Sunday, April 18, 2010

RUBBER ROOM AGREEMENT: AS USUAL DOE GETS THE BETTER OF UFT

Everyone is hearing about the agreement to eliminate the rubber rooms for teachers and other UFT members who are reassigned. Let’s analyze the agreement very carefully to see how once again the DOE totally outwitted the UFT.

ON THE SURFACE IT APPEARS TO BE A STEP FORWARD
3020A cases, where the DOE is trying to terminate a UFT member, should move along faster now as the number of arbitrators has been increased from 23-39. In addition more arbitrators will be added for less serious cases where the DOE doesn’t seek a penalty greater than a four week suspension. Some of this looks good at first glance. I think all of us can agree that justice delayed is justice denied so having more arbitrators seems like it is a positive move. In addition, trying mediation for current people reassigned is a move in the right direction.

WHAT’S WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE?
If we are adding sixteen arbitrators to expedite teacher discipline (and more to hear less serious cases), then sixteen arbitrators should have also been added to expedite our grievances against the DOE.

There is a member in my school who has been waiting since 2006 to have a grievance heard at arbitration. I don’t see the NY Post, the Daily News or the NY Teacher complaining about our stalled grievance process being delayed justice. I am quite sure that there are many other UFT members waiting for years to have their cases resolved while the DOE continues to blatantly violate the contract. If the DOE wants to expedite cases against us, then a fair deal would have been for them to expedite grievances against them. That didn’t happen. The UFT once again gave in without getting equal value in return.

Here is our prediction on how all of this will go. As there will be many more arbitrators hearing disciplinary cases and extra hearing dates, there will likely be more members than in the past charged with incompetence or misconduct. Add to this the fact that the DOE will have sixty days after removing someone from a school to charge them, or put them back in school and charge them later, but UFT members only get 15 days to respond (I have been told we don’t even get a NYSUT lawyer until we are charged.). Therefore, DOE will most probably attempt to overwhelm the system with 3020A cases.

Incidents that a few years ago would have generated a letter for file will now be brought before 3020A arbitrators and the ranks of teachers who will be fined, suspended, or terminated will increase. Meanwhile, our grievances against DOE will continue to languish for years. I hope my forecast is totally wrong.

WILL THE RUBBER ROOMS BE CLOSED?
The new agreement will give the DOE four options as to what they can do with a UFT member they want to reassign. The DOE will be able to suspend someone with pay. More than likely they will use this option very sparingly. Other options will include suspending someone without pay for an expanded number of causes until their case is finished.

Another choice for reassigning people will be for someone to be reassigned within their own building to administrative duties. Imagine the indignity of coming to work in your own school and being removed from the classroom to sit on hall patrol all day. I foresee this choice will end up being very popular with the DOE as they try to wear people down and convince them to quit.

The final option for the DOE will be to send a member to “a DOE administrative office to do work consistent with law (an ‘Administrative Office Assignment’).” Sounds like the “rubber room” before Joel Klein’s days. Calling it a gain to have our members “alphabetizing paper clips” or doing other such administrative tasks is a huge stretch. If someone still can be removed from a building and reassigned to an administrative office based on the whim of a principal who gets a rubber stamp approval from above, it still is essentially the rubber room.

To put it all very succinctly, I saw Joel Klein interviewed on MSNBC last Friday. He was lauding the rubber room agreement while criticizing the governor’s veto in Florida of the bill that would have ended teacher tenure in that state. The UFT is also hailing the rubber room agreement but I have seen nothing yet at UFT.org or in the Chapter Leader Update about how teachers took matters into their own hands in Florida and emerged victorious. This tells you something.

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

In may ways the UFT never misses an opportunity to miss an opportuniy. DOE had egg on its face over the failed AND expensive rubber room fiasco and UFT lent them a helping hand.
You are quite right that humiliating a classroom teacher as a full time hall monitor (etc) will only help the DOE's mission of getting older and outspoken teachers to resign or retire.
The adimin reassignments, by contrast, will give DOE more of an opportunity to create false charges against already-charged teachers.
Both in-school reassignments and reassignments to administrative offices enable and enhance the DOE's tactics and strategies in its war on teachers.
Who on earth thought this was a good idea for teachers?

Anonymous said...

Who on earth thought this was a good idea for teachers you say?

Michael Mulgrew thats who!

Anonymous said...

I noticed that Joel Klein was viewed much more suspiciously by the hosts of the Joe & Mica show. They were asking much more critical questions. Pat Buchanan asked why recently graduated NYC students entering New York University could not even perform simple math equations. I think the mainstream media is starting to wise up about the ed deformers like Joel Klein, Arne Duncan and Mike Bloomberg.

Chaz said...

