Since December, ICE has been trying to raise a motion at the Delegate Assembly calling upon the UFT to reopen the Contract so we can win back the right to grieve material in our files. Unfortunately, in December the motion period was taken up by another resolution and in January Randi didn't get to the new motion period.
It is essential now that everyone who reads our blog support our call to win back the right to grieve material in our files and to have the right to challenge supervisory judgment. We would like to bring this up at the February 6