Thursday, October 23, 2014


Copied below is the full text of the resolution I wrote, at the urging of MORE's Mike Shirtzer, calling for an Absent Teacher Reserve Functional UFT Chapter so ATRs can vote for representatives of our own choosing like all other UFT members can do. MORE fully backed it.

Gloria Brandman from MORE-ICE presented the resolution at yesterday's Delegate Assembly. She made arguments in favor of democracy. UFT Staff Director Leroy Barr spoke against ATRs getting our own Chapter.

Leroy used King George the Third era conservative reasoning to make his case.  He said that Chapter Leaders, District Representatives and Officers fully represent ATRS. He neglected to mention anything about voting. He did not say that many ATRs cannot vote for their Chapter representatives, and none of us can serve as representatives, unlike everyone else in this union. ATRs who can vote are just lucky enough to be passing through a school on a week when there is a Chapter Election. In reality we have no business voting at a school where we are not  Chapter members.

In 1776 it was argued that Members of Parliament represented all of Britain so the colonists in North America were fully represented in Parliament even if they couldn't vote for Parliament or serve in it.

The UFT non-elected modern equivalent of the colonial era appointed Royal Governors would be the appointed District Representatives. Leroy basically told us union leaders represent all of their subjects. ATRS don't need to vote for those leaders or have any hope of serving as a leader. (Yes we can vote for officers but the undemocratic nature of those "elections" is for another post.)

Of course the loyalty oath taking, ruling majority Unity Caucus DA voted with the George the Third style leadership against democracy. However, people who do not believe there should be taxation (union dues) without representation did receive significant support.

Why is Unity fighting so hard against starting an ATR Chapter? Remember when Norm Scott used to talk about "Unity's prime directive." The UFT leadership's main concern is to keep power. They see a citywide ATR Chapter with over a thousand members who might not vote for a Unity Chapter Leader and Delegates as a big threat.

Read the resolution for yourself.

Resolution  for  Full  Union  Representation  for  ATRs     
 Whereas,  the  Delegate  Assembly  is  the  highest  policy  making  body  in  the  United  Federation  of   Teachers,  and

 Whereas,  federal  labor  law  requires  that  policy  making  bodies  within  a  union  be  democratically   elected  with  each  member  entitled  to  a  vote,  and

Whereas,  Absent  Teacher  Reserves  (ATRs)  are  not  entitled  to  vote  in  Chapter  Elections unless  they   happen  to  be  working  in  a  school  that  has  a  Chapter  Election  during  a particular  week  that  the  ATR  is   working  in  a  school,  and

Whereas,  unions  can  set  up  reasonable  rules  as  to  who  can  run  for  office,  but  it  is  not reasonable  that   ATRs  including  Leave  Replacement  Teachers  and  Provisional  Teachers  cannot run  or  serve  as   Delegates  or  Chapter  Leaders  simply  because  they  belong  to  no  Chapter, and

Whereas,  the  ATR  position  has  now  been  embedded  in  the  UFT  contract  in  Section  16  of the  2014   Memorandum  of  Agreement,  therefore  be  it

Resolved,  that  the  UFT  will  immediately  create  a  Functional  Chapter  to  represent  the
interests  of   ATRs,  Leave  Replacement  Teachers  and  Provisional  Teachers.


Anonymous said...

I urge all ATRs to remember the name Leroy Barr. Portelos has a meeting 11/11, all ATRs should go. The UFT should be charged with racketeering.

Francesco Portelos said...

Racketeering is something someone else mentioned.

We have a group within Solidarity looking into it and this :

NYPERB Law Below: Section 209A section 2(a)

2. Improper employee organization practices. It shall be an improper practice for an employee organization or its agents deliberately (a) to interfere with, restrain or coerce public employees in the exercise of the rights granted in section two hundred two, or to cause, or attempt to cause, a public employer to do so; (b) to refuse to negotiate collectively in good faith with a public employer, provided it is the duly recognized or certified representative of the employees of such employer; or (c) to breach its duty of fair representation to public employees under this article.


The Loyaty Oath prescribed by the Unity Caucus does appear possibly to violate Federal Law. Specifically the NLRB Act of 1935. (Prohibition against Company Unions)28USC158b1:

(b) Unfair labor practices by labor organization
It shall be an unfair labor practice for a labor organization or its agents—
(1) to restrain or coerce

In my view the loyalty Oath in the link below is absolutely a restraint and coercion mechanism against the members of the Unity Caucus. Question: How many members of the Unity Caucus would file a NYPERB charge on this issue?

Francesco Portelos said...

In other words the Loyalty oath is a violation.

Sent this to NYC Educator, but I think he just likes to blog about the oath not fight it.

Anonymous said...

Unity is not a labor organization. Unity is a caucus, like a political party or a slate. Individual are free to associate or not to associate.

By the way the only caucus that ejected anyone recently was MORE. Those that were ejected from More were free to start thir own caucus, solidarity.

