New York Mayor wants to cut 6,000 teachers despite $3.2 billion budget surplus... New York City teachers union vows 'Wisconsin' protest this Thursday

In the continued attack on public education and teachers unions New York City, billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg released news of his proposed budget in which includes a cut of five percent of all public school teachers: 4,278 (current) teachers and 1,500 through "attrition." In response the United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew responded with the following statement: "Same smoke, same mirrors, same attempt to blame others for his decision to lay off thousands of teachers, despite increased state aid, hundreds of millions in new revenues and a surplus that has grown to more than $3.2 billion."

In addition to stating that the union intends to fight these proposed cuts, the union has already taken to the streets. Several thousand UFT members, parents and students came out on May 5, 2011 at four simultaneous rallies across the city to say "No to teacher layoffs and child care cuts". In a multi-front fight, the Union is using public relations, coalition building, direct action and alternative plans of action against any cuts of educational services for the children of New York City. Included in the budgets cuts was a proposal to eliminate 16,000 child care slots to which Brooklyn Borough Representative Howie Schoor asked the crowd at one of the city wide rallies “How do you spell incompetence?” hundreds thundered in response: “DOE!”

The mayor retreated on that threat in his budget proposal the next day.

After the latest announcement of cuts by Bloomberg, the union announced more major protests, to be held on Thursday, May 12, 2011. The union is calling for a "Madison" in New York City.

Below is a UFT press release on the plan to propose an alternative budget that saves jobs and serves by cutting waste and big bank giveaways.

UFT joins May 12 Coalition partners in proposing a "people's budget", by Michael Hirsch | published May 4, 2011,

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz address the crowd during the May 5 protests against New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's proposal to cut 6,000 teacher positions from the city's schools despite the fact that New York City has a budget surplus of $3.2 billion dollars.Anticipating the mayor’s austerity executive budget that if approved would slash education and social services while leaving the wealth of city banks, corporations and rich New Yorkers untouched, the UFT joined progressive City Council members and a coalition of unions, community groups and nonprofit service providers at City Hall on May 4 to release an alternative “people’s budget.”

Watch video of the event >>

The alternative budget plan, supporters say, would raise needed capital, save jobs and services, and restore equity to the tax system.

“We want the economy to work for everybody, not just a few,” said UFT President Michael Mulgrew. “You are seeing the real community of New York City coming out and saying enough is enough.”

The event was the kickoff to a week’s worth of activities culminating in a major mobilization in the Wall Street area on Thursday, May 12.

The budget report, “Pay Back Time: $1.5 Billion Ways to Save our City’s Budget and Make the Big Banks Pay their Fair Share,” which was produced by the May 12 Coalition, provides concrete alternatives to the worst proposed cuts.

The report offers these alternatives to recoup $1.5 billion in savings:

Ending bank subsidies while demanding repayment of unearned and excess subsidies;

Ensuring a “fair-share” tax system and eliminating tax loopholes for millionaires, hedge funds and private equity firms;

Demanding that the city’s biggest banks stop harmful practices that cost the city money; and

Paring down contracts with the city’s “Big Six” banks — J.P Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley — by 20 percent at a time when other contractors and agencies are facing similar reductions.

Joining Mulgrew was Tammie Miller, the UFT Family Child Care Providers chapter chair, who said the mayor’s decision to eliminate child care subsidies for 16,500 low-income children would be a disaster for working families.

“Bloomberg is sticking up for his rich friends without caring about the working class of the city and the children of the working class,” Miller said.

Mary Brosnahan, executive director of the Coalition for the Homeless, added that “the big banks that wrecked our economy are back making billions in profits and lavish bonuses. Now, Bloomberg has a choice: ask Wall Street bankers to contribute their fair share to fixing the city instead of enacting devastating cuts to working families.”

Information on the May 12 Coalition’s planned week of activities is available on the group’s website

Following an announcement by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg that he intends to lay off nearly five percent of New York City's teachers in order to head off what he claims is a budget problem, the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) has vowed to make a "Wisconsin" sized protest on Thursday, May 12, against the cuts.

Michael Mulgrew (above right) President of the United Federation of Teachers has announced that the union will organize a "Wisconsin" sized protest against the plans by Mayor Michael Bloomberg (above left) to cut as many as 6,000 teachers and teacher positions from the city's public schools. New York Daily News photo.The Bloomberg threat was initially reported in the press, including The New York Times on Saturday, May 7. The reports were that Bloomberg had released a $65.7 billion city budget on Friday (May 6) that calls for cutting 6,100 teacher jobs — including 2000 through "attrition." In New York City, as contrasted with Chicago, the city budget includes all city services, including education.

