[UPDATE: The below post is the original from November 2014. The only difference is the letter from the UFT Grievance Department indicating they will not be representing this case in arbitration. It’s located at the bottom of the article. It took exactly 130 days to decide.]
Below you will hear audio of the chancellor’s representative stating that just because something is not in the contract “it doesn’t prohibit” the DOE from doing it to members.
After years of working under an expired contract, the members of the United Federation of Teachers union finally have a new one. Now, we can argue whether or not we should have voted for it, but it’s here and we would like to believe that it means something and, most importantly, it is adhered to.
But what if it’s not? What if the contract is violated?
What if the contract says that a teacher can not work more than four periods in a row and they are assigned seven in a row (no bathroom breaks)? [Article 7 A 2a There should be no more than three consecutive teaching assignments and no more than four consecutive working assignments (including professional activities)]
What if a principal comes in to a teacher’s class and says, “I don’t like the way you arrange your desks.” and then disciplines the teacher for their class set up? [Article 21 A.6 . The following issues shall not be the basis for discipline of pedagogues: a) the format of bulletin boards; b) the arrangement of classroom furniture]
Both of those scenarios are violations of contract articles. Thankfully, there is a procedure in place that allows for members to grieve alleged violations of the contract. I’ll tell you that in my experience the grievance process is worse than a “kangaroo court.” The previous administration wiped their feet with our UFT contract and now Chancellor Fariña and her subordinates, unfortunately, do the same.
You can file a Step 1 grievance on your own, or through your chapter leader. Step 1 is usually addressed to your principal. They will usually deny it as there exists no accountability not to. It’s not like the UFT has a list of principals that repeatedly violate the contract. I don’t know of any CSA union administrator that is concerned about the UFT knocking on their door. In fact, one chapter leader told me they recorded their principal saying just that “WHAT…YOU THINK I’M WORRIED ABOUT THE UFT?” Not good.
Next you will go to a Step 2 grievance hearing where you can meet with the chancellor’s representatives and plead your case at 49-51 Chambers Street in Manhattan. You can have stacks of documentation, and even video evidence of the violation, but it does not matter. The DOE Office of Labor Relation will wait as long as they can and deny you your grievance again. I remember Michael Mulgrew told us that under Bloomberg, Step 2 grievances were denied at a rate of 98%. Not bad for engaging in fair labor practices. We are told that rate has not changed in the last 11 months under Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Fariña. Why should it change when the new administration has kept all the old Bloomberg-Klein lawyers and directors? NYC Education Bureaucracy Gone Wild – Diane Ravitch
|David Brodsky (Still here since 2006|
If the UFT Grievance Department chooses, they will take your case to an arbitration where independent arbitrators will hear your case months, or a year, later. The whole time your rights are still being violated and perhaps affecting the education of students (depending on the violation). There is also a chance that your UFT Borough office will not move forward to arbitration as there are only 175-200 arbitration sessions allowed in one year. Believe it or not, the Staten Island office actually refused to go to arbitration on a Union Animus Grievance I filed in 2012. Imagine that. Read my whole case and tell me the union in my former school was not under attack.
I have gone to this Step 2 kangaroo court many times. The chancellor’s representatives have lied. The administrator’s representatives, that represent the principal or superintendent, have lied and sometimes they switch places and tag team in lying. I’m not kidding. They all work together and actually share cubicle space. Why would they disagree with each other, when they are colleagues. One day the chancellor’s rep can be Gary Laveman with Pedro Crespo as the principal’s rep and another day they swap.
Who are these representatives that make a mockery of our contract at the Office of Labor Relations?
1. First we have Pedro Crespo. Remember Superintendent Pedro Crespo? Remember how The Special Commissioner of Investigation found him guilty of hiring relatives, holding secret meetings and other malfeasance?
You can read more here: http://www.nycsci.org/reports/6-96%20DIST%207%20RPT.PDF
Yes, SCI recommended he be terminated, but in the DOE, when you are an administrator, the only place to fall is up! Instead he was banished to the 6th Floor of 49-51 Chambers Street, continues to draw a salary and ordered to continue ignoring contract articles.
Then we have Gary Laveman. I had some run ins with him in the past where he and others made up reasons to keep me in a reassignment center 20 miles and two boroughs away for over a year.
Here you can hear him state, two years after the UFT and DOE closed out the rubber rooms, that an employee can just sit and read the newspaper.
Let’s not forget that after I caught them lying, he and Employee Relations had this exchange:
We also have reps like Susan Mandel, who used to be an assistant district attorney and instead of greeting me back when I introduced myself instead said “You don’t want to shake my hand, I am the enemy.” Enemy? So much for a collaborative and objective hearing.
Marcel Kshensky is another rep who travels back and forth between hearing rooms and his OLR office. I had several hearings with him and no matter what the evidence, my grievance is denied every time. Again, the students get hurt the most and this should be the concern of the parents. You can read more about him HERE.
Of course all of the above can just blame their bosses David Brodsky and Karen Solimando and actually have done just that. I have heard that Marcel would say “Let me see what Karen decides.” I once invited David Brodsky to my hearing, but he did not show.
In any case, I went through this process because I was made an ATR and not placed back in my school after my hearing. This decision to make me an ATR predates any new contract that states otherwise. Not only was I removed, but I was also the union chapter leader of the school, but that factor was ignored. The superintendent denied it based on the recommendation of DOE legal. I then went before Chancellor’s Representative Marcel Kshensky and Superintendent’s Representative Pedro Crespo at Step 2.
My UFT rep basically stated “The contract and agreement state that an ATR is made an ATR when a school closes or a program is cut due to budgeting.”
Listen carefully as Marcel Kshensky asks “Where is that written?” in reference to teh statement that a teacher cannot be made an ATR based on a 3020-a hearing. When my rep states it’s “not in the contract,” Marcel responds “Right, but it doesn’t prohibit it.” <——-?
Again, the chancellor’s representative is basically saying if the contract doesn’t say the DOE can’t do something, then therefore it can.
Next we have Pedro Crespo further reaffirm that this action is past protocol, not policy, and the UFT never grieved it. The last portion of this audio clip was me putting on my case.
I recently, after many months of waiting, received their expected denial.
Keep in mind the administration that is in place that allows this AND UFT President Mulgrew who lauds this new education chancellor as a beam of hope. No hope, just the same rehashed policy with almost all the same players.
Anyone….I repeat anyone….can become an ATR and be stripped from their school based on this decision. Why…because the contract doesn’t say they can’t.
This story is shared, but not to deter you from grieving. Please… FIGHT FOR YOUR RIGHTS.
Solidarity Caucus of the UFT has merged the full contract together and made it more available for UFT members. We took the 2007-2009 and embedded the 2014 ratified portions.
We also have a copy of DTOE.org’s Grievance procedures and form here:
Read more about the OLR Gotcha Squad at Betsy Combier’s blog http://nycrubberroomreporter.blogspot.com/search?q=gotcha+squad