Mortgaging Our Future: UFT agrees to cut Pension Benefits

Isn’t it great when politicians dress up a flagrant con job as a “cost-saving” measure?

As if teacher recruitment and retention isn’t bad enough in this city, along comes the cabal of Bloomberg, Klein and Weingarten–who sound like an ambulance-chasing law firm.  They seem to feel that its better to keep the talent we have than to appeal to new, fresh faces to energize the teacher corps.

Today’s Daily News details the last great giveback of the Randi Weingarten era at the United Federation of Teachers.  In exchange for two extra days of summer vacation, new hires will have their pension benefits slashed.  Instead of paying 5% of their salary for 10 years and then dropping to 2%, all new teachers will be depositing 5% into the pension fund for the entirety of their tenure.  Furthermore, new teachers will take longer to become “vested”–10 years as opposed to five–and will not be able to retire with full benefits until they have completed 27 years of service.

Both Mayor Michael Bloomberg and UFT president Weingarten are thrilled with this “compromise.”  Bloomberg stated that “It will save us a lot of money over the long term – not as much right away. But we have to address the long-term problems now.” Weingarten was even more optimistic, calling it a “win for everyone.”

Really Randi?  Is it a win for New York City schoolchildren in the future who, because of these backslides in protection, do not have quality teachers who stay for any length of time?  Is it a win for prospective teachers who wish they could teach in our great city, yet are barred by a pension tier that treats newer hires as second-class employees?  Or is it more a win for you, so you can keep in the good graces of Ayatollah Bloomberg and his bean-counter clerics?

Speaking of the dwarf-in-chief, Michael Bloomberg has some nerve calling this a cost-saving measure.  He doesn’t see the long-term social costs in his policies, which lead to the very financial losses he’s trying to avoid.  If teachers cannot be retained or hired, staff are left undermanned and with inadequate training.  This, in turn, leads to ill-prepared children, regardless of what the Albany “cooked” tests have to say.  As they enter the workforce, these students will not be entering the fields that generate more income or business for the city.  Rather, many will enter the very same civil government positions that are the “cost cutting” in the first place.

This, of course, is an exaggerated scenario.  Yet it seems that for the sake of the balance sheet, we are mortgaging the strength of our teacher corps and the well-being of our students.  I really don’t care about two extra days–my principal will probably find a workshop to occupy that time, anyway.  What concerns me is the sacrificing of today’s teachers without thought of its consequence.  I’d rather have well-trained, knowledgeable teachers that can help students progress over a long period of time than two measly days. 

It is downright sickening that this has been crafted as a “win-win”, when there are clear losers.

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