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Prepping for contract negotiations, the UFT polls teachers

In a reminder that only six months remain before the current city teachers contract expires, the teachers’ union is now telephone-polling members with questions like “How do you feel about seniority?” and “How do you feel about paying for health care?”

The teacher-blogger NYC Educator first reported the questions on his blog yesterday, relaying questions that were posed to an unnamed teacher in a phone call.

One of the most prescient questions on that list asks teachers when they’d like contract negotiations to end — before or after the 2009 mayoral election? The contract is set to expire in October, and the election is in November. Negotiating a contract before the election would mean working with Mayor Bloomberg for sure, rather than whoever wins the 2009 mayoral race. It could also offer a boost to the mayor’s re-election campaign, as happened in 2005.

Nailing down a contract before the 2009 election could also have an impact on the debate on mayoral control. Some have suggested that the union could, for instance, make a concession on its demanded checks and balances to the mayor’s power over schools now in exchange for help in the contract later.

Another question of interest: “How do you feel about Michael Mulgrew?” Mulgrew is the union’s vice president and chief operation officer and the heir apparent to president Randi Weingarten, who recently became president of the national teachers union in addition to the city chapter. It’s not known when Weingarten will decide to hand over the reins to Mulgrew, and the union’s polls always ask teachers how they feel about union officers.