Thursday, February 21, 2013

Some Legal Questions

You've probably heard that a judge barred Governor Cuomo from stealing $250 million from NYC schools to satisfy his ego. The judge correctly ruled that children should not be punished because the city and UFT failed to reach a deal. This, to me, brings up a question.

Why isn't the UFT using the courts to prevent Cuomo from imposing an evaluation system on NYC teachers? Obviously, I'm a teacher and not a lawyer, but it seems to me there's a strong case here. Our contract, which was collectively bargained, is still in force and there is no provision in it for a new evaluation of any kind. Since when does the state have the power to unilaterally alter a contract because it doesn't like the terms? The few law courses I took emphasized the fact that contract law is pretty solid in this country. Has that changed? How can the state, which has a stake in the outcome of this dispute, simply choose to override a valid contract signed and agreed to by both parties?

Furthermore, any evaluation system imposed on us would be in direct opposition to the Triborough Amendment to the Taylor Law, which states that a collectively bargained contract must stay in force until a new contract is signed. How can the governor just vacate that law? If he does, would that invalidate the rest of the Taylor Law as well, and allow teachers to strike without penalty?

If Cuomo can force this contract alteration on us, what would stop him from passing a law mandating a 50% cut in salary for all city workers if he wishes to? It's the same thing. Collective bargaining itself is threatened if the state decides that it can simply alter contracts it doesn't like.

I'd appreciate the opinion of any lawyer out there on these questions. I think the courts would enforce existing contracts and tell the Gov. to stick his power grab. So, how about it?

Monday, February 11, 2013

MORE Channels Ronald Reagan

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you probably can guess that I did not vote for Ronald Reagan for president. I'm not a fan of a union busting Republican like him. Yet, you have to admit he was a savvy politician. When he asked voters during his presidential debate in 1980 "Are you better off now than you were four years ago?" he struck a chord with voters. It helped turn the tide in his favor.

MORE shows its own political savvy by asking the same question of teachers as we approach the UFT elections. The blog post "Are you better off now than you were three years ago?", the MORE caucus examines Mulgrew's tenure and finds it wanting.

In almost every way, from the classroom to the paycheck to the community to the future, Unity has left teachers in a bind. From mayoral control, to a non-existent contract, to charters, to ATRs, to Teacher's Choice (phooey), to support of RttT, to the crappy evaluation deal, MORE lays out all the ways that Mulgrew and his crew have let us down.

Read it yourself and ask yourself honestly--ARE you better off now than you were three years ago, when Mulgrew took the helm of the UFT? I know I'm not. My paycheck has shrunk, my job security is about to go up in smoke, my class sizes have grown every year--it's a mess. If you agree, you should at least consider a change, before you literally have nothing left to lose!