Saturday, November 02, 2013

MYTH THAT TEACHERS NEED A NOTE FROM A DOCTOR AFTER THREE ABSENCES IN A ROW IS BUSTED IN GRIEVANCE

Times are really bad for NYC teachers these days when the UFT has to go to grievance to uphold basic rights that anyone can read in our contract.  One crystal clear provision in the contract entitles teachers and other UFT school based members to ten self treated sick days per year.  Here is the language of Article 16A11:

Teachers on regular appointment shall be granted absence refunds for illness, without a statement from a physician, for a total of no more than ten days in any school year.

Article 16A11 goes on to say that we can use three of those ten days for personal business, providing we give notice, and two of the three personal days can be utilized to care for a sick relative. 

Nowhere does it say that if a teacher is out three days in a row, then a doctor's note must be submitted, yet that is a myth that has been spread throughout the system.

The UFT had to go to grievance to uphold the right to take ten self treated sick days.  Of course we won this case. Apparently, the UFT doesn't want to brag too loud about this victory as the result is buried at the bottom of the weekly Chapter Leader Newsletter on November 1 where it states:


A union-initiated grievance maintaining that members should not need to produce a doctor’s note after taking three self-treated sick days consecutively has been resolved in our favor. You may take up to 10 self-treated days a year without a doctor’s note. This is true whether the days are taken separately or some — or even all — are taken consecutively.


While we all should be gratified that the UFT Grievance Department fought this case and won, it should never have had to be filed in the first place.  Obviously, the Department of Education knew it was wrong as the grievance was resolved and not ruled on by an arbitrator. 

Unfortunately, this is how the DOE operates these days. They violate clear contractual rights and wait for the union to grieve.  When they are finally confronted, they back down.  Meanwhile, myths such as the one that says we need a doctor's note after being out for three days in a row spread throughout the system.


One more point on this issue: Is it good practice to submit a note from a doctor if out for a few days?  The answer is that if someone visits a physician when sick, it is a good idea to obtain and submit a doctor's note because then a member preserves the ten self treated days.  However, members can be adversely rated if absence is so numerous as to impede performance on the job even if doctor's notes are turned in.

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

Even when the UFT wins, you want to denigrate them for not screaming about it loud enough. From what I see, you guys are the ones who spread the myths around about ATRs, about under the table connections with Bill Gates, and about national conspiracies. You ran, you lost, now why don't you support your union when it advocates for the members!

BetOnThis said...

You guys won and the Union lost. It is sad when we are left to fight workplace battles on our own and watch our Union lose whatever political strength it had by picking wrong candidates and supporting casino gambling to tax the poor.

NYC Educator said...

Not clear on your meaning. Please elaborate.


Myths about ATRs? Aren't they teachers without classrooms? Didn't the 2005 contract drop their right to be placed? Didn't we vote to send them week to week, school to school a few years back?

Under the table connections with Bill Gates? Who says they're under the table? Wasn't he keynote at AFT? Hasn't he given millions to AFT?

Not sure what you mean about national conspiracies. Are you talking about Common Core, which 75% of NY kids failed, and that people could infer this is due to quality of teaching or schools? Or VAM junk science ratings, embraced by RttT states, of which we are one?

Chaz said...

I agree with nyc educator. What myths?


I am not a member of any caucus but an independent thinker but tell me who came up with the ATR nonsense?

Ice, More, New Action? Oh yes it was "Unity" . I for one thinks the ATR violates the NYS Civil Service Law but that is for another day.

There are days that I wonder if our union is more the problem then solution.

Anonymous said...

I too am an independent thinker and I agree that people need to put the past behind them after an election and advocate for the members. All this talk about conspiracies only detracts us from talking about real solutions. Sounds to me like everyone here except for the person with the first comment is ignoring that the UFT actually fought for and maintained a right for our members.

James Eterno said...

This grievance had a positive outcome but the fact that the UFT had to wage this fight shows how weak we are. No conspiracy theory here. Just a little cold hard reality.

JJ said...

How about hardship grievance based on location of home and work? Contract clearly states 90 minutes. How many ATRs and others are placed at an illegal location? What is the UFT answer? It takes months to fight your placement. The DOE wont work with us, they don't like us. Who cares about like? A contract is a contract.

James Eterno said...

I agree 100%. This is clear language on hardships that should be enforced. Why isn't it? Let's push it.

Anonymous said...

I feel a cough coming on.

Raving Lunatic said...

It's a little disappointing to see Eterno and pals criticizing the leadership. During the election period, that was unacceptable because it was divisive. Now it's unacceptable because we won and do not have to listen to this anymore.