On that day, UFT President Michael Mulgrew announced that the protests would be held. Mulgrew noted that New York City, unlike Chicago and many other cities, does not have a budget deficit this year. New York wants to cut teachers anyway, based on what might happen in the future.


UFT vows 'Wisconsin' protest over teacher cuts, By SUSAN EDELMAN, Last Updated: 4:31 PM, May 7, 2011, Posted: 4:14 PM, May 7, 2011

The head of the city teachers’ union declared war today on Mayor Bloomberg’s plan to layoff 4,100 teachers – and angrily vowed a massive Wisconsin-style protest this Thursday as an opening salvo.

"Mr. Mayor, it’s not going to happen, and enough is enough!" shouted Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers, as he whipped up a roaring crowd at the UFT’s spring conference in Midtown.

A ballroom-full of educators rose to their feet, clapping and chanting, "Enough is Enough."

Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott, whom Bloomberg appointed last month after firing Cathie Black, remained seated on the dais and did not clap at Mulgrew’s remarks, though minutes earlier the two shook hands and embraced. Walcott was warmly applauded by the teachers, telling them, "I think the world of you."

But they gave a standing ovation to a surprise guest, Wisconsin State Sen. Jon Erpenbach, who led 13 fellow lawmakers into hiding out of state to block Gov. Scott Walker’s legislation to revoke union bargaining rights.

The UFT and other city unions plan to draw tens of thousands to a May 12 march from City Hall and other sites to Wall Street to demand that Bloomberg make big banks rescued by the bailout pay more to prevent cuts for education and other city services.

Bloomberg unveiled a $65.7 billion city budget Friday that calls for cutting 6,100 teacher jobs, including 2000 through attrition.

"It’s a political game," Mulgrew charged. He said the rally will include parents, students, clergy and others in a show of defiance. "We will not stand by and accept this any more."

Mulgrew hammered Bloomberg for refusing to tap $270 million from a "$3.2 billion surplus" to save teacher jobs.

Walcott said later the surplus is $2 billion, and the mayor tapped savings to "stave off even deeper cuts." He said some money must be held for "bigger holes" next year and beyond.


Union chief girds to fight teacher cuts. New York Daily News. May 8, 2011.

Blasting Mayor Bloomberg's threat to cut 6,100 city teachers, union President Michael Mulgrew started gearing up for a battle Saturday.

Mulgrew, who addressed loyal union troops at a spring conference, vowed to take the fight over pink slips to the city streets.

"I believe that these six weeks will be one of the turning points in New York City," he said. "Mr. Mayor, it's not going to happen and enough is enough. ... We're not going to let him harm our children anymore."

The Bloomberg administration has warned of teacher layoffs - the first since the 1970s financial crisis - for more than a year.

The mayor has used the threat to pressure Albany for changes to the so-called "last in, first out" law protecting the most experienced teachers from pink slips - leading critics to claim the layoff numbers are inflated for a political fight.

The budget cuts, which include 4,100 teachers layoffs and a reduction of 2,000 more through resignations and retirements, were announced Friday, kicking off a new round of harsh words from the administration's critics.

Mulgrew continued to accuse the mayor of playing "political games," pointing to the city's $3.2 billion surplus in this year's budget.

"It's pretty simple to me - you take the money out of the surplus. And that money is ours. It belongs to the people of New York City," he said yesterday.

Speaking to the union conference, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio pledged to join teachers in fighting the mayor's budget plans. "The last thing we should do is lay off teachers in the city," he said, noting nothing was "more important" than keeping class size down and teachers at work.

Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott acknowledged yesterday he had previously underestimated the effect of layoffs on city class sizes.

On average, classes will add two more students, he said. As recently as three weeks ago, his estimate was just 1 to 1.5 students - a change he attributed to "looking at different models."

Walcott, however, rejected Mulgrew's suggested solutions for fixing the deficit, saying the mayor had already used extra city funds to fill the gap created by state and federal budget cuts.

"If the mayor did not put up those $2 billion, we would be looking at deeper cuts in education, so we have to be clear the mayor has been very committed to education," he said.


