The Red Riding Hood Syndrome
(OR Watch out for the wolf in the nightgown!)
As a default position, it sounds fairly benign. Say No to the contract and send the leadership back to try to do better. What can we lose?
Coming from those activists who used to call for a strike every time talks hit a snag, it even sounds like a safe, reasonable middle-of-the-road stance.
Don’t let them fool you. It’s a trap to get us right where they wanted us in the first place. (I can just picture them sitting around one September evening wondering why they’ve attracted so few supporters. Suddenly a light bulb goes on. “I know,” beams one of their brightest. “We’re scaring people with all this strike talk. We sound too militant. Let’s just advocate a No vote. Then they can’t blame us if we end up on strike. And we can blame the union leadership.”)
The idea that voting No will bring the city back to the table eager to appease an angry membership with a better deal is the most dangerous of all the deceits about this proposed contract currently being circulated. It’s a wolf in Grandma’s nightie, and members should not be taken in by its harmless appearance.
Let’s be real. What’s our leverage after Nov. 8? Instead of sweetening the pot, isn’t it much more likely that Bloomberg, after winning the election by a landslide, would just get tougher with us? Talk about having nothing to lose, he’s the one in that position then! The only thing he’s left to worry about is those out-year budget deficits.
And this time we wouldn’t even have the state to fall back on. Their job is finished. We reject and we’re on our own. And by then, will there be another union that hasn’t already made its peace with Bloomberg left to stand with us?
We could lose not only the 15% and the retro, but a lot more. Think about all Bloomberg and Klein wanted but didn’t get. And we’d be handing them a golden second opportunity!
Worried about seniority transfers? Say hello to forced transfers.
Worried about easier dismissal for sexual misconduct? Say hello to the end of tenure and dismissal on the principal’s word.
Worried about 55/25? Say hello to the end of retiree health benefits a la GM.
What’s to lose? Plenty.
It’s easy to see how this scenario leads us straight to the picket line. And with no re-election to worry about, Bloomberg couldn’t care less.
And Klein? He’d be ecstatic! Say hello to our next Secretary of Education if the Republicans stay in the White House.
Of course, we could just play it safe, sit tight and wait. My friends, that means you’re looking at another 4 or 5 years without a raise – a total of 7 or 8 years. No city budget can fund 7 or 8 years of retroactive pay. If we thought two zeros were unacceptable back in 1995, try swallowing 7 or 8 of them. No matter how generous the next mayor, we’d be so deep in the hole we’d never make up that many years of lost raises.
So next time someone suggests we “Vote No and send Randi back to the table,” ask that person to let you see his/her canines. This is not your sweet, harmless Granny talking.