Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Contract Implementation Woes Beginning: Union and DOE Disregard Staff Rights


In blatant disregard of members’ contractual and democratic rights the Union and the DOE, in at least one district, has decided that they know better than the members in deciding how to use the 37 ½ minutes mandated under the new contract.

In a PERB complaint filed yesterday Jeff Kaufman alleges that in the Alternative High School District, the Special Rep and Superintendent fashioned a secret deal that prevented Chapter Leaders and UFT members the right to vote on whether they wanted to change the contractually mandated 37 ½ minute period. They decided that the election, normally required under contract rules, was not “necessary.”
The election, referred to as an SBO election, permits individual schools to modify contract provisions, like the 37 ½ minute period, in a way that better serves the school. Any modification requires 55 percent of school staff to approve it for the modification to become effective.

SBO provisions have always been controversial since they permit changes in a Union ratified contract by a slim majority of staff members. In previous contracts a 75 percent, super-majority was required.
In their secret deal the Special Rep and Superintendent “decided” that the 37 ½ minute period was unnecessary in alternative high schools and forced those schools to accept the extra time added to each teaching period. A number of UFT members in at least two schools wanted the opportunity to decide this contract modification in the democratic process of an SBO election but were prevented from holding the election by this “deal.”

The PERB complaint which seeks immediate rescission of the secret deal alleges as follows:

1. On or about November 12, 2005 United Federation of Teachers (UFT) members ratified a modification of the collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) between the UFT and the Board of Education of the City of New York (DOE).
2. The CBA was ratified by the DOE on or about November 28, 2005.
3. The agreement provides, in relevant part, for a change in the way the school day is constituted effective February 1, 2006.
4. This change modified the prior CBA by providing at paragraph 7:
“1. Teacher contract Article 6 shall be replaced and amended as follows:
A. School Day
The school day for teachers serving in the schools shall be six hours and 20 minutes and such additional time as provided for below and in the by-laws. The gross annual salary of employees covered by this agreement will be increased in accordance with the salary schedules herein.

  1. The parties agree, effective February, 2006, to extend the teacher work day in “non Extended Time Schools” by an additional 37 ½ minutes per day, Monday through Thursday following student dismissal. Friday's work schedule will be 6 hours and 20 minutes. The 37½ minutes of the extended four (4) days per week shall be used for tutorials, test preparation and/or small group instruction and will have a teacher student ratio of no more than one to ten. In single session schools, the day will start no earlier than 8:00am and end no later than 3:45pm.

  2. Multi-session schools that cannot utilize the additional time in this manner due to space or scheduling limitations will have a 6 hour 50 minute day.

  3. During the ratification process the UFT engaged upon a campaign to convince its members that the then proposed 37 ½ minute period was not required to be a formal instructional period but rather a time when tutoring and small classroom instructions were meant for struggling students.

  4. Shortly after the ratification of the CBA the DOE confirmed this interpretation by issuing through its labor relations counsel’s office, by Daniel Weisberg, an implementation memo which reiterated that the 37 ½ minute period was not for formal instruction and that formal lesson plans would not be required.

  5. The CBA created three exceptions to this new 37 ½ period. For multi-session schools, schools with different start times for staff and students, the CBA provides that where this period cannot be utilized a uniform 6 hour and 50 minute day without the 37 ½ period will be implemented. Additionally District 75 schools (Special Education district) require a uniform 6 hour and 50 minute day without the 37 ½ period unless the principal and Chapter Leader (local UFT leader) agree to implement the 37 ½ minute period. The third exception is contained in the School Based Option (SBO) provision of the CBA.

  6. The SBO provisions provides at Article 8 Paragraph 4(b) as follows:

  7. B. School-Based Options

  8. The Union chapter in a school and the principal may agree to modify the existing provisions of this Agreement or Board regulations concerning class size, rotation of assignments/classes, teacher schedules and/or rotation of paid coverages for the entire school year. By the May preceding the year in which the proposal will be in effect, the proposal will be submitted for ratification in the school in accordance with Union procedures which will require approval of seventy-five (75) percent, and effective September, 2002, fifty-five (55) percent of those voting. Resources available to the school shall be maintained at the same level which would be required if the proposal were not in effect. The Union District Representative, the President of the Union, the appropriate Superintendent and the Chancellor must approve the proposal and should be kept informed as the proposal is developed. The proposal will be in effect for one school year.

