THE PCT PLEDGE IS THE OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF
THE PLAINVIEW-OLD BETHPAGE CONGRESS OF TEACHERS
VOL. XXXXII, NO. 9 MARCH 16, 2005
LETíS BE ALITTLE CIRCUMSPECT
President Morty Rosenfeld
At the March meeting of the PCT Executive Board and at one of our SRC training sessions, I spoke at some length about a matter of grave concern to me, a matter which I believe you need to be concerned about as well. Simply put, in recent times we have had a couple of incidents where members have taken it upon themselves to speak negatively about colleagues to members of the administration, in both cases contributing to PCT members losing their jobs. I donít really understand what possesses a person to take it upon himself to attempt to deprive another of her ability to earn a living, but I do know that in the culture of the PCT and most of the working world, it is a contemptible behavior, one which should it take hold will surely destroy all that the PCT has meant to generations of its members. I also know that working to prevent another from earning a living is every bit as much an act of violence as rendering someone physically incapable of going to work. Union people have always had a name for those who conspire with management against their fellow workers. They call them "Rats."
No one has given any member of the PCT the right or power to decide who gets to work in Plainview-Old Bethpage and who must go. While many of us like to call ourselves professionals, the fact of the matter is that only the registered nurses in our ranks are recognized by the State of New York as such. Almost every year, a bill is introduced in the state legislature that would make teaching a licensed profession, like nursing, medicine and law. Each year, that bill fails because the powers that be donít want teachers deciding who enters their profession and what the standards of the practice of teaching should be the way real professionals do. Were we a profession, though, we would have a mechanism for those decisions. It wouldnít be,"the war of each against all."
I call upon each member of the PCT to help the Officers and I insure that a culture of solidarity endures in our union -that we be a little circumspect about how we treat each other and talk about each other - that each of us recognizes that our fate as workers is inextricably bound to our bonds of respect for and loyalty to our PCT brothers and sisters. That doesnít mean we have to like them all. That doesnít mean that some of them may offend us from time to time. That doesnít mean that some of them will not profoundly annoy us. It does mean, however, that solidarity is more than just a word to us. Itís a way of life.
EXECUTIVE BOARD ACTS ONSOCIAL SECURITY
The PCT Executive Board has voted to oppose the Bush administrationís plan to create personal investment accounts in the Social Security System. Speakers on the motion drew attention to how the Bush plan does nothing to ameliorate the looming financial threat to the system but, in fact, exacerbates the problem by taking billions of dollars in Social Security taxes and allowing workers to invest them in private accounts.
The officers of the PCT are planning an email campaign on this issue after the spring break. Watch the Pledge and the PCT WebPage (pobct.org) for details.
RETIREE HEALTHPETITION CIRCULATING
SRC Reps will be circulating a petition initiated by the Retiree Unit of the PCT and introduced to the Board by the unitís president, Joe Marcal. The petition is an attempt to change the way in which the Empire Plan deals with married retirees who must pay for family coverage costing more than twice as much as two individual policies even though they are covering only two people. The petition seeks to have the state create a couples coverage category to remedy this injustice.
These petitions will be sent to key New York legislators whom Joe and other retirees have been lobbying on this issue for some time.
Members are asked to make the job of the SRC Reps as easy as possible and circulate the petition as expeditiously as possible.
EXCESS MAJORMEDICAL CHANGES
Recent changes in the Empire medical plan have caused the Welfare Fund to make corresponding changes in the Excess Major Medical benefit. Effective January 1, 2005, the new Empire deductible of $350 will be reimbursed by the Excess Major Medical plan when out of pocket expenditures ( other than co-payments) reach $1650 in a benefit year.
CLERICAL SICK LEAVE BANK
Recently, because of an unusual amount of sickness in our Teacher Unit, members were obliged to contribute a sick day to replenish the bank. Unfortunately, recent circumstances necessitate doing the same thing in our Clerical Unit. The district will shortly be deducting a sick day from all members who never contributed to the bank and an additional day from every member of the unit.
The sick leave banks of both PCT units are best understood as a protection for tenured/permanent members against serious illness that exhausts their sick leave and 28 day extended leave entitlement. Each bank is overseen by member trustees elected by the PCT Executive Board who must approve of each application for days. Before an application for days is granted, the trustees request and receive a medical statement. If they are still in doubt about the request, they have asked the PCT to hire a physician to provide an independent review.
SCHOOL CALENDAR 2005-06
The Board of Education has adopted an academic calendar for next year that includes the contractual 180 days of instruction plus a superintendentís conference day. The adopted calendar also includes one snow day. What the Board has yet to decide is what happens if we are obliged to close school more than one day. Until they do so, members are advised to be extremely cautious about the spring vacation plans.
BUSH ADMINISTRATION THREATENS EMPLOYEE RIGHTS IN DOD SCHOOLS
The Department of Defense and Office of Personnel Management have proposed a new personnel system for civilian workers that would weaken or eliminate virtually all employee rights and protections, especially in the areas of collective bargaining and due-process appeals. Their plan, the so-called National Security Personnel System (NSPS), will soon be presented to Congress for final approval.
What sort of personnel system does NSPS propose to create? One in which management is granted unlimited power. One in which a neutral body to hear appeals of adverse personnel actions is replaced by a board appointed by and answerable to only management. One in which collective bargaining agreements can be altered or discarded unilaterally by management at any time and for any reason. In short, NSPS is not a personnel system at all but an attempt to outlaw workersí rights and protections for hundreds of thousands of Department of Defense employees,including over 8,000 educators in DOD schools who are represented by the Federal Education Association and NEA.
NSPS represents the greatest threat to employeesí rights in our lifetimes. It is a system that has long been dreamed of by the far right and, if allowed to go forward, will ultimately be spread to the entire federal government Ė it is not hard to imagine state and local governments, and even the private sector, following closely behind.
The PCT Executive Board has voted to strenuously oppose this attack on union rights. You can help our colleagues in the Federal Education Association, the NEA union representing teachers in the Department of Defense Schools by going online to the following URL where you will find a link to the NEA Legislative Action where sample letters to be sent to Congresspeople and U. S. senators can be found. Please take a few minutes to help.
NEA/NEW YORK-NYSUTMERGER UPDATE
Tension mounts as we enter the final four weeks of the campaign to pass the Principle of Merger negotiated between NEA/New York and New York State United Teacher (NYSUT). As of this writing, it appears that if all those who have said they will support the merger get to the convention and vote, the merger should be ratified by more than the two-thirds vote it takes to pass it. Like many elections, turnout is going to decide it. The movement towards merger got a very significant boost recently when the leaders of a number of Educational Support Professional locals satisfied their concerns about the merger and agreed to publically support it. The only significant opposition to the merger is from the Buffalo Teachers Federation and some of the NEA/New York retiree leaders who oppose any change. They seem to be willing to fight the old union against union battles while the opponents of public education implement their plan to dismantle public education. The problem is that between them they will be sending over 100 delegates to the convention.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
Far too many children today are sullen, unfriendly, distant, preoccupied, and even unpleasant. They whine, nag, throw tantrums, and demand constant attention from their parents, who are spread too thin to spend enough time with them. Feeling guilty and anxious, the parents in turn soothe their kids with unhealthy snacks, faddish clothing, toys, and media. Many kids, even very young ones, treat their parents with contempt, rolling their eyes and speaking rudely. From The Epidemic by Robert Shaw, M.D.