UFT Secretary Emil Pietromonaco has written a response to the Absent Teacher Reserve AFT election complaint. If anyone wants to read the entire letter, just click here.
For those who do not wish to read the entire document, the UFT is claiming ATRs are being provided with rights that adhere to federal labor law because we are permitted to vote and run for Chapter Leader and Delegate in schools we were in on May 4, 2015. As we said in our election complaint, rights on paper are not necessarily rights in reality.
Some of the main points from Emil are below.
On my election as a Delegate at Middle College High School:
While assigned Middle College HS, Mr. Eterno has the same function as any other teacher assigned to the school. Specifically, I am informed that he is currently a member of the social studies department. Accordingly, the same teachers' collective bargaining agreement that applies to all other teachers at Middle College HS (and the rest of the City School District) applies to him as well.
Most importantly, Mr. Eterno ran for the position of delegate from Middle College HS and was elected. Despite his speculation and skepticism in the instant Challenge, the UFT has made clear that if Mr. Eterno does not return to Middle College HS next school year, he will keep this delegate position.
Can I properly represent Middle College High School if I am not returned there in the fall? According to Emil:
Finally, the hypothetical future issues Mr. Eterno posits may arise should he be moved to another school are speculative at best.
Can anyone stay on as a representative if we are in a different school:
As discussed above, the UFT has made it clear that anyone elected can continue to serve, even if assigned to a different school. This is not to say, of course, that an ATR who accepts a position on the table of organization of another school, who is disciplined, who ceases to be a member, or who is otherwise ineligible to serve may continue to serve as chapter leader or delegate.
So we only stay in office if we continue as rotating ATRs or are returned to the school we were elected from. We are being encouraged to stay as rotating ATRs even though Emil later claims the union is trying to minimize the number of ATRs (see below).
On equitable treatment for ATRs, Emil states:
Moreover, Mr. Etemo does not suggest that some other date or other school would be more appropriate. (I did make other suggestions) Rather, he seems to take issue with school-based chapters either all or with respect to ATRs. In that regard, he does not seek to have ATRs treated the same as others, but rather he seeks to have them treated differently. That, the UFT cannot do. Specifically, 20 U.S.C. S 481 (e) provides that "qualifications" for "eligibility to be a candidate and to hold office" must be "uniformly imposed."
ATRs have to be treated the same until the UFT wants to treat us differently.
On ATRs not being allowed to vote if they were moved on from the school they were assigned to on May 4, 2015:
The report (from Leroy Barr to the UFT Executive Board) further explained that each chapter was required to arrange for a time when staff outside the building could come and vote, thus resolving the concerns regarding absentee ballots. Indeed, the solution to this question can be as simple as allowing voting to occur past the end of school on a particular day to allow teachers not on campus time to travel to the school and vote.
Forget the absurdity of ATRs being forced to vote in schools we were just passing through on May 4, was anyone told about the ability to travel back to a school they were no longer assigned to in order to vote?
On the legality of ATRs having to vote in the school they were assigned to on May 4, 2015:
Similarly, I am advised that, even if it were determined that the LMRDA does apply, there would be no violation of election provisions of Title IV of the LMRDA. In Wirtz v. Hotel Motel & Club Emp. Union, Local 6, 391 U.S. 492, 496 (1968), the U.S. Supreme Court explained that this provision "requires adequate safeguards to insure a fair election; guarantees a reasonable opportunity for the nomination of candidates, the right to vote, and the right of every member in good standing to be a candidate and to hold office subject to reasonable qualifications uniformly imposed." As discussed above and further explained below, this is precisely what the Bylaws accomplish.
Accordingly, the Bylaws rules are not only in line with the law, but they are reasonable and fair.
Reasonable and fair? That is more than debatable.
Are we at a huge competitive disadvantage in elections as ATRs? Not according to Emil:
Yet, some staff may view an ATR being outside the building and thus not directly subordinate to the principal as a benefit in more zealously representing the interests of staff.
As for the very important issue of the creation of an ATR Functional Chapter:
Indeed, the creation of an ATR functional chapter would serve to undercut the goal of assuring proper treatment for ATRs. It is the UFT's position that, when assigned to a school, an ATR should serve the same function as any other person assigned to the school in that title. To create a functional chapter for ATRs would be contrary to this position as it would suggest that an ATR teacher, for example, does not and should not serve the same "function" as a teacher on the school' s table of organization.
If we had an ATR Chapter, it would undercut the goal of assuring proper treatment of ATRs. Is he serious? We don't serve the same function as a teacher on the school's Table of Organization. Nor do we have the same rights. He goes on:
Likewise, it is the UFT's goal to minimize the number of members without permanent placements and to make the ATR position a temporary one until a permanent position is obtained. To this end, in the most recent MOA, the UFT pressed for — and obtained — contractual provisions that "to the greatest extent reasonably possible" requires the DOE to arrange for interviews of ATRs. The goal of reducing the number of ATRs and making it a short-term assignment is inconsistent with the notion that members who are ATRs somehow need a functional chapter to advance their interests.
How many ATRs have been temporary for almost a decade? The UFT, which created the ATR problem with the 2005 contract, has done very little, if anything, to help us get placed.
As stated previously, anybody who wants to read the whole letter, just click here.