Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Why a 4+4 Raise Is Still Possible

There's been a lot of buzz on the blogs about Mayor4Life Bloomberg's decree that there will be no retroactive money for teachers. While Uncle Mikey is certainly talking tough, he (or perhaps more likely, his eventual successor) may well have to cough up that 4% plus 4% that was given to all other municipal workers other than teachers.

The reason? Pattern bargaining. The city has, for a long time, used pattern bargaining (in which one union agrees to a paltry raise and the city says that the rest of the work force has to also settle for that amount) as a way to keep costs down. Even PERB has insisted that this is the way to go and forced teachers to accept contracts that have kept our salaries far below those offered in surrounding areas.

If Bloomberg keeps his promise, or if his successor sticks to it, it breaks the pattern and all bets are off in future contract negotiations for all unions throughout the city. So if DC37 (for example) accepts a piss poor raise as they have done in the past, it would not establish a ceiling for the rest of the unions. If anything, it would establish a floor for all other unions, who would all demand far more. The city would be unable to claim that all the other unions must accept whatever DC37 got because it established a pattern.

It seems to me a more likely scenario that the city agrees to give us the 4+4 for 2010/11 and asks us to accept, as a quid pro quo, a tiny increase (say, 1% a year for the next three years). That way, the city could set the pattern for all the unions going forward and keep pattern bargaining in tact. While it would be a shitty thing to do to the other unions, Mulgrew would leap at it and the city would save billions in raises with the other unions.

Remember if the city claims that it doesn't have to adhere to the pattern in bad financial times, then unions can rightly claim the they don't need to stick to the pattern when times are better. And that will, in the long run, cost the city far more.

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