Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Do Both Sides Feel Like They Got Screwed?

If you aren't happy with the new contract I think it's safe to say most of us get your point. 
If you whipped out your calculator at Kleinhans and did some nifty figuring then planted yourself in front of a mic to castigate Phil Rumore I think it's safe to say most of us get your point. 
If you don't like the language of the extra 25 minutes and you happen to work for one of our more famous control freak narcissist Principals who will monopolize the 25 minutes and force you into grieving it -- if your faculty isn't too scared of him to do so -- safe to say most us get your point. 
And if you are angry that you didn't get your steps back it's safe to say most of us get your point. 

To a point. 

It occurs to me that an alarming number of teachers didn't seem to realize the step recovery case went to court and the court ruled against us. Phil Rumore is not known for losing in court. This one didn't go his way or our way. We lost. It happens. It happens so rarely I have to wonder if that's why we seem to have so many colleagues living in a state of denial believing if they pound their podium hard enough the steps will materialize out of the ether. To show up at Kleinhans on a night when it's been all but guaranteed we are there to vote on a contract and throw a tantrum about steps we've known for a long time we weren't going to get is ridiculous. Sorry, I didn't get mine either but I kind of knew that. 

I learned how our national union affiliates operate during the 2016 presidential campaign. It was decided a long time ago that NEA and AFT were both going to endorse Hillary Clinton. The only question was how to manipulate the votes and skew the assembled souls to get the numbers they needed to create the illusion that union people supported Clinton. I see a small handful of default Johnny Come Lately Hillary shills among the teacher ranks mostly because the alternative amounts to electing a human tire fire. There never was any fire for Hillary and truth be told there still isn't. The union power brokers felt no Bern. The candidate most of my teacher friends and acquaintances supported was never given a thought. They went out of their way to outmaneuver a contingent of Bernie supporters in their crusade to anoint HRC. You can read about it in Podesta's emails and those of that bald faced rank and file betrayer Randi Weingarten. I must have been naive at the time but I was infuriated that the rank and file were excluded from the process. And now that some of these same rank and filers are feeling screwed, disenfranchised and kept at arm's length from the workings of their union I have to ask in all honesty Why did you expect anything else? Weren't you paying attention to the way Hillary got those endorsements?  

Before I get too carried away on this theme though I think anyone who has an axe to grind with BTF, NYSUT and their various players needs give some thought to last May's Board of Education election that essentially gift wrapped a contract for Buffalo teachers. If you think the current Board majority simply fell down out of the sky because the 9% of Buffalo who vote in Board elections suddenly realized they'd had enough of Jay McCarthy and Jim Sampson, you need to look a little closer. For all of my grumbling and bitching about NYSUT and their inscrutable ways I am here to give the devil his Deely. They said they were going to use an organizational strategy to bring out the voters we'd need to vote in our people and vote out the Friends of Carl and Lars. It involved banging on doors and talking to people. Certain people. You can't argue with the results. It worked. Scoreboard. 

While there was more to the strategy I can only say for sure that I know that their guys got the boot and our guys (gals?) took their seats on the Board. Sampson and McCarthy almost failed to make it onto the ballot if you recall. They limped into the election bruised and battered -- a day late and a dollar short. And all of the drinks Carl bought at Docs were barely enough for him to squeak out a win over a teen ager still in high school. Think that happened in a vacuum? Like it or not, agree with NYSUT or not, if we didn't have a board to vote yes on that deal we'd be talking about 13 years. And if not for the efforts of this non representative, top down, undemocratic union affiliate there'd be no talk of what bonus we were getting or how we're going to use those 25 minutes. We'd be reading about the cosmetic rider in the Buffalo News and listening to Larry Quinn complain that teachers injured by students are taking too long to return to work. 

Like the contract I'm sure this post isn't perfect. It's an attempt to take a fair long view through my Step 27 eyes that should have picked up a few things by now. We got something. Be nice if we got more but we got a step in the right direction. The fact that the Board's two union hating millionaires pouted and went home in protest tells me we made out even if it could've been and should've been better. If you're still pissed off run for delegate. If you're really pissed run for Executive Committee. I did. 


  1. Hi there. Question: Does your new contract state the amount of observations done by supervisors? (Will there be "outside evaluators?) Any info is appreciated!

    1. From my understanding there will only be outside evaluators if a teacher receives an ineffective (possibly developing) rating. Otherwise it's business as usual in terms of evals. That's what I was told by my AP this year.

  2. That is all still being negotiated under notnonly the terms of our contract but under the terms of the APPR and the state law.

  3. Sean Thank you for your thoughts on what we were able to accomplish with the help from our union and its rank and file members. Nothing is perfect but it is better to have the support when needed than to have it all taken away because people stop fighting for it.

  4. I think I can appreciate both sides of the various arguments but any sane reasonable adult would have to agree between something and another year of nothing you take something. When the Board refused to our contract in the early 90's they owed me about 40k. I got a check for slightly less than 9k and paid off my truck. Sometimes you just have to be in reality.

    1. Refused to fund our contract that should've said. Yeah they approved it then wouldn't implement the pay scale they approved!

  5. I agree with your points, to a point. The information we need is where does this contract put us in comparison to other locals? If we are in the middle, then we ought to do our best to at least hold that spot. If other locals are going up, then we have to do the same.
    We have to make sure in the BOE election next May (I think), that Bowers-Pierce and Quinn don't return to the table.
    We need something to stem the bleeding from charters. Already at 25% of enrollment and poised to grow as CSAT and EVCS are going to grab more BPS students. This has the net effect of depressing our contract.
    We need to get creative about including them in BTF and pulling the plug on Paladino's leases. We give free space in exchange for a cap on charters, then maybe we can make some headway.
    As far as negotiating something better that seems highly unlikely. However, I think membership waited 12 years, Phil should've given people a chance to view the contract at length.
    There were promises that something would be in the hands of membership with adequate time to review, and those weren't met.
    Were there discrepancies? Sure. The contract was decent overall and while it won't make up for past injustice, it's a step in the right direction.

  6. Yeah I said this post wasn't going to be perfect and I was pretty sure it was going to piss some people off. That's fine. The people stomping their feet and having hissy fits at the mics in Kleinhans didn't seem to give a damn if they pissed anyone off either so I guess we all want our turn. I am not sure how our contract will ever address charter encroachment and/or Paladino's leases. Those are valid points but I don't see how they get addressed through collective bargaining. I think I saw the high points of the deal and I really didn't need to take it home and scrutinize it. I had a hard time believing that some of the more vocal members were fired up about the contract alone. It struck me that there were past grievances and grudges in play as well as secondary motivations for raising a ruckus. As T.S. Eliot said of Hamlet it appeared to this member that we had some emotion in excess of the facts. Being pissed off doesn't make anyone right or wrong it just makes them pissed off. I think we can stand a good shitstorm every now and then if the net result is unity and moving ahead. That did not appear to be the direction the group was headed in from my observations. Discussion and dissent are invaluable. Bitching and whining are killers.

  7. Glad to see you're back. Would love to read more about what your new contract says. Maybe you can explain to us out of towners.

  8. Thanks AG. I will see if I can find a neutral Cliff Notes version to share.