  9. Should problems arise in the implementation of the proposal and no resolution is achieved at the school level, the District Representative and the Superintendent will attempt to resolve the problem. If they are unable to do so, it will be resolved by the Chancellor and the Union President. Issues arising under this provision are not subject to the grievance and arbitration procedures of the Agreement.”

  10. Upon information and belief no other modification of the CBA is permitted without UFT membership approval.

  11. The undersigned is the duly elected Chapter Leader for Austin H. MacCormick Island Academy, a DOE high school located on Rikers Island serving incarcerated adolescents. Island Academy is a school located within the Alternative High School District. He is also a duly elected member of the UFT Executive Board representing all of the DOE’s high schools.

  12. Chapter Leaders are charged with the responsibility of implementing the CBA at the local school level. Among the Chapter Leader’s responsibilities include implementation of the SBO provisions by conducting elections of the Chapter where modifications are agreed to by the Chapter Leader and principal. Should less than 55 percent of the local chapter not agree to the proposed CBA modification that modification is not implemented and the CBA provisions govern.

  13. On or about December 15, 2005 I received an email from Marc Korashan, UFT Special Representative assigned by the UFT to represent all UFT chapters in the Alternative High School District, District 79. This email stated, in relevant part:

  14. “D79 the schools that are multisited can be seen as multi-session and be allowed to go to the 6 hour 50 minute day. I disucssed this with the Superintendent and we agreed on this. These schools have small classes already and many have pm school where students can earn credits. They will get the most productive use of the time by increasing the day. This also does the least damage to the existing after school programs and the members earning per-sesion dollars for pm school. This does not require an SBO vote.”

  15. Upon information and belief this “agreement” to deprive Alternative High School UFT Chapter Leaders and members of their contractual right to democratically decide what, if any, CBA modifications should be made at their respective schools.

  16. Both the DOE and UFT had ample opportunity to modify school day schedules in the CBA which was ratified as evidenced by the District wide exception in District 75.

  17. Several attempts were heretofore made to void the “agreement” entered into between Marc Korashan and the Superintendent, Timothy Lisante, all with negative results. These included requests to meet with the UFT President, Randi Weingarten and the Secretary, Michael Mendel.

  18. This charge seeks the voidance of the “agreement” entered into between Marc Korashan and Superintendent Timothy Lisante and the restoration of the duly ratified CBA in the Alternative High School District.
No date has been set for further proceedings.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Jeff,

It's mid January! Do we have a decision yet? PERB sure takes its sweet old time.

Unity United said...

The decision came down the other day and Perb essentially tells ICE to cool it!

Here is the short version of the decision:
In the matter of the PERB suit filed against the UFT by Jeffrey Kaufman #U26477, the State of New York Public Employment Relations Board ruled:

"The pleading in the above referenced matter is deficient for the reasons set forth below:

"1) As a matter of law, the UFT cannot violate any of the subdivisions of §209-a.1 of the ACT." (Note: Kaufmann charged the UFT with things that only employers can do.)

"2) There are not facts to arguably establish the union's conduct as arbitrary, discriminatory or in bad faith. Nor are there facts to arguably establish that it interfered with the exercise of any Taylor Law rights."

That's right no facts! In other words, Kaufman pursued a baseless PERB suit against the UFT instead of using the SBO process as was suggested by the union. In fact, at two implementation meetings, the members were asked whether they still wanted the time rolled into each period. The answer was overwhelmingly "yes!"

Secondly, the union leadership, namely Weingarten, said she would sign any SBO that was not coercive that wanted to change the way the extended time was used.

So Mr. Kaufman wasted his members' valuable time with his political shenanigans and legal maneuvering to try to discredit the union leadership with baseless distortions of the facts.

It's unfortunate to discover that ICE must have learned from Karl Rove and is attempting to use his Swift Boat tactics.

jameseterno said...

The initial papers were rejected on a technicality by PERB and sent back for resubmission. They have since been revised and resubmitted.

This is normal procedure as unity united, who is more than likely a high ranking unity official, knows. Who's doing the swiftboating here?

As I read the charge and my school is not involved, all Jeff is asking for is that staff in a school, not some high and mighty union official, should be consulted and have a say in how extended time is used. Is that too much to ask for?