Randi Weingarten Still Doesn’t Get It

RandiW07.jpgBack in January United Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten protested Mayor Bloomberg’s mandate to reduce the number government parking placard handouts. In a letter to the mayor, Weingarten called the move "deeply troubling," and claimed that taking free parking away from teachers — who, unlike tens of thousands of other government employees, "are not abusers of parking permits" — would keep "the best and the brightest" from accepting jobs in city classrooms. (What this says about transit-using teachers, who must pay for TransitChek cards even as the best and brightest drive and park for free, is anyone’s guess.)

Last Friday, as she announced her intention to seek the top spot at the American Federation of Teachers, Weingarten took another swipe at the mayor, and in the process further betrayed her ignorance when it comes to the relationship between private automobiles and public space.

City Room reports:

During a brief speech, Ms. Weingarten took a shot at Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, sarcastically announcing that now that congestion pricing had been defeated, the mayor was planning to require pedestrians to "put quarters in the the traffic lights to be able to cross the street."

Huh? Aside from being unfunny, this doesn’t make any sense. Even the most casual observer understood that congestion pricing was intended as a deterrent to driving — not walking, or riding a bike, or using any other means of transportation.

It would be pointless to try to figure out what Weingarten was going for here, other than a cheap laugh at the mayor’s expense, but it was a revealing statement. While school kids across the city have their outdoor spaces intruded upon and poisoned by cars, and take classes on how not to get run down in the street, Weingarten sees fit to crack jokes about the failure of a plan that would have made things better.

Here’s hoping Weingarten gets that AFT job, and that the next UFT head spends less energy fighting for free parking and more on getting teachers to work without their cars.

Photo: United Federation of Teachers

  • She should be fighting for free metrocards as part of the next contract, not more placards. Same for Fire, Police and Sanitation.

    I know a lot of teachers that carpool. Placards for carpoolers first!

  • Larry Littlefield

    (I know a lot of teachers that carpool. Placards for carpoolers first!)

    The UFT doesn’t represent teachers who carpool. It represents teachers who are retired and otherwise not teaching.

    At the expense of children and future teachers.

    And this issue is a mere footnote.

  • If you want regular, irrefutable evidence that she is lying, dispatch someone to the Atty street cul de sac just south of Stanton (Mhtn). Every day 12 or so (typically) SUVs back up on the side walk. The cul de sac itself is no parking zone (NOT Board of Ed parking), so the sidewalk parking is just a bonus.

    They all have placards that are clearly photocopied, and most have 2007 expirys (last time I walked by). One or two often park inside what looks like a playground.

  • Is Ms. Weingarten’s ignorance a product of the failed system she represents?

  • steve

    what a piece of scum
    please leave

    ALL govt employees should be given free public transportation, and be REQUIRED to use it

    and i know what u mean miss representation, its sickening

  • gecko

    Last heard that environmental science is not considered a science by the New York City public school system.

    This may explain some of the ignorance.

  • Larry

    Just be glad she hasn’t signed some of your important rights away. Some of us aren’t so lucky.

  • Larry Littlefield

    (ALL govt employees should be given free public transportation, and be REQUIRED to use it)

    Not so easy if you live in Ronkonokoma.

    But here is the point — what is the value of that free parking? And why do those who carpool or use transit or walk receive lower compensation than those with free parking? (And why do younger teachers receive lower compensation relative to those who came before?)

    Another point — teacher turnover is bad, because green teachers are bad. I know lots of NYC teachers, and none of them have left for a job in the suburbs. Because it would increase their commute. While those in the suburbs leave as soon as they can. Because it reduces their commute.

    Thus, those living in the city are worth more — over and above their lower contribution to traffic. So why aren’t they paid more?

    The teachers living outside the city (unlike cops and firefighters) also don’t pay the city tax. NYC teachers who live here do pay it. Of course the pensions for those in Florida are tax free.

    So the issue here is some teachers and retired teachers vs. other teachers and schoolchildren.

    (Just be glad she hasn’t signed some of your important rights away.)

    Well, I hope that when the real cost of the pension deal is revealed, at the pay of future teachers is proposed to be cut to $25K to fund it, you’ll vote no.

    Is there any union that has every rejected a better deal for those cashing in and moving out at the expense of future hires?

  • Shemp

    “Is there any union that has ever rejected..”

    That issue was at least hotly debated within TWU during the last contract go-round.

  • Her joke is of a piece with the whiny “another tax on the middle class” attitude that led so many freeloading motorists (many of whom are not-so-middle class) to reject CP.

  • steve

    ronkonkoma has an LIRR station

  • Larry Littlefield

    (“Is there any union that has ever rejected..” That issue was at least hotly debated within TWU during the last contract go-round.)

    The TWU did some good and did some evil. On the one hand I salute them for rejecting the two-tier contract, and accepting a little sacrifice for everyone instead.

    But, regardless of what they said, a strike wasn’t necessary to do this. They were striking for an even richer pension (20/50), which one of the two at-their-throats factions (New Directions) had promised and either had to get or had to prove it couldn’t be got.

    Unlike teachers, I’m prepared to accept an age 55 retirement for those in physically demanding jobs like many at NYCT. But having people retier at 50 after 20 years of work and then collect for 30 more — that’s just not right. And striking for it was evil.

    But, good AND evil is an above average record for the past few decades.

  • Mark

    I’m for letting city employees have all the parking placards they want — as long as they pay market value pegged to what the average private parking garage charges. They should also have the option of buying Metrocards at deep discounts.

  • Felix

    Larry L., don’t be so sure that working for Transit is less physically demanding than teaching.

  • Felix

    I meant MORE

  • rhubarbpie

    Oh gee — I’m in the minority. I think Weingarten’s joke was funny.

    (And I’m no fan of the car-lovin’ going on at the UFT either, by the way.)

    I thought maybe it was just me, so I read it to a close friend (also a congestion pricing supporter) and she got a big laugh out of it too.

    I’ll send the both of us to re-education camp immediately!

  • jon

    I agree that what she should be fighting for is free transit cards for teachers; I would believe that Bloomberg would be in favor of such a trade-off since it would reduce the number of cars and placards as well as congestion, and teachers would save money on gas, car repairs and subway fares (give them monthlys so they can use them anytime). Sounds like a win-win for both sides.

  • Larry Littlefield

    (Sounds like a win-win for both sides.)

    No, it’s a loss for the union. The union represents the minority of teachers who are working the system, the retired, and those abou to retire.

    The amount of money the City of New York has is finite. And that is where the union wants it to go.

    If the city were to offer free metrocards, that would take money that could be used elsewhere, and thus be “unfair” to those who drive according to the union, who are also probably those with more seniority.

    “But wait — they ALREADY get a benefit while transit riders do not. Isn’t that unfair?”

    Yes to you and me, but not to them. If they already have it, it is their “right,” to be taken for granted. That’s why the AFL-CIO split, with the UFT on the wrong side. If you’ve already got health insurance, what will you pay or give up for everyone to have it? Nothing.

  • Larry Littlefield

    And if you don’t believe me, consider RW’s knee-jerk response to Christine Quinn’s suggestion that teachers doing harder jobs working in failing schools with concentrations of troubled children at difficult ages (middle school) in difficult subjects (math) should be paid more.

    That’s fine, if it doesn’t take away from the money available to pay teachers in cream puff out-of-classroom assignments looking to get paid more for their last year to boost their pension. That’s why Bloomberg’s “victory” in giving some teachers bonuses is paid for with private-sector money, and will disappear when the money does.

  • It is always interesting to read comments about oneself. Most teachers take public transportation and most live in New York City. However, as many of you know we have an affordable housing crisis, and many teachers can not afford to raise families in the city, so they look to move. More important, many schools are not readily accessible to mass transit, and many teachers come early, leave late, and carry much of the work they do at home with them. No one condones abusers, but in the 20 plus years I have been at the teachers’ union, I have seen most teachers work extraordinarily hard, and don’t abuse their parking privileges. Randi Weingarten

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