am31 8:04 am 8:04 am

      To Michael and JD2718

      On Thursday 5/8/14, the mayor is scheduled to release his executive budget proposal which will identify the healthcare savings, as promised on May 1,2014.So we will have a document for discussion then. Talk to you later gentlemen


      From NY!

      Teacher Contract Agreement Clears Significant Hurdle

      By: Grace Rauh Updated 05/02/2014 08:36 PM

      On Friday, the leaders of the Municipal Labor Council approved the part of the plan they have a say over: the portion dealing with health care savings.

      The contract agreement is based on the assumption that the teachers’ union will agree to more than $1 billion in health care savings, but the plan does not specifically state how they will be achieved.

      Teachers have not been asked to contribute to their health care plans. Instead, there are a number of other proposals meant to save money that the union can consider adopting, such as centralizing drug purchases or having teachers obtain non-emergency care at less-costly facilities.

      “It is about getting at the underlying growth of health care costs and trying to reform the system to reduce the costs and provide good quality health care at a lower cost,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “We’re convinced there’s ways to do it.”

      If the union and the city can’t agree on a way save the money, an arbitrator will impose cost-saving measures.

      “It’s an unusual plan, and so I am skeptical because it’s an untested approach,” said Carol Kellermann of the Citizens Budget Commission.

      Then, there’s the broader question of how the city will actually pay for the plan, which includes retroactive and future pay raises, without raising taxes or cutting services. On Thursday, the mayor is scheduled to release his executive budget proposal.


  1. Shady Unity Health Care Changes – from 2014 | JD2718

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