Kindly get with the program. It's Saturday night and I need to start drinking.

ed notes online said...

Love that "advocate for the members" line. And when the UFT advocates for ed deform as it does so often should we support the Unity machine? How about democracy? MORE gets MORE votes than New Action while New Action gets 10 Ex Bd seats. Before we support the Unity leadership let's see a democratic union instead of a Politburo.

Anonymous said...

Nice to hear Raving Lunatic take some time out from his busy schedule of partying to grace us mere teachers with his presence.

Unitymustgo! said...

I'm confused by the last paragraph? How exactly do our sick days work? I thought it is day ten days period and any days over (doctors notes or not) is grounds for a possible "u" rating under the old system. You make it sound more like a teacher is allowed 10 self treated days (meaning no doctors notes), but can go over 10 overall days if they turn in doctors notes for those visits? Plus, I would like to know how if at all absenses affect teachers who are under the new evaluation system? If a teacher rates well enough under Advance, but has gone over on absences does it matter in any way? Are absenses a factor at all under Advance?

James Eterno said...

I don't really know how absences will impact on Advance but it seems that administration can easily rate you ineffective and say they didn't have enough time to rate you on 22 Danielson components because of your absences. The teacher could argue, if the kids all had good growth scores, that the absences didn't impede instruction.

On the second issue, under the old system it was principal's discretion as to what to do if a teacher goes over ten sick days. They were supposed to look at the overall attendance record (days in sick bank) and other record.

Advance or no Advance, we recommend (if eligible) taking paid Family and Medical Leave Act time if using many days and you have time in the sick bank (unpaid FMLA would have to be used if the bank is depleted). This gets complicated as to who can take a FMLA.

Without a doctor's note after ten self treated days, you will be docked pay.

Anonymous said...

I can understand UFT posting this information however lets be really clear UFT will not have enough people to respond to every write up that will be issued behind this. I can remember years ago when the term PPT was used to grant provisionals five years to teach while working towards certification. Police, Corrections, and other agencies have people show up to their homes when they call out sick. What would UFT do if this came up in the next contract negotiations?The city has already said sick time is being abused. Newbies would not have a clue or idea of what this means. My point being although ten days of self treatment are on the books teachers have always been discouraged to take all ten days at one time. Calling in to your school (in this climate take your chances with subcentral) daily covers the teacher taking the absence. To take three days w/o medical certification truly will set the pattern. If a teacher creates the pattern of breaking down the days into two or three days at a time w/o medical documentation the teacher will be written up. Time and Attendance the rule is if a teacher calls in sick your classes have to be covered. If you fill out the form for a personal day the school knows your intention of taking off a day. See the difference? The teacher is out three days w/o notice which impacts upon the other teachers in the building who have to do coverages. If the principal is a newbie to the system many have no idea of BOE and its politics. Yet the veterans know the rules. If you call in sick for three or more straight days where is the medical documentation to support this? If you need personal time then fill out the form.Although this is a ruling tread lightly. While the grievance is filed teachers still need a place to work. It is great to go through the lengthy process of fighting back meanwhile you have a family to take care of. If you show up w/o medical certification for the absence whether it is three days or ten the teacher will honestly create a problem that is not necessary. Pick and choose your battles wisely. Remember the decisions teachers make impacts upon the entire school community. Its great chapter leaders are there however at the end of the day principals can make the life of a teacher living hell.

Anonymous said...

The DOE takes the position that making the UFT use up arbitration days (limited as they are)on issues they don't expect, in good faith, to win is still a win when they lose.

Michael Fiorillo said...

Mulgrew has spent $250,000 in COPE money in support of a gambling referendum.

On Friday afternoon, I received a call from someone who was cagey about who they represented, but who either was from the union or had received my phone number from them.

What was that about advocating for the members?

Anonymous said...

There is a lot of confusion on this page but I know that many of the people here have their heart in the right place. I'm willing to give the President of the UFT the benefit of the doubt when he supports the casino initiative. We all know how the state plays with earmarked monies, but this has the capacity to add a significant till in the pot.
As to the sick days I direct everyone to the Friedman decision which says that each case is different.
As for the ATR's, the doomsayers have been saying for years that they would be let go and that the UFT would agree to it. It just hasn't happened. I believe that we are close to having weathered the storm. I wouldn't be a bit surprised if they weren't placed back in the classroom by, at the latest, next Fall.

James Eterno said...

This blog has not taken the position that the ATRs would be let go by the UFT. You can look it up.

I agree with you totally on the Friedman decision which says each case on attendance is different and that was the point of the last paragraph of this post.

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