Teachers’ Push for Back Pay May Pinch New York City

A fight over $3.4 billion in retroactive pay for teachers could make it harder for other city workers to win the raises they have been agitating for after several years of working with expired contracts.

Comments: 246

  1. And once gain, there is no chair for the taxpayer at the bargaining table.

    A Democratic mayor who receive virtually 100% of the union campaign contributions and virtually 100% of the union vote, will negotiate with those same unions.


    Nothing unusual about that arrangement, right?

  2. I understand your frustration, but it's worth noting that some of this relates to back pay - monies already owed but not ultimately paid. Union or no union, anybody that is owed justly and appropriately negotiated income should get the wages agreed upon. There isn't a worker in any field who whould not complain if all previously agreed wages were not paid, or that valid formulas for determining such wages were not followed. The city made these rules and imposed them on the union. It's reasonable to expect the city to follow through.

    It's always easy to blame the union, but as so many Americans are now learning the hard way, unions made the middle class possible in this country, and their gradual demise has hugely damaged the middle class future for many of our fellow citizens. When it comes to the topic of unions in general, it helps to determine who is making (or keeping) profit when unions fail...

  3. Gwbear - this money is NOT already owed. The unions want money for something in the past that was never agreed upon by anyone. The negotiations broke down, no new contracts were written, and therefore no additional money is owed by the city to the unions. Everyone was paid what they were supposed to be paid according to the last contracts agreed upon by all parties. That in no way entitles unions to back pay.

  4. @GWbear

    I'm not frustrated, nor do I blame the unions. If I could legally buy politicians who would them vote to take money from taxpayers to give to me under threat of force, I'd do so as well. Actually I take that back - it would be despicable.

    But I can certainly understand the temptation to say: "We vote for you, we contribute to your campaign, in return you pass laws to get more money from taxpayers, so we can retire at 50, get free healthcare for life, get pensions at 90% of last year's pay with over time, automatic pay increases, etc"

    It is a great system and it can last a long time before it bankrupts the host. After all, recent data shows that New York City has only a $22,000/household and only a $14,000/household shortfall in its retiree medical and pension funds. There should be another 2 or 3 decades before the ponzi scheme collapses. Plenty of time for a few more union raises.

  5. This is tuff stuff. I don't envy DiBlasio. He's in a corner since Bloomberg avoided the problem and then declared that he had a balanced budget? I work for the city and my costs have gone up for transportation and tolls to go to work, along with so many other increased costs, while fines and surcharges and fees subsidized Bloomberg's version of a 'corporate' city without a heart. I don't want to see layoffs or cuts in services. I wouldn't want the mayor's job but I hope that he can find the answers that make everyone somewhat satisfied.

  6. What do you mean Bloomberg avoided the problem? He didn't avoid anything. He simply said to teachers: "The taxpayer can't afford to give you a raise, if you are not happy, quit and find a better job".

    Guess what? Teachers did not quit en masse. Meaning they were more than adequately compensated.

    The issue now is that since the unions gave 100% of their endorsements and contributions and votes to Democrats/DeBlasio, now they want their pay back.

    They want Deblasio/Democrats to pass a law, taking more money from tax payers to give to the unions, under threat of force (prosecution/incarceration).

    Nothing wrong with this arrangement at all.

  7. "Teachers did not quit en masse. Meaning they were more than adequately compensated."

    What a load of hogwash! Show me any reasonable person who would up and quit a job in the middle of one of the most difficult employment periods in recent history. It applies even more as teaching positions were be eliminated along with many other government sector jobs.

  8. How many professionals who hold post-graduate degrees in the private sector are making the same salary they were five years ago??

    If the bill has reached 3.2 billion to pay these teachers what they deserve (even by the city's standard as the article points out) it's not the fault of teachers but of the previous mayor who thought it was OK for city employees to work without raises while he and the rest of the 1% saw their fortunes skyrocket.

    I left the public sector three years ago because the old incentives that used to keep civil servants were long gone, after the union had sold out its newer employees for chump change. How can we expect to retain talented professionals to run our city when we are constantly victimizing all civil.servants?

  9. A lot of them are unemployed. The benefit of government employment is its relative security. 4% pay raises in this economy is obscene. Cut their pay 4%. Let the go find other jobs if they don't like it.

  10. Longevity increases are raises in pay aren't they? Lots of private sector workers got neither in the past 5 years. They lost their jobs and found lower paying ones.

  11. "How many professionals who hold post-graduate degrees in the private sector are making the same salary they were five years ago?? "
    Rest assured, quite a few.

  12. Not happy with your pay/lack of raises? Hint: You are more than welcome to quit/resign move on to another job with higher pay if you feel you are not compensated for you skills/value that you add to your union job. Huh? Wow it sure got quiet all of a sudden as any NYC public employee would dare not do such a brave thing as that.

  13. As a matter of fact, a very large percentage of new teachers leave (and many do go work in placed like Westchester and Long Island where they pay is substantially higher!); don't you think the public would benefit from not having to hire/train new employees every few years rather than having experienced teachers? It would be both cost-effective and beneficial to the students who will be taught by professionals with many years' experience

  14. I don't think you understand how collective bargaining works. United as a group, workers have a right to negotiate their futures, they do not simply have to quit and hope for something better. Instead of knocking down that idea that built the middle class in this country, why aren't you asking why don't I have that?

  15. 15 recommends (so far) for this? Are workers in this country actually anti-union? No wonder the rich get richer.

  16. Wasn't there an article just yesterday in the NYT that NYS had a surplus of $200M that Cuomo wanted to apply to tax cuts after he squeezed state workers to the bone last year? If the twice cited Citizens Budget Commission also issued reports on the cost of the city's corporate welfare policies over the last twenty years, I might find this article slightly credible.

  17. Suprise! The City's Labor Unions keeping an eye on the surplus - ok. As taxpayers we bare the same burden of cost of living as union workers without the benefit of a union contract. In most cases ordinary workers don't have benefits at the same level as city workers, yet we experience the increase in taxes to cover thoses benefits. I'm certainly not arguing that the union workers shouldn't have a pay increase but retroactive is ridiculous. We all expereinced a lack income growth in 2009 and 2010 and still today. I don't think my company is going to retroactively increase my income from 2009 and 2010. But I will be subject to tax increases or lack of city services to pay for those increases in the near future. I think the mayor has a difficult challenge at hand. So, tomorrow I'm asking my boss for a retroactive pay increase for the periods the union is requesting. This is going to be interesting.....

  18. Union workers are also tax payers. The categories are not mutually exclusive.

  19. to redstarlg:
    Union workers are only taxpayers if they live in the city. The commuter tax was abolished years ago (although commuters use city services), and the unions fought for the right to live outside the city, which used to be illegal. Now we have the worst of both worlds: overpaid unions with no stake in the city who do NOT pay the taxes needed to support their endless sense of entitlement.

  20. Why not grant the teachers their raise and some component of 'backpay' calculated as part of percentage increase 4% moving forward and then require they contribute 50% to their health insurance and 50% to their pensions in the form of 401k's. Teachers repeatedly cite their advanced degrees as evidence that deserve more pay (ignoring basic economic principles which do not necessarily support their beliefs) so they should adequately possess the knowledge to manage their retirement and health plans without the anachronistic entities called unions. In the end unions are interested in the political of the union, not the welfare of its members. We've seen this played out again and again. And while its convenient to blame the Mayor or management or the 1%, teachers need look no further than their own union leadership to see who is at fault.

  21. Teacher contributions to the NYS Teachers Retirement System are set by the NY State legislature in accordance with a Tier system. Your idea re health care contributions is negotiable but your idea re the pensions cannot be determined by the labor contract that is settled, only by action by the NY State Legislature.

  22. I agree, we should allow them all the raises and backpay upfront now, and abolish the pension system and allow them to self manage their retirement like everyone else in a 401k. Why should teachers get special treatment?

  23. It is fascinating that people of every discipline always ask for a raise for the sake of getting extra money just because they think they deserve a raise. I mean a raise beyond the increased cost of living.

    If I were an employer, I would guarantee a minimum wage increase of that years inflation rate for all employees. On top of that I would give merit raises for exemplary or company growth producing work.

    A raise just for the sake of a raise would only come if finances allowed and the work made the growth happen.

    I would just add that when considering the wage increase based on inflation, it must factor in the extraordinary increases that have occurred in fuel and food. In that case, 4 percent may not be enough for the workers to keep up with inflation.

  24. "If I were an employer..." If you were an employer I'd hope that you'd have some respect for the laws governing collective bargaining.

  25. The NYT is being too easy on Warren Wilhelm. He campaigned as a neo-Peronist, and now he is confronted with the consequences. Poor Gotham City!

  26. Marty Scheinman has been an arbitrator for 40 years - and resolved scores of dense, complex disputes - fact-finding decisions usually trace out a path to a contract - while the teachers union is arguing for the full 4% pattern there are a range of Bloomberg-Klein policies that are anathema to teachers. The settlement could be a win-win ...

  27. I would make a very strong argument that the City does not have a surplus until it has ZERO debt on its books therefore the argument that they should get raises in times of surplus is without merit. NYC like most others is debt laden and giving away billions in back pay is absurd.

  28. Bloomberg refused to negotiate with teacher's because he used contract renewal as a cudgel to get concessions like the new teacher review process. It was bad faith on the Bloomberg's part. In the meantime the city budget had a surplus because teachers did not get any pay increase.

    Bloomberg, like every mayor before him, has left a budget nightmare for his successor.

  29. Got to love the teachers' unions. Enjoy unmatched job security during the worst crisis since the Depression and then have the temerity to demand backpay over the 4% annual raises they missed out on during that time (note they still did receive longevity raises). And organized labor wonders why they have declining public support.

  30. You simply do not correct information. I, for example, as a high school teacher in my 18th year, am in the middle of a 5 year period in which my total gross raise will be 1,100. I have not yet received that raise (8 months to go), though I have signed two new apartment leases and experienced the increases in cost of living that we all do. Teachers do not receive annual 4% raises, and never have. Oh, and that $1,100 IS the longevity increase.

  31. Furthermore! Who needs public school teachers anyway? Education should be left up to the private sector. Parents who truly care about their children wouldn't send them to public school, now would they? Outsourcing is the only way, surely.

  32. It's funny how the city has to recognize and abide by every contract they sign with organized business and yet a contract with the people who actually do the work isn't worth the paper it's written on. Declining public support? Who do you think the public is? Teacher live in New York City and if you think that $45,000 dollars is enough to support a family why not ask Donald Trump or Jamie Dimon to live on that amount and use billions of dollars that would be left from the rest of their salaries to help pay for others who are trying to survive in New York City.

  33. Just declare all the teachers to be bankers and that they deserve bonuses regardless of performance. That seems acceptable for real bankers (hi there, Jamie Dimon), who are extracting money from society, so why not extend the model?

  34. Not a bad idea. Why is it workers in the financial sector who receive multi-million dollar salaries are go-getters and job-creators, but the teachers are greedy?

  35. @Tom - because the teachers are (1) being paid by the public and (2) collectively bargaining which by definition extorts wages beyond that to which they deserve. Bankers are in the private sector and are being paid market wages for their jobs.

  36. All this is a 'dog and pony' show. Bill de will give in, and do so quickly, wanting to get re elected. Also, Bill de wants a smooth roll out of the preK program, and for that he needs to have the teachers in bed with him. Politics as usual. Teachers, as usual, using the politics of entitlement, you know 'we deserve it'.

