Saturday, June 16, 2018

LONG ISLAND UNION WORK GENERALLY PLEASANT COMPARED TO UFT ADVOCACY

Since retiring in April, I have dedicated as much time as possible to being a volunteer advocate for teachers and some others. Not only do I assist UFT members with their concerns, I also work with friends from Long Island. Many people passed through Jamaica High School and I guess I developed a reputation for being a competent union representative so I am called on by former colleagues and their friends. It is a good feeling that teachers have some trust in my knowledge.

Today, I found out that a former Jamaica colleague now working in Nassau County won a programming grievance that I helped with. It was a rather straightforward case of too many preps so we just had to thumb through the local contract and find a clause that said administration can't do that. Once we discovered the right clause, we wrote something out and forwarded it in. This grievance was a fairly easy win. The person will start the year in September with a program that adheres to the contract and can prepare properly in the summer.

I have helped with other grievances and talked with union leaders from Long Island and upstate on many occasions. What I find interesting is how professional and respectful they are with me. I get a good feeling. It does not hurt that administration outside of the city in many districts is very different from what we have here in NYC.  In the Nassau case that was resolved today, it did not have to go to an arbitrator. Many administrators out on the Island can actually read clear language and they back down when they are violating the contract.

Let's compare that with New York City and trying to deal with the United Federation of Teachers and Department of Education. When I was a chapter leader, I had a basically professional working relationship with most of the UFT hierarchy and almost all of the grievances filed from Jamaica High School went through as far as they could. However, when we had programming grievances, they often weren't resolved in June and if they went to an arbitrator, it went until October so then programs had to be changed and kids were impacted. It would be in administration's interest if they really cared about students to resolve most of these cases and not let them go outside the building. That is how it should be and to be fair, this is how it is in NYC schools with enlightened administrators but hundreds don't follow this simple reasoning.

In addition, in the UFT contract, unlike many on Long Island, it is up to the Union, not the person grieving, to decide whether a grievance will be taken to the Chancellor and arbitration. The Union says they wrote the contract this way to avoid setting bad precedents but in reality it's just another way the UFT controls the members. The grievance process is slower than slow and generally situations are not resolved because nobody from the DOE Office of Labor Relations that I know of is encouraging principals to resolve grievances. Instead, the DOE practice boils down to "My principals right or wrong" in most instances.

Total principal empowerment has led to a very adversarial process in NYC in many cases. Last year I represented someone in a school outside of Middle College where I was the UFT delegate. The UFT actually allowed me to present a Step I grievance to the principal. The grievance went in our favor but then the Union quickly pulled the plug on sending me in to help members and the principal in this school soon thereafter ran rough shod over the teachers and people had to transfer as their only option. Had the UFT led a real fight, we might have won.

The UFT leadership I guess believed I was showing them up. It was bad politically for them. Forget about the possibility that I may actually be competent and trying to advocate for teachers. When talking to union people outside of NYC, I never get that nasty look that says, "What are you doing here?" Teachers aren't asked, "Why are you talking to someone from NYC?" It's refreshing.

To the dear Unity Caucus (Michael Mulgrew's faction of the UFT) higher ups  that seem to be intimidated by me having anything to do with a member who has a grievance or otherwise needs help and asks me for it, I have some advice: Relax. Winning a UFT election as an opposition caucus is about as likely as winning the mega-millions drawing.

You also need not worry that Michael Mulgrew is going to employ me. For anyone who witnessed our battle of wills at the contract Delegate Assembly in 2014, I think you saw that the animosity between us was real. When Mulgrew and I have seen each other at closeup range a few times, we normally don't even say hello. You think he is going to hire me to take your jobs? Not in a million years.

Since opposition to Unity isn't exactly united at this point,  I don't even know if we can pull it together to win the high schools next year in the 2019 UFT election, particularly if we lose members after the Janus decision.

Calm down Unity people; when I try to advocate for a member, my primary motive is to help that person. At least they seem to understand that concept on Long Island.

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

sadly to say as a teacher who is paying union dues and speaking from past experiences many of these representatives working in NYC UFT offices are clueless leaving teachers no choice but to outreach to someone like James. I can't seem to understand why teachers at times have to place themselves in a position to actually do all the leg work or outsource inorder to get the sufficient and accurate support to win a grievance. It gets frustrating that you are paying union dues and some of the representatives are NOT fighting for our rights like BULLDOGS...and knowing how corrupt our school system in NYC is I'm happy to hear that the union welcomes your help.. NYC UFT you need to get it together we are paying YOU to do what's right for US.
#sleeping_the_enemy#

Anonymous said...

You're full of yourself James. You self proclaimed savior. The UFT is useless and you are no different. A growing number of us are realizing that you are a fraud. You should quit this now that you are retired.

ATRocity said...

James is a great advocate for teachers. He has helped me numerous time when the UFT has given me incorrect information - which is each and every time I reach out to them or get a pension consultation. Everything they tell me needs to verified. They hand out these part time jobs to former Chapter leaders like lollipops. Unfortunately most of these folks don’t know their ass from their elbow. I guess they won’t be offering James a job, because he actually knows what he’s talking about.

Anonymous said...

WOW--What a God complex! Your ego is bigger than the Internet. Your wife puts up with this?

You should just start a Twitter feed like Trump. It's all about you. Don't break your arm patting yourself on the back. What would all these helpless members do without James Eterno, the world's most quixotic "unionist."

Anonymous said...

No good deed goes unpunished sir.

Anonymous said...

How dare you cite actual grievance wins? Unity brags about wins that are actually losses like our contract. Get with the program.

Anonymous said...

As the saying goes haters are gone hate...what upbringings have you been raised on...if anything...you sound like someone who voted for Trump ..hating on a people.. anyone who knows James knows how hard he works to save teachers jobs. He is GOD sent to be on our side and fight corrupt principals and educated people in the UFT offices.. LEARNING..HELLO!!! stop hating and start LEARNING..

Anonymous said...

So sorry James, I forgot to sign my name to my comments at 1:57 & 3:43.

Sincerely,
Michael Mulgrew

Anonymous said...

For the ATRs its bad enough that the DOE wants to terminate us but it seems the UFT leadership is helping the DOE thin the ATR herd by stabbing us in the back. We need to continue to support Mulgrew so they can fire at will. That way they can hire more newbies while they push out veteran teachers. It is very smart to keep voting for Mulgrew if you have more than 15 years of experience. Help yourself in being discriminated. It is a self-service business. The right plan to solve the ATR problem being executed in front of us. Let us hope that ATRs are able to have a Retirement Party in the Rubber Room where are lot of them going to end up. It is all our fault for not fighting the UFT enough, and Unity.

Anonymous said...

The UFT is USELESS because the majority of people working there don't know what they are doing IF they did....James would NOT have to help teachers...DUH...
The only thing James is full of is knowledgeable information to help us win a grievance...and the only thing Fraud about this is teachers paying Union dues and not getting the proper representation we deserve ...

Anonymous said...

James, a lot of these problems should be brought to the attention of the Commissioner of Education, Board of Regents, and NYS Education Department Office of Counsel.

However, not too many DOE-related Education Law § 310 appeals are filed with the Commissioner.

I used the search box on the following website to search for “Absent Teacher Reserve”:

www.counsel.nysed.gov/Decisions/dcommissionersdecisions

Nothing came up.

Can it really be that after so many years since the establishment of ATRs, not even one appeal relating to the situation was filed?

Here is an interesting decision involving an upstate school district:

www.counsel.nysed.gov/Decisions/volume31/d12691

James Eterno said...

I read the decision and it would help expose DOE when they hire subs and out of license people. Without help from UFT, it will not be easy to find all of those teachers that are out there.

Anonymous said...

The UFT is more corrupt than the
DOE.

Anonymous said...

The Queens UFT Office is the most corrupt office in the city.

kiran said...

[4:09 PM, 6/13/2018] +91 91762 14797: Thank you for sharing such useful and informative article. keep sharing
[4:09 PM, 6/13/2018] +91 91762 14797: The Best School in Perambur
The Best School in Vyasarpadi

Anonymous said...

The UFT should want to have you working with them to help all members!

Your experience is very important and I want someone who knows what they are talking about when I need it!

Thanks for all your help James!!!


Anonymous said...

The UFT is letting the DOE get away with violations of due process.