Thursday, July 03, 2008

UFT HAILS NEW “RUBBER ROOM”AGREEMENT DESPITE ITS UNENFORCEABILITY

Cleverly waiting until after teachers left for their summer vacations Randi and Joel signed an agreement about several issues concerning the "rubber room." ICE has lobbied for years to provide due process to teachers and staff languishing in the "rubber room" and as the numbers swelled several inept measures were taken to answer the "problem."

First an alleged survey was undertaken. According to Randi only a few teachers assigned to the rubber room wanted their cases expedited. Nevertheless she appointed a three member team to "investigate" rubber room issues. The three member team was so effective it ended up alienating many of the rubber roomers and was part of the motivation for a class action lawsuit against the Union was commenced by the very teachers this fabulous trio was assigned to help.

The agreement reproduced below is not really an agreement. It is rather a statement of hopes and unenforceable goals and filled with precatory language. The Union is given almost no enforcement power if the DOE decides not follow the "agreement." Let's take the "agreement" point by point with potential problems outlined in red.

1. The DOE intends to provide the "general grounds" for the reassignment. The current practice is merely reassigning a teacher to the rubber room. Now, presumably, in the reassignment letter there will also be a "general ground"

Problem: Nowhere is "general grounds" defined. Also, SCI investigations (a large number of rubber room removals) are specifically exempt from disclosure. Also it is not clear whether the failure to provide this notice can be challenged in any forum.

2. Specific time timetables are provided in the "agreement." OSI has 90 days, criminal cases shall be transferred to the Administrative Trials Unit in 30 days and the DOE has 40 days to draft 3020-a charges.

Problem: While the DOE "will diligently attempt to comply with these timeframes" the agreement further states that this provision "shall not be enforceable through either the grievance processes set forth in the relevant collective bargaining agreements or any other legal mechanism"

3. Teachers shall be assigned to rubber rooms in their borough wherever possible.

Problem: The provision is subject to Chancellor's Regulation C-770 which leaves the DOE with the discretion which rubber room a teacher is assigned.

4. The DOE agrees to maintain rubber rooms as safe working environments.

Problem: The Public Safety Employee Safety and Health Act already provides this protection.

5. The number of arbitrators is increased with a special group of arbitrators assigned to incompetence hearings. A provision to provide for discovery where information is exchanged prior to a hearing.

Problem: The Union has long maintained that the reason that there are a shortage of arbitrators (and thus lengthy delays in the hearings) was because the DOE allegedly would only agree to appoint arbitrators they felt were anti-teacher. Increasing the number of arbitrators either means that this was untrue or they don't care who is appointed since it is doubtful that the DOE will accept pro-teacher arbitrators.

6. The last provision deals with an increase in the number of arbitration days that are allowed under the contract. Currently there are only 140 days permitted. Given the DOE and UFT's decimation of the grievance procedure it is clear that additional days were needed. Now the number has increased to 175.

Problem: The limitation of arbitration days, a dirty little secret, has caused delays and deals to be made concerning contract violations. While this increase is welcome given that class size and reorganization grievances count toward this yearly limit it severely delays important issues. Without the ability to obtain relief at lower levels of the grievance procedure arbitrations have been the only mechanisms to obtain contractual justice. Borough offices know all too well about the limits and unless a grievant is politically connected will generally refuse to go to arbitration. If one makes it through it will be delayed while "more important" grievances are heard.

So, what did we get from this "agreement?" Basically the UFT and DOE get to issue a press release that they are making efforts to lessen backlogs and empty the rubber rooms. In reality nothing will change unless the DOE wants to change. Doesn't sound like much of a labor-management agreement!


[Click on each page and your browser will magnify it so that it is legible]




30 comments:

Norm said...

Brilliant work.

Anonymous said...

excellent!!!

john

Woodlass said...

Jeff: can I ask you something re their pool of arbitrators. I'm trying to understand the numbers of arbitrators and how they are grouped. Can you break down for me the total number of projected arbitrators -- who would presumably handle incompetence as well as Step III grievances -- and also how many will be assigned to a single kind of case? I have a similar question as to the number of days they can arbitrate. Does the 175 days include ALL cases, incompetence and otherwise? I'm trying to get a handle on the nature of the beast.