  37. Lets not forget the median income in NYC is about 40k per year. Teachers are well above the middle New Yorker.

  38. What an insightful observation! We're paid less than the teachers, so let's lower the teachers' pay.

    Here's an idea: instead of crying about how overpaid the teachers are and telling them to join the rest of us under-paid and over-worked slobs in the private sector, why don't we ALL form unions and start fighting for better wages?

    Maybe we could restore the middle class.

  39. I don't see the point in comparing teachers' salaries to the median income in NY. That would include salaries of ppl who didn't go to college or sometimes not even high school. Comparing teachers' salary to the ONLY NY workers who hold bachelors and masters degrees would be a more valuable comparison.

  40. @Tom: isn't that what the "equality" howls are all about? Someone else gets paid more than me (despite their investment in their education, years of 18 hour days, and student debt, perhaps), but by all means let's lower their pay. So yes, if you want equality, let's lower teacher pay and also require them to work a full 40 hour workweek, with no summers off. That would be equality.

  41. It is interesting how this works, they supported de Blasio and now they get paid off with retroactive salary increases etc., etc., Funny, similarly as the 1%, the unions resent, which get all the tax breaks. As the new PC saying goes 'interesting and amazing'

  42. I am an ATR who has visited many schools these last few years and rarely hear teachers clamoring for back pay. I hear complaints about the constantly increasing workload of paperwork brought about by pressure from the extra management inserted into the system by Bloomberg under the guise of teaching networks and breaking up large schools. In fact much of the doubling of the school budget under Bloomberg is to pay for management and not workers; there are close to 5,000 less teachers than five years ago. I hear concerns from new teachers when jumping through hoops doesn't prove satisfying or remunerative as Walcott bragged that only 53% of those eligible for tenure received it. Teachers pushing for back pay? It's not a big topic in the teachers' workrooms. Getting rid of the idiocy imposed by the last administration is.

  43. Before I became a teacher, 24 years ago, I worked in the corporate world. I spoke with CEOs and managed staff. There is absolutely nothing as hard as working with children and administration. Plus, I was astounded to see the medieval model that schools are set up as. Teachers are separated in their rooms and kept isolated so that they are to able to bond or stop abusive tactics by administrators that would never last in the corporate world. They are barely trained for the "real world " of teaching. Education classes are taught by theorists.Very few teachers that last ever came into the field for money. They came to make a difference.The golden handcuff is that we have a pension and healthcare. I dare anyone here to try one day in a class by themselves. They wouldn't last the day.

  44. Yep, blame it on the teachers! And don't expect the aura of resentment, that amazingly has risen towards this profession, to carry over into the classroom?! Good job, New York Times! You must be very proud of yourselves on this subject, whose purveyors success, is directly related to you folks keeping your own jobs, and your own raises, as the Newspaper of record, which depends upon an educated readership being out there!! Ever wonder why, there might be another reason for the decline in your readership?!!!

  45. There is not an aura of resentment towards teachers. There is an aura of resentment towards municipal labor unions.

  46. If you believe the NYC schools are turning out "an educated readership," you are delusional.

  47. We have the worst primary school education system in the industrial world and we have 19 of the top 20 universities in the world. We have a combination of labor unions who have incredible power over our primary schools and the majority of the country has little or no interest in educating our children.

    When I worked for a large multi-national company, people from Germany would move to this country and because they were warned, would demand an increase in pay to cover their children's education.

    How we will ever change this system is beyond me. We should look to Germany and learn from them. Not all is well with our secondary school system either. We have a large number of what are essentially diploma mills cranking out people with worthless degrees and ending going deeply into debt. Today student loans exceed all credit card debt and there is no end in sight.

    A senior manager of a for profit diploma mill bragged they spent more on marketing for new students than they did on educating them. The diploma mill crowd make huge sums of money and they are able to use these funds to buy our congress people.

    Sadly the recent agriculture bill is another example of what big money can do. The number of people in the row crop farm lobby including farmers and huge agri businesses is really small yet they have incredible power in Washington.

    The only possible way out of this mess is to eliminate campaign contributions and the right wing will howl if that is tried.

  48. The Left will Howl just as loud

  49. You do realize, don't you, that the Farm Bill that just passed the Senate is the architect of a liberal?

  50. The educational system in this country is not suffering from a lack of funds. As a percentage of GDP and on a per student we spend more than virtually any other country.
    The basic problem is how the money is spent (true of our health system as well).
    We have three levels of educational administration. federal, state and local. All three drain resources. We have the teachers' unions adding their two cents to administration. All these administrative types justify their worth by making demands on the front line troops. the education system is burdened by mandates from the courts for all sorts of things. In this country the judges are educational administrators. Let's not forget a system that expects to spend lots of money on sports teams so parents can have their egos fed by their children's sports performance rather than their academic performance.
    Any attempt to get away from this mess (e.g. charter schools) is resisted by an educational bureaucracy (aided by the unions) eager to defend its prerogatives. Bloomberg, I think, probably recognized this as well as anyone

  51. Give the teachers what they truly deserved considering the performance of their students. They should all be fired. To give them 4% raises is to reward incompetence.
    NYC would get a better bang for the dollar if the city gave every child a tablet and access to onlne courses.

  52. People should be concerned with urban education. But what gets me is that there is no urban system in the country in which the majority of the kids meet state standards. But there are kids who do very well in the same schools. Obviously the same teacher who "fail to meet the needs of the other kids" succeed with these kids. Don't you think that there are factors in urban areas which make it difficult for kids to succeed, and I'm not talking about their teachers. People should be concerned because it's important for all to reach their potential, but let's quit dumping on the teachers! Substitute a day in an urban high school, and I'm not talking about Stuyvesant or Bronx High School of Math and Science. But take a look at those schools and see what can happen in urban areas when put exceptional kids together.

  53. Great idea! Let's plan on leaving 5-18 year olds unattended all day. Parents across NYC will sing the name of John Smith from the rafters . . .

  54. "Give them all a tablet...." Because we know that every parent will make sure that their child will do all the work because all students do their homework; and, now they will all assume the responsibility of learning on their own. By the way, any guesses on how many tablets will be broken or stolen after the first week? Of course we know that all parents will pay money to replace them.
    "They should all be fired." Of course, you will do a better job. You know that the teachers paid tens of thousands of dollars to go to college while bragging the entire time how they want to see all students fail.

    This whole article is about what could happen; not what did happen. It is generating news not reporting news.

    As for unions, be thankful. Unions are the reason we have a middle class, work safety protections, shorter working hours for all people, and health benefits. Most people complaining about unions are the same people who are complaining about the rich getting richer while the poor are getting poorer.

    Anyone who follows the politicians who want to blame all the economic ills and lack of student learning on the teachers in this blame game, obviously hasn't done their homework. As an adult, if you haven't done your homework, why do you think the students will do their homework?

  55. "Though the teachers have not received regular pay increases during the protracted dispute, they have continued to receive longevity increases."

    If there someone out there can decipher this contract lingo pls explain. It sounds very much like teachers' pay went up during the period without a contract - whatever the increase is called. I have also read that the strategy for working without a contract can be beneficial in a downturn - while teachers are likely to lose some benefits in a renegotiation, those benefits remain in place while there is no contract. In addition, apparently longevity increases remain in place as well if not "raises."

    Personally, in my job I count any increase as a raise.

  56. They all get what is called a 'step increase' every year no matter whether there is a current contract or not. This goes not only for teachers but all other municipal unions. The four percent raise or whatever raise is mandated in contract is on top of the step increase.

    Unions generally don't acknowledge these step raises as being true 'raises'.

  57. The longevity increases are there to incentivize NYC teachers to stay on the job. As it is, more than 50% of first-year teachers here leave the system during the first five years. So turnover is a big problem. And for most years, those increases are miniscule: not even $10/week in additional net pay. During these same years (2009-2013), a friend of mine who works for a private electronics firm, received regular pay increases of around 3% per year (excluding the longevity raises). NYC teachers haven't received such raises in over 5 years, and most longevity raises are less than 1% (you can find this longevity raises schedule online). Arbitrarily giving select municipal unions raises is bad policy. It's time to right the wrongs.

  58. This is in reply to Brian's comment. Most municipal workers do NOT receive step increases. Only teachers and uniformed employees have steps. The City has never agreed to give other civilian employees steps. Oh yes- New York State employees do have steps.

  59. The opportunity for DeBlasio is to reshape the relationship cities have with municipal unions that will terminate the precedent set in Wisconsin. By tradition, the teachers union is entitled to the same 4% given the police and fire unions. How it is paid can reflect a far sighted need. 31% of the teachers are eligible for early retirement. An incentive for early retirement will discount the 4% increase due and place that increase with NYSTRS instead of the city.
    The Mayor can with some effort, reduce health insurance costs by instituting DeBlasio care, a universal healthcare system for all municipal employees that could in time be expanded to include other residents when the savings to the City and employees becomes apparent.
    Those teachers, unable or unwilling to retire can be offered tax sheltered annuities in the form of municipal bonds as a lump sum funded in the form of a bond with a yield governed by current market yield.
    Together the Mayor and the Unions have the opportunity to set an example for the nation.

  60. Many senior teachers would jump at an incentive for early retirement. There are many educated but unemployed 20 and 30 somethings who could replace them at half the cost to the city.

    It's a great opportunity for NYC to lower its average annual teacher salary while at the same time bringing in a new generation of enthusiastic educators.

    It's win for both the city and the teachers.

  61. You say "By tradition, the teachers union is entitled to the same 4% given the police and fire unions."
    Please note, a tradition is NOT an entitlement.

  62. Following yesterday's union-bashing editorial, It is unfortunate that two New York Times reporters, the authors of today's "Teachers’ Push for Back Pay May Pinch New York City" further confuse the public by trying to make New Yorkers believe that teachers are in strident competition with the other municipal unions.

    If the City had negotiated with the UFT in good faith, then there wouldn't have been the legal requirement that negotiations move into the hands of the Fact-Finding-Panel.

    The City's unions aren't standing in line where there is a first place and a last place. Traditionally, the unions and the City are in a circle where everyone is treated fairly and equally. If a union is passed over on one round, it's not the end of the line, for a third party is required, by law, to step in and determine how to best resolve the impasse.

    This is an orderly process. New Yorkers wouldn't expect anything less.

    The previous contracts contained a number of "give-backs" that offset any fiscal hardships the tax payers were asked to shoulder. The amount of time and money that teachers are required to back to their jobs as a condition for their having a job, has increased over the last four years, at an unprecedented rate.

    The Fact Finding Commission will determine whether the combined burden of working without a contract for four years, combined with additional expenditures of both time and money on the part of the teachers, constitutes a fair reason for remuneration.

  63. This is the best comment here. It's so sad that people buy into the divide and conquer strategy.

  64. Salaries aren't the only thing that can be negotiated. I would accept less of a raise if other needs were met. Teachers have six weeks of unpaid maternity leave. Most companies give six weeks paid and six weeks unpaid. Teachers also have no priority in getting their kids into either their neighborhood school or the school they are teaching at. They really should have priority in placement: it would increase the quality of those schools is they had more choice. Finally, much of the work that is now being asked of teachers is additional planning and grading. What teachers really need is time to do so. In seven years in the DOE, my paperwork load has gone from 1-2 hours per week to at least 6-8. With the new Common Core, teachers need time to plan an entirely new curriculum. They haven't been given that time. I think a raise with 5-6 extra clerical half days would go a long way in managing the workload.

  65. I am fine giving you a raise and clerical half days paid. And in return you can get paid for only working 8 months a year.

    Enjoy Presidents week and Easter week off plus the whole summer. I will be working.

  66. So a teacher works 6-8 hours extra doing paperwork from 3-5pm, M-F. Gosh, that adds up to an 8 hour day of work, just like the rest of us.

