You may question why CEA and AFT CT opposed the increase in the teacher payroll tax from six to seven percent. That is a fair question, and I want to share with you facts about the payroll tax increase so that we are all on the same page.
· The proposed teacher tax increases teacher payroll taxes from 6% to 7%.
· This would cost the average teacher about $750 per year, and it would raise $38 million in additional teacher payroll taxes.
· This increase does not “strengthen” the teacher retirement fund or add to the fund. It increasesthe share that teachers pay into the Teacher Retirement System, and reduces the state’s share and payment by the same amount ($38 million).
· Not one penny of the additional $38 million adds more to the Teacher Retirement System. All of it replaces and supplants dollars that are supposed to be contributed by the state. By reducing the state’s payment, the state pockets the pass-through revenue of $38 million—just as if it were general tax revenue.
This is unfair for a number of reasons:
1. Teachers are being singled out for a significant tax increase—about $750 per average teacher.
2. Teachers have always paid more than their fair share into their retirement—about 60% of the total costs.
3. In years past, the state underfunded its required payment for the year-to-year costs—which was only 4.5% of salary. Now teachers are being taxed more so that the state can pay less.
4. Teachers have already saved the state and municipalities billions of dollars by having an independent retirement system instead of Social Security—and the savings began in the late 1950s. The state and municipalities would have otherwise paid an additional 6.2% of teachers’ salary in Social Security payroll taxes, or an extra $236 million per year.
5. Teachers have sacrificed and offered other substantial concessions over the years that have saved millions of dollars, including in health insurance, where many teachers have significant deductibles ($4,000), and pay a high percentage of the premium.
Some have been caught up in a semantics game of saying the increase in teacher payroll taxes is a “contribution” instead of a “tax.” A payroll tax is, however, a tax. In referring to the Social Security payroll tax, the Internal Revenue Service states, “The current tax rate for Social Security is 6.2% for the employer…” (emphasis added). A payroll tax is a tax.
So, to summarize, the increase in the teacher payroll tax in the proposed budget unfairly singles out teachers and does not strengthen or contribute any additional funds to the teacher retirement fund. It simply reduces the state’s payment into the fund. Net result? The state gains pass-through revenue of $38 million paid by teachers, the same outcome as for any other tax increase.
On Oct. 30, the AFT and the Badass Teachers Association released the results of the 2017 Educator Quality of Work Life Survey. Four thousand educators responded to the public version of the survey online, and another 830 educators responded in a random sampling of AFT members. The survey also oversampled educators from the Solvay (N.Y.) Teachers Association and the North Syracuse (N.Y.) Education Association, which have strong labor-management collaborative environments. The report has already gotten press coverage from USA Today, Education Week, CBS This Morning and others.
The 2017 survey served as a follow-up to a similar poll the AFT and the Badass Teachers Association conducted in 2015 in which 30,000 educators reported often feeling emotionally and physically exhausted at the end of the day. In the 2017 survey, educators remain highly stressed, with the biggest difference between 2015 and 2017 being the jump in the number of days per month educators said their mental health was not good. In 2015, 34 percent said their mental health was not good for seven or more days in the last month. In 2017, that number climbed to 58 percent among the 4,000 public survey respondents. As a union, we fight for a better life for those we serve and those we represent, and that starts with caring—so educators’ stress is a big concern for us.
Highlights of the 2017 survey:
- Nearly two-thirds, or 61 percent, of educators find work “always” or “often” stressful, twice the rate of other employees in the workforce.
- 27 percent of educators said they have been threatened, bullied or harassed, compared with 7 percent of employed adults in the general population. Who was the bully? 35 percent identified a principal, administrator or supervisor; 50 percent said it was a student.
- Educators felt most respected by their co-workers, students and students’ parents—the people with whom they interact daily—and felt most disrespected by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos (86 percent), the media (61 percent), and state and federal elected officials (59 percent).
- In Solvay and North Syracuse, union-management partnerships focus on developing good supports for teachers, including mentoring programs for new teachers and peer evaluation systems.
- Educators in Solvay and North Syracuse reported decreased likelihood of very stressful work and decreased likelihood of leaving the profession within the next year. They were significantly less likely to report being bullied, harassed or threatened by a supervisor.
You can read the full survey report here.
We ask that you share the survey report with your members. Please let us know if there any additional ways this information can be made useful to your local. You can tweet about the report using the hashtag #EduStressSurvey.
Our deepest thanks to those who participated in this year’s survey. We will continue to fight for our members and the communities they serve.
AFT CT is offering a free Basic First Aid course at its office in Rocky Hill. Details as follows:
Nearly all the candidates endorsed by the BFT and AFT CT won in Bristol tonight! With this change in leadership, education issues will likely get the attention and support they deserve. Thanks to all who helped turn the tide, and congratulations to all the winners.
Here are two articles with all the details.
On Tuesday, the BFT strongly encourages teachers, and all Bristol residents who want a better education system, to vote for the candidates listed below. These are the individuals that will actively support education, invest in rebuilding the downtown community, and strive for civility in governance.
City Council – First District
City Council – 2nd District
City Council – 3rd District
The BFT and BOE have come to a tentative agreement for the July 1, 2018-June 30, 2021 teacher contract. The full details will be contained in a ratification package that will be sent to all members via Groupwise on Monday, November 6. This will be followed by a General Membership meeting on Monday, November 13 at 4:00 PM at CHMS auditorium, and a vote to ratify the proposed contract will occur Wednesday, November 15 at each school (conducted by building reps). Members of the negotiating team will also conduct informal Q&A presentations at their own buildings over the next week.
Despite the letters and calls of many teachers, the state legislature looks set to increase pension contributions by 1%. For the full context and understanding on this issue, here is an article that goes into the history of the underfunded pension system, and why teachers should be wary of trusting the state to fulfill it’s obligations.
Wednesday night, the BOE unanimously voted to appoint Sue Moreau as the new superintendent through June 2019.
Professional Issues & Development Coordinator, AFT Connecticut