April 12, 2015
Michael Mulgrew PresidentUnited Federation of Teachers
Via Fax and email
Dear President Mulgrew:
There will be UFT Elections coming up in May or June for Chapter Leader and Delegate positions in every Chapter. This election is denying Absent Teacher Reserves (ATRs) and Leave Replacement Teachers the right to serve as a Chapter Leader and/or Delegate because ATRs or Leave Replacement Teachers belong to no UFT Chapter.
As you are well aware, ATRs have sought to establish a specific Chapter so that our unique needs can be met. Despite numerous requests for a Functional Chapter, the UFT leadership has consistently rejected them claiming that all of our union representation needs can be met within the schools we rotate in and out of by Chapter Leaders in those schools.
Fundamental to our
Union’s Constitution, our history and the Labor
Management Disclosure and Reporting Act (LMDRA), it is incumbent upon our union
leadership to protect the voting rights of members and our rights to qualify
and hold elected union positions.
Recently, the UFT Executive Board promulgated new provisions and a bylaw which, while attempting to give ATRs and Leave Replacement Teachers some kind of voting rights, falls well short of allowing us equal rights to hold union office and will still deny some of us our right to vote.
According to the UFT Constitution, in Article 5, Section 8 on page 6 it states:
The UFT Executive Board shall supervise all elections in the manner provided for by the Constitution and shall decide all disputes arising out of such elections.
Please view this letter as a formal protest of the upcoming Chapter Elections. The Election Guide and Bylaws approved at a recent Executive Board meeting do not permit full voting rights and full rights to hold union office for ATRs and Leave Replacement Teachers.
The remedy we seek is to:
1-Permit the organization of an ATR-Leave Replacement Teacher Functional Chapter to authorize the election of Chapter Leader and Delegates by and for ATRs and Leave Replacement Teachers in the same manner as provided for other Functional Chapters.
2-Amend the recent Executive Board action to allow ATRs and Leave Replacement Teachers to run for Chapter Leader and Delegate by guaranteeing that we will be able to serve in those positions so long as we remain ATRs or Leave Replacement Teachers.
Some of us were Chapter Leaders and Delegates in schools we worked at that either phased out or we were removed from our Chapters for other reasons. We would like to have an opportunity to serve again in office to be able to have a hand in making UFT policy at the Delegate Assembly (DA). According to UFT publications, the DA is the highest policymaking body in the UFT.
The UFT Constitution states in Article VII, Section 6 concerning the DA:
The Delegate Assembly shall have the power to legislate all matters except for those pertaining to the admission, suspension or expulsion of a member of this organization.
According to federal labor law, since the DA has a policymaking role in this organization, the Delegates must be elected. Federal regulations gives every member of a union an equal opportunity to vote and to serve in union office. The Landrum Griffin federal regulations say this concerning eligibility to be candidates and to hold union office:
Every member in good standing is eligible to be a candidate and to hold office subject to reasonable qualifications in the union's constitution and bylaws that are uniformly imposed.
As mentioned previously, the UFT Executive Board approved an Election Guide and Bylaws at a recent meeting. The Guide says in a Section called ELIGIBILITY:
Any full-time member may nominate, run for a position and vote in a school's election if he or she is on the school's permanent table of organization or assigned to the school on the first Monday in May of an election year.
This provision means that Absent Teacher Reserves who rotate on a weekly, or biweekly or sometimes monthly basis from school to school would vote in the school they are at on the first Monday in May this year. However, constitutionally Chapter Elections can take place at any point in May or June so many ATRs might not be in the same school when the Chapter holds its election as they are at on the first Monday in May. The Election Guide prohibits absentee balloting so some ATRs will be completely disenfranchised.
As for Leave Replacement Teachers, this group of teachers are filling in for up to a year for teachers who are on approved long term leaves. Leave Replacement Teachers will be voting at the school we are temporarily assigned to. However, some Leave Replacement Teachers and Absent Teacher Reserves would like to serve as Chapter Leaders or Delegates (Chapter Leaders are also members of the Delegate Assembly). The Chapter Election Guide says we can nominate, vote and run for a position but it does not say we can hold office.
As Leave Replacement Teachers and Absent Teacher Reserves, we have no right to a job at a particular school once the person we are replacing returns from their leave or when we rotate to the next school so it is highly unlikely that we will still be at the school we are temporarily assigned to after June when a term of office for Chapter Leader or Delegate would begin.
Therefore, as a Leave Replacement Teacher or ATR, we are being denied the right to hold union office because UFT policy has been that once a person is no longer assigned to a particular school, that person is not permitted to represent that school's Chapter in the DA as a Delegate or Chapter Leader.
Federal regulations say that every member in good standing is eligible to hold office subject to reasonable qualifications. It is not a reasonable qualification that we are only eligible to serve in office if we somehow manage to stay in a school where we have no right to stay. Officially, Leave Replacement Teachers and ATRs belong to no chapter.
Many of us have proposed that Absent Teacher Reserves and Leave Replacement Teachers have our own Functional Chapter as a way to be able to vote and hold office since we are not part of any UFT Chapter. The ATR position is now imbedded in the contract with a whole section of the 2014 Memorandum of Agreement. We believe the best way forward is to grant us the status of a Functional Chapter, with an elected Chapter Leader and proportional number of elected Teacher Delegates, as our needs are unique and separate from those of the regular teaching staff.
We have attempted to work this out amicably with union officials but have received no satisfactory resolution.
The US Department of Labor's Office of Management Standards has been contacted concerning representation for Absent Teacher Reserves and Leave Replacement Teachers. They have advised us that we can use the union's official internal remedies before the election to try to uphold our democratic rights.
Since the Executive Board is the body charged by the UFT Constitution with resolving election disputes, we are asking for time at the next Executive Board Meeting to call for the upholding of the rights of Leave Replacement Teachers and Absent Teacher Reserves to vote and to be able to hold union office. We demand equal treatment which is our right under federal labor law.
James EternoAl Zucker
Leave Replacement Teachers and Absent Teacher Reserves
email copies to: Leroy BarrEmil Pietromonaco
C: Robert RennardOffice of Labor-Management Standards
of Labor Investigator-