  67. Most companies give NO paid family or maternity leave of any kind; most people never get 'retroactive raises,' most people don't have pensions anymore, most people haven't seen raises of any kind but, like you, have only seen more work (if they are non-union so-called management workers that CAN legally be worked to death - my average work week over the last ten years has been 55 - 65 hours, with many times much more), and have NO job security. We regular workers often support unions but find it hard to stomach those unions that make these over-the-top demands for salaries and benefits that now only the few union workers receive. It would be far, far, better for the unions to lessen their 'let them eat cake' demands and try to increase unionization among white collar employees for those basics: job protection, reasonable work hours, vacations and pensions.

  68. It's going to be a barrel of laughs to watch Di Blasio and his Union cronies bankrupt NYC. These Unions are all like pigs at the trough, and NYC taxpayers are what's for Lunch!

  69. Mayor Bill DeBankruptsio!

    The unions look at him and say "Where's My Money" and he will give it to them.

    If you liked New York in the 70's-80's under Beame, Koch and Dinkens then you will the return of Tammany Hall under DeBlasio!

    If they didn't bankrupt the city, he certainly will.

  70. Given the well of knowledge you've tapped into I'd say you probably have corned the market on "bankrupt"!

  71. I didn't know they were negotiating in the media.

  72. Wow! Most of these comments are from the "liberal" tri-state area, and yet they reflect an anti-union, republican sentiment. Most teachers make less than 75000 dollars, and are the only union members who can lose their jobs and pensions if they are deemed ineffective. It takes 22 years of service to reach top pay as a teacher, much longer than any other union job. So you pseudo liberals out there, stop bashing the middle class union folks that made this country great. You can keep your wealth while maintaining the middle class. After all, we are the consumers that generate economic growth, or are we still talking about "trickle down" economics.

  73. Ed, you neglected to point out the additional fact that besides completing 22 years of service, a teacher also has to have completed a Master's degree and another 30 credits - equivalent to a second Master's - in order to reach the top salary. The Master's and the 30 credits cost said teacher between 30 and 60 thousand dollars. That is no small change!! It would be nice to see these FACTS in the media when they are bashing the teachers.

  74. What?! NYC has a building where bad teachers go to sit all day while they receive full pay because they cannot be fired. This has been a topic of more than a few articles. Even Obama said that Public Service Unions need to change with respect to mandating that bad teachers stay in place. NYCity's approach was to put them in a building, away from students, while they receive full pay and pensions.

  75. If you are a teacher in the NYC system and you have been on the job for five years, you are making in the neighborhood of $70K (with benefits that the rest of us only dream about).

    And you work 9.5 months a year. You get all of the holidays, etc. It is *extremely* difficult to get a teacher fired for incompetency. Cut the agitprop nonsense Ed.

    According to 2012 figures (the most recent I could find), the NYC taxpayer was putting $15 into NYC teachers' pension fund for every $1 put in by teachers (and any teacher still working after ten years puts *nothing* into their pension).

    My ardent hope is that that the voters in NYC -- and I don't care whether they are liberal or other -- wake up to this reality. Particularly given the fact that the NYC taxpayers' liability for pension costs alone has *quadrupled* in the last decade. And there is no end in sight. Gosh.

  76. What's happening in NYC is not what is happening in the rest of the country, where teachers' pay raises have been lower to non-existent for the past ten years, in some cases. Then, add current pay and benefit decreases of as much as 27%. These teachers are hurting. NYC must be an outlier.

  77. This is the situation that was caused by the Bloomberg Administration's refusal to sit down to the table with the Teacher's Union and all other unions representing the teaching staff at all of the City Universities of New York. Why should we continue to work without a new contract in a city in which Wall Street bonuses are off the charts?

  78. Wall Street bonuses are paid by the private sector, Susan, not taxpayers. I suggest the teachers who feel under appreciated resign.

    The Bloomberg Administration had no legal mandate to negotiate with the unions. Their solution in dealing with irrational union demands was to ignore them. I hope the new mayor has such wisdom.

  79. The private sector haters have all paid their fair share and the teachers union bosses (millionaires themselves) need to understand that if taxpaying parents saw even a tiny, miniscule improvement in their kids education they'd willingly pay more.

    There's no connection at all between the teachers who were offered raises every single year by Mayor Bloomberg (and refused them) and private sector workers who grew their company and got raises.

    The workers who grew their company and got raises also paid massive corporate taxes, income taxes and the already-on-the-books 'millionaires' taxes. Now it's the teachers turn to show results.

  80. Bill says that "Wall Street bonuses are paid by the private sector, Susan, not taxpayers."

    Are you serious Bill? Do you need links to the articles showing taxpayer bailouts for car companies, AIG, and their customers, like Goldman Sachs that ultimately ended up as bonuses 'to retain top talent?'

    People on here that have an issue with the Teachers union bargaining on behalf of their middle class members so that your kids have somewhat satisfied and competent instructors from day to day but have no problem with seven figure bonuses subsidized by taxpayer funds and lower tax rates than teachers pay are beyond my understanding.

  81. Funny thing is everyone wants a better education for their children, but when it comes time to pay the piper they are all kicking the can down the road. Pay as you go you will never owe and since it was Wall ST. who orchestrated our decline into a recession they should be the first culprits to empty their pockets.

  82. This is really quite simple for our new Mayor.
    Give every member of every Union in our fair city a substantial salary increase and then just raise taxes.
    Problem solved.

  83. Were I a teacher, I'd love to receive retroactive pay, but the city cannot afford to give it. As at least one other poster wrote, the pay they seek was never promised.
    On the state level, Governors Patterson, Spitzer and Cuomo took money that was allocated to Management/Confidential employees through legislation. Where's the support for restoring the money that was stolen from them?
    No public employee: federal, state, or local (City) should receive retroactive pay as a result of contract negotiations.

  84. Baloney. If a contract ends retroactively then they are netotiating retroactively from where their last contract ended. You may not like it but it is reasonable. Perhaps if they want to give them such a phenomenal deal going forward then the unions will accept a bunch of zeros for 4 or 5 years. If you don't like that they are getting and you aren't then you should make more of the fact that you're not getting. But I bet many of the people that think as you do vote for politicians that like that the rich are getting more and more and working people are getting less and less, huh? Just because you have conceded so much and aren't in a union doesn't mean I will.

  85. Yes, teachers are definately overpaid. That's why I left teaching after 5 years to attend law school. Worked summers as a temp secreatary to make ends meet, took on more debt (student loan) to pay for the 30-credits post BA that were required to retain my license, terrible security with kids afraid to use the bathrooms unless in a group because of fear of being attacked, older colleague punched in the face and purse stolen while grading papers in her classroom, another colleague had three ribs broken when he rushed into the boy's bathroom to intervene where a girl was being attacked, while still trying to reach the kids that wanted to learn, but I digress. Why don't all of you big-mouths out there spend a year teaching in an inner-city high school and then you are entitled to express what are now your ignorant opinions

  86. Actually, Counselor, the first amendment says we are "entitled" to express our opinions, different though they may be than yours, freely now and always. Long live democracy.

  87. The very idea of retroactive pay raises is anathema to the taxpaying citizens of the city who have, at best, seen no raises since the fiscal crisis or who have, at worst, been unemployed or underemployed for years. Most assuredly we will NEVER see retroactive raises, free healthcare, pensions calculated on rip-off "overtime," etc. As a start at some sort of rational reform, just say no to retroactive raises.

  88. Let the Detroitification of New York begin.

  89. UFT= Highway Robbers!

  90. To buy union votes de Blasio made many promises. Now that it is pay back time. Typical politico full of empty rhetoric.

  91. Gee - before anything is even decided you've made up your mind and apparently everyone else's - speaking of empty rhetoric!

  92. Governor Cuomo has stated repeatedly that the State has the money to de Blasio's pre-k program. Cuomo is running for re-reelection this year and wants to appear to be Mr. Niceguy. Take him up on it.

    And then de B can use his Tax-the-Rich proceeds to pay the teachers their money.

  93. Interesting how the authors characterize what happened with the teacher's union and the Bloomberg administration. To say that they reached an "impasse" doesn't quite get at the heart of it. The teacher's union refused the proffered wage increase at that time because they figured they could roll whoever the new mayor would be for better terms.

    And have the authors compared the 2% increase Bloomberg offered with what private sector workers were getting during the period it was offered? 2% sounds generous.

    That's what actually happened. Now, the question is, did they establish some right to a retroactive "back pay" for an increase they refused? A lot would suggest that in not only refusing an increase but in ending the negotiations, they forfeited any such "right". Otherwise, contracts mean nothing -- even those that operate in the absence of renewals.

    Mayor de Blasio should consider very carefully, despite his dependence on public sector unions for electoral support for a second term, that when talking about "two cities", union members are not living in the more deprived one. Every dollar that he allows his negotiators to grant them is a dollar he no longer has for programs to lift those who do into the less deprived one.

  94. Mayor de Blasio should consider a lot of things, but he was bought and paid for by 'public unions' and he's surrounded by people who think every problem can be solved by raising taxes, so I doubt the cost of all this will even be discussed.

  95. Chicklet:

    Actually, I'm not so sure. The mayor is encountering resistance in Albany, where he needs to go, (very large) hat in hand, for new taxes. He's not going to wish new programs into existence to do all he wants to do -- he's going to need to pay attention to available resources.

    His best balanced bet probably is to hang tough on the back-pay, and negotiate something dramatically lower than $3.4 billion as a sop to the teacher's union that doesn't immensely cripple his ability to fund new programs.

    If he has sense, he'll also pressure Schumer, in the Senate, to get CFPB, SEC and other regulators to lay off Wall Street, in order to allow them the elbow-room to make a lot of money, swelling both state AND city coffers -- if he gets no new taxes from Albany, he could fund new programs with greater revenues on existing taxes.

  96. Double Talk. No annual raise received but Longevity Increases received. So you get an increase for showing up and staying in your job. Where else in America do employees get this? Most teachers that my kids had were good and devoted to their students but the rest of us are getting sick and tired of hearing how difficult their job is. There are many other fields that are far more difficult w2here you work long hours and don't leave when the clock shows 3 pm.

  97. Peggysmom, after you have spent a full year teaching, then you will understand that the job doesn't end at three o'clock. If your children had teachers who were good and devoted to them, rest assured that these educators spent endless hours after school and on weekends grading papers, creating lessons, and thinking about how to teach effectively. Only after one has had that experience can they comment about "double talk."

  98. I leave at 3 because working at home is much more effective. I have a computer and printer and can regulate the temperature of a room. Imagine a school where most computer printers aren't maintained. My school has had no internet for two weeks already. Try to do research without that. I work until 10 pm having stopped for an hour or two to share dinner with my family. That means I often work a 12 hour day.

  99. If "pay for performance" were put in place most would be fired. THIS is what is wrong with our education system, plain and simple.

  100. Retroactive pay? Only in government and unions would such an absurdity be conceived. It is time to end this incoherent thinking. They worked and got paid. Time to move forward.

  101. It is like watching a ping-pong match where there is no time for commentary. Esoteric financial theory would be easier to follow.

    Before we have the debate over whether the raises are deserved or what is appropriate compensation for the given results, we have to look at what is reasonably achievable. Some of these students come from backgrounds that are so deprived and dysfunctional that even the best teacher can do nothing, and the better students are lost in the dysfunction of the class. If we are willing to sort students again after early individual trends are evaluated, the results produced by the individual and collective educators could be more accurately measured. We do not yet have the guts to do this.

