Saturday, January 31, 2009

Trading Tenure for Jobs

A perfect storm is brewing in NYC, and career teachers better take notice before they are washed overboard by the squall.

Mayor Bloomberg is calling for 14,000 education layoffs, mostly of teachers, if he can not get enough money from Washington and Albany. Of course layoffs, if they come, would affect only the newest, lowest salaried teachers in a normal world. This is Bloomy's world, however, so it wouldn't surprise me if something underhanded was afoot. Knowing the man, wouldn't he at least take a shot at getting rid of the most senior, highest paid teachers first, considering that would save more money and accomplish his goal of a cheap teacher workforce who'll be forced to do his bidding?

He could accomplish this in three steps:
  • Threaten massive layoffs if nothing is done. (Step already taken)
  • Find a union stooge (cough Randi cough) willing to assist him in eliminating tenure.
  • Trade a no layoff guarantee for the elimination of tenure.
Can't happen, you say? The UFT would never go for it, you say? Let's think about that. Randi isn't really interested in tenure--she's interested in union dues. If 14,000 teachers lost their jobs, the UFT would lose $14 million a year. They'd have to cut down on those nice gala luncheons they hold while the rank and file are fighting for their jobs. If she gets a no layoff guarantee in return for the elimination of tenure, she not only keeps said luncheons but also the 14 mil. Sweet.

This would require a contract revision, and you might be inclined to think such a thing would be dead in the water. But Unity sold out seniority in the 2005 contract with nary a peep from the members through careful manipulation of information. They put lipstick on that pig of a contract by selling us the "Open Market", which many new teachers were too ignorant to vote against and which many senior teachers accepted in exchange for more money and a promised 55/25 retirement clause. Randi trumpeted that contract as a win that would allow teachers to be free agents who could go where they were wanted. Nevermind that no one wanted them and that the ATR pool was created instead.

How does all that apply here? How could Randi sell out tenure? Easy. Convince all the new teachers that voting for the elimination of tenure would save their jobs. Scare the 3-15 year teachers with threats of virtually unlimited class sizes when the layoffs happen. And offer senior teachers a retirement incentive in exchange for voting yes. I'd say that's a majority. And then Randi would put her unique Unity spin on it, claiming not that she sold off the only remaining vestiges of teacher unionism, but that she single-handedly, through relentless negotiation, managed to save 14,000 jobs.

Thus, Randi looks like a hero. The mayor looks like a genius for averting layoffs and eliminating tenure. Klein keeps his job as he continues to slowly oscillate his head from side to side in a curiously reptillian fashion.

This whole scenario may seem unlikely to you, but you can bet that if I thought of it, so has the DOE. And I remember thinking it unlikely that I would ever do cafeteria duty or potty patrol again. Ignore it at your peril.


Pissed Off said...

I hope senior teachers will not be bought out. I will never vote for the end of tenure, no matter how much money they offer me, but I see your point.

I'm glad I am at the end of my career and do everything I can to discourage my students from entering the profession.

Mr. Talk said...

I agree with you 100%. I'd never sell out, but I sure can't say the same for many of my colleagues. Younger teachers can't see themselves staying on long, so tenure doesn't matter to them. I remember when I started teaching I thought the same thing, and yet here I am many years later. Without tenure, right now I'd be unemployed.

I don't think I'd discourage anyone from going into teaching, though. Yes, it's worse than it used to be, but is the private sector better?

Anonymous said...

14, 000 won't be laid off.

It's a scare tactic for Congress.

Start writing about the importance of everyone taking to the streets to support future protests.

Randi is not giving up tenure.

Nice theory. But dead wrong!

Mr. Talk said...

I wish I shared your confidence. It was not very long ago that everyone was saying that Randi would never give up seniority rights or lengthen the school day.

Anonymous said...

There is no limit to what Randi is willing to give up for us.

And our contract expires in October.

Anonymous said...

If you are against mayoral control continuing, try to get a large group of teachers and parents to attend one of the 5-borough meetings on the topic.