February 18, 2008

UFT management: on hold or just plain AWOL

When the people who run this union (I gave up the word leadership last week) seem to get blindsided by one BloomKlein directive after another, we have to ask them to stop the Hillary campaigning for a moment, stop the job-hunting for national office, and focus right here:
On us.

Because come June, there’ll be people still in excess for a year, and they'll be wanting to know what other arrows boss Klein will be pulling out of his bottomless quiver to shoot off in their direction.

As I understand it, ATR salaries in the first year are paid by central, so we're an expensive kind of sub in the whole system, but come real cheap to the principal who's using us as a sub for the year. The next year, when administrators start sharing the financial burden of our salaries with central, paying half from their own budgets, they're going to want to put a lot more pressure on us to cash in our chips.

The UFT’s Know Your Rights says under "Job Security" that teachers may remain as ATRs "in or near their old school at full pay until an appropriate position becomes available." In the old days, of course, the BoE used to find excessed members their next jobs, and I never met a person back then who remained in limbo for more than a few months. I am wondering how much longer Klein will tolerate a couple of hundred of us subbing on full salary. Hardly likely it will be indefinitely.

I would like to know whether the ATR's assignment for year two will automatically continue at the same school, or could these people be airlifted someplace else, and at whose whim. We were originally told that ATRs are not going to be moved from place to place, they'd be assigned to one school, but since a whole year will have passed by June, does this rule still hold? UFT management needs to tell us if they've developed a position on this point, whether there is a ruling that ATRs in the second year of excess can be re-assigned somewhere else, and if so, is the UFT going to object.

More uncomfortable for the ATR is the possibility of getting a U-rating. With principals breaking contractual stipulations all the time (this from first-hand experience as well as from conversations with other ATRs), it can be expected that some will create negative documentation to encourage ATRs to go away. UFT management needs to tell us whether they've developed a plan to thwart attempts by principals to stain the records of teachers using frivolous, inaccurate, or false documentation, or are they just going to let the non-existent grievance process for letters in the file run its course.

Whether there's documentation or not, some tenured ATR teachers are going to get that U anyway, even though some of them have been S-rated their entire career. UFT management needs to tell us whether they're going to stick with their glib remarks, like "Don't worry about it," "It doesn’t mean anything," and "You still have your job," or whether they are coming to the opinion that perhaps one, two, or three U's in a row might really spell doom for the ATR.

Last May, Richard Farkas wrote in the NY Teacher:
The union has retained its right to grieve the DOE’s unilateral change in the open-market transfer plan if the transfers this spring show evidence of bias against senior teachers.
Well, I haven’t heard anything about whether the union grieved this or not, and since there has certainly been enough time to evaluate any such evidence, UFT management needs to tell us whether they've filed such a grievance — or whether they’re even planning one.

It seems as if UFT management has just plain forgot about the issue of per session money. ATRs lose the opportunity to earn per session when they get excessed, since they have no standing at the school and can be told on a dime to pack up and go elsewhere. Even if an ATR does land a new job after the term starts, it'll often be too late for him to apply for per session work; also, retention rights might prevent him from securing one of these jobs anyway. Since per session not only means more pay and more pension, there's a real parity issue here. Teachers holding real positions have the chance to apply for and work these hours, while ATRs, mostly through no fault of their own, are barred from them entirely. UFT management needs to tell us whether they're looking into the discriminatory treatment of ATRs, who have as a group lost the chance to boost their salaries and their pensions through per session pay.

Some people are wondering whether UFT management has tried to secure a hiring freeze until the ATRs get placed, or whether ATRs are going to get first crack at the vacant jobs resulting from a 55/25 exodus. Others want principals to put in writing why they are not hiring ATRs who are working in their schools. UFT management needs to tell us whether they’ve developed a position on any or all of these points.

I guess I'm asking for a pro-active union. Maybe I'll settle for a less secretive one.

This is term two since Klein has changed the way salaries are going to get paid, and come June things are going to get worse for the excessed teachers without positions.

UFT officials need to keep us informed. They can do it any number of ways, of course, but writing to us or telling us to come down to HQ for updates and Q & A sessions spring to mind immediately. Apart from the single meeting they called a couple of months ago, these people have been mute and we've been pretty much in the dark.

Unless the UFT takes some new initiative in the next couple of weeks, no one really thinks this management has the will, or the clout, to forestall any future corpocrat belligerence.


  1. I've been an ATR for the second year in the same school and it feels like I am a homeless person in a storm. No place to put your books or personal things, NO RIGHTS at all. Everyday is a different assigment, a different class and no word form the UNION and our lider RW for a better tomorrow. What a shame to dedicate so many years to public education and one day they kick you out like you have no value. Is this being an educator?

  2. I have been complaining about the lack of a pro-active union. However, it appears that as long as the teachers keep voting Randi in, don't expect any change.