    On the other hand is the more sticky problem that includes many others in municipal service. One of the reasons that we put in place retirement, benefit and job protections was the lower actual compensation for the job. It was a give and take. The security of the job was part of the compensation. What one has to look at is the historical fact that indicators such as homeownership or location of such and overall lifestyle were once lower for many municipal workers, working class if you want to use an old term. Housing projects near my residence that have been minority for three decades or so were once the family homes of police, firefighter and educators. The expected ascending and middle class lifestyle for these professions started an unsustainable trend.

  102. So you expect teachers to be content with a working-class lifestyle in New York, when all over the country teachers are members of the middle class? It's only an unsustainable trend because of the cost of living in NYC. If teachers are to help students aspire to the middle class, shouldn't they reasonably expect to be members of it themselves?

  103. The problem with your argument is that public sector union workers are not as underpaid as the current public sector unions would have the private sector taxpayer believe. And when one factors in total compensation (pension, healthcare, and relative job security), I realize I would have been better off working in the public sector than in the private sector over the last thirty years.

    In the period from September 2008 to Jan 2010, the private sector lost 8.5 million jobs, many of which have not come back. Public sector union members didn't even feel a hit until 2010, and the percentage of their losses still doesn't compare to private sector job losses.

    Teaching in NYC is a tough job. But at the age of 23, with simply a bachelors degree, a teacher earns the minimum of 46,500 for working 9.5 months a year -- you can't be paid less than that. She will pony up 3.5 percent of her salary toward her pension, only for the first ten years, and her healthcare will be virtually free.

    When I was one of those 8.5 million taxpayers in the private sector losing their jobs at the end of 2008, I don't ever remember a public sector union member telling me "all for one, one for all."

    Public sector unions are simply a business sector, like IBM or General Motors. To treat them as somehow the vanguard of the working class is just silly. We are not talking about the Ludlow Mine strikes here.

  104. Are you seriously arguing that people such as teachers, individuals with college and advanced degrees, ought not be members of the middle class? Are you suggesting that firefighters and police officers, individuals who lay their lives on the line on a daily basis in the service of their fellow New Yorkers and their city ought not be members of the middle class? You, sir, ought to be ashamed of yourself.

  105. This is a legacy of the last Bloomberg budgets, which pretended that another reality exists. It is disingenuous to lay this potential crisis at the feet of the teachers union or any other union that has been clamoring for a contract since it expired.

    That said, the unions would be smart if they went after the billionaires even more loudly and publicly than the Mayor, to make it clear to the public how very little we really see in wage, revenue or tax support from this group of parasites who hold real estate but do not occupy it, and pay no income taxes. A raise in real estate taxes for properties with a market value north of $5,000,000 would not impact the middle class, and it would fund this budget gap. Trust me, the oligarchs and technocrats parking their money in real estate safe havens aren't going to bail out as the FOX News parrots would portray it.

  106. Really?
    There are 70 or so billionaires in NYC.
    What should they pay for the benefit?
    I say move to Greenwich. We could use the bump.
    By one estimate, if NEW York Saw the emigration of 50 families, then the city and potentially the state could be in danger of a fiscal crash.
    The current surplus will be gone soon as we are seeing poor market results in this year; snow is driving up costs for sanitation; and needed work to fix pot holes, etc will cause double trouble: OT and road repair.

    Save some money and build a rainey day fund.

  107. Interesting point. NYC real estate is where the world goes to launder its money earned in low tax, low wage, unregulated countries. A resident of a high end building will tell you that many of the units are rarely occupied.

    Yes, raising real estate tax is a plausible idea since the owners probably would be indifferent to the increase. Another approach would be to ban foreign ownership of real estate in NYC.

  108. @Washington Heights NYC: "A resident of a high end building will tell you that many of the units are rarely occupied...... Another approach would be to ban foreign ownership of real estate in NYC."

    Those absentee tenants pay taxes and receive few services for them. The local service sector economy wins. The taxpayers win.

  109. The average merit based increases in the private sector are below 3% and private sector employee don't have rich defined benefit pension plans. Please note the reference to "merit" base increases by the way. The leadership of these municipal unions couldn't care less about anything but retaining their positions even if it means driving the City into fiscal oblivion.

  110. Because the private sector is too foolish to unionize so they now make less than what they are worth for more work. The only winner here is the corporations.

  111. 152 unions?!

    Unions were established to bargain with private employers, not to extort the public treasury.


  112. "Unions were established to bargain with private employers"? Really? I suggest that the writer read some labor history, including that of New York's Taylor Law.

  113. Please raise our taxes, Mr. Mayor, so that the extra revenue can be poured down the gullets of union workers.

    Money grows on trees after all, not on the backs of taxpayers.

  114. Give everyone a raise. The taxpayer's are a bunch of whiners. Tell Wall Street to pay up or get out of NY. Teachers and city workers 'deserve' a raise!

    Will the last NYC resident please shut out the lights.

  115. Yeah, drive "Wall Street" out of NYC and see what happens to municipal worker salaries. Really, think before you type.

  116. Wow, such vitriol towards teachers on here. I guess Americans and New Yorkers don't value education and educators.

  117. If we had decent education, maybe it would be valued more. We have an abysmal graduation rate, and those that do graduate can hardly read, write or speak properly. Mayor Bill and the unions who lined his pocket want to decimate charter school education, the only semblence of a decent education in this city, against the wishes of the parents. If I hear him say "his mandate from the people" one more time, I'll be sick. Why isn't he listening to this mandate from the people. Leave charters alone and let them flourish and grow. As for the salary increases, while I didn't agree with a lot of Bloomberg's tactics, refusing to negotate union contracts without concessions was absolutely the right thing to do. These workers need to join the real world, where you're held to performance standards, you contribute to your benefits and you can be canned if you screw up. The whole "rubber room" situation was a huge embarrassment to this city and shameful that it was ever allowed to exist. My guess is that it still does, just more secretly.

  118. The vitriol is towards public union employees who are willing to ruin a child's education for more taxpayer funds. The teachers unions should be embarrassed by their conduct - shame, shame on them.

  119. It's not vitriol towards teachers or educations. It's vitriol, rightly so, towards unions, who extort funds from the general public. Teachers should accept the wages and benefits being offered by the government as at-will employees. If that's insufficient, they can feel free to find jobs in the private sector. Public unions must be abolished.

  120. Teaching is tough - that is not disputed. But so real world job market.

    The fact is job security warrants lower pay because it prevents the most efficient allocation of scarce resources. We need look no farther than New York's "rubber room" where 600 teachers accused of misconduct sit, doing nothing, while a failed process cannot get bad apples off the payroll. This does not include teachers who are just marking time to retirement.

    The truth is that the teachers know they have a good thing, which is why they put up with the challenges of the work. It's not unique for them.

    I recall an NPR show where a Verizon telephone line worker admitted that when striking, he and his buddies commented there was no way they could get even half of what they were earning in the real world outside of their union bubble.

    If the teachers want to be paid more, how about they take the good (higher pay) with the bad (risk). Of course they want both, but the taxpayers who will pay for their dreams don't have that luxury.

  121. I believe the rubber rooms no longer exist. Even so, should the other 99% of teachers be punished for less than 1%. You have more incompetence in other fields.

  122. Steve, these teachers are accused of more than incompetence - it's misconduct. The unions work very hard to protect teachers no matter how poorly they do their jobs. The union fights any measures of competence if it has any bearing on pay or job security. Basically, the teachers get "tenure" so they can choose themselves whether to be competent, or not. And the rooms still exist, just not in central locations.

    So if teachers think they deserve merit based pay, then they should be willing to be subject to other side of the coin. - which they are not. They prefer the status quo.

  123. So in the midst of the financial crisis the mayor had two choices with the teachers. 1. Grant pattern bargain raises and have layoffs. 2. Grant no increases and have no layoffs. Now the teachers (or better known as public union employees who happen to work in schools) want to have it both ways! And if they get it both ways that ultimately means less resources for the children the teachers profess to be concerned about. Never doubt for a second that teachers unions are just about the teachers - never about the children.

  124. The union should be for the teachers, because the union is teachers. Teachers give their life and soul to help children. They spend money out of their own pockets to subsidize their students and classrooms. They are educated, talented people who deserve a professional benefits package including salary increases. If you want to attract great future teachers you will need to offer them something above subsistence living. $45,000 is not a lot to live on in the metropolitan area. Too many teachers need a second job to get by.

    The last question a teacher asks at the end of the day shouldn't be, "Would you like fries with that?"

  125. The teachers deserve this raise. They did not cause the city's financial issues. Corporate welfare did. The city of New York, like all other major cities in America, needs to pay its public workers fairly. It can do this if it starts cutting OTHER horrible policies-- such as tax breaks for wealthy businesses which can, should, and most importantly, historically were required to pay their fair share-- and giving that money back to public employees. It is the only way to maintain any semblance of an American middle class, and articles written to demonize public unions like this are transparent and shameful.

  126. Public unions?
    Wouldn't that be taxpayers, mothers and fathers of the children who (despite very well paid teachers and extraordinary spending on public schools) have to send their kids to 'public union' schools?

    The public, not the public unions, shouldn't give one cent more, when and if our children get a better education the public can be asked to consider it.

  127. Do all citizens have the 'right' to a middle class life? really?

    It is the governments role to provide a middle class life? Teachers make at least 50k to start, someone who makes that in the private sector might move to the suburbs or get a second job if they can't live on the salary they knew the job pays.

    So-called wealthy folk in NYC pay over 50% combined taxes, is that not fair?

  128. This is correct. The article immediately begins by turning reality on its head, depicting the unions as a powerful leviathan pressing a weak government with shallow pockets. The unions are demanding BACK PAY. That means the workers—people who teach our children—have been taking a backseat for years while the government gave billions in tax cuts to the corporations and wealthy. New York could have collected the stock transaction tax, for example, which would have literally wiped out the deficit. And it's been on the books since 1979, but always REFUNDED.

    Why isn't there an article in the NY Times decrying corporate welfare and uncollected taxes as a reason for fiscal shortfalls? Never seen it.

  129. The real problem is, whatever agreement the Union and City come up with, the State's evaluation system will be incorporated. This will cause each and every teacher to teach to the test because said evaluations are based on test scores under a system called VAM. The fact that VAM is unreliable due to its high margin of error, makes no difference to anyone. So if a student scores in the highest percentile in the 4th grade and again in the 5th, the teacher will be deemed "ineffective" because this junk science will show "no growth" for that student. When this happens 2 years in a row, the teacher can be fired.

    While this formula is extremely unfair, it was Mulgrew who agreed to it. To make sure this system stays in place, he is behind a power play to get rid of the head of NYSUT who is now speaking up against the Cuomo Reforms. So those of you who are anti union should be grateful Mulgrew is also anti teacher and student. There are new and better ways to evaluate teachers. One way is PAR, but since it doesn't rely on test scores, the City and State will lose RTTT funding.
    This is why so many education experts are against RTTT. It facilitated a testing culture that only benefitted testing companies like Pearson and technology companies. Very little if none of the RTTT budget goes to improving class size, enrichment, counseling services, etc.

  130. This comment sounds interesting, but as I don't know what PAR and RTTT are, falls a bit flat. (Next time, explain acronyms, please!)

    But honestly, it is a canard to raise the issue of pay for performance here: the issue at hand is not how the pay is calculated, but the demand for back pay and the issue of 'pattern' raises (which seem insane to me, a lay person) in the contact of what non-union, private sector employees have experienced as far as pay, benefits (decrease in benefits, increasing employee cost-sharing for remaining benefits, lousy 401ks instead of pensions, etc.).

  131. CC is you don't understand the acronyms, then you don't understand that pay raise is more than just about money. It's about the whole contract which means just as much to teachers than the raise itself.