NYC Educator said...

This reminds me very much of the UFT's class size agreement, broadcast on the front page of NY Teacher as a victory. Even in the very article, it was evident that the agreement was unenforceable, with no consequences for violations.

And every working teacher knows precisely nothing has been done to reduce class size. I have no idea what motivates such agreements, or what on earth they expect to achieve with such nebulous language.

Do they really think that a short-term boast will mask the absolute lack of effectiveness? Or are they even thinking at all?

17 (really 15) more years said...

The bottom line is this: until the regulations are changed and principals must keep teachers assigned to the rubber room on the school's payroll, this issue will never be suitably resolved. Randi can put up all the smoke and mirrors she wants.

ed notes online said...

"Do they really think that a short-term boast will mask the absolute lack of effectiveness?"

Yes. They are cynical about being able to control the flow of information and unfortunately, if people hear it often enough they come to believe it even if they don't see it in their own situation.

Remember - the UFT PR machine is aimed in 2 directions: the members who get one message through the absolute control by Unity of accces - visits by union officials and using chapter leaders to push the PR - and the public which gets the message from UFT commercials, ads, Randi expensive column in the Times, etc.

Anonymous said...

With some creative ingenuity, the opposition can use Unity's information machines against them.

Randi knows this and that is why she reads the blogs even though right now many rank and file teachers do not know the blogs exist.

Bloomy-Klein has exposed the weaknesses of Unity. The democratizing power of the internet coupled with a strong grassroots organizing movement will spell the end of Unity.

Anonymous said...

I have been praying and hoping for years that the last comment is right. I'll do my best to help spread the word.

Anonymous said...

Dear Proletariat:

What this is, is a way to hasten the process of emptying out the schools of competent and senior teachers. With more arbitrators on a permanent panel (which clearly violates New York State Education Law 3020a, it is transparently clear that they will fine, suspend and terminate more teachers--and faster.

This agreement between the DoE and UFT has come about, at least partially, because of the political fallout of the numerous lawsuits against both the union and the "education" system. The two colluding entities are looking to dispose of the problem quickly.

It is also very interesting that they will appoint a specific number of arbitrators to deal with incompetence. This is obviously the newest and most popular way to get rid of an educator with twenty odd years of satisfactory ratings. Just declare them incompetent and then trot out a bunch of "witnesses" who know nothing about teaching, and far less about administration. Have them testify to the educator's incompetence.

Couple that with a mockery of justice, a kangaroo court.

This process is led by an arbitrator who ignores the law and his/her own obligations as a dispassionate arbitrator, to the tune of $1,800, a day five days a week all year long and then you have a true understanding of what is going on.

The true dimensions of RICO are very clear. There are two entities that are making large amounts of money from working together to destroy the careers of those who sacrificed so much to teach the children of this city, those who selflessly undertook to be father and mother,advisor psychologist,and mentor to so many young people.

The older and more expensive teachers are an anachronism. They are obsolete in the face of the new world order: A system of homogeneous students and teachers.

The new world order wants only people with no understanding or caring for the process of turning out educated people. A system that is bent on taking the last bastion of democracy, public education, and destroying it.

The corporate welfare that we have witnessed since mayor napoleon moneybags took over is mind- numbing.

Corporate interests such as McGraw
Hill, Edison Schools and a host of other corporations are in a feeding frenzy, dismembering public education and pilfering public funds. They cannot reinvent the wheel. They can, however, make a powerpoint presentation in which they boast that they know best how to educate the nation's children.

All the politicians seeing their own campaign funds swinging in the balance will sign on.

The dismantling of public education has reached a feverish pitch. The union and other participants have colluded in slitting the throats of their own dues payers as well as those that are in their charge, the students.

The only hope is that the parents will start to realize how they have been defrauded.

Kleinberg and Swinegarten have only a year left to come up with another death warrant/contract as a coup de grace to kill the zombie that is NYC public education.

The powers that be are only intent on producing corporate drones and consumers. Not to mention prisoners for the upstate industry of prisons and soldiers for the "war on terror."

