In a recent New York Sun article UFT newly hired "Rubber Room" guru Betsy Combier is reported to have joined forces with two New York Teacher journalists and dubbed themselves the "SWAT Team of the Reassignment Center." As previously stated on this blog the three person team is Randi's answer to the increasing pressure to do something about the burgeoning rubber room. But, alas, more of the same.
The real issue in this fiasco is the lack of union leadership in dealing with the DOE's increased use of the rubber rooms as a place to dump, what it considers, troublemakers, questioning staff and others it does not like. The fact that the UFT has totally failed in representing these accused members zealously is lost in the shuffle.
When a principal gets the o.k. (which is freely given in this age of principal autocracy) a member is ordered to report to a rubber room. Many times these members have little or no inkling as to what they have done to deserve the removal from their school and students. The union's reaction to such removal is basically nothing.
There is no investigation. There is no consultation with a labor attorney. There is no explanation of rights. In most cases the Union doesn't even know a person has been removed.
As the case against the member gets old the DOE has fully investigated the allegations and has spent months (and even years) preparing for a hearing to terminate the member. The Union's response…until charges are served there is no investigation. After charges are served the matter is referred to a NYSUT attorney where the "investigation" begins…by the same NYSUT attorney. There are no paralegals, investigators or anyone with knowledge about employment law, the DOE or anything else that will be involved in the case.
NYSUT attorneys do not issue subpoenas (too much work to go to court) or FOIL requests or interview witnesses other than those supplied by the member and at this point the issues are stale and memories have faded.
But we now have the SWAT team who will come to the rescue. And they threaten a lawsuit. A lawsuit for what? How do you sue for better representation?