Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Setting the Bar Wayyyy Low

A new agreement between the city and the UFT is being touted by Randi Weingarten as a great victory because we didn't give away as much as other unions have. I guess if you set the bar as low as Randi does, this might seem like a great victory. For the rest of us, it's mostly a loss.

Basically, the agreement will establish a new retirement tier for new hires that will force them to pay 4.85% of their salaries into the pension fund for life, instead of the current ten years. In return, they will get to retire at 55/27 instead of the 62 years agreed to by two other city unions. But there are two problems with declaring this a huge victory.

First, Randi gave away the store in 2005, including the peddling of seniority, lengthening the school day, sending us back to the lunchrooms, etc., for the mere promise of support for a 55/25 retirement. Despite all the givebacks, few teachers actually qualified for the 55 year retirement and we ultimately settled for two more years of work for most members. That 57/25 has been retained, but don't ever forget what we gave away to even get it in the first place.

Second, comparing us to other unions makes no sense. Those other unions were under threat of massive layoffs, and we were not. They agreed to the new Tier 5 in exchange for no layoffs. There is absolutely nothing mentioned in this agreement about a no-layoff clause for school workers, so Bloomberg can get out his ax anyway.

Also, we agreed to lower the fixed rate of return on TDAs to 7%, down from 8.25. Allegedly we did this because the pension fund lost a lot of money gambling in the market (and yes, stocks are gambling). Personally, I put all my money in fixed more than a year ago, so people like me will have to subsidize the poor pension decisions of the pension fund. I did a rough calculation in my head, and it seems likely that I will lose at least $15,000 by the time I retire due to this reduction. Good going, Randi!

Of course, in exchange, we got the two days before Labor Day back. What the UFT failed to mention was that they gave away those two days in the first place. If they'd gotten rid of those two days AND 37.5 minutes, there might be reason to celebrate, just a little.

But that darned bar is so low, high fives seem in dubious taste.


Anonymous said...

Yea but... at the end of next school year they have our last day being a Monday without having the students. I bet the next year they will have us stay 2 extra days without the students. They got us coming and going.
Come to think of it they probably set up the schedule with us working that last Monday because they knew we weren't coming back in August. This all seems so planned out.

Chaz said...

T would have been more impressed if Randi had the City agree to a 183 day school year with three snow days like the suburbs have.