  132. Workers at Google or Macys who are part of an enterprise where the business gets better will see raises. Taxpayers don't mind paying for raises for some workers where they know the workers gave them something of value.

    If parents and elected officials saw even a mild improvement in their kids education they'd be running to give raises. It isn't happening. Time for the union leaders (millionaires themselves) to ask their members to come up with real successes that parents can see with their own eyes.

    If they show us improvement perhaps people will think a raise (in the future) is appropriate.

  133. Excellent parroting of the right wing corporate state line. I like the way you make the teachers look like failures as they ask for wages withheld for years while the state worked toward the privatization of education and closed schools in low income areas and inundated schools with failed test programs and online schooling. And tying wages to business success rate, till now, hadn't seen the light of day since the robber barons—great suggestion!

  134. When core inflation is running at almost zero (per the administration), why is it that public workers feel entitled to a 4% raise every year? A modest COLA should be in order when the Feds receive one, but an automatic pay raise? Every year?

  135. Because the union beast must be fed! Will be fun to watch this intramural union wrestling match.

  136. The issue is not feeling entitled, but getting what is agreed upon. When the city is is doing well, public raises do not track the infusion of wealth into city coffers. This shores up accounts for when the city is doing not so well. IF the city gives raises based solely on how well its finances are doing, then the good year should show higher raises for public employees, while lean years should see no raises and even job loss. However, this hasn't been the policy of this city for quite some time. It's not an easy situation for sure, but I'll squarely put my weight behind the teachers on this one.

  137. Unions serve the interests of a significant portion of all workers in NYC (24.4% in the state of New York, and city data are hard to find), so "pro-union" is not a bad stance for a mayor who represents those workers.

    Even if de Blasio is very "pro-union," though, he can't afford to harm all the other unions just to give in to this one. He doesn't have the option of caving in to every single union demand, even if he wanted to, which he almost certainly does not.

    I don't doubt that de Blasio would like to keep unions on his side, but not at the expense of the other unions, or the other 75% (or so) of city workers, who also vote. So basically I expect him to push for moderate pay increases for union workers that do not bankrupt the city, and probably do not meet all of the unions' stated desires.

  138. Back pay that was never agreed to in negotiated contracts? This would be extortion pure and simple. See: Detroit.

  139. The mark of a great politician is the ability to defy your base in order to do what's best for the nation.

    Recent examples:

    - Emanuel education and pension reform in Chicago
    - George Bush Sr. raising taxes after his "read my lips" quote
    - Chief Justice Roberts (Not a true politician) vote to allow Obamacare

    Our mayor should refuse any retractive payments to unions but place all of the surplus into some combination of funding for pre-k and towards addressing our woefully underfunded pensions.

    Union workers would get (a) more teaching jobs and most importantly (b) confidence that their pensions can be relied upon. Right now, there is a very high degree of risk that these life-long union employees will not get anywhere near their promised pension.

  140. NYC is a victim of its own success. Real estate prices are so high that the city can't afford to pay salaries that will allow starting teachers any hope of buying a home near wher their work. Any teacher with aspirations will be able to find a job elsewhere that will afford entry to the middle class.

  141. Why do they need to live near where they work? Many regular NY's move to the suburbs.

  142. Teachers salary and pensions are already more than enough for the time they put in and the poor performance we see from our students. How nice to have a cozy job where you cannot be fired no matter how poorly you perform. Lets talk about raising standards and improving education.

  143. For all the varied perspectives about teachers benefits or lack thereof, 'a cozy job' is a new one and clearly one based on low information.

  144. Education cannot be improved until parents recognize how essential their influence is in building good study habits.
    It might be easy taking potshots at a profession you clearly don't understand, but compared to their training and the abuse they receive, you might want to consider why you didn't choose to teach.

  145. I taught for many years. I obviously know better than you.

  146. I've been a union man all my life. This back pay business is ridiculous. Fight for what's right and leave that stuff alone. We're down to 7% in the private sector. If public sector unions keep acting silly, right-to-work (for less) will become the law of the land. If you don't know what the term right-to-work means, and you belong to a union, educate yourself. Understand Taft-Hartley, Davis-Bacon and what being a union person is. Organize, increase your numbers. Emulate the IBEW. Be better than any non-union outfit, command the market, then rightfully command what you deserve.

  147. Ya'll in the private sector can go on strike anytime. Public sector can't.

  148. Well said. A monopolist could not have said it better. The objective is the same, get as much money as possible from the consumer, and never worry about the quality of the product or service. If you are big enough, you can get what you want.

  149. Tony: "Be better than any non-union outfit", ie. provide a BETTER product. Not to worry, 7% of the labor force is hardly a monopoly. Oh yes, and apples and oranges: Labor (people) is not a commodity, and corporations are NOT people, my friend.

  150. why not just take it from Bloomberg? The new mayor makes a point of mentioning how much money the former mayor has every time he speaks in public. Just seize the money - like the Bolsheviks would have done...

  151. Yes, teachers need a raise--as well as other municipal workers and the rest of the workers in this country. But retro pay is about more than money. Unlike workers in the private sector who have the right to strike--to withhold their labor upon the expiration of contracts--as municipal workers we give up the legal right to strike supposedly in exchange for good faith bargaining. Bloomberg conscious labor policy was to make sure this didn't happen by putting forward such onorous demands that guaranteed there would be no contract settlements, imposing a de facto wage freeze over the last 3-4 years. Without retro pay , what would prevent future mayors from refusing to negotiate in good faith not just for 4 years, but 5 or 10 ?

  152. Interesting battle between union workers who have job protections and raises and the non-union taxpayers who have no job security and no raises. The public employee unions seem to forget that it is their taxpaying neighbors who are paying for their raises and their benefits, and their taxpaying neighbors who have lost their jobs or not getting raises have a hard time (financially) paying even more taxes for people who have a better standard of living.

    I can't wait to see the public employee unions bargain into ObamaCare and give up their pre-ObamaCare medical plans.

  153. This is why people have unions. I wish my industry would unionize, but they seem to still believe they are above needing unions. This is why we haven't had a raise in five years. Unions are the future.

  154. Public employees are also taxpayers. And how do we know that private sector workers have all have no benefits and have gone without raises for years? Tired of all the propaganda.

  155. @Gloria
    “Public employees are also taxpayers.” You mean – they get 100% of their salary and benefits paid by the City and then pay a small part of that back as taxes to the City? Sure, in this sense they are taxpayers…
    “And how do we know that private sector workers have all have no benefits and have gone without raises for years?” Data is how we know this. There is data, for example, on how many workers in private sector have defined-benefits pensions and data on the pay and income of workers every year. Look it up if you want to know.

  156. I give up. Babysit and educate your own children.

    Clear your own streets of snow, and dispose of your won trash.

    Kitchen fire? - hope you're good with that 10 year old fire extinguisher in the back of your closet.

    Someone just snatch your gold IPhone 5 from the back pocket of your skinny jeans?? Hope you paid attention in your kickboxing class at Crunch last Tuesday afternoon, while the masses were at work.

    Get real people.

  157. First I wold like to see the following:

    1. 40 hour work week up from the French-style 35 hour schedule.

    2. Pensions changed to the federal system of 401k plus a reduced monthly annuity, plus Social Security so the city does not have to pay $8 BILLION a year to fund retirements for 45-50 year-olds.

    3. NYC employees contributing 1%-1.5% of their salaries (pre-tax) to pay for the health insurance which is now free.

    Once the finances of the city are in shape, then we can discuss raises.

  158. NYC employees should be required to sign up for ObamaCare since it will reduce their costs and give them good coverage.

  159. The unions gave millions to de Blasio. Now they want it back in spades. It will be interesting to see if this big man has any backbone and stand up to these unions and with the taxpayers of the City.

  160. Why don't you ask him to stand up to Wall Street, the corporations and top wealth? Why ask him to "stand up to" the people who school and care for our childern?

  161. Give teachers the pay raise and in return disband the Union. You will see improvements in teaching and scores.

  162. Just how would this improve scores and teacher performance?

  163. The salary range in this article is misleading. It cites that teachers make between $45,530 to $100,049. While this is true, the majority of teachers leave before five years, meaning most teachers never reach the 50,000 salary mark.

    I'm a teacher. I don't need back-pay. A cost-of living salary increase would be fair. To stop being vilified by people who claim that teachers have it really great would be even better. The current anti-teacher wave we're riding is pretty tiresome.

  164. To the victors belong the spoils. Some things have changed very little in politics over the years, particularly in New York. While there may be other changes with the de Blasio administration, for better and worse, the first order of business remains dividing up the public goods.

  165. Just increase some of the various city taxes to cover it. Ditto when the other city workers want a raise.

  166. I'd rather see New York City just charge users a fee for the services provided by the unions.

  167. Once the city sets a precedent to pay $3.4 billion to the teachers, how long will it take for the other (literally) 149 municipal unions to ask for theirs? Though a lifelong Democrat who voted for de Blasio, this is the fear many New Yorkers had-- that he will be in the pocket of the unions. It will be impossible to meet even a small portion of these potential "obligations" without decreasing services, raising taxes and going into debt. I have often thought the supreme job security government employees enjoy and relative lack of accountability (nobody asks you what you did to earn your keep lately as they do in the private sector) has always been a substantial part of their compensation. The right to what teachers are "owed" has to be balanced against what the city can reasonably afford to pay.

  168. Other city employees did not get any raises in five years while everything got more expensive. This is in the midst of the greatest recession in a generation. The city is very expensive to live in. The commute fare was raised several times in the last five or six years, so did the tolls in the bridges and tunnels. At the same time we did not get any raise for cost of living adjustment.

  169. For those with vitriolic comments regarding unions, I want to tell you, "You are wrong." If you look at states where teachers have strong unions and compare them to states where there are no or only weak unions. The states with strong teachers unions produce the most educated students. These are also the states with the best universities and colleges.

    Some feel that since teachers serve the public they should be treated like servants of old; give them the left over scraps after the family and pets are fed. That is why public unions are a necessity. They are responsible for the protection of health and safety and for providing a livable wage. Teachers are professionals and should be able to afford a home and college for their kids.

    Any argument that we would be better off without unions can be proven wrong by looking at states where unions only represent the regular school year teachers and not summer school. This was true in Hawaii a dozen years ago. The result was teachers were paid considerably less in the summer, received no benefits, sometimes they were required to arrive early and stay late without pay and were given no breaks during the day. What kind of teachers would take that assignment? Not many, so some of the teachers in summer school hadn't finished college. Is that what you want for your regular school year?

    These teachers worked and deserve their raise, New York, do what's right.

  170. The solution is easy. Pass legislation outlawing public sector unions, including teachers, firemen, police, etc. Let the free market pay up for superstars, and eliminate the laggards. That is how the world works. Taxpayers should demand efficiency and results above all else.

  171. "Teachers’ salaries currently range from $45,530 to $100,049."

    Please tell me this is a misprint. Including a pension and healthcare, this means that the STARTING salary for a teacher is over $50,000? This is either incorrect or the NYC treasury is being repeatedly robbed and looted.

  172. It is so tiresome (and sadly predictable) to read about the "vitriol" and "hatred" towards teachers from some of these comments. Please - it has NOTHING to do with not valuing education or educators. Most teachers are fine, dedicated people.

    But is has everything to do with hubris and a sense of entitlement. Sorry they haven't had a raise in a few years, but that didn't happen because they're teachers and people hate education. it happened to teachers - and mechanics and secretaries and nurses and all kinds of jobs across the nation - because of the recession. If times are better and the economy and the city budget allows it without deficit addition, fine give them a raise for the next fiscal year. But in no way, no how does any worker, especially one who is paid by the taxpayers, have a built in entitlement to raises missed. That's a sad fact of life for everyone.

