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Raising the Issue

New York

Teachers win money, lose protection in new Green Dot contract

Teachers at Green Dot New York Charter School are getting a raise, a bonus, and a little less job security. These are some of the modifications that are set to appear in a two-year renewal of Green Dot's landmark contract with the United Federation of Teachers. Green Dot offered its teachers a 28-page "thin contract" a year after the school opened in 2008, leaving out many of the work rules and policies – including tenure and seniority-based layoffs – that are found in the bulky union deal with the Department of Education. That contract expired in August and Green Dot and union officials have spent the last few months hammering out a new version. It was tentatively approved by board members on Sept. 26, but details of the contract had not been shared with teachers until this week. In a statement issued today, the chief negotiators, Leo Casey, a UFT vice president, and Gideon Stein, who serves on the school's Board of Trustees, shared details of the contract. Under the new terms, the staff will receive a 3 percent raise each of the next two years, amounting to what will be 20 percent above the current salaries in the Department of Education. Last year's teachers will also receive a $2000 bonus because of the school’s high performance. The school’s first students are now seniors so graduation data isn't available, but 95 percent of students have passed the Regents exams they have taken, according to the Green Dot web site. "The teachers and other staff are being paid more in recognition of being part of a very successful school," Stein said. In one concession, teachers will no longer be able to use an independent grievance process in their first year. Instead, they can be fired any time during their first year for any reason. Once the first year is complete, any grievance would return to being handled by an independent arbiter.
New York

Mulgrew quizzes his members in lead up to "tough" negotiations

On his first day of work, Mulgrew visited teacher Carla Greene at P.S. 329 in Brooklyn. (Courtesy of Miller Photography/UFT) New York City's teachers union is gearing up for its contract negotiations in the fall, sending out thousands of questionnaires to poll its members about what they want. The negotiations will be the first serious test of newly elected UFT president Michael Mulgrew who, in the survey's cover letter, warns that the talks will be "tough" at a time when the city is slashing budgets and laying off employees. The survey, which at a bulging 35 pages long barely fits in its return envelope, lists a series of desirable changes to the contract under headings like "Class Size," and "Respect and Professionalism," and asks respondents to rate the importance of each on a scale of one to five. It must be returned by August 13, and may surprise more than a few union members who could return from summer vacations to find the deadline has passed. Absent from the survey is any mention of tenure or the Absent Teacher Reserve — the pool of over 2,000 teachers who have lost their jobs and have yet to find work within the city's school system. "The questionnaire was designed by our negotiating committee, and it's a key part of the process because it allows members to weigh in on the issues important to them," UFT spokesman Brian Gibbons wrote in an email. "The information we'll get from this survey will help us shape our goals, priorities and demands as we move forward with collective bargaining."