James:

You know how much I respect you but you are wrong. The closing of the "rubber rooms" will result in less, not more teachers reassigned and what you say about reassigning teachers for frivilous things has been happening for years as you well know. How else can you explain the close to 700 teachers already reassigned?

Yes, this agreement is far from perfect and I would like to see faster grievance timelines, fair investigations, and charges against Administrators for "false accusations" but closing the "rubber rooms" is a victory for all reassigned teachers.

Jeff Kaufman said...

Chaz,

We are in the middle of a fact-finding where I am certain we will lose more than we have gained. Does it make sense to use a bargaining point for no obvious return? The Union has done little to expedite cases under the current rules. Why should things be different now. All we did was give some cover for the mayor for nothing. Also why didn't we have an opportunity to vote on it. Does the membershop voice count. They have modified the contract; this should have been discussed not revealed to attempt to pre empt the Rubber Room movie.

Thanks to the Mikes we now have more reasons to be suspended without pay and we can be assigned to watch the bathroom...great victory?

Anonymous said...

So, with the increased amount of arbitrators do you think the UFT is going to substantial increase the number of attorneys? They will add a token amount. The result will be less due process for us teachers. This agreement further reduces the statutory tenure protection. Also, what if the teacher needs more time to develop a case. What happens? He doe not get it.

Fidgety said...

As a Rubber Room resident, I am yet to be convinced that this agreement will be of any benefit to the reassigned teachers. The secrecy, the vagueness and the lack of oversight will blow up in all of our faces... Something stinks!

james said...

Chaz-

We all hope you are right but our experience with the DOE tells us something else will happen.

ed notes online said...

Good work guys. Chaz, you make sense if you look at the agreement literally. But you forget about Klein's team of lawyers who take a loophole and drive a truck through it. Experience counts - for teachers and for our knowledge of how every single agreement the UFT has signed with the DOE has ended up with us losing more than gaining. James' point is right on!

Funny how the agreement came a day before the Rubber Room movie premiered. The DOE tried to use the RR for years to make a PR case to end tenure and the farce was beginning to blow up in their faces.

The point about grievances is important. Groups I have been associated for 40 years have been asking for monetary penalties on the DOE for not adhering to agreements and not just leave it to a useless grievance procedure. Haven't there been time limits in the contract all along? And Jeff's point is important: contract modifications should be voted on. But the 91 per centers trump the 9 per cent dissenters.

Anonymous said...

I just don't get it. I THOUGHT the union memebers WERE suppose to vote on these big changes. I mean, isn't that a part of the contract that can't be changed until we go into a new contract. What will happen to the ATR"S now I wonder? I also here that they want to give the principals more power to get rid of who they want to in case of lay offs not seniority. I guess that means all there friends will stay and I with 24 years will be forced to retire. Bastards!

Philip Nobile said...

Speaking as a three-year rubber room resident who's agitated unsuccessfully for real UFT advocacy for the reassigned, I share everybody's pessimism about Mulgrew's secret agreement.

What we must do now is force Mulgrew to open up negotiations with members. We need an ad hoc committee to pounce on UFT while the issue is hot and .

Klein has already admitted that some teachers should be cleared. Howie Schoor told the 25 Chapel St room last week that most of us were reassigned on "trumped up charges."
The UFT passed a resolution last May condemning "biased" OSI investigations.

I made a 50-page corruption complaint versus OSI and OEO with SCI on March 16 that is currently under consideration at SCI. Despite persistent criticism of the DOE's perversions of simple justice in private, the UFT refused even to comment on my "indictment."

For starters, Jim, Chaz, Norm et al., let's take our discontent with the agreement out of the blogs and into Executive Board meetings. Maybe we can get Mulgrew to deal with us as he has with the mayor.

Interested parties, email me at nobilep@aol.com

Anonymous said...

this is a follow up to my post on the last thread before this about my Principal wanting to change the schools use of extended day time from 4 days 37.5 minutes to 3 days 50 minutes. I am aware of the SBO process, but again my main concern is about my Principals desire to use the three extended days as 9th period classes. Is that even allowable? We are a one session elementary school. From how I read the SBO manual and the extended day agreement I don't think she can, but she is moving forward quickly. She wants to have a vote on Thursday. Am I correct that there are really 2 different SBO's: 1. changing the school day & 2. incorporating the extended day time into the regular schedule. Again, I ask is that even an allowable option? Thank you to those that responded before. Again, HELP!

Anonymous said...

To Anon regarding the 37.5 minutes extended time in an elementary school.

If you, the chapter leader, does NO SBO on extended time, then the principal can blow it out of her ass!

