THE PLEDGE IS THE OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF
THE PLAINVIEW-OLD BETHPAGE CONGRESS OF TEACHERS
Volume XXXVI, No. 1 September 8, 1998
THE YEAR AHEAD
By Morty Rosenfeld
As we will not have any district-wide opening day ceremonies this year, allow me to take this opportunity to welcome you back for what promises to be an eventful year in the life of our union. I trust that you have had a wonderful vacation and that you are recharged for the tasks that lie ahead this year. There certainly will be enough of them.
With the District growing, the time will shortly be at hand for the District to decide how it will accommodate the coming bulge in enrollment. While there is consensus that an addition of some 20 classrooms will have to be built on to the high school, a more difficult choice faces us at the elementary level. Do we build additions on to the Old Bethpage and Parkway Schools, thereby adding classroom space without disturbing the current districting plan, or do we open one of our moth-balled buildings and redistrict our elementary students and staff? At the middle school level, it appears to be clear that there will need to be some balancing of student populations. Once a plan is adopted, it will be necessary to pass a bond issue to raise the money necessary for the needed construction. The PCT will have to work to ensure that our needs are met in whatever plan finally emerges. Assuming that a satisfactory plan is developed, we will have to bring our political skills to bear to get a bond referendum passed.
Speaking of politics, one of our highest priorities this election year must be to exert the maximum effort to defeat Senator Alfonse D'Amato. D'Amato's vicious attacks on teachers and public education cannot be permitted to prevail, especially when they are a smokescreen for his failure to support public education and other socially progressive programs.
We will also need to proactively address the subversion of the evaluation process that occurred last year and which almost brought us to the point of a strike. I will be speaking to the Executive Board at their first meeting in September on a number of initiatives I believe we must take if we are to avoid a recurrence of last year's events.
This will also be a negotiating year for all of our units. In the last round of negotiations, due in large measure to the moderating influence of Interim Superintendent Chuck Ebetino, the PCT and the Board were able to break the cycle of confrontational negotiations and arrive, for the first time, at a fair contract prior to the expiration of the old one. The challenge this year will be to see if we have broken the old pattern of our negotiations or whether the last round was simply an aberration.
These are but a few of the issues that loom large this year. I look forward to working with you on them, knowing that with the solidarity we have built, our accomplishments can only be limited by our imaginations.
I wish you a rewarding new school year.
The following article has been adapted from a longer piece currently on the PCT Web Page.
Delegates to the 1998 Representative Assembly of the National Education Association (NEA) resoundingly defeated the Principles of Unity, a document negotiated with the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) which, if ratified, would have begun the process of merging the two great teacher unions into the largest labor organization in the country. With the leadership of the NEA only able to muster 42 percent support for merger in a referendum requiring a two-thirds vote, a serious question arises as to whether there is any hope of reaching the goal of one union speaking for all education employees.
Although the Representative Assembly ultimately passed a resolution calling for continuing unity talks with the AFT, there is little evidence that further discussion will produce an agreement acceptable to delegates to the next convention. As one listened to the two hours of debate on the Principles of Unity, one heard speaker after speaker assert that they were not opposed to a merger but simply against the existing merger document which they believed left the merged organization looking more like the AFT, the smaller of the two unions. Yet, an analysis of their objections to the Principles of Unity suggests that they are probably unprepared to accept anything short of annexation of the AFT.
Defeat of the merger is attributable to four broad factors. Many delegates opposed membership in the AFL/CIO, holding an essentially elitist view that the concerns of other working people are foreign to the values of an education organization. Some balked at the proposed governance structure of the new organization which had more elected officers, nothing like the current NEA Executive Board and a modified secret ballot for elections. Perhaps most of those who opposed the merger did so out of fear of change. Time and again, one heard speakers talk about changes to their cherished NEA. Added to these factors was the almost complete failure of NEA leadership to attempt to sell the Principles of Unity so that it is no wonder that the proposed merger was resoundingly defeated. It would also be surprising if it were to happen in the near future.
