Yes, it sucks if you were eligible for a sabbatical in the 2012-13 school year, but did anyone think sabbaticals would have survived the next round of contract talks? I think it's a miracle we've had them this long, and it's pretty much a done deal that they will be sold off in the next contract. (FTR, I was denied a sabbatical once under the slug Klein, so I know the pain of this for eligible teachers and I am not trying to downplay it).
As for the ATR deal, I think this may actually strengthen their hand. The city's big kick against ATRs was that they supposedly didn't have anything to do and were costing the city millions. Now that schools will be forced to use ATRs, the city loses its argument that the reserve pool is draining the system of money.
The ATR issue was one of the city's main weapons in trying to destroy seniority. Had they gotten us to concede on ATRs, then seniority and job security would have been effectively destroyed, as they would have used school closings and budget cuts as a means to create more ATRs who could be fired in short order. As it now stands, the city has little reason to create a larger reserve pool because these teachers will still be working day to day and the argument that they are a financial drain has vanished.
So, what did we lose in this deal? We lost sabbaticals for a year, and realistically, probably for good. ATRs may now be used to fill the role of per diem subs (which may not be a loss at all). Class sizes will increase slightly, as 2600 jobs will be lost through attrition. And Christine Quinn comes out smelling like a rose, which, to me, is a negative as she stabbed us in the back on extending Bloomberg's term limits.
On the positive side:
- We saved 4100 teacher jobs.
- We did not give in to Bloomberg's stick-up job on the health care fund (although Mulgrew wanted to).
- We have weakened this mayor by exposing his layoff threats as a sham for the third time. This may not seem a big deal, until you remember that almost no one believed his threat this year, and will believe it even less next year should he choose to pull that tired rabbit out of a hat again.
- We have preserved seniority and defeated the mayor on LIFO.
- ATRs should have increased job security under this plan.
- E4E has effectively been castrated as their signature issue is gone.
If you still hate this plan, remember that the UFT does not operate in a political vacuum. Look at what's happening to teachers all across this country. Look at other large cities like Los Angeles, Chicago, DC, etc. Look at the evisceration of union and teacher rights in states like Ohio, Florida, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Rhode Island. Look at New Jersey, where union workers will have to pay higher pension and health care costs, and where collective bargaining is more restricted. Look at our own state, where the CSEA agreed to a five year deal with no raises in the first three years and 2% in each of the next two years, in addition to nine furlough days, in order to avert threatened layoffs.
Yes, you can be a purist and say that we shouldn't have given up anything, and in principle, I agree. Given the political realities and climate, we have come out of this better and stronger than any other union that I can see.
The challenge now is how we proceed. Can we wrest a reasonable contract from Bloomberg? He is weakened, and now is the time to attack him on all fronts. We can effectively argue that its time to end his scandal-plagued no-bid contracts such as CityTime and direct that money to schools. We can call him on his lies about layoffs. We can lobby for higher taxes on the rich in order to preserve jobs for the middle class--a position that is overwhelmingly popular with voters right now.
No, the fight isn't over, but we are in the late rounds of this bout, and Bloomberg is on the ropes. We need to deliver a knockout blow to him and his policies. It's not good enough to play Rope-A-Dope until a new mayor comes along. We have the upper hand.
And hopefully, the 4100 teachers whose jobs were saved will see the value of their union. Perhaps this deal can unite us.