Sunday, March 8, 2015
Optional UFT Dues?! Will You Pay?
How about new teachers? I meet them constantly on my journeys. They are often referred to as newbies and there seems to be certain level of disdain for them from seasoned professionals, especially ATRs. It's understandable because they have our jobs. I however, don't agree with it or even condone it. The vast majority I meet, I really like and do my best to help. They are thrown into classrooms with very little training, often coming from a completely different culture and viewpoint. They come to NYC expecting fun, love the idea of teaching and are met with the stark reality of the Bronx. The young women are constantly sexually harassed by the students and the men are ridiculed for being nerdy and unhip. I've seen several (young women) run out of the buildings crying, quit or go into a walking catatonic trance like state. The latter are denied tenure (or discontinued) and the union does nothing to help them. So, I believe thousands of them will line up to rescind their dues.
How about ATRs? When I became an ATR I called the Bronx office for advice and I was told I had to do whatever was asked of me including teaching gym, deaning, and clerical work. The lady I was with called them after the principal told her she'd be brought up on charges unless she mopped the staff room's floor and stay (5 weeks) in a stairwell as a monitor. This was a very elegant intelligent older lady. When she called the union they laughed at her. At the once a year, one a borough, unadvertised prefunctory meeting Arundel holds, she focuses on the mundane, to avoid the real issues. We are treated terribly in many schools, by everyone. If we contact the union, they do very little to nothing. I could go on and on, but the bottom line is no one has our backs. So, I believe the 1800 -2500 ATRs out there will push the newbies out of the way to rescind their membership and dues.
How about the teachers who have 10 to 20 years in? I honestly don't see many of them. Most have, or will become ATRs. They will deny this with every fiber of their being, but in their hearts they know it's true. They hope the Union will be there with a good lawyer when they face their 3020a hearings. The reality is that if they want to win, they'll have to pay for their own lawyer or represent themselves. So, because they are in denial, I believe they will continue to support the union.
(There's also the issue of dental and eye care. With so many people leaving the union, I'm sure a group plan will present itself for a lot less than the cost of the dues. I should also note that none of our dues are used do pay for dental, eye care or prescriptions - this is paid entirely by the city via the union. Many members don't know this.)
Personally, I believe it would be a huge mistake for us to leave the union en masse. If someone is trying to bust in your unlocked door, and all you have is a chair, you stick it under the knob. It's not much of a chair, but it's all we got. The union is that chair.