Anonymous said...

The delegates are so out of touch to what's happening around them. They are told to vote a certain way and do. What sheep!!

ATRs need their own chapter.

Paula Washington said...

1) There are not "over 1,000 ATRs." There are 300 to 400 ATRs as of today because many have found permanent placements. 2) ATRs are represented by the chapter leaders in the schools in which they teach. It is up to the chapter leaders to make them feel welcome and included in the life of the chapter for however long they are a part of a school's community. As CL, I make it my business to greet each one, answer their questions, represent them in disputes with their supervisors, and invite them to chapter meetings. 3) Our union dues support everyone's rights to fair working conditions, health coverage, a well-managed pension fund, and a voice in the workings of the union. 4) After the DA's vote someone called for a division, requesting that every vote be counted even though the vote was not close. President Mulgrew compromised by calling for a standing vote. Fewer than 5% of the delegates in the UFT's largest democratic body supported the resolution. 5) I remember the time before there were ATRs. People displaced by school closings were simply laid off. It was the UFT under Randi Weingarten that negotiated that safety net when Mayor Bloomberg would have summarily let go all the older teachers who were not immediately picked up by another school.

Anonymous said...

huh?? 3-400 atrs?? are you kidding me?? there are 3-400 atr counselors alone forget about counting the teachers..

Anonymous said...

A great deal of my energy and time as a Chapter Leader was spent defending, helping, listening, answering, and soothing the ATRs in my city-wide program, but I did so with the idea that these folks deserved any assistance I could give. There will not be any closing schools; therefore, the ATR pool will eventually diminish. The UFT leadership, which I believe included me represents ALL members, not just some. There is simply no need for complication. Thank you, Dr. John Marvul.

Francesco Portelos said...

Paula Washingtone and Dr. John Marvul,

Please explain why there are other functional chapters. Should they be dissolved since chapter leaders represent guidance counselors; hearing educational services; laboratory specialists and technicians; nurses and therapists; paraprofessionals; school secretaries; social workers and psychologists; speech teachers.

Francesco Portelos said...

I also wonder how many people on the UFT payroll listed here voted for ATR representation.

James Eterno said...

So wrong Paula. Before 2005 contract when a school closed, teachers received preferred placement. That meant you were given a wish list of 6 schools and you were placed in one of them. Revisionist history is one thing but the notion that people were laid off when schools closed before 2005 is plain false. Look it up in old contracts.

James Eterno said...

You are giving the King George argument too. You represent all of us. I want a rep who has walked in my shoes who I can freely elect just like your members elected you John. Why can't I have that right?

James Eterno said...

Francesco you make some interesting points but I strongly disagree with your comment about NYC Educator. The man went all over the state this past spring to fight against the Unity backed candidates for NYSUT office. He is still waging this battle in NYC, statewide and nationally. Let us be kind to our friends please.

Anonymous said...

To Paula,
You must mean 3-400 in each borough! All those placed are there provisionally. (Back to the pool with ya.) The schools weren't simply closed - they were set up for failure and senior staff purposely displaced. If the city could have laid us off, it would have - the union can't take credit for that or for saving our jobs or for basically anything positive. If the city tried to lay us off, every municipal union would go on the attack and the state legislature would stop it. The union can however, take credit for the 2005 contract which created the surreal educational environment we now find ourselves in. Most chapter leaders I meet aren't tenured, deathly afraid of the administration, totally clueless and only took the position for a period off. If you have a problem you better think long and hard about going to one of them - because you run a very real risk of it all being repeated. Also many of them feel the union isn't able to protect them if they become targeted. It's all about self-preservation, but I don't expect the union to be an exclusive club with oaths of aligence.

Anonymous said...

If a school is failing and is closed, it is the faculties fault. They, as a whole, are incompetent. So the city has no sympathy, nor do they care one iota about the ATR's plight. If you don't like it, retire or resign. This is our employers attitude. What is most disturbing however, is that the UFT 's actions are supportive of this attitude.

Anonymous said...

Our union could care less about us.

Anonymous said...

From my ATR experience the chapter leader only checked my program ONCE and in some schools I never met the chapter leader. My belongings are rarely secured. Perhaps this is why the ATR's want representation at the delegate assembly. Paula is putting out misinformation about the ATR's.

Gloria Brandman said...

