Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Why BTF Doesn't Need a New Contract Before High Noon and Other Drama

Does This Sound Like a Guy Who Wants to Help You Get a Fair Contract? 

As our BTF elections draw nearer I am hearing a slightly off pitch squeal from certain factions regarding the imperative of an imminent contract agreement. I have heard this same tone before most notably on a particluarly specious Facebook group whose administrators operate in total secrecy and without any accountability for the remarks they fling around. 

The group is called Buffalo Teachers for Change. They use an apple with a big rotten spot as an avatar. Classy touch, that. Over the past few years this group has continued a steady drumbeat for a new contract. It has also engaged in a steady flow of harsh criticism against Phil Rumore some of which I don't entirely disagree with. The main shortcoming -- and there are many-- of this group though, is their cowardly refusal to step forward and say: My name is Jose' Schmose' I am an ESL teacher at Harvey Emerson School. I want Phil Rumore to get me a new contract then get the hell out of the way and let someone else have a shot at running BTF. 

Ahh but therein lies the rub. There is no shortage of bitching and whining and moaning to be found posted on this thing. But try to get a name of anyone involved and you'll get what I got : banned from commenting. What's even more low brow and chickenshit is that they responded to something I said about their refusal to be known then blocked me so I couldn't respond to it. I was accused of making an "unhinged and impudent attack" by asking them to reveal their identities. Impudent? That's such a dorky pretentious word I am honored it's the best they could come up with for me. I say there sir, where goest thou with such intemperate impudence? Christ on a bike. 

With only so many factions maneuvering around this BTF election I guess I don't have to wonder too hard who may be connected to this page. Since the same "I am an irate dues paying union member demanding a contract now" meme is playing again I think I am pretty sure I can figure out the source. 

Truthfully though I am less concerned with any one person or two or three people insisting that the first thing we need is a new contract than I am with the possibility that this mentality could take hold and gain momentum. 

The reason union haters, especially Teacher's Union Haters HATE the Triborough Amendment to the Taylor Law is because it prevents employers from reaching into an expired contract they have shown no interest in negotiating and saying "Oh we'll just take this, this and this, times are tough, money is tight and you get summers off -- deal with it bitches." This tells me there must be something good about Triborough that is protecting me from people like Larry Quinn and Gateway Jim Sampson stripping me of benefits and pay. It's safe to say, especially if you take even a cursory glance at what happened in NYC's latest contract -- and if you aren't reading Arthur Goldstein's blog NYC Educator you should be -- you will understand that the NYC contract is a canary in the gold mine for what we can expect. 

Buffalo teachers are currently cursed with a reformy board majority of non educators who chafe to run public education into the ground like a business. If you haven't read their hallucination or vision or whatever they call it, you will get a very clear notion of what lies ahead in trying to negotiate a fair and beneficial contract with them. They are concerned with health care concessions, expanded charters, longer school days and to be truthful they all think we are saps and suckers for going into education and they have no plan to pay us any more than they would their pool cleaners or horse groomers. 

So for now it makes sense that we get the right people elected to run BTF and start working on getting some simpatico board members elected. We can't do any worse than trying to strike a deal with this crew and we aren't going to get checks for $10 or $20K that will hit the bank in time to get us out of summer school teaching, house painting or landscaping from July til September. Come May we might be able to shift this Board of Ed enough with a few key moves that a contract negotiation could actually do us some good. But for now, trying to squeeze a drop of blood from these rocks is just not something any of us should see as a fruitful enterprise. 

If you remember the movie "Colors" with Sean Penn as the crazed rookie cop and Robert Duval as his cagey wizened partner, Duvall tells a story about a young bull telling the old bull, "Hey look at all those cows down there, we should run down there and ---- one of em."  The old bull grunts and shakes himself and says "Boy, let's just walk down there and ---- ALL of em."

What's your rush, guys? 

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