Thursday, September 22, 2005

Removal of Step II Grievance at UFT Request is Harmful to Members

by Ira Goldfine

The depth of analysis of ICE people on the fact-finders report being sent across the "wires"   has been really great. I would like to deal with one issue in the report that has been mostly ignored. The report calls for a change in the contract that the UFT suggested and that is the elimination of step 2 from the grievance procedure. Although in the current environment this seems off the top of ones head a no-brainer, this has major long-term negative implications and is nothing more than a total gutting of the grievance procedure and the irony is it was suggested by the UFT.1) I think we all can agree that step 1 is nothing more than "going through the motions" since the person hearing the grievance is usually the person (or a subordinate)  who took the action that caused the grievance in the first place. 2) Since only the UFT has the right to decide which grievances will go to Step 3 and Arbitration, the elimination of step 2 in essence takes the power of grievance totally away from union members! All they will be able to do is file a step 1 and lose and then the UFT will have sole power to decide if their grievance has merit. What a disaster!3) It was the UFT back in the 70's that "won" from the BOE the right to be the sole decider of which grievances went to step 3. Remember it was the ACLU in a step 3 grievance that won the right of members to distribute literature in mailboxes of colleagues. Luckily that was before we lost the right to go to step 3.4) Many cases at step 2 have been won with and without the UFT's support because of internal politics in the districts. The very first mailbox case was won in District 16 at step 2.5) It is unacceptable to say that because the current mayor/chancellor have twisted the step 2 process so much as to make it useless that it follows that we should discard the step 2 grievance altogether. They will be around for at most 4 years -- you don't change contracts on the basis of a what the current mayor is doing. UNITY has allowed the grievance procedure to be decimated and now has "won" the capability of controlling the entire grievance procedure and leaving the membership with NO rights at all.

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