Friday, February 25, 2011

Framing the Debate: Layoffs vs. Firings

The ed deform crowd is expert at framing debates. They've effectively watered down the seniority argument to a single question: Would you rather have good, young, effective, energetic teachers get laid off, or those lazy, old, tired, absent, felonious senior teachers?

Of course, that's not what this is about at all. It about getting rid of higher paid teachers and making sure no one ever gets in enough years to earn a pension.

Let's take a look at the current contract and law. Should layoffs occur under current rules, new teachers would be hired back. Here's the relevant part of the contract (Article 17 D1):

If a Citywide excess condition causes a layoff of staff in any licensed position,
applicable provisions of law will be followed to determine the staff members to be laid off, without fault and delinquency with the understanding that said member of staff is to be placed on a preferred list for reinstatement to his/her former position.


When a few thousand more teachers leave or retire next year, as they do every year, most of the newbies would be hired back.

But does anyone out there believe that the current rules would apply to senior teachers in the event of layoffs? Suppose LIFO is trashed. Would the legislators retain the state law and contractual obligation that requires laid off teachers to be rehired? I doubt it. How on earth can they say they want to lay off "ineffective" teachers, but take them all back as soon as times get better? The answer is, they won't.

So we aren't actually talking about layoffs here. We're talking about FIRING teachers, for good. That's how Mulgrew should be framing this debate. The word "layoffs" is a code word for "firings". This plutocratic mayor wants the ability to fire anyone he wants, thus ensuring an endless, cheap workforce that will never be allowed to become vested in the pension system.

The reality of the situation is that layoffs aren't necessary at all. Cuomo and the state budget director have said so. Bloomberg himself cited soaring city revenues that added an additional 2 billion to the city's budget--more than the amount cut by the state budget. And there's a billion dollars in the capital budget for computers that could easily be used to avert layoffs.

And don't forget that we have been down this road before. As recently as last year, Bloomberg threatened thousands of layoffs in an earlier bid to get rid of seniority. When he saw that he wouldn't get his way and be able to fire senior teachers at will, the layoffs suddenly went away. It will go down the same way this time as well. IF the state assembly holds firm once more, you can bet that Bloomberg will once again find a way to avert layoffs.

But if he does get his way, is there anyone who believes that Bloomberg won't fire as many senior teachers as he can get away with?

And make no mistake. These will be firings--not layoffs. Senior teachers will not be asked back--ever.

I know new teachers may not want to hear what I have to say today, and I can understand that. But I firmly believe that keeping LIFO means that Bloomberg will rethink his layoff plans. Losing LIFO means that Mayor4Life will have to power to fire anyone he wants, thus guaranteeing that not a single new teacher will ever be able to make a career out of teaching in this city.

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5 comments:

Mr. Dugong said...

I'm a young teacher and as much as I understand the push to repeal LIFO, I understand it's protective purpose. Bloomberg doesn't have the slightest idea how to support and nourish career educators so it's pretty clear to me that his bottom-line is to allow the firing of teachers based on how expensive they are to school budgets.

Chaz said...

Mr. Talk

I couldn't have written it any better.

Anonymous said...

It is amazing that there was such a push not long ago to recognize teaching as a noble profession, that even the Bloomberg administration used programs to "attract" new teachers to the system, including, of all things, LONGEVITY bonuses. Stay with the DOE at least 5 years and get $1000 added to your yearly salary! Stay 10 years and get ANOTHER bonus added to your salary!! Come and get it!! What was the point? Yes, I hope the newbie teachers who are hoping to push out their older, more experienced, more expensive colleagues realize that they're only screwing themselves. Not to mention the kids.

Susan said...

LIFO is standard operating procedure in virtually all businesses, unionized and not. It's the ONLY fair way to do layoffs. "Merit" simply doesn't exist.

Anonymous said...

You are absolutely right and I support LIFO even though I am a 3rd year teacher and a TFA alumni. Please know that all of us have not swallowed the Kool-Aid.