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Recession special: UFT employees take summer Fridays

If you call the UFT’s main offices on a Friday this summer, don’t expect anyone to pick up. From now until the end of August, most employees will be taking the day off to save the union money.

Like any large organization or business, the UFT is feeling the effects of the recession and the predicted effects of a citywide teacher hiring freeze that’s currently in place. And fewer teachers hired this summer means fewer dues payments for the UFT. So, for the rest of the summer, the majority of the main office will take Fridays off and much of the building will shut down. The summer Fridays are not furloughs — employees will still be paid.

A spokesman for the UFT, Peter Kadushin, said the days off, which amount to a total of eight, are one of several cost cutting plans, and would likely shave 40 percent off the UFT’s energy bill.

“Unions are no different than any other organization or corporation,” Kadushin said, “so when you have economic uncertainty, unions aren’t immune to any of those downturns.”

UPDATE: A call to the UFT’s press office was answered on the first ring on Friday. A spokesman, Ron Davis, said both the communications and grievance departments will be open on all Fridays during the summer.

Kadushin said offices in boroughs outside of Manhattan would stay open on Fridays, and that rather than cutting services, employees would reschedule work done on Fridays for other days of the week.

A different teachers’ union, the National Education Association, has been criticized for raising its members’ dues during the financial downturn.

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