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What if UFC wins? #3 $$$

April 10, 2022 pm30 9:32 pm

Money!

This is a UFC virtual round table, talking about raises.

#3 Raises

I am the UFC candidate for High School Vice President. If we win I will be one of 12 members of the administrative committee (AdCom) and will help shape the new leadership’s agenda.

I cannot speak for our Coalition – these are decisions that need to be made. But I know our platform, and have a good idea about some decision.

We want raises above inflation. That’s in the United for Change Platform. The City Comptroller is already talking about 0%, 0%, 1%. Something has to give.

How would a United for Change leadership attack this? (and based on their record, what would Unity do?)

The Set Up

Today a Bronx math teacher who is a former Bronx HS Chapter Leader, and my former student asked me:

“How are you getting our raise to adjust to inflation? How could NYC afford that??”

I tried an answer – I ran a little long – it was hard. And then United for Change High School Exec Board candidate Nick Bacon (New Action Caucus) replied. And privately United for Change High School Exec Board candidate Ronnie Almonte (MORE) replied. I publish, below, the question and the three responses, as a sort of virtual round table.

The Round Table

  • Keith M – a Bronx math teacher
  • jd – me, the UFC candidate for HS VP
  • NB – Nick, a UFC candidate for HS Executive Board. I think he will win.
  • RA – Ronnie, another UFC candidate for HS Executive Board. He should win, too.

KMS: “How are you getting our raise to adjust to inflation? How could NYC afford that??”

jd: don’t know that we can – but that has to be the goal.

The City usually comes with a “financial package” (the sum that they are offering) and the union begins by trying to reallocate where that money goes, without challenging the actual figure.

So #1, by not accepting the City’s first number.

Unity likes to report on a lowball number from the City, and then after negotiations report on the actual number, which is higher. It’s a deceptive practice, with the members being deceived. Already they have used the Comptroller’s 0% 0% 1% to lower expectations – so what is their intent? Get us to 1% 1.5% 2% and make us feel grateful?

So #2, by not sharing fake numbers with members, or sharing numbers with context.

What happens next is important. The City says “0, 0, 1” and Unity usually says – “lets trade off some savings to the city (give backs) so we can report a larger number” This is done in private, in secret.

#3, we share the City’s offer with the membership, and begin discussions within our chapters, throughout the union, about how we should counter. We do not negotiate in secret.

#4 We could accept 0 0 1. We could accept health care give-backs to raise the numbers to 1 1 2 or something like that (just kidding – Unity might do that, but UFC is not trading away healthcare – never). We could shift the money in other ways.

Unity’s premise has always been, accept the City’s number, but repackage it to make it look acceptable to the members.

#5 We could challenge the budget. The Comptroller’s budget is, in elements, neoliberal. It sees providing service and paying salaries as necessary evils. COVID funding is dropping? The Comptroller looks to see how many people need to be laid off – never what tax breaks to developers need to be eliminated. And the current budget, the biggest single cut is to the Department of Education (one third of the total cuts). We should show the budget to members. We should have our own experts offer alternate City Budgets – A budget for people, schools, for the people of NYC.

There are also alternatives to just using the negotiating table.

#6 A fight to change the size of the package, and to challenge the budget would need to be robust. We could campaign to force the City to raise its offer – work with community groups, parents. We could demonstrate, rally. We could build support within our union, and from our allies. This looks like what more militant unions around the country have done.

This is not a possibility with Unity in charge, with Mulgrew meekly accepting what Adams offers, and seeking to hide from members how small the package really is, or trading away horrible give-backs to make the bottom line look larger.

NB: Jonathan Halabi all good thoughts. This is definitely the right approach. In talking with members, I’ve come to also think that if after all these strategies, the city doesn’t agree to new salary rates that at least match inflation, a next idea is to agree to the de facto pay decreases only under the condition of an end to extended days. Yes, if the city can’t afford to pay us the inflation-adjusted pay rate we agreed to years ago in exchange for Monday and Tuesday time, we don’t just passively accept it; we push to reduce our work week, possibly even starting with this as the only scenario under which an absurdly low pay increase would be accepted. At least then we have time to earn the lost money elsewhere. I suspect that this could lead to buy in from parents, whose kids can currently only do after school programs Wednesdays through Fridays as a result.

RA: This is great Jon, thank you. I would also say that money is always there – NY has the most billionaires in this country, and Wall Street is loaded with dough. Like you mentioned, instead of accepting the city’s figure, we fight for a larger share of the pie. Of course, to do so requires power – something we have less of if we, like UNITY, restrict ourselves to the respectability of the negotiating table. This is why it’s crucial to build a strike-ready union. Our ability to withdraw our labor is our greatest weapon. When we’re organized, we can credibly threaten our use of it. UFC’s priority is to organize our chapters and empower them with transparency and democratic involvement in union business. Our strategy puts us in a better position that UNITY’s to win good contracts.

And?

This is a discussion, not a decision, and not a proposal. There are voices yet to be heard. And yet you see the direction some of us are thinking in. We would welcome your comments, thoughts, contributions. And please, feel free to disagree. The open exchange of ideas (without rancor, if possible) helps produce better policies.

And yes, engaging members in ongoing discussion, and asking members to engage in such discussions in their chapters, that is part of what United for Change intends to do.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Joe permalink
    April 11, 2022 am30 7:52 am 7:52 am

    I’ve been proposing the idea of getting rid of the Monday/Tuesday time in exchange for a small raise for a couple of years. It would be a win for the city and for mid-level/senior teachers. However, the newbies are gonna want cold, hard cash to be able to live in this expensive city. Maybe a cash sign on bonus would do the trick again.

    • April 11, 2022 pm30 9:59 pm 9:59 pm

      The cash bonus is a sucker bet… Percentage increase is the way to go.

      And as far as which groups of teacher want what – we would to fashion the sort of compromise that everyone would be ok with.

      It is, after all UNITED for Change, and we have a material interest in keeping members united.

  2. Bennett Fischer permalink
    April 16, 2022 pm30 9:13 pm 9:13 pm

    I think Jon is on target on wage negotiations: 1) Transparency in negotiations, 2) No tit-for-tat, horse-trading mindset, and 3) Do not necessarily accept the city’s opening budget numbers as the premise from which negotiations start.

    Our union must have a long-range vision for New York. A UFC-run union would lobby for the restoration of the stock transfer tax, as well as a longer-range push for other “move the money” campaigns.

  3. Michael Shulman permalink
    April 17, 2022 pm30 12:45 pm 12:45 pm

    Also our union must have a long range vision for NewYork. We would lobby for the restoration of the stock transfer tax. A longer range push would be a move the money campaign.

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