Monday, October 15, 2007


In a recent New York Sun article UFT newly hired "Rubber Room" guru Betsy Combier is reported to have joined forces with two New York Teacher journalists and dubbed themselves the "SWAT Team of the Reassignment Center." As previously stated on this blog the three person team is Randi's answer to the increasing pressure to do something about the burgeoning rubber room. But, alas, more of the same.

The real issue in this fiasco is the lack of union leadership in dealing with the DOE's increased use of the rubber rooms as a place to dump, what it considers, troublemakers, questioning staff and others it does not like. The fact that the UFT has totally failed in representing these accused members zealously is lost in the shuffle.

When a principal gets the o.k. (which is freely given in this age of principal autocracy) a member is ordered to report to a rubber room. Many times these members have little or no inkling as to what they have done to deserve the removal from their school and students. The union's reaction to such removal is basically nothing.

There is no investigation. There is no consultation with a labor attorney. There is no explanation of rights. In most cases the Union doesn't even know a person has been removed.

As the case against the member gets old the DOE has fully investigated the allegations and has spent months (and even years) preparing for a hearing to terminate the member. The Union's response…until charges are served there is no investigation. After charges are served the matter is referred to a NYSUT attorney where the "investigation" begins…by the same NYSUT attorney. There are no paralegals, investigators or anyone with knowledge about employment law, the DOE or anything else that will be involved in the case.

NYSUT attorneys do not issue subpoenas (too much work to go to court) or FOIL requests or interview witnesses other than those supplied by the member and at this point the issues are stale and memories have faded.

But we now have the SWAT team who will come to the rescue. And they threaten a lawsuit. A lawsuit for what? How do you sue for better representation?


Anonymous said...

Great stuff Jeff!

Anonymous said...

How do you sue for better representation?"

Beautifully put, Jeff.

Michael Fiorillo

Anonymous said...

From the Sun:

Some in the union ridiculed Ms. Weingarten's push for compromise, saying it will not resolve what they described as the UFT's failure to provide teachers in rubber rooms with strong legal representation. "They need people that have some kind of understanding and background in employment investigations. They have nothing," a teacher who was placed in a rubber room and who is also a lawyer, Jeffrey Kaufman, said.

ed notes online said...

Teh Exec Bd meeting was full of RR people tonight. That was started by Jeff bringing people there a few years ago and it has had an impact in that the union leadership has it thrown in their face every 2 weeks. And they get a good meal.

For a little more history, see Monday's post on the RR at ednotesonline.

Anonymous said...

I thought the SWAT team was the 3 stooges! I don't understand you guys. Three inexperienced people should be able to handle 700 cases without a problem.

ed notes online said...

As to the 3 stooges, I am not ready to go there. I know 2 of them pretty well and the long-time reporting of the 3rd for the NY Teacher has generally been among the more favorable towards teachers. A report from the Bronx RR which I posted on my blog says that the 2 gentlemen (the 3rd person was not there but has been there to talk to people before the UFT hired her) at least spoke to them as human beings, not like criminals as so many UFT officials treat them. So if nothing else gets done, at least they seem sympatico, not a light thing for RR people.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for answering it Norm then the UFT is doing something.

Anonymous said...

Here is true leadership: 55/25.

What was that about the 2005 contract?

Anonymous said...

SCENE 3: A bathroom in the Waldorf during Teacher Union Day. All of the ICEsickles are sitting in adjacent stalls...

Petey "Bowtie" Lamphere - "Waaaahhhhh, it's not fair, we should be getting the awards."

Jeff "Andy" Kaufman - "It makes me sad to see you cry Petey. Someday soon you will surely win the Cogen Award. By the way, could you pass the toilet paper, it's been nearly a month and I finally took a dump."

Un-Norm-al - "I don't like the toilet paper here, I like the soft fluffy stuff. I bet you Randi gave us this rough stuff on purpose."

"Salad" the Barber - "You know guys, me and the boys can go in there and make sure we all get awards. We'll make them Unity Hacks an offer they can't refuse. Aren't I cool?"

James "E. Turtle" - "I should get an award. I give one on one pension consultations to all of the teachers in my school. Funny thing is, I don't know what a pension really is."

Kip Winger - "Woodhag, why are you using the men's room? I can't go with you in here."

Woodhag - "I'm just one of the ICE guys, we spit on boundaries."

Petey "Bowtie" Lamphere - "I admire you for that. You should have won an award. I'll make you one tonight using popsickle sticks and macaroni."

Un-Norm-al - "This rough stuff is really causing my 'roids to flare. It hurts. We should make a movie about this, it's a conspiracy"

Jeff "Andy" Kaufman - "Can we go to the pub yet? I don't think the people here appreciate my tuxedo t-shirt."

James "E. Turtle" - "Seriously guys, what's a pension?"

Coming soon, Part 4, continuing the bumbling antics of those loveable laughable ICEsickles!