Friday, June 22, 2018

The UFT Does Something Right

Throw me a friggin bone!

   I know five pregnant teachers that currently work with me at my babysitting gig. All of them are ready to pop, so to speak. They're due 6/30, 7/2, 7/4, 7/8, and 7/10 respectively. I believe the majority planned it that way, but not all, so as to have the summer off. When my son was born I was making $26,000 a year as a new teacher and my wife was making slightly more in the clothing industry. She received a hundred dollars a week for six weeks, which was all the time federally allotted if you wanted to receive some money and keep your job. Fortunately, he was born in the summer and we both were home. I was going to Lehman College full time and it was a real struggle to pay the bills. I remember reading, way back then, that certain countries gave fully paid parental leave and for the first time wondered why socialism is considered a bad word. I guess it was the same for most teachers that started families. I hadn't thought much about those early years until about seven or eight years ago when a friend I was teaching with became pregnant with her first child. Beryl was a young woman and her husband had just been laid off. That year we had a heat wave in May and she was due at the end of the month. The school we taught in had five floors and that housed 2,000 students. The elevator always broke down when it went over eighty. (There were no air conditioners in the building except the principal's office that was decorated in the Louis X1V style. You didn't want to take the stairs under any circumstance - imagine the worst that could go on back there and then multiply it by ten.) Well, Beryl had consecutive classes on the fifth and first floor. I had a free class and it was about ten minutes into the next period, when I saw her leaning against the closed metal elevator doors crying quietly. I should mention she never, ever complained about anything or anyone - but I knew she was also being harassed and observed weekly. I let her cry on my shoulder for awhile and told her she needed to stay home. She explained she couldn't financially and had used up her CAR days. I told her I would give her as many days as she needed from my CAR. She gave me another hug and cried even more. She said she couldn't do that. She had the baby a few days later and was back to work in a couple of weeks. Beryl had a lot to deal with and I offered her the days again. She declined  and finished out the year. It had me thinking about moving to Norway and not for the first time. I believe every American should have the opportunity to bond with their newly arrived children.
   Now, as some of you may know, I have been highly critical of the UFT, but I have to give the devil his due - Mulgrew did the right thing here. It should have been Family Leave, but this is a start. I am jaded, so I guess this may have something to do with Janus. I am not at all worried about it. Fair Student Funding is the biggest threat to teachers in NYC, not Janus. It is a constant temptation to a principal with an underfunded budget. The UFT hasn't verbalized why they agreed to Fair Student Funding or why it's being used by the DOE. It creates a forced redundancy on our superimposed business model of a school system. There are annual new hires to replace shelved veteran teachers. The new hires pay UFT dues, as do the vets. Is that why the UFT didn't pass a resolution against it? Is that why they initially agreed to it? Points to ponder, as I say thank you to the UFT for doing right by the rank and file.

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Stories herein containing unnamed or invented characters are works of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.