Folks, the terrorists are the city government, the corporations and all the powers that enforce their will. The taxpaying working stiffs have been cut out of the equation. You ain't number one, hell, you ain't even number two.

So . . . unless something is done to change this situation, expect more and worse.

FRUNABULAX

Anonymous said...

This ongoing, earnest analysis of what the sadists are doing is, once more, giving them exactly what they want.

The human animals who are being hunted, tormented and exterminated or left to die lingering and agonizing deaths experience no benefit whatever from all of this writing that we do.

Maybe 5 or 6 years ago, just maybe, some of the analysis and debate in which we engage, coupled with some courageous ACTION might have produced some positive results.

No longer.

I truly don't understand why you write all of this: questions, searchings, opinions.

Does every last one of you still in a school building need to be evicted and starving before you get it?

Does every last one of you still in a school building need to be dying of cancer with no doctor or treatment possible before you stop yammering at each other?

For decades now, teachers have been the most malleable and easily manipulated laborers other than illegal immigrants afraid of Migra (deportation).

When I began "teaching," only 7 years ago or so, a veteran told me that teachers are the weakest of New York City municipal unions, negotiating, conversing, being "reasonable." I was instructed that we are weak and are treated terribly as a result of our weakness.

As agents of the glorious state, we are superb in carrying out their wishes. Teachers go to school, being broken, denatured, zombified for many years - through as many as 2 Master's degrees and even PhD's - giving our overseers, our massahs, plenty of time and opportunity to utterly brainwash and condition us to do their bidding.

We then walk into classrooms to pass on the socialization of terror and threat, to inculcuate docility, stupefaction, blind and self-destructive obedience into our students, from pre-school through 12th grade.

Your monster of a mayor and your monster of a chancellor are now finishing you off entirely.

Your response?

To debate utter garbage as they hack off your fingers, gouge out your eyes and fill the hallways of urban education with the blood and the entrails of all of us.

You are responsible.

You are guilty of crimes against humanity until you stop this self-involved semi-masturbatory behavior and stand up and fight.

Julie Woodward said...

I'm sorry, I didn't catch your name, 6:39. Who did you say you are?

Anonymous said...

Dear Julie Woodward,

I hate to admit it, but my true identity is Admiral Canaris.

Anonymous said...

Dear Suffering Sods:

What I find truly fascinating, is the very concept that our favorite union decided to allow principals to testify in a 3020a proceeding by telephone.
What is most absurd is that the very Torquemada who is about to destroy a tenured teachers career can sit in the pampered comfort of their office and dance on the grave of the poor bugger facing the firing squad.

No ability of the accused to face their accuser. Isn't that one of our "inaliable" rights?
Oh, I forgot in Bloomberg's New YorKKK there is no such thing as rights.

The very thought of some fawning sycophant of a District Rep or designee, sitting next to that principal and making sure that everything is on the up and up, is hysterically funny. Sure all rules will be observed. Haven't they always?

And another interesting observation from the "agreement" between the two parties, was the issue of observing that 3020a law is followed by both the DoE and the UFT. It's hard to believe that this would even be an issue considering the mere fact that the Arbitrators are crooks as are the NYSUT lawyers and the DoE prosecuting Attorneys.

So why all of sudden would they be concerned that these laws are not being observed? Could it be that the Union and the DoE with the assistance of the State Education Department, have been purging senior teachers in new York City since 2002?

Could it be that they finally got caught and they have to do some form of damage control?

Just asks the thousands of teachers who have been victimized by the illegal use of 3020a procedures to fire, suspend without pay or ruinously fine senior teachers.

It is a fact that those who have survived this maltreatment and have been tortured and had psychological warfare waged against them, end up as ATR's.

Once a teacher has had 3020a charges filed against them, their career is effectively over. Who else will hire them in the capacity of a teacher with such a dark pall on their usually spotless record?

As a former Rubber Room inmate wryly stated " you can never work for any other system after this."

As it stands, the "offending" teacher after being incarcerated in a Rubber Room, is off the payroll of the school that they were exiled from. This is a nice solution for the more expensive senior teachers, as far as the Hitler Youth of administration are concerned.

