By: Admin – Florida Public Employees
Following the September 13, 2012, UTD announcement, concerning the start of their contract negotiations, we received a series of comments from teachers expressing concerns over the effectiveness of their bargaining team. Among the comments was one that led to a brief Q & A – see below.
A short exchange that raises the question of whether this is reflective of how a greater number of teachers across Florida are feeling?
Isaac C: We are led by the weakest negotiating body probably in the nation; every time UTD negotiates we leave the table with less. Worse yet the excuse they use consistently, is that they saved jobs. How long before the unions concessions turn our profession into just that…jobs? If you think I’m wrong ask Karen A. this simply question; Why about 6 months before Florida became a RTT state she spoke out against the program stating that it “wasn’t enough money” But 6 months later it was good for us? Here is her answer, “The program provides 14 million dollars to our county for teachers.” 14 million dollars and 22,000 teachers that works out to about $630 per teacher, so we were sold out for $630…
Florida Public Employees: With regard to the union membership; what does it look like and how do the majority of teachers feel about the current leadership and their efforts? How long has this leadership been in place and what could they have realistically done better to improve pay, benefits, and counter the gaining agenda against public ed?
Isaac C: I have been a teacher for almost eight years and the current union leadership has been in place at least that long. As far as membership and participation I really cannot tell you as most of that information is kept hidden from us. My 1st problem with UTD is their inability to be active politically and complete failure to challenge politicians. I’ll give you an example; 3 years ago I was selected to participate in the last bargaining session. In which all the teachers present were told “If asked a question divert your answer to the union president or lead lawyer.” I couldn’t see the value of having teachers present if we were just there to listen and not be active. But regardless, after the meeting I asked the union president why UTD did not actively challenge politicians, like Larry Feldman and Charlie Christ. Her response was “Our enemy today is our friend tomorrow.” How can we achieve our goals if politicians don’t fear being made to look bad in the media? UTD should be exposing how charter schools are contributing to the campaign finances of school board members and link those politicians to the sudden increase in the number of those schools.
My 2nd problem with UTD is the lack of transparency; votes are locked and counted away from public eyes and there is no impartial oversight. There is no forum for members to discuss the issues at hand and express their disappointment. For example, I copied and pasted my earlier post on UTD’s Facebook and it was immediately taken down (TWICE). UTD doesn’t offer those outlets for members because it would expose their shortcomings and failures. When UTD emails its members with information on what voting YES or NO means, it is so completely slanted to one side of course members are going to vote yes.
How can we fix this problem, first and foremost new leadership! Second, it’s time for UTD and teachers statewide to start being active, if politicians can put legislation on the ballot so can we!
Whether the legislation passes them or not, does not matter! This will force the state to spend time and resources trying to combat it.
Third, start slinging mud! Every time a politician who opposes teachers show his/her face in Dade County 30 teachers should be picketing that event! Fourth, use the legislation and the contract to our advantage. If the county says they need to lay off teachers, then so be it! (Call their Bluff!).
The class size amendment forces the county to keep core teachers, the layoffs will come at the expense of the arts. Then parents will be upset at those same politicians at lack of options for their children.
In the end we have options, other than wearing a red shirt to show solidarity!
Read UTD announcement: https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=441014405937385&id=185344624837699
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