The remaining hope for merger lies with the reality that some state organizations have already merged, and some are about to. It may, in fact, be that if there is to be a national merger, it will have to be built from the ground up. If and when the time comes when there are so many state mergers that members are unwilling and unable to finance two national organizations, it may become more fear provoking not to merge.
WEB PAGE ENDS FIRST YEAR
August saw the end of the first full year that the PCT Web Page was online. With over 2800 hits in its first year of operation, our web page is growing in readership each month and is proving itself to be a very cost effective vehicle for communicating with the school community.
This year we will gradually be adding new features. For example, there will be forums in which readers can post thoughts and opinions on school related topics of interest. There will also be chat sessions, some public, with others confined to PCT members. These and other features should continue the growth of our readership.
NEW OPTICAL BENEFIT
We are pleased to announce a significant improvement in our optical benefit. The PCT has entered into a relationship with General Vision Services which will allow PCT members and their immediate families to stretch the purchasing power of your $75.00 benefit (every 2 years).
With a Vision Care Voucher obtained from the PCT Office, members can obtain an eye exam and glasses or contact lenses worth over $300 if purchased elsewhere. There is also a substantial discount on the purchase of hearing aids. Conveniently located throughout the tri-state area and Florida, General Vision Services is a union shop with a reputation for quality and service.
While you may continue to utilize your optical benefit at a provider of your choice, utilizing your benefit through this new PCT program can save you substantial money. Watch your mailbox for more details on this new membership program.
LEAVE POLICY REVIEW
The PCT often receives calls from members concerning the leave policy of the District. From time to time, we publish this summary of the most frequently referenced sections. Members may wish to cut it out and save it for future reference.
There are many reasons for being absent from work, but before you are absent, it is important to be aware of the district's absence and leave policies.
Each teacher accrues 14 days per year according to a schedule agreed to in our contact. If you are absent due to illness for more than 5 consecutive days, you will be asked for a doctor's note. Days not used each year accumulate to a maximum of 400. If you have used all your accumulated days and are still ill, you may borrow up to 28 days from the district. These days are paid back at the end of each subsequent year except that no one should begin a year with less than 3 days accumulated. Furthermore, tenured teachers who are still ill may be granted days from the PCT Sick-Leave Bank. These days are not paid back.
You are entitled to use your accumulated days for other reasons beside illness such as for moving, house closing, religious holiday, graduation of spouse or child, or court appearance.
You are entitled to use your accumulated days for illness in your immediate family. (Spouse, children, parents, siblings) or relations (grandparents, in-laws.) You will need a doctor's note for these absences.
You are entitled to use 2 days per year for personal reasons not covered elsewhere in the leave policy. If these days are Monday or Friday or before or after vacation, you must give a reason and be approved by the Superintendent of Schools.
There are provisions for being absent due to death in your family. You may be absent 5 consecutive days WITHOUT CHARGE for death of a spouse, child, parent or sibling. THESE DAYS MUST BE USED CONTIGUOUS TO THE DEATH. You may also be absent for 3 UNCHARGED days for death of grandparents or in-laws, also contiguous.
For many of the above absences, it is necessary to notify your immediate supervisor in writing prior to absence. If you have any questions, call the PCT before a problem arises.
TAX SHELTERED ANNUITIES (403B)
A reminder to members that September 15th is the deadline for starting or changing tax sheltered annuities. Changes made by the 15th will take effect October 1st. The next opportunity to start or change will be January 15th.
We were saddened to learn this summer of the passing of Carol Reccia after a long battle with cancer. Carol had a distinguished and unusual career in POB. Coming to POB in the 70's, Carol belonged to a generation of teachers who were victimized by the decline of student populations at the time. Many left the profession, never to return. Carol, however, carved a different career path for herself. In love with teaching and dedicated to working with the youth of our community, she repeatedly retrained to get herself certified in areas in which there were jobs. Thus, she taught English at POB Middle School, elementary at Parkway and helped to develop and taught the ISLC program at Plainview High. To whatever assignment she had, she brought her keen intelligence, unbounded enthusiasm and an infectious warmth. She will be sadly missed.
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