Wednesday, June 02, 2010

NYC UFT Gets One Right

After watching the battering that the NJEA has taken over demanding that they keep their raises and avoid any layoffs or any kind of work rule changes that might actually result in cost savings to municipalities in New Jersey, it looks like the NYC UFT has figured out that it might be better to save the jobs that the union currently has than fight the City for raises because of the city's precarious financial situation.
City teachers and principals will go without raises for the next two years so the city can avert laying off 4,400 teachers, Mayor Bloomberg announced Wednesday morning.

The decision to halt the 2 % raises came about because the Education Department faces a $750 million budget gap due to massive state cuts to education funding.

"Laying off thousands of teachers is simply not the answer. It would devastate the school system and erase much of the great progress we've made," Bloomberg said in a statement.

The layoffs would have been the first to hit teachers in three decades.

Class sizes would have risen by three to five students per classroom, the administration had predicted. And seniority rules would have meant the most recently hired teachers would have been the first to go.

Most city workers have gotten annual 4% raises recently, and teachers' pay has risen by 43% since 2002. The teachers contract, however, expired in October, which gives Mayor Bloomberg the ability to withdraw pay increases unilaterally.

"This was not an ideal decision, and it certainly does not solve all of our budget issues," said the mayor. "In our conversation this morning, [teachers union president] Michael Mulgrew and I agreed that we would go together to Albany and Washington to press our case to restore more education funding."
The UFT going along with this for the next two years. That gives the city some breathing space, but expect the union to make back the raises in two years time when they will likely get retroactive raises to compensate for the lost wage hikes.

Moreover, the issue isn't that there is insufficient education funding, but rather that the City and State are essentially bankrupt - they don't have enough money to cover their bills, and there is only so much money to go around for essential services.

The financial disasters in Albany and the City has required politicians to focus on priorities, and so far Mayor Bloomberg has managed to do so - the Albany legislature and Gov. Paterson are looking at ways of passing the buck.

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