As the motivator of this reso at the DA last week, I was quite surprised when Leroy Barr stated that the ATRs have sufficient representation at the school level. As I stated, I do everything that is possible at my school (and I am sure that every other tenured Chapter Leader does the same at their schools) to assist and support ATRs. However, their needs are very specific and it is not always possible to provide the targeted support that is needed especially if they are undergoing a grievance or a disciplinary meeting for an alleged situation that occurred at another school. When my psychologist required support at a meeting with the administrator, we agreed that she should call in the Psychologist Chapter Boro Rep to represent her. ATRs also deserve a Functional Chapter so as to have a voice at the DA. Leroy Barr did not address this in his well crafted rebuttal for the resolution. But perhaps if Mr. Barr was actually working on a day to day basis in a school, he might observe the reality of this situation. When officers of the union are called on to defend or deny resolutions brought to the DA by working members, perhaps the officers can take a back seat and not be called on to speak so instantaneously. And Paula’s comment (above) , “fewer than 5% voted in favor” is not accurate. It was a larger percentage but the real question I have is: Why does the Unity/UFT leadership not want the ATRs to have a Functional Chapter? Every ATR I have asked has been in favor of this idea. Of course, they could not vote at the DA for or against this reso because they were not present! When and if this group of our members is gone, the Chapter can be dissolved. So why are our UFT leaders reluctant to give a voice to the ATRs at the DA? What are they afraid of?

David Hedges said...

The ATR Assignment Office has been furnished with a protocol that now allows principals to request specific ATRs to be assigned to their school, for the year. The Deputy Chancellor has agreed. This kind of assignment would be at no cost to the school's budget. Principals have shown that it would be a cost saving measure to staff their schools with the ATRs they request.

Without knowing it, the Principals' union has represented us better, on this issue, than the UFT.

Any ATR who wants to be assigned, as a coverage teacher, to a specific school should make a strong and endearing appeal to the principal of their choice. They should ask the principal to contact the ATR Assignment Office and make the request.

Every best wish,

Anonymous said...

The New York Post has lowered the boom on forced placement. Carmen Farina is walking the tightrope. I agree that the ATR's are waning as the impact of schools closings wanes. The goal should be to eliminate the title of ATR and place excessed teachers in positions of respect such as mentors, team teachers, or curriculum developers.

James Eterno said...

Can you show us something in writing please?

James Eterno said...

This would be much easier if we had a Chapter to look out for our interests.

Francesco Portelos said...

You're right. I take that back.

David Hedges said...

In the private sector, it's grounds for dismissal if you go over your boss's head. They're not that strict in the DOE. If, as an ATR, we have a complaint, it is wise to let the UFT know, but it is more effective to go over the ATR Assignment Office's head and work directly with the Superintendent or Deputy Chancellor.

Like the "telephone game" policies that are issued by the top aren't always implemented accurately. Talking with upper level management provides them with feedback. Often, these positions are political appointments, which means, there's always an out of work son-in-law who's pestering somebody in power for a job. Pointing out the weakness of the ones we have to deal with as ATRs increases our chances for getting someone new. A little change can go along way in the pursuit of honest anarchy.

Get in touch with the Superintendent. Best by typed letter, sent Overnight FedEx.

The problem is we aren't getting attention, neither from the UFT nor from the DOE. That means there's no accountability, and we have to hold ourselves accountable and commit to accountable action.

We need to articulate our issues and get them prioritized. FedEx can do wonders for that. And it's nice feeling important again. Very therapeutic, surely.

Anonymous said...

To David,
Mike is loaning out his drafting table to any principal who wants to hammer out an individual appeal from a pleading ATR.

David Hedges said...

When the UFT and the DOE spawned the ATR they made the mistake that gods and writers inevitably make. Or to give way to a great Oscar Wilde quote, "I think that God, in creating man, somewhat overestimated his ability." The ATR, like a character in a story, has surprised the authors by having a life quite apart from how it was planned. At first, principals saw the ATR as Savior- extra staff, at no cost. "What would we do without you ATRs? They asked, as they gave us programs with six classes and made us do lunchroom duty.

Now, principals want that utopian arrangement back. They want to minimize the variables by having a say in who they get, and they don't want their purse strings tightened. In the long run, they realize, it's cheaper to have regular ATRs doing coverages, and they've gotten the Deputy Chancellor to see that too.

As ATRs, we don't need the UFT to protect us, we're already in the text, we've got chapters and verses. We exist.

ATRs get sacked for doing nothing, and doing it late, not for being proactive and hooking up with principals who want them. This is a win-win situation for us.

Go forth and multiply- adopt a principal who wants you. Leave the UFT out of this, This is our victory, not theirs.

Anonymous said...

Are the principals aware they can hire an ATR for the entire year if there is no vacancy? I'm not sure they do, nor does anyone else seem to be aware of if. This could be a win/ win for everyone.

Philip Nobile said...

I asked my DR about Hedges's undocumented claim. The DR replied: "Not true. The source may be basing information on a memo that went out last year regarding assistant principals who are in rotation."

Anonymous said...

It would seem to me ATRs need their own Chapter because 1) they often travel school to school and therefore do NOT have any representation 2) The new Chancellor is actively bringing new teachers into the system without placing the current ATRs--please note her dedicated $5 million to bring new Arts license teachers (120 of them) into the system. Undoubtedly because these teachers are much less expensive than the current excessed teachers with Arts licenses. The UFT needs to explain how they are fighting this situation.