Article 6 is SUPER CLEAR!. There's only one way to have extended time as per Article 6 in your contract. Make a copy of that page and give it to your principal and call your district representative IMMEDIATELY. An SBO can ONLY, ONLY be initiated by the chapter leader. If the chapter leader says NO, the principal cannot change the extended time configuration at his/her whim. Teachers must then follow the 37.5 extended time as outlined in Article 6, TO THE LETTER.

I am truly surprised that you have not called your district rep. to report the principal's intent of violating the contract.

Good Luck.

Anonymous said...

I have contacted the District Rep. I've come to understand the SBO process more. I'm holding a chapter meeting to discuss the schedule change. I actually think my school will be supportive of the change, my biggest concern was about her desire to create a 9th period with the time. Her plan was to require all the 2 thru 5 grade students stay for extended day. She now knows she can't do that (At least I don't think she can do that, someone please confirm for me she can't make or ask 3's and 4's to stay for extended day). In addition she says she misspoke about the time being a 9th period. It will be extended day and follow extended day rules. The most interesting aspect to this whole thing is she has always been against an earlier start time. Now the school will for the first time understand that they get to decide that. This whole thing may backfire on her somewhat and lead to an earlier start time. There is a decent amount of people that have always wanted an earlier start.

Anonymous said...

Chaz -

Did the UFT promise you a job if you kept lying to and bitterly hurting your colleagues? Or are you having difficulty reasoning these days? Or are you so petrified that you've convinced yourself your life will improve in September after they assign you to some school building or network den?

Rubber room guests will be, each one of them, come September: separated from other informed and caring teachers; surrounded by ignorant and often vicious, sadistic "school" personnel; assigned demeaning tasks and used as lowgrade lackeys; harassed and LIKELY BROUGHT UP ON NEW CHARGES; sometimes "rated" for their school year by illiterate, analphabet morons who despise teachers, brought in years ago by teacher-hating principals.

Actually, those are just the high points.

Think again.

Tom Forbes said...

The recent agreement is not a reason to celebrate. Leroy from the UFT showed up at the trailers at GW last Thursday and expected the membership to applaude his announcement. Jeremy from RubberRoom the Movie was outside our confines yesterday and he estimates the real number of reassigned people is probably closer to a 1000. The UFT has always told us, "we are getting paid". Not sure if that is going to appease the affected membership anymore.

Anonymous said...

The full number of arbitrators were never hired after the last deal to speed up the 3020a hearings. Why should we believe they will hire 39 arbitrators when they couldn't or wouldn't hire 23.

Anonymous said...

I wonder what's going to happen to the 4 teachers' lawsuit regarding their stay in the RR?

That was big news. One of the RR residents is David Pakter.

Just curious

Polo Colon said...

The Union must do some serious fact-finding research quickly with and impact study think tank about this agreement! IT IS AN EMERGENCY! Many lives and careers are on the line. I agree with the pessimists: something stinks to lowest hell in NYC!

Anonymous said...

The daily news article yesterday answers our questions about ATR's. Klein is coming after ATR's and wants to get rid of us if we don't find a position after a year.
Try calling your UFT office, all you get is voice mail and calls are not returned. I have been calling now for two weeks and leaving messages about a grievance that I had a year ago and still no decision. This is now their operating proceedure.

Chaz said...

Disagreement is the basis of true democracy and the closing of the "rubber rooms" is a good thing,

To accuse me of pandering to "Unity" for a job is insulting and shows your lack of knowledge about me and my blog.

I do not trust the DOE to live up their agreement but I am willing to see if Mulgrew keeps Klein's feet to the fire. Only time wull tell.

Anonymous said...

Jeff:

I agree with you 100% on the MISTAKE of going to fact finding.

We can't help but lose, especially in the ATR area. The arbitrators can easily give KLein most of what he wants there, stating how similar situations have been handled in other parts of the country.

It's a steady downward spiral with any negotiations with Bloomberg right now due to the bad economy and the overall momentum against union teachers. In these tough times, why not just sit across the table from him for awhile? NOT LOSING IS GAINING right now.

Anonymous said...

THERE IS ONE MAJOR FLAW IN THE MULGREW- ADAM ROSS- CLAUDE HIRSCH DEAL WITH KLEIN:
NYSUT is not hiring any new lawyers; therefore, the members will get a faster route to their execution.
any rubber room prisoner should sue Mulgrew under the Landrum Griffin ACt for lack of representation, for colluding with the employer and they should ask for a refund of their dues- then call the daily papers.
what happened to the 2008 deal when Randi and Mulgrew and
Hersch-ey bar -whose staff despises him- agreed to hire extra lawyers?

Philip Nobile said...

Not necessarily. I heard from my NYSUT counsel that rubber room cases are being settled right and left. Plus the math of 3020-a's requires an attorney for each side.
A surplus of DOE hires need not be disadvantageous to us, should it?