If you are confused about why we must give up three vacation days in February, never fear. Our dear Unity leaders published a handy dandy Q&A chock full of reasons why this move was necessary. Unfortunately, they are all lies. On the bright side, Mr. Talk is here to translate Unity's gobbledegook into plain English for you. You can read the entire Q&A here, but for the sake of brevity and my sanity, I have chosen to translate only the most relevant and least repetitive parts. My translations are in red.
Why did we have to give up part of our midwinter break? There had to be better alternatives.
of all, we didn’t have the power to negotiate over whether or not to
give up days. (We only have 120,000 members and 125 million of your dollars, which means we'd have to do something and cut back on our croissant expenditures to fight this) State law requires that we make up those days. The
discussions we had with the DOE were only about which days to use. (We forgot to bring the subject up) The
state requires a minimum number of 180 instructional days and this
school year, we were close to that minimum given how the holidays fell.(The number of days this year was an act of God. The hurricane was not. Oh, wait...)
If this were last year, when we had 186 days in the school calendar, we
would have been able to absorb the lost time. (It would have been a LOT harder to give those days away last year, so we're glad it happened this year) We are dealing with this
issue because we have the maximum vacation time in this year’s calendar. (We couldn't even make you work extra PD this June like we did last year!) The
union explored every possible option (rolling on our backs with our feet in the air, hoping to get our bellies scratched) for making up the time, but state
law and regulations would not allow us to convert PD days, get a state
waiver, extend the day, come in Saturdays, work on federal holidays or
use days at the end of the school year. The time had to come out of the
Christmas break, the midwinter break, the spring break and one clerical
half-day. There was no other choice. (We never looked for any other solutions. What do you want for your lousy $125 million?)
Why didn’t you consult with the members before agreeing to give up those three vacation days?
was of the essence in this situation so members and parents could make
plans. (If we'd discussed this with those of you who had already made plans, you'd have been pissed and you might have asked us to do something) Under state law, the days had to come from one of the three
breaks. (Trust us. It's a state law. Or we heard it might be, or something) The midwinter break was chosen because it was the only break
that did not contain religious observance days.
The state has the power to grant a waiver in the event of a natural disaster. Why didn’t the state issue one in this instance?
state law, we would have to use up EVERY vacation day in this year’s
school calendar before the state Education Department or the State
Education Commissioner can grant a waiver allowing New York City to have
fewer than 180 days in the school calendar. (We are hoping that you won't notice that the state legislature MAKES the laws, and could have changed that one, too. We had to act before someone realized that that's what lawmakers do--make laws)
How have other school districts around the state dealt with this dilemma?
of Nov. 20, 13 school districts on Long Island have already agreed to
make up the time by taking away all or part of the February break and/or
the spring break. (We are hoping your forgot about what we said earlier about it being impossible to take days from the spring break.) Others will be following suit in the days ahead.
(We wanted to be the first to give up without a fight.) There weren’t better choices available for any school district. (Or if there were, there sure aren't now!)
I already booked a trip to visit my family in California. Do I have to cancel my plane tickets?
(What a stupid question. Everyone has to cancel their plane tickets, not just those of your going to California.) We
realize that a number of you have already bought airline tickets or
cruises for the midwinter break and risk losing a lot of money if you
canceled those trips now. At our insistence, (no, we are NOT going to explain how we were able to insist on this, but nothing else) the DOE agreed to allow any
UFT member who has purchased a vacation before Nov. 20 to go on the
purchased vacation and instead deduct those days from his or her CAR
bank. They will have to submit proof of purchase. If they have no days
in their leave bank, they can either borrow days or take the days as
days without pay. (You would have lost money either way. Win/win!) These absences won’t be used against those members in
any disciplinary hearing or in their end-of-year rating (if they are pissed that you took those days, they will just have to find some other way to U rate you.)
didn’t the union insist on making up the lost instructional time by
using Election Day and Brooklyn-Queens Day for instruction instead of
New York State law, school districts have the right to use up to four
days without instruction in the calculation of the number of days to
meet the state’s 180-day minimum requirement. The DOE already used four
non-instructional days — including Election Day and Brooklyn-Queens Day —
in its calculation so converting those days to instruction would not
have helped solve the problem. (See above where we talked about how the state both can, and can not, change the law).
Why didn’t we make up the time by converting the last few days in June into instructional days or by extending the school year?
law (which can never change, except sometimes) does not allow you to make up days to meet the 180-day minimum by
adding instructional days after the completion of the high school
Regents. That means we could not make up the lost time by making changes
to the school calendar at the end of June. (And since the tests would already be over, the mayor wasn't interested, so we caved)
Why didn’t we convert Martin Luther King Day or Memorial Day into work days instead?
State law does not permit turning a federal holiday into a school day. (We like our Mondays off!)
Why didn’t we make up the time by extending the school day?
to state law (which is more immutable than the Ten Commandments), you can’t add to the minimum number of required
instructional days by extending the length of the school day.
Why is it that we frequently work more than 180 days per year without getting any days back?
contract states that we come back to work the day after Labor Day and
up to the last Wednesday in June. (Let's ignore the fact that it also says that we get a week off in February) The length of the school year depends
on where the holidays fall in a given year. This year, every holiday
fell on a school day (see Act of God, above) so we were already at nearly the minimum number of
mayor ordered non-school-based members to report to their work site for
the whole week after the hurricane. I walked miles to get to my school.
Why do I have to make up that time?
non-school-based members such as teachers assigned made it to work on
any of those four days starting on Oct. 29, they will not have to make
up those days that they reported. (No one gave a crap about you then, and we sure don't now)
Well, I hope that clears things up. Tune in next time when I explore the questions Unity SHOULD have asked, and the answers they should have gotten.