Wednesday, July 15, 2015


An Open email to AFT President Randi Weingarten

Good day Randi,

I know you are very busy with all of your duties as the President of the American Federation of Teachers. I apologize for taking up your time but I could use some advice and who better to turn to than my national union's President.

I have once again been excessed from my teaching position even though I have 29 years of teaching experience because I am an Absent Teacher Reserve (ATR).  I had a seven month regular teaching assignment at Middle College High School, which was a wonderful experience, but the school does not have the funds to keep me on their Table of Organization.

Therefore, I have a very difficult decision to make this summer.  I have examined the Open Market Hiring System for the New York City Department of Education and some decent schools have openings in my subject area, social studies.  However, if I obtain a position, the UFT says I will lose the seat at the UFT Delegate Assembly that the teachers of Middle College High School elected me to.

In the UFT's recent response to the election complaint four Absent Teacher Reserves sent to the American Federation of Teachers, the UFT said the following in footnote 10: "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 at another school, who is disciplined, who ceases to be a member, or who is otherwise ineligible to serve may continue to serve as a chapter leader or delegate."

According to the union, if I go on the open market and obtain a permanent position, I lose my cherished Delegate position. Being a union representative is an important way to be involved in the union.  However, finding a regular teaching job means I will have to break my pledge to the teachers of Middle College High School who I told I would represent faithfully next year if they sent me as an ATR to the Delegate Assembly.

My dilemma completely contradicts the UFT's stated goal for ATRs which they write about later in their response to our chapter election complaint: "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."

I would like your advice on how I should handle this.  We complained to you about how ATRs are not having our democratic rights at the school level upheld in the chapter election process and have heard nothing after the contradictory UFT response.

This is just one small example among many of how ATRs are treated unfairly by our union, the United Federation of Teachers.


James Eterno
Absent Teacher Reserve

Michael Mulgrew
Emil Pietromonaco
Adam Ross
Loretta Johnson


Anonymous said...

Don't worry there's no way any school is hiring an ATR permanently - you have a better chance of hitting the Lotto. I sent out 25 resumes and not one interview. It's the same for everyone I know.

NYC Educator said...

I admire your patience and good manners.

Anonymous said...

Stated with elegance and dignity.

Cannot wait to see the forked tongue response.

Thank you for representing all of us.

Anonymous said...

Hi James, Mike Mulgrew here-
Here's my response: Just retire and go away.
Have a great day!

James Eterno said...

I can't retire. I'm not old enough. I am what you would call a career teacher. Even though I don't think for a second this is the real Michael Mulgrew commenting, I would guess the sentiments expressed here that his Unity Caucus wants me to go away just might be accurate.

Anonymous said...

Don't hold your breath. She is,a politician and will be all talk only!

Anonymous said...

My suggestion:
Two paths -
1. If the position of Delegate is priority, along with the opportunity to sit in the main auditorium instead of banishment to outer realm of the building, do nothing.
2. Apply for any and all vacancies of interest on the Open Market to see what happens. Personally, I have noticed that only the admins in progressive neighborhoods consider a candidate with 29 years of experience. I had two phone calls after sending out many, many beautiful packets. One of those calls was exciting, but she could only hire me if I was not assigned to a school. I was not an ATR.

I would give it a try for informational purposes.

Anonymous said...


JLee said...

One of many grievances we should be able to file within our union; there doesn't seem to be a mechanism for that, does there...