  173. Well, I could say a contract's a contract. When the new one's renewed, it picks up where the last one left off. It's a legal tender contract. There is public policy to consider and, fortunately, teachers are fine, dedicated people, so we'll be just fine, and still dedicated, without all of that pay that we should have been getting all along. And by everyone, I'm sure you mean Wall St.

  174. And what sparked that recession? Here's the short answer: America's very own banking oligarchy that gets to privatize gains while socializing losses. The numbers being bantered around here are chicken feed compared to the trillions that have been handed to the banksters by joe and jane taxpayer.

  175. It's a sad fact of life that the minimum wage does not reflect the increases in productivity of American wage earners. By some estimates if the minimum wage, adjusted for inflation, directly reflected the increase in worker productivity it would be about $22/hour. So if the minimum wage is currently $7.25/hr who got the remaining $14.75? This is the problem.

  176. I understand the negative attitude towards teachers and the system. The majority of teachers do not have back pay on top of their list of complaints. Unfortunately our union is led by a man trying to prove that teachers can 'play ball.' We aren't all angry constituents trying to steal a base. However, we do deserve to get paid for the hours and hard work we put in every day (including nights and weekends, just like other careers). We are in charge of your child's education, we are professionals with at least one, and often more, master's degrees. We are qualified experts. I hate to make the comparison to childcare because what we do is so much more, but we are responsible for your child's well-being during the day: I would suggest you try to low-ball your nanny and see what you get.

    In terms of our education system being 'terrible' as some have commented, consider that there is no other system of 1.2 million people that is run by 1 single person. Further, the success of those 1.2 million people is determined by a group of individuals (test-makers) who are not even involved in the system and are developing arbitrary means of collecting numerical data. Sweeping policy decisions cannot possibly be appropriate for all constituents. I am curious why the pendulum has yet to swing back to smaller organizations within the larger system, run by multiple individuals who can consider the nuances for each sub-population and make decisions that are appropriate for them.

  177. It seems most Americans look at the world as a "zero sum"game these days - if someone else gets something, they must have taken it from me.

    Wealthy Democrat and Republican investors complain that government spending is "crowding out" (stealing) private capital. The 99% are told the 1% are stealing money from the "99%".

    The diverse US economy has very few examples of zero-sum games.

    The American Pie has truly been growing for decades. There have been tragic losses - like millions of people whose homes were foreclosed. But they did not lose their mortgages to any other people. They lost them to a general shrinking of inflated house values (some would argue that rising housing prices were a near-religion shared by all.)

    But the subject of this article is a true zero-sum game. Guaranteed incomes and future pensions seize the assumed future income streams of the city. Employees develop a fixed expectation that they will get paid X for this many years of work and Y for an additional number of years of retirement, without having to change jobs or income levels.

    This pits union against union. And it makes it harder for them all to get together to share in the growth of the city.

    There are no "fat cats" here. No 99% or 1%. Only 100% of the union workforce breaking up to compete with each other for a fixed amount of income.

    The new boss has a tough job. He won on an "us-them" platform. He's good. Let's see how well he can change to a "we" platform.

  178. It's so sad to see so many jump on the beat up unions and public workers. It seems that many of the attackers have forgotten that the very same city workers they are attacking are the ones that educate their children, protect their properties and remove the drug dealer on the corner, or assure they have clean water and safe food to eat, put out fires when their homes or building are on fire, make sure your landlord provides heat and repairs in your apartment and makes sure the buildings you work in or live in are safe
    and well constructed...
    I wonder where these same people were when Mayor Bloomberg was handing out millions in tax breaks to Wall Street and others of the elite 1% ? Maybe just Maybe some of that money could go towards paying the very people who allow the city to function ?

  179. There is a lot of Vitriol being aimed towards Teachers in these comments which I believe I can sum up the reason for very simply: it comes from the sense that the Teachers Union is being entirely selfish in the matter, they represent an attitude of "lets get ours," the heck with the Police, Firemen and everybody else in New York City.
    Cities , even one as large as New York, are nothing more then a large community, and the principle of community is that we all work together to make everything continue to run smooth. That if there is a resource-in this case a budget surplus it should be equally shared throughout the community
    A Selfish attitude is the opposite of Community, it will lead to a general breakdown, as Union after Union filled with Envy will also call for their retro-active piece of the Pie. The Workers-the civil servants ,i.e, the people that maintain the quality of life of this city will very understandably think to themselves that they are just as important as Teachers and should receive the same financial reward.
    If the Teachers get it and they don't , tension will rise among the Municipal workers, unfairness always leads to anger, and a sense of being wronged. The community that was heretofore intact will begin to splinter.
    Money has a very powerful capacity to cause problems

  180. As expected, everyone has their hand out asking for a piece of the pie. And the man guarding the pie is beholden and sympathetic to those asking. This city is in for some very, very hard times.

  181. Social Security recipients did not get 4% raises over the last 5 years because the cost of living did not go up, according to the federal government. Why should teachers get a raise when our elderly did not, and non-union taxpayers did not get a raise?

    The teachers refused to negotiate with Bloomberg because Bloomberg refused to roll over and play dead and give the union s what they wanted. The unions were betting that the next mayor would roll over for the unions. Now we see whether de Blasio will do what is right for New York taxpayers or whether he will roll over for the unions.

  182. Everyone as usual is beating up on the teacher's union. How come no outrage at the police? They have the cushiest deal in the whole city, retiring before they've even reached middle age with half pay for the rest of our lives. It's THAT contract that needs to be amended. And don't get me started on the firefighters, of whom there are far too many in this era--and who spend most of their days sitting around the fire house playing cards and cooking elaborate meals for themselves. (If you doh't believe me, check out the Fairway in Red Hook--the place is swarming with them.)

  183. Please don't choose another occupation to trash. That is exactly what the politicians want us to do. Firemen/women and police officers also give of their time and face situations many could not begin to understand. They are important to our society.

    As an educator, I still understand that prices and taxes have gone up on everyone, making our financial lives difficult. If we educators need to work two and three jobs, think how hard it is for people who do not make a professional wage.

    However, educators should not be held to low wages because others receive them. College took time and thousands of dollars. All educators must continue to pay for classes as they progress through their careers.

    The problem is that politicians and society at large want someone to blame. And, by doing so, their message to the majority of Americans (including our children), is that education is not to be respected.

    I did not go into education to make a lot of money. I also did not go into education to be blamed for all the ills of society and to be blamed for the poor decisions of politicians past.

    Please, rise above the blame game. Oftentimes, educators are the only positive role models our students observe.

  184. I posted this earlier, can't find it here, so i'm posting again :
    Yes, teachers need a raise--as well as other municipal workers and the rest of the workers in this country. But retro pay is about more than money. Unlike workers in the private sector who have the right to strike--to withhold their labor upon the expiration of contracts--as municipal workers we give up the legal right to strike supposedly in exchange for good faith bargaining. Bloomberg conscious labor policy was to make sure this didn't happen by putting forward such onerous demands that guaranteed there would be no contract settlements, imposing a defacto wage freeze over the last 3-4 years. Without retro pay , what would prevent future mayors from refusing to negotiate in good faith not just for 4 years, but 5 or 10 ?

  185. Why do any workers deserve a raise beyond inflation? Private sector hasn't seen one in many years or at least people that I know of. I do believe individuals that excel and take on more responsibility should get raises. The problem is how do you single those people out in a unionized workforce? As for striking, private employees don't strike, they quit and look for another job. The other folks that strike are unionized labor.

  186. Right to work, anyone?

  187. I teach high school English in another state. I embarked upon this second career in my mid-forties, incurring lots of debt to attain my teaching certificate and Masters degree. Teachers do not make a lot of money, especially if the family is single income. In 1994,while working in the private sector, I made double what I make now. And, as a freelancer, I had more time off than I do now. Still, I don't regret the decision.

    I love my time in the classroom. It can be draining, but it is also so fulfilling to see my students' writing and inferential thinking mature as the year progresses. That's what is is all about for most of the teachers I know.

    I abhor the state-mandated tests and tasks, dictated by Race to the Top. The layer of bureaucracy is astounding. And asinine. That is where most of the money goes, not to fat cat teachers living high on the hog.

    In reading these comments, I am dimayed by the teacher-bashing. The level of vitriol is so high. I find it demoralizing, but worse, teacher-bashing undermines the authority of classroom teachers. While teachers are not infallible, if the students do not respect the teacher, the students will not try to excel. Please consider this before you bad-mouth a teacher in front of a child.

    I also find it disheartening whenever one group, in this case teachers, is singled out to be society's scapegoat. This type of behavior engenders a mob mentality. Shades of Germany in the 1930s.

  188. I haven't had a raise in seven years, have no prospect of a raise -- let alone a retroactive raise -- and now, as a city taxpayer, I'm faced with the possibility of an extra assessment to keep the teachers happy. Maybe I should just drift out to sea on an ice floe.

  189. The most important phrase in this entire article is "largely overlooked". Were I the editor I might have added "...but entirely predictable". Voters bought into the whole "tale of two cities" line, forgetting that, unlike the federal government, NYC needs to balance its budget. Not an easy task when you have the largest public sector workforce of any city in the known universe outside of Sicily. Good luck with that.

  190. They only want what is owed to them???? How can they figure that? They do not have a contract and no raises were given them. Just because the other unions try to blackmail and bankrupt a city does not mean the city has to give in to this extortion. Pass a right to work law and tell them this is what you will pay or else give them a pay adjustment up or down based on inflation. The upper eschelons already make too much.

  191. My pas has gone from $120k in 2007 to 67k in 2014. By the teachers union logic, I should also have my pay bumped back up to where it would be if I got a 4% raise every year ($158k) and back pay of $516k that I was due. The real issue is that the unions seem to want it all. They don't want to have teachers fired during difficult times but they also want to get a raise well above inflation every year for questionable if any productivity gains. The real kicker is that the people who work in private companies and have not had a raise in years are expected to pay for this with higher taxes. How do public workers expect to sustain this game over the long term? Or will we just declare bankruptcy in the end and tell all the creiditors to pound sand?

  192. OK, get ready for a ride NYC. Bill was elected on unsustainable promises and now unions will extract their "dues". Having a sane, fiscally conservative mayor was simply more than your ideology could stand. Now you, and innocent bystanders will have a steep price to pay for your ideology. As Maggie Thatcher pointed out - The problem with Socialism is that ultimately you run out of other people's money.

  193. This is the beginning of the end of the utopia the new mayor had promised his constituents. He has led New Yorkers to believe he’s going to even things out between the rich and the poor. When he was young he spent a few years volunteering in Central America. It was down there that he tried to help the poorest of the poor and probably succeeded.

    Rather than open his eyes to reality, Mr. DeBlasio let an "impossible dream" take him over. Pretty much what happens or used to happen to many Peace Corps volunteers.

    Unfortunately for Mr. DeBlasio, New York is not Central America, and the City cannot be run as if he were in the Peace Corps. The rich in the State of New York will never be able to identify themselves with the utopic ideas Mr. DeBlasio's brain have allowed the Mayor of New York City to convince him that he can accomplish in New York City what he accomplished in Central America.

    Probably most of the teachers in the teachers' union are in dare need for salary raises they're asking for. I have no doubt they are convinced that, based on the irresponsible promises made by an irresponsible mayor, they may get their cake and eat it, too.

    This is just the beginning...of the end. Mr. DeBlasio asked for it, and he well have no one to blame but himself. But there's always time for him and his family to pack their things up and move back to Central America. If he knows what's best for him and his family -- never mind New York City – he’ll do the right thing: quit now.

