VOL. XXXXII, NO. 11 MAY 16, 2005



By PCT President Morty Rosenfeld

    After an agonizingly protracted negotiations, the PCT and the District have come to terms for a new contract to succeed the one which expires on June 30. The membership will meet to discuss the agreement and vote on its ratification on June 8 in the auditorium of the Kennedy High School.

    While the deal that was finally reached is a good one, the difficulties we had with several of the items makes one wonder what it will be like to do a full negotiations with this board as seems likely to happen next year. Iíll have more to say about this at our meeting on June 8.

    Meanwhile, while our members in the schools are relieved, our colleagues in the Plainview Public Library are having a very hard time arriving at a successor agreement to their current one which expires on June 30. This small group of educated professionals, almost all women, work in an anti-union environment ( See my latest TeacherTalk column at pobct.org) for wages worse than the poorest paying school district on Long Island. The Library, however, is not content with their bad conditions. It has dug in its heels on a demand for an increase in the librariansí contribution to the cost of health insurance, an increase which if accepted would seriously erode the unsatisfactory salary increase they are being offered.

    I suspect, however, that the Library has a surprise in store. While they havenít been PCT members for that long, our Plainview Library Association members have very quickly absorbed the PCT determination to stand up for ourselves and not accept poor conditions. Faced with an obdurate employer, they are increasingly determined to do whatever may be necessary to improve their conditions. Our members in the schools may soon be called upon to help them.


    With the collaborative model becoming increasingly popular in the district, and with more and more classroom teachers paired up with special ed teachers who sometimes donít feel like full partners, the officers of the PCT asked the collaborative special ed teachers to offer their view of the program.

Dear Regular Education Teacher,

    I have been assigned to work with you in the collaborative program. I wonít lie to you. I am apprehensive about it. We are both dedicated and diligent professionals and we have worked in the same building for some time. This teaching model, however, is different than anything weíve done before. For years, we have each run our own shows. Now we are being asked to share what has long been our individual domain and responsibility and teach together to meet the needs of an extremely diversified student population.

    Here are some of my concerns. Iím not sure how I can best contribute to the class without stepping on your toes. I would like to do more than remind children to write in their agendas. I realize it is distracting to the class when I help struggling students by whispering to them. I know I can do more than take notes for the class. If I pull students out of class to re-teach a concept, they are embarrassed in front of their peers. One student this week told me that I am not the real teacher but only the assistant teacher.

    I would like to be more of an equal partner. I would enjoy going to conferences together to learn more about collaborating. It would be great to see a truly effective model of an inclusion program on our grade level. Thereís nothing like learning from someone who has already walked in our shoes. If my name is on the report card along side yours, it sends the message that I, too, teach the class. I would appreciate a place to sit and leave materials that doesnít involve wedging my body into a student desk. (Those half moon tables are great for working with groups within a classroom.) Please make sure I get a few moments to introduce myself at Back to School Night. When it comes to planning for the week, please include me in the process before the plans are finalized. This way, any changes that we agree on can be made without undoing previous plans.

    Since we are co-teaching, I would like to alleviate some of your burden. I realize that having struggling learners in your class makes your job more demanding. Perhaps we should discuss what our personal strengths and weaknesses are, and, together, decide what our individual class roles and responsibilities should be.

    Change is frequently difficult. We both need to go into this with an open mind. We need to treat it as a fresh opportunity to try something new, to challenge ourselves and to provide the very best education for all of the students we service.


Your Collaborative Teacher


    Those PCT members planning to retire in June should hold off making definitive plans for sheltering their payment for accumulated sick leave. The PCT has been talking to the District about introducing a new investment vehicle that would permit June retirees to shelter most, if not all, of the money they will be receiving.

    Details of the plan should be available in a few weeks. Should it not be possible to implement, retirees will still have time to file with the business office for any "catch-up" rights they may have under their 403b plan.


    Teachers leaving the District in June either as a result of retirement, resignation or the end of a permanent substitute assignment who have any accumulated sick leave that they would otherwise lose are asked to donate up to 5 days to the PCT Sick Leave Bank. This can be done by writing a letter to Assistant Superintendent for Personnel Arthur Jonas informing him that you wish to donate 5 days to the PCT Sick Leave Bank.


    A federal bankruptcy judge, in a decision that will probably mark a turning point in labor history in the United States, has ruled that United Airlines can default on its employee pensions, thereby turning over their pension liability to the federal agency that insures private sector employee pensions. Any United employees who expected to receive retirement benefits in excess of approximately $45,000 per year are in for devastating benefit reductions. The business pages of the newspapers have been filled with predictions that the other airlines, most of which are in serious trouble, are bound to follow suit. We havenít heard anything about the criminal failure of Unitedís board and CEO to fund their pension system as they were legally obligated to do.

    Almost simultaneously, the bond ratings of Ford and General Motors were reduced to "junk" status. The talking heads on the Sunday current affairs programs were quick to suggest that the United Auto Workers would have to make concessions in their next round of negotiations with the auto giants. After all, people like former GE CEO Jack Welch said, the cost of employee health insurance per unit of production is higher than the cost of the steel in the car. Mr. Welch, who retired from GE with a golden parachute that is the envy of every corporate CEO, said not one word about how our foreign competitors in the automobile industry are located in countries with national health systems, countries in which everyone has the right and access to affordable healthcare. Why are we just about the only industrial democracy without a national health system?

    The two stories are but the latest examples of the assault on working families in the United States, an assault that will continue until it becomes politically possible to discuss addressing the needs of working people in our country.


    The Officers of the PCT presented their proposed budget for the fiscal year beginning September 1, 2005. The budget maintains all existing union programs, provides the same increase we just negotiated with the district for most salaries and stipends and accounts for known increases to maintain our union office operation.

    SRC Reps have copies of the proposed budget and have been encouraged to share them with the membership. Questions about the proposed budget should be addressed to PCT President Morty Rosenfeld at the PCT Office.

    The PCT Executive Board will be asked to adopt the proposed budget at their meeting on June 7.


    The PCT is increasingly relying on e-mail for communication among its leaders and with its members. To get the most out of this powerful communication tool, we must have a current e-mail address for every PCT member. If you have changed your address, or if you have recently gotten e-mail service for the first time, please notify the PCT Office by sending an e-mail to office@pobct.org. You will know that we need your address if you have not been receiving e-mail notification of updates to our webpage or other union communications.







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