May 9, 2011 at 1:19 AM

By: John Kugler

Thousands denounce teacher layoffs and child care cuts

Thousands turn out at four rallies on May 5 to denounce teacher layoffs and child care cuts

published May 5, 2011

In an impressive display of unity and grassroots outrage, several thousand UFT members, parents and students came out on May 5 at four simultaneous rallies across the city to say no to teacher layoffs and child care cuts.

Calling into question what the mayor considers his greatest legacy, the protesters wore matching black T-shirts emblazoned with the slogan, “The education mayor? REALLY?”

At each rally, local City Council members, borough presidents and citywide elected officials stood with UFT and parent leaders to call on the mayor to do the right thing.

“It’s about choices,” said UFT President Michael Mulgrew at the Manhattan rally. “You’ve got to protect the kids.”

The rallies came on the eve of the release of Mayor Bloomberg’s executive budget, which is expected to call for as many as 4,600 teacher layoffs and the elimination of 16,500 subsidized child care slots.

In Manhattan, hundreds of educators and parents listened as speaker after speaker – including Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer and City Council Education Committee Chair Robert Jackson – decried the mayor’s proposed cuts.

“The rally today was the genesis of the battle that is going to rage for two months and is unstoppable,” said Dennis Gault, the chapter leader at PS 19 in lower Manhattan.

In the Bronx, outside the Bronx County Supreme Court building, music blared and horns from passing cars honked in support of the large crowd of protesters.

Carlos Lopez, the chapter leader at PS 30 in Mott Haven and a reverend at the Latino Pastoral Action Center, said Bloomberg’s rhetoric did not match the reality. “He says he is the education mayor who will bring education reform, but we hear day in and day out scare tactics about layoffs, and most teachers laid off will be in the South Bronx. When we hurt teachers, we hurt children.”

The threatened layoffs hit close to home for Jonathan Cummings, a senior at the Academy for Scholarship and Entrepreneurship. “My teachers taught me so many things, not just academics, so I can’t imagine my teachers not teaching any more, not sharing their experiences with other students,” he said.

In Brooklyn, UFT members filled the steps leading from the plaza to Brooklyn Borough Hall as local elected officials, a parent leader, a high school student and a family child care provider voiced their outrage at the mayor’s misplaced priorities.

When Brooklyn Borough Representative Howie Schoor asked the crowd “How do you spell incompetence?” hundreds thundered in response: “DOE!”

Of the mayor’s plan to eliminate 16,500 child care slots, Schoor said, “That’s 16,500 kids with nowhere to go.”

(The mayor retreated on that threat in his budget proposal the next day.)

On Staten Island, a large crowd assembled outside Staten Island Borough Hall in a spirited rally that highlighted the plight of teachers serving in the Absent Teacher Reserve.

Dan Singleton, an ATR working at PS 22 who lost his teaching position at PS 57, skewered the New York Post and the other city tabloids for maligning ATRs.

“I didn’t even know what an ATR was until I became one when my school lost 12 teachers,” Singleton said. “The newspapers are painting a false picture of who we are. I teach fifth grade every single day. I have 25 kids every single day. I am under the same pressures that other teachers are under every single day.”

Staten Island District 31 Representative Sean Rotkowitz noted that three-quarters of the ATRs in Staten Island are working in full-time programs.

The entire school community was represented among the rally speakers on Staten Island.

Michele Faljean, the president of Staten Island Federation of PTAs, challenged the mayor: “We parents will not roll over when it comes to our children. We would be happy to meet the mayor at any time to discuss alternatives to laying off teachers.”

Aurelia Curtis, the principal at Curtis HS, also spoke at the rally in support of her teachers.

“The greatest resource that any principal has is not computers, books or any methodology. It’s the teachers who walk through the doors every day. I think the mayor and Chancellor Walcott know that, but whether they want to admit that is another question.”

Melody Messina, a third-year teacher at the Staten Island School for Civic Leadership, said she and her colleagues were worried about the jobs of the many untenured teachers at her school, which is in its second year.

“We’ve worked hard to build a sense of community. We’re afraid that we’ll lose our high-quality staff and good atmosphere,” she said. “If you go to the DOE’s website, it says ‘Children First.’ These layoffs are not putting our children first.”

Alex Tiller, her colleague, jumped in. “If the millionaire’s tax were extended, we wouldn’t be put in this situation, with education put in danger.”

Dolores Fasenella, a special education teacher at IS 27, summed up the view of many of the protesters throughout the city.

“Education and politics don’t mix,” she said. “I think the mayor’s cuts are about politics.”

“And breaking the union’s back,” interjected her colleague, Joanne Guadagno.

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