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MTA Member News


Tier 5 Is Now A Reality!!!

NYSUT was successful in delaying enactment of Tier 5 legislation for almost a full year and was the last major union standing tall when the final deal was passed. As a result, an entire class of NYSUT members was able to enter public service this year under the Tier 4 plan. While the new Tier 5 plan has some relatively significant changes for future members, NYSUT was successful in maintaining the integrity of the defined benefit plan that can be counted on by all members, current and future - for example, continuation of a permanent COLA benefit for all future retirees.

The Tier 5 pension plan will apply to future public employees in the state Teachers' Retirement System and Employees' Retirement System. The New York City retirement system also is instituting a new program.

Details vary by system and reflect different combinations of contributions and length of service, geared to the trends/preferences of each unit.

For state TRS (all MTA Teachers), the minimum retirement age for employees hired after Jan. 1, 2010, will be 57, with 30 years of service without penalty. Members will be vested in the pension system after 10 years of service (up from 5) and will contribute a lifetime 3.5 percent to their pensions (current members contribute 3 percent for 10 years.) They will receive the 2 percent final average salary calculation at 25 years (up from 20).

While there are changes in some of the retirement benefit structures for those hired after 1/1/10, the vast majority of benefits provided by the Tier 4 plan remain in place -- members will still remain eligible for death and disability benefits, to purchase prior public and military service credit and for automatic and permanent COLA.

An early retirement option

The approved bill commits the Legislature and the Governor to offer a 55/25 early retirement option for NYSUT members in the State TRS and ERS during a three-month window in 2010. This retirement program is expected to be available at employee election and is not subject to employer authorization.

• This early retirement option/Tier 5 plan will allow us to prevent job elimination for our younger members, and allow top-scale teachers who want to retire earlier to do so - and create more job openings.

New Tenure Determination Law---2008

Chapter 57 of the Laws of 2007, added a new Section 3012-b to Education Law requiring the Board of Regents to develop rules establishing minimum standards and procedures for tenure determination of teachers employed in school districts and BOCES. The tenure determination process must include, but need not be limited to, a combination of:

• An evaluation of the extent to which the teacher successfully utilized analysis of available student performance data (such as: State test results, student work, school-developed assessments, teacher developed assessments, etc.) and other relevant information (such as: documented health or nutrition needs, or other student characteristics affecting learning) when providing instruction.

• Peer review by other teachers, as far as practicable.

• An assessment of the teacher's performance by the teacher's building administrator.

Section 3012-b was amended by Chapter 57 of the Laws of 2008. The amendment:

• Changes the effective date of the legislation requiring these new standards and procedures to apply to teachers whose probationary period commences on or after July 1, 2008;
• Prohibits school districts and BOCES from using student test scores to grant or deny tenure; and
• Establishes a two-year sunset on Section 3012-b, which will allow the Legislature to revisit this law in 2010.

These changes apply only to classroom teachers providing instructional services whose probationary period commences on or after July 1, 2008. Teachers who are assigned to a new position in a new tenure area in the same school district and teachers who commence probationary period in another school district on or after July 1, 2008 are also affected by these changes.

This bulletin provides information and resources for Local Leaders and Labor Relations Specialists to assist probationary teachers to successfully utilize analysis of available student performance data and other relevant information when providing instruction.

Tenure is an employment status a teacher earns by successfully completing a probationary period of employment. Tenure in New York State is conferred by a Board of Education upon the affirmative recommendation of the Superintendent. A tenured teacher has earned the right to due process under Section 3020-a of the Education Law.

Be prepared with the info you need on swine flu

The latest information and resources on H1N1 preparedness is posted at and will be updated throughout the year. NYSUT Vice President Kathleen Donahue urges local presidents to meet with administrators to be sure a plan is in place for managing outbreaks at the local level. NYSUT's Web site offers important guidance on the flu from our national affiliates, AFT and NEA, as well as from state and federal health and education agencies. On a related health issue, you also will find a study that says there is only one nurse for every 1,007 students in New York state -- potentially useful in advocating for school nurses at the local level.


10 Common Myths about Obama's Health Care Reform

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VOTE-COPE: New campaign needs your help

In political action, the problem is how to make sure your message is heard by politicians and the public.

"Our solution is our members. Through contributions to VOTE-COPE and constant personal advocacy, we make sure our message of protecting the institutions in which our members work gets out loud and clear," said Andy Pallotta, NYSUT's executive vice president.

That's why this year's VOTE-COPE campaign — "You can complete the puzzle" — puts NYSUT members front and center.

"Our theme this year is how much each and every member's donation means to political action," Pallotta said. Support from across the state pushed the union's voluntary political action fund up 9 percent last year to a record $7,794,626.

"This campaign fund is essential to our fight to prevent historic cuts to public education, higher education and health care," Pallotta said.

Pallotta heads up NYSUT's Legislative Department and oversees VOTE-COPE, which supports union-backed candidates and campaign committees that support education and labor on a local, state and national level.

VOTE-COPE also funds ad campaigns to get school budgets passed and fights reductions in state aid.

The part each NYSUT member plays in political action is the theme behind the 2010 VOTE-COPE campaign. Brochures for all the union's members, including teachers, school-related professionals, health care workers and retirees were recently mailed to locals and retiree councils.

"Political action can be confusing, and sometimes it seems there are so many parts to the political process that you can't imagine how they all fit together," members are told in the brochure.

"Essential to the fit is the participation of our members," Pallotta said. Giving to VOTE-COPE provides funds for lobbying, but it's also NYSUT members and retirees who volunteer to bring the message to lawmakers.

Do you have any news about your class?  Is anything going on in your life that you would like to share with other MTA members?  If so, please send your photos and information to Bridget at: