One part of the contract that still can work for UFT members is the reorganization grievance process. These are grievances claiming violations of the programming parts of Article 7 of the contract. If a school administration does not follow the contract on honoring preferences, rotation, keeping preparations to a minimum, giving teachers only three classes in a row or four work periods in a row and more, teachers have a legitimate way to address these contractual violations in an expedited manner resulting in their schedules being altered.
Reorganization grievances can succeed because they get to arbitration very quickly. On a regular grievance the administration just denies at the school level and the Chancellor's level (two kangaroo courts) and then it can take years before the union takes the case to an independent arbitrator. Meanwhile, the abuse of the member who filed the grievance continues and other UFT members see that fighting the system is pointless. The regular grievance process is completely broken and has to be restructured to have any chance of giving members any kind of justice.
Only obvious contractual violations get resolved through the regular process. The UFT is completely complicit in allowing the Department of Education to stall. They tell members to grieve and then they just abandon us in many instances after Step II (Chancellor's level).
Reorganization grievances still can be successful because the grievance goes right from the school level to arbitration in an expedited manner. These grievances must be filed within two school days of knowledge of the problem with the program but the Union then schedules many of them directly for arbitration after Step I (Principal's level) which has to be decided within two school days after the grievance is filed. I worked on on a reorganization case this week for someone in another school and we were successful at arbitration.
Teachers should know they have to present their own cases in the reorganization process. Some go to the Superintendent's level while many others go directly to arbitration. I generally write scripts that can basically be read at arbitration and provide talking points for administration's possible rebuttals. UFT does send someone from the Grievance Department to provide support. Principals have Department of Education lawyers to defend them. My experience with the process is that it actually works as long as members are prepared with evidence. It kind of reminds me of small claims court. Smart principals settle these problems in their buildings and don't let them get to arbitration.
We won or resolved so many reorganization grievances in favor of teachers at Jamaica High School that it really made administrators look ridiculous.