The union after a period of posing indignantly and feigning concern, will be rid of one more troublemaker who asks too many questions.

Better to have two dues paying drones for the price of one senior pain in the ass.

The issue of a weekly communication concerning who is in the "Reassignment Centers" is a total crock of shit. The very same entities who have "no idea" how many people are being incarcerated will now transmit lists weekly and deal with this abortion in a timely manner.

"Justice delayed is justice denied" isn't that a good laugh? How come justice has been delayed since our fearless horse faced leader came into the corridors of power?

What took the Union so long to come out with yet another damage control bullshit statement?

Could it be the aspiration to jump ship and take over the AFT and the political aspirations of a certain moral and physical midget have made this letter of "agreement" a nice show that "something is being done"? Yea' just another line of crap sold to the constituents.

As the dues harvesting operation continues to rob teachers they stick us with this garbage.

How is is possible for educated and presumably intelligent people to just take it, and so much of it?
Just bend over and grab your ankles because here it comes.....
SICK OF IT ALL!

I weep for the sould of dead guppies said...

Mutha f'er' This was all a good read!

JW said...

That's what I thought. I even asked Norm who the heck's writing this stuff.

ed notes online said...

I know who it is but I'll have to kill you if I tell you. - Norm

Anonymous said...

Holy Shit!

It's 11:10 pm.

Fourth of July.

I'm ready.

Enough talking.

We fucking matter!

Let's make a difference now!

It's not too late!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

I was wondering what ICE's take on this would be after I read the Daily News report.

Of course I am always worried when Randi says it's a good deal. I had no idea there was a class action suit against Randi. And, the ambiguities in this agreement match recent contracts.

Is there any real proof that these teachers want justice delayed because that doesn't look good for the profession or union? Also do you know the inside story of what the 3 union fact finders did to make the members angry?????

It will be interesting to see how many teachers get fired for
standing up to testing irregularities.

The better deal would be to make principals responsible for the salaries. It would make them think twice before using the RR for retribution.

Senior teachers beware!!!

ed notes online said...

"Also do you know the inside story of what the 3 union fact finders did to make the members angry?????"

Not all 3 are equal. One has done more alienating than others. Jeff wrote on the day they were announced that it was for PR purposes.

RR people saw some of them as fact finders so facts could be gatherd to screw them.

We've been predicting that the RR was over because it was too much of an embarassment to both the DOE and UFT for them to team up and try to end a continuing PR nightmare. This does not mean the persecution will stop. They'll just figure out other ways and places where it would be harder for them to organize to store them.

RRV (Rubber Room Vigilante) said...

This story was pieced together after talking to some parties involved.

It will be harder for the RR people to organize - when they were isolated in the pre-Klein days at the district level there was less of a stir. By herding them together in large groups, some organizing became possible.

That all began with the notoriety of Jeff Kaufman being sent to the Chapel St RR. Since they were basically ignored by the UFT, Jeff became their advisor - he had "office" hours to go over their cases. Being on the UFT Exec Bd made him a focal point. He invited people to come to meetings to sign up for the 10 minute speaking time. Some started coming to ICE meetings. The publicity ICE gave the situation embarrassed the UFT into some action - which was the SWAT team - like what facts needed to be gathered?

A key issue was the biased investigations being performed while teachers had no ability to have someone do a parallel invesigation on their side. When Jeff tried to get them to do this by hiring para legals - just having them nose around would keep the DOE more honest, he was attacked by Randi and Unity.

Betsy Combier was a self-appointed advocate who worked with people in trouble- she was willing to be there for people in trouble - she won the trust of many RR people though her "legal" advice was often not accurate. People in the know found large holes in the advice she gave.

When Betsy heard about Jeff bringing people to the Exec Bd meeting she began to bring people there too. Interesting that she was able to attend though not a UFT member or invited guest.

Randi hired her (insider info was that Randi disliked her - the word "despised" was bandied about.) So why hire her? Betsy had some inside info on one of Randi's chief people that people at the top were extemely nervous about. Thus after much negotiation, Betsy was offered a job. RR people had some hope she would play the role, though not a para legal, that Jeff called for.

