ATRS have been screaming for years that they need their own separate chapter within the UFT as their needs are different from those of the regular teachers so they should have their own representatives. For anyone not familiar, Absent Teacher Reserves are teachers and other UFT members who have no permanent school assignment. Either their school was closed, their program downsized or they beat charges where the DOE tried to fire them and didn't succeed but the employee loses their position in their school.
The Union's argument against having a separate chapter for ATRs is that the ATR job is temporary. That just doesn't fly. The UFT created the huge expansion of the ATR pool in the 2005 contract by agreeing to end preferred placement for teachers and other UFT staff when schools closed or placement within a district for teachers and others when programs were downsized. Before 2005, principals were getting qualified people just as supervisors in other civil service jobs such as police officers firefighters get qualified people when they are transferred. We work for the city and not a particular school where we are assigned.
Teachers do have rights to stay in the school based on seniority if the school remains open but we can no longer transfer based on that seniority. 2005 gave principals total hiring power and basically turned way too many schools into patronage mills. In most cases, once you have a basic license it is much, much, much better to know someone than to be qualified.
Throw fair student funding into this mix, where teachers on higher salaries cost schools more money than new teachers on their budgets, and it makes it nearly impossible for an ATR to be hired in a school permanently if someone has too much experience. The DOE also labels certain teachers who have beaten 3020-a dismissal hearings so they are stuck in the ATR pool too. I was told that I was on a troublemaker list but somehow I was still hired. I know I am the exception, not the rule.
Having ATRs vote in Chapter Elections in schools they are at on May 1 of this year is the height of ridiculousness. ATRs are voting and running for office in schools that they are virtually guaranteed not to be working in after this school year ends when the people who win the Chapter Elections will take their positions.
It's kind of like saying whatever state you in on November Election Day is the state you will vote in, whether even if you don't live there. It is is nonsensical.
Here is the actual language of the proposed section in the Chapter Election Guide and Bylaws:
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.
I hope at Monday's Executive Board meeting that the MORE-New Action people will protest and propose an ATR Chapter.
Finally, three of us complained to the Department of Labor that ATRs were disenfranchised in Chapter Elections. We lost because the DOL ruled that since the Delegate Assembly has the constitutional authority to make policy but makes no policy (we sent them minutes of DA Meetings), it does not have to be elected. The UFT is so in need of structural reforms.
I fully understand why people want to leave after the Supreme Court says we can. I especially get it why ATRs will say enough already. However, the Department of Education wanted a time limit to stay in the ATR pool before someone gets terminated like they have in Chicago. The UFT to their credit said absolutely no and have held to that since 2005.
If the ATRs leave the UFT in droves, do you really think ATRs will be in a stronger bargaining position afterwards? It's better to fix our Union now.