  194. Public school teachers who start out make about $43k/yr. Raises accumulate with time and education. The rationale behind the system is to create a stable work-force who can dedicate the time and energy to educate the children of a neighborhood over a number of years. Teachers are supposed to be the rocks and role-models for the lives of young people. As such, the contract that we sign and negotiate contains clauses for ethical behaviors that we are also adhered to.
    Studies have found that teachers work the same number of hours as 12 month employees in 10 months. We take work home with them every night and work for the advancement of children rather than for a bonus or other selfish motivation that drives the public sector. There is no such thing as a "down day" teachers have to be at 100% every time they step out in front of Children to educate them, deal with their varied needs, and care for them.
    It is rare that you will not find a teacher who has not gone out of pocket for supplies, food and clothing for children who do not have these things because we care.
    Teachers are constantly staying on top of recent educational and academic trends on top of their ordinary responsibilities. We do this because it is the life that we choose. All that we ask in return is for a life that is comfortable, where we don't have to worry about living a hand-to mouth existence and can focus our attention and energy on creating better citizens and lives for our students.

  195. I find you state your case for higher pay well - I'm sure you are a good teacher.

    But you have to realize that your total compensation - salary, automatic pay increases with time, retirement at age 50-55, pension with automatic inflation protection, healthcare for life, etc, already exceeds anything that is available to the the people who pay your salary - the average New York resident.

    The median income in New York City is $32,000 (2012 data). And they don't get pensions. They don't get 2 months vacation. They can't retire in their 50s. They can be fired on the spot id they don't perform.

    Your total compensation as a NYC teacher is already 4 to 5 times higher than the median New York worker.

    How much higher do you want it to be?

  196. @Baron,

    I understand what you are saying by factoring in the fringe benefits. What you have to understand is that those benefits have historically been included to off-set the wage discrepancy between public sector and private sector workers. My peers, whom I graduated with at the top of my class, are almost all making 6 figures + by this point in their careers and have the leisure associated with their jobs like long lunches, expense accounts and the like. I don't, nor do I have the hope to (though teachers do max out at right around $100k, but that is after 20 years.

    Most private sector jobs before this generation had the same benefits that I currently enjoy. With the re-structuring of the economy, however, private sector workers have really taken a hit. Because I am a member of a professional union that looks out for these benefits, mine have been protected.

    In terms of the vacation. Teachers are 10 month employees, not 12. We are simply paid over 12 months. In the 10 months that we are employees... let's just say that I worked more hours than my ex-girlfriend who was a doctor in emergency residency.

    Like everyone else, I'm looking for COLA at the least, more in token of the countless hours of added responsibility and workload without compensation over the past several years.

  197. @Mfog

    Again, you make your case well.

    But the historical reasons for gold plated benefits argument is not valid.

    1 - It is not true that in the past most private sector workers had those benefits. In fact at its hight, only 35% of private sector workers in the US had pensions. 2/3 never had.

    2 - Even if historically your benefit package was justified, now, when only 7% of private sector workers get those benefits, they can not be justified. You can not have benefits packages that no-one else, who pays your salary has.

    3 - You have to understand that public employees have a legally mandated monopoly. You have monopoly power. I can't open a public school in NYC, choose my principal, my teachers and command the City to pay student tuition. I can't have my own neighborhood police force either.

    The sad reality is that, you got that benefit package, because it was easy to hid the consequences (future liability) from the voters and taxpayers.

    So, lets give you a benefits package like the average New Yorker has. And lets let you convince the New York voters that you deserve a pay raise on your salary.

    Anything less than that, is simply trying to fool the taxpayer, by hiding the true extent of your total compensation.

  198. This is the beginning of the end of the utopia the new mayor had promised his constituents. He’s led New Yorkers to believe he’s going to even things out between the rich and the poor.

    When he was young he spent a few years volunteering in Central America. It was down there that he tried to help the poorest of the poor and probably succeeded. Rather than open his eyes to reality, Mr. DeBlasio let an "impossible dream" take him over. It’s pretty much what happens or used to happen to many Peace Corps volunteers.

    Unfortunately for Mr. DeBlasio, New York is not Central America, and the City cannot be run as if he were in the Peace Corps. The rich in the State of New York will never be able to identify themselves with the utopic ideas Mr. DeBlasio has in mind. Those ideas have convinced the new Mayor that he can accomplish in New York City what he accomplished in Central America.

    Probably most of the teachers in the teachers' union are in dare need for salary raises they're asking for. I have no doubt they are convinced that, based on the irresponsible promises made by an irresponsible mayor, they may get their cake and eat it, too.

    Again, this is just the beginning...of the end. Mr. DeBlasio asked for it, and he’ll have no one to blame but himself. But there's time for him and his family to pack their things up and to move back to Central America. If he knows what's best for him and his family -- never mind New York City – he’ll do the right thing: quit now.

  199. all teacher raises sp;d be linked to a longer school day- if teachers worked 8 hrs they could spend the additional time, planning, meeting with colleagues, doing research, having pd, tutoring etc--this would have a big impact on student outcomes

  200. This goes against my liberal-leaning nature, but New York City and State would be so much better off in the long-term if the power of unions were severely curtailed. The City's private economy and real estate are sure-footed and doing well, but the public sector has been a mess for as long as I can remember. Public sector unions demand raises without justification, "just because," and do their part to elect leaders who will give them anything they want. Then, when unrealistic pensions are underfunded or test results fail to improve, they're the first to call for a tax increase on the productive private sector. NYC doesn't need a Bill de Blasio, it needs a Scott Walker.

  201. They demand raises because they see the million and billionaires in NYC enjoying their labor. They demand raises because their value is purely intrinsic and is not quantifiable from year to year. Yet this intrinsic value is needed. If you don't educate the populace, then the next generation of private sector workers are subpar. If you let criminals run amok, people will be scared to go into NYC (NYC is still shedding the image of a dangerous city.) If you let fires burn, then who would want to build in this city? "Just because?" No, there is a value in paying these people well.

  202. @Daniel Savino

    Wow. So because there are successful people in New York, then teachers and police officers who can't be fired, retire at 50, get pensions and health care for life, also deserve a raise?

    Regardless of how well they do their job?

    Regardless of how much higher their total compensation is compared to the median income in NY?

    Wow. Look there is a billionaire there. Every public sector employee deserves and automatic raise because of that.

    One hundred and fifty two unions having back room "negotiations" with Democratic politicians to whom they give campaign money and support to.

    The taxpayer of New York has no chance. None. Make your money in New York and Run. Run as soon and as fast as you can.

  203. The city's real estate sector receives tax breaks in the billions and that is partly why they are doing well. If the public sector is such a mess than why do so many rich people want to live here and keep driving up RE prices? Teachers are owed 2 years t 4% retro.

  204. The pressure is already getting to deBlasio. Snowstorms are one thing. The teachers union is a whole new dimension of pressure. No amount of tax increases on the evil 1% can provide the money needed to meet the demands of UFT. Get ready New Yorkers of all invcome levels, you are going to be told to pony up more taxes to pay off the teachers for supporting deBlasio.

  205. Perhaps those commenters in non-union work situations who bemoan unions asking for a pay increase should form a union and ask for better conditions themselves.

  206. The reason why many of us do not want a union job is because we don't want to be the first fired because we were the last hired. I want to keep my job because I am good at it and do my best to be good at it.

  207. I'm sorry, but most of us work in the real world of the private sectors. We have to really negotiate for salaries and benefits with the people who pay us.

    Public unions, give campaign money and time to politicians, who in turn, give them money that they took from someone else - the tax payer.

    If I gave money to my boss in exchange for a raise and it became known, I'd be fired and likely criminally prosecuted.

    Yet, it is perfectly legal, normal, acceptable, that unions and Democratic politicians engage in backdoor deals to extort taxpayers and pay each other off.

  208. Back pay is not my top priority. Would it be nice? Sure. But I really need a raise, for my TDA to go back up, and, perhaps most of all, relief from everyone and their mother thinking they know how to run my classroom and that testing kids into submission is the way to create progress and root out bad teachers.

    I need respect - from my supervisors who are telling me that Danielson is god and that there is only one right way to teach. From Common Core advocates who are telling me, despite the fact that I've been teaching college preparedness and rigorous courses for years, that I need to ask only on thing: how high to jump.

    I need my union, to stop giving away the store. I need respect from the media, who need to find a new punching bag and someplace else to dump every woe that this empire in decline is facing. Respect from free market profiteers (and I know I'll never get this) who don't care about kids, only maximizing profit.

    I just want to be able to teach. I'm tired of being treated like I must be doing something wrong so I need to be babysat. I'm tired of the system being geared toward the bottom while allowing our best and brightest to die on the vine because they don't need help to do the minimum; of reform targeting a handful of bad teachers being extended carte blanche to all teachers. I'm tired of Eva Moskowitz, Bill Gates, and their ilk.

    So Michael Mulgrew, don't trade the stuff that really matters for a big check. Are you - are we - really that dumb?

  209. Teachers, fire fighters and police officers all make much higher salaries in surrounding area than in NYC. Also, the jobs of these public servants are much more difficult than in the relatively tranquil and less densely populated suburbs.

    To add insult to injury, the NYC public servants work years without a contract thanks to politicians who pay lip service to its workers but little else. It's no wonder City employees are leaving for greener pastures or retiring as soon as they can.

  210. Ditto! Exactly. Teaching 22 years and it's still the same old junk curriculum they force on us and they still twirl around us saying, "If only you did it this way..."

  211. "As New York’s 152 municipal unions line up to press Mayor Bill de Blasio for raises and back pay, his administration and the powerful teachers’ union are reaching the final stages of a largely overlooked, drawn-out battle that could prove enormously expensive to the city — potentially putting at risk its ability to balance the budget."

    Why are we trying to balance the budget by nickle-and-diming teachers on back pay?

    Honestly, raising taxes on the wealthiest NYC'ers could balance the budget, too. We'd be in the black faster, too.

    Everyone in NYC invests in this city. Teachers probably put in more time at the job and at home, than other professions. And you spend money you don't necessarily get back to make your class better.

    It's always fun to abuse teachers. They're low-hanging fruit I guess. But if we are really concerned about balancing the budget, why are we diddling around with $3bil from the teachers and another $3bil from nurses? Let's raise the min wage, close corporate loop holes, and raise taxes on the top 1% in this city. Nothing enormous-- 3% maybe. But, we shouldn't have to put up with pension raiding again to "balance the budget" aka pay off your contractors.

  212. The average teacher's salary is $80K and the average teacher's pension is $60K, so pardon the rest of us for not feeling their pain.

  213. Why not raise taxes another 10% on the uber-rich. Who cares if we become Detroit?

  214. I can't do the learning for your kids. If you're so concerned about their performance, take some responsibility and make sure they do what it takes to learn. It's not part of my job to learn things for them. The learning takes place not just in school but at home. Parents who don't value education and think sending their kids to school is like sending them to a factory where they magically come out with an education probably need a little help understanding how teaching works.

  215. We should all be on notice that the "de Blasio Era" is upon us. Let's see how he handles the demands of the public unions--who helped get him elected and who are expecting to collect on their quid pro quo arrangement. Let's all pay attention to this Part 2 of "how to turn NYC into Detroit in 5 easy steps". Part 1 is already over, (in case you missed it) with the ending of "stop and frisk". Get ready for Part 3: driving the wealthy out of the city--and the collapse of tax revenues. In no time, criminals and public unions will be running amok in a bankrupt city.