But Randi had other uses for her. To divide the RR people. After many years of being a critic of of the UFT, Betsy became a shill for Randi.

Randi put Betsy together with another shill - Ron Isaac, who ran with ICE in the 2004 elections but then was bought off for his support for the horrible 2005 contract with a job at the NY Teacher.

And Randi added one of the most respected reporters at the NY Teacher Jim Callahan to the SWAT team to give it legitimacy. Isaac and Callahan did not exactly get along, with Isaac trying to undermine the legit reporters at the NY Teacher - he is much despised. Mixing these 3 was oil and water - Besty was jealous of any credit the others received. Word leaked out that even the wacky Isaac thought she was wacked and he actually began to look good in comparison. That's saying a lot.

After a few months of activity - some RR people told stories about how they were dealt with by each of the 3 - some good, some bad. Some RR people said Callahan talked down to them. Some were actually impressed by the way Isaac dealt with them - he was a former chapter leader, the only one of the SWAT team with real school experience. Things tailed off and we end up with the agreement described here.

Naturally, expect all blogs and web sites related to SWAT team members to hail this agreement and not take a look at all the points raised by Jeff and James in this article.

By selling the UFT program as good for RR people, there has been much divisiveness in the RR, with stories coming in that cannot be repeated because of fear among RR people of retaliation.

Thus, Betsy Combier and Randi Weingarten found mutual benefits in this arrangement. Betsy gets a salary. Randi cuts down on RR opposition.

Two RR groups have continued to battle the UFT. One is TAGNYC which has consistetly gone to PEP meetings to go head to head with Joel Klein while also going to Delegate Assemblies to put pressure on the UFT.
http://teacheradvocacygrpnyc.blogspot.com/

NYC Educator said...

Is it true that the principal no longer has to show up, thus denying members an opportunity to confront their accuser?

Woodlass said...

Principals certainly don't have to show up to Step II's. They can do it by conference call. I hope someone will answer this question for Step III's, for 3020-a hearings, and for any other level/hearing that isn't covered.

I wanted to mention that at my Step II grievance, the officer announced that only the principal has the right to be part of the hearing and asked me (the grievant) if I would like the principal, back in her office, to clear the room of any other people. I said yes.

But there's no way to prove that my request got anyone to actually move his unwanted butt out of the room.

What a crock!

Anonymous said...

Absolutely true NYC Educator. No principal at hearings.

Anonymous said...

Headline should read:

Randi Rubber Stamps Rubber Room Ruse!!

Whatever one may think about Ron, I believe he is an advocate for teachers. But, he must also feed and school his kids. So he cannot object to anything Randi does.

But that Betsy story--Unbelievable.

How sad how people sell out so quickly. New Action all over again.

Randi made her an offer she couldn't refuse. Then kissed her ring.

Anonymous said...

Ron's kids are older than him.

Anonymous said...

Then they should be supporting Ron, not Randi.

Anonymous said...

The head lawyer for NYSUT mentioned during his recent tour at one RR that the 3020a caseload more than doubled during last two years. If it is true, the backlog will continue even with the increase of 8 arbitrators. Any coments on that?

Anonymous said...

With aboaut 1000 teachers in RR, it is still far short of 10 percent of the teaching force at DoE. Actually, it is still 9 percent below the benchmark set by Bloomberg and Klein.
DoE and UFT will need to build the process centers at the scale unheard of to get this job done. Wake up, it is just a beginning.
I want to get into the business of educational law, the business must be booming.

Anonymous said...

It is sometimes true as Randi said "Justice delayed is justice denied", but what is even more true and fitting in Rubber Room situation is "Injustice delayed is injustice denied".

Since DoE, UFT, NYSUT, even private lawyers all feed upon hapless teachers in 3020a proceedings. you will never get justice, and you will always get injustice. Your only friend and your best friend is the one to have Injustice delayed.
Randi and Klein, two top attorneys, know it full well. They want to make sure your only and best friend be taken away from you.

Anonymous said...

I think Chaz's post adds to this argument about how bad this agreement is.