  216. I'm puzzled by this 3.4 billion issue. Nyc is arguably one of the richest cities in the world. The teacher's are educated and have your child's future interest at hand. I believe in merit pay for educators, but only after they figure out how to get the bloated DOE and redundant state agencies out of the equation. Teacher's aren't the problem.

    The system they work in is!

  217. And if we don't give you the 4 years of back pay you teachers are going to do what? Huh? Exactly...so quiet down and get back to work like the rest of us who get no raises.

  218. How nice. For those of us living in the real world (the private sector), we wouldn't dream of asking for a raise if the business was in total shambles and headed towards bankruptcy.

  219. Unless of course that private sector entity was a large bank. In that case, you always get to privatize gain while socializing loss.

  220. Well, the outcome of the upcoming negotiations should tell the tale for the future of the City. Will Mayor Bill fold like the hapless John Lindsay of bygone years? Or, will he stand up to the union demands like Ed Koch?

    If I were a betting man, I'd put my money on the unions.

    With the winds of a gale of two cities at his back, Mayor Bill will not abandon his base at the 1st confrontation. Much easier to tap into the bank accounts of the $500Ker's whose pockets are primed to be picked once again. Besides, if they don't like it they can all leave as the Governor has already suggested.

    Fasten your seat belts, we're in for a bumpy ride.

  221. It's beyond ridiculous. Everyone has suffered through this recession - no one should expect to receive back-pay at all. They should be happy to keep their jobs and their benefits, and go forward from here. This is one issue that Bloomberg was absolutely correct on.

    The city cannot afford big new expenses as its coffers continue to drain in the continuing economic rut.
    To all city union members: Take some responsibility for helping the city, not just yourselves! Thank your lucky stars you have a job for life with benefits!

  222. What should happen is that all of these deals with increases (other that straigh cost-of-living) should be tied to the tax revenues of the City much as bonuses are at many companies. If municipal workers want to share in the good fortune of the City, they should also share in the bad times.

    Oh, and we need to get rid of this overtime counting for pension (except perhaps career overtime). It's become another way for senior civil servants in some departments to milk the City of out thousands of dollars for working more for a short period.

  223. First the article is not really balanced, so it is not a surprise the comments have such vitriol - according to the article selfish teachers are about to (1) bankrupt the city (2) raise everyone's taxes. but theres so much emotion and not much economic/education reality here.
    (1) union workers are taxpayers to. they pay property taxes, incomes taxes, contribute to medical and retirement.
    (2) to the people who say teachers should leave.....they are. 50% of all new teachers quit in the first five years.
    (3) most teachers are taking a pay cut by being teachers. given their higher levels of education compared to the general population they would make more money in the private sphere. Name another job where a ph.d in chemistry earns 45,000$. they take less money, not because they are saints but for the quality of life issues the job offers. get rid of tenure, you'll have to pay good people a whole lot more.
    (4) education is driven by poverty. NYC is a city with immense disparities in welath. Immigration is an issue. The best NYC schools are some of the best in the country, with high graduation rates. the worst schools are the worst not because of teachers (though not all teachers are wonderful A%2B for sure) but due to the social problems surrounding the kids and their lives. poverty, food security. less poverty = better schools (see the wealthier suburbs - is Oyster Bay school district bad?). good teachers will leave for the suburbs howolling out city schools.

  224. It is important to remember that if it weren't for city workers, those in the trenches that teach our kids, pick up our garbage, keep us alive on the way to the hospital, save us from burning buildings, --you get it, right? -- this great city wouldn't be what it is.
    ALL the city workers that have been working for years without renewed contracts and no raises under a (false?) promise that they would someday receive compensation as per their negotiated contracts need to have that promise fulfilled NOW.
    Are you listening Mr. DiBlasio? This is the middle class you are always talking about.

  225. And this article highlights what will be the downfall and return to bankruptcy for New York City. Instead of being realistic about the difficult economic times our City, State and Nation are experiencing (in general), they simply want it all for their union members.

    All of the duties that a Teacher or municipal worker performs is critical to the success of our city's future and NO-ONE is suggesting that they not be paid fairly for their services.

    I'm work in private industry.....have had minimal pay increases (below cost-of-living), seen my healthcare and other benefits cut back (Pension) or simply eliminated.....and I could be fired with no-one fighting for me to survive. Despite not having a Union cushion to fall back on, I've worked hard, earned an MBA and other degrees and have supported my family through thick and thin.

    I'm afraid to say that Bloomberg had a "business sense" about him and unfortunately I see De Blasio folding in to the Unions because of all he owes them for being elected. Bloomberg owned nothing to no-one.

  226. You can't get blood from a turnip. Assuming that the $1.9 billion additiional revenue is an accurate "guesstimate" that is a $1.4 billion shortfall. Then, the other unions will line up and demand their "fair share" of a non-existent pie. No problem --Obama will direct the Teasury to print additional money and then it will be Chicago, Detroit, etc. The madness MUST stop.

  227. If you know the history of the UFT and its teachers, then you also know, despite the anti-teacher propaganda, that teachers are civic minded and don't want to leave the city destitute (although I doubt that would happen with all the wealth here). If it's really proven that this retroactive increase, would be disastrous for the city, I believe the union will strike a deal in which they will make some sacrifices, but they are not about to be bamboozled and sacrificed themselves. There's a difference.

  228. I'm confused. We read articles about Scandinavian countries that have some of the best educational systems in the world and wish that here in the United States we can get that. But we conveniently forget that teacher's in those countries are treated as professionals and are paid extremely well (relatively speaking). Then the teacher's union in NYC asks for a raise but is ridiculed as a leech on the taxpayers dime. And some of the commentators actually state here that if teacher's don't like the pay that they should leave and get a new job. I don't get it. How do you expect the best, most accomplished, and most motivated people to become our teachers if we don't want to pay them at a rate that is in line with their educational level?

  229. Teachers, treated as professionals they should be, have to be paid 2-3x current wages. However, teachers that we have today aren't necessarily the professionals they should be. It is a closed circle.

    It is doubtful that the government will be able to come up with valid measures of quality in teaching that is based on long-term outcomes. Therefore, we should simply step up to the plate, dramatically raise wages to make teaching one of the most enviable professions, reduce class sizes, and make sure candidates compete fairly for the positions. Such an investment would be far more important to our country's security than anything we do in the military.

  230. $100,000 a year isn't enough? If there was a way to make sure that only the best and brightest taught school there might be an argument. But I have also read in the NYT articles about how impossible it is to fire bad teachers in New York. Yes, there are good teachers, but there are also a lot of bad ones. Don't look on public employees as if they are all Saints, they are a mix of people just like every other profession.

  231. I think what people mean is that we do pay teachers in line with their educational level if you include in “pay” all the other benefits of the job -- extreme job security they get, healthcare, pensions, shorter workdays etc. Teachers are not being paid less than their equivalent in the private sector, never mind that there is no equivalent in the private sector in terms of job security. That is exactly the point – if teachers believe they are overpaid compared to what they get in the private sector, they are free to go get that better-paying job in the private sector they believe exists.

  232. I'm vehemently pro labor but the only way the teachers would be entitled to back pay is if it was so stipulated in a negotiated and signed contract. Mayor de Blasio should state his willingness to negotiate future raises but no back pay. If the Teahcers' union (and their membership) wanted raises back in 2009 then they should have come to terms with the Bloomberg administration at that time.

  233. forget the back pay. he just became mayor. everyone wants to loot the coffers. don't let them.

  234. As a UFT member, I think we should forgo back pay in play of a straight up 10% raise. That leads to much more money for us in the long term, without over burdening the city

    This should be part of the grand bargain to increase the school day, end high stakes testing and end the encroachment of charter schools.

  235. Well that makes a lot of sense, if you are an over-paid and benefited public servant. Don't call it a retro raise, just double or triple the raise for the future. That leaves tax payers in the same position, left holding the bag.

    I hate to tell you, but most employees in the private sector are either at risk of or have lost their jobs during the past extremely severe recession, and/or have not seen pay increases in several years to boot. Your extraordinary job security should more than compensate you for any "vicitimization" you feel for "not getting yours" at the public trough.

    In addition, employees in the private sector need to fund their own retirements in IRAs or 401Ks, not in sweetheart defined benefit pension plans that allow one to retire in their 50s with an extremely high percentage of preretirement income.

    You really need to understand the employment market before you say such outlandish things and make absurd requests. Please, though teaching in NYC is challenging at best, you really can't expect in any way shape or form what you have stated in your comment. It is really other-worldly. Seriously, it is!

  236. Why should the school day be extended? Why should testing be eliminated (or I presume you mean give a test, but it doesn't count)? And why would any thinking person in NYC boroughs want to see the destruction of charter schools?

  237. I love this... "the encroachment of charter schools." What do you mean? Somebody else in the market that happens to be doing a superior job at the same or a better price? Sounds like competition to me, and perhaps this is *exactly* what we need!

  238. The problem is that the teachers are getting shafted while all the other unions are getting their pay raised. I am sure that they don't want to make the city destitute, but they can't continue losing concessions while the other unions are getting theirs.

  239. Maybe it's the unions that are the problem in the first place. Sounds like a bunch of kids crying 'unfair, he got to do it so why not me.' Life isn't fair, that is the number one thing that today's liberals cannot fathom. As parents we try to instill that life isn't fair, but we do raise our children with the same rules. Too bad that doesn't happen with the unions.

    Unions are legalized extortionists. But at least in the private sector they can only bankrupt a company. Public Service Unions are bankrupting our cities, counties, states, and Federal government. As are the extraordinary number of 'administrators' that keep popping up. Fire the administrators, without their retroactive pay for sick days and inflated pensions due to 'over time' booked in their last 3 years. Then hire and pay good teachers, fire the bad. Guess none of this can happen until we eliminate collective barganing at least, or the Public Service Unions entirely.

  240. mary, I have mixed feelings about unions. Unions were originally intended to provide equitable pay and treatment to blue collar workers. Many of the things that you take for granted originated from unions: 5 day work week, overtime pay, benefits, employment protection, etc.

    Now the US Government provides may protection to employees which makes Unions unnecessary, even burdensome, in some situations. However, there still are a need for them in the the retail and fast food sector.

    The reality is that nothing is absolute, there are good and bad people on each side of the fence.

  241. Methinks Mr. de Blasio is in WAY over his head.

  242. The unions aren't getting their 4%, we all know that. They know that.
    Lets see if they strike just to make a point though.

  243. A strike would be illegal under New York's Taylor Law.

  244. The real problem teachers and their unions face is one of perception. Many believe:
    1. Teachers work short hours and get paid a full salary for a partial year's work.
    2. It's next to impossible to remove poor performing teachers.
    3. Pay and benefits vastly exceed what is currently payed in the private sector and teacher unions are always pushing for more, and for the unreasonable.
    4. Because of work rules, good teachers are laid off and the jobs of the most senior are protected for life regardless of job performance.
    5. Teacher unions block meaningful change.
    6. School systems are failing our children.
    7. Teachers want to be treated like professionals but they don't act like professionals.
    If teachers want more support from the general public, teachers and their unions need to address these perceptions.

  245. Perception is often reality.

  246. Board of Directors heads and top shareholders in corporations meet 4-6 times a year and take home some of the highest salaries in the country. They get those salaries regardless how well the company is doing, and often by firing US workers and sending jobs out of the country to exploited workers in the 3rd world. I rarely hear people talking about cutting THEIR pay.

    i daresay that teachers are worth every penny they're paid. Looking to successes in education—those would be outside the US, in countries like Finland, Forbes says this:

    "Does Finland do so well because it's a small, homogenous nation that puts teacher standards and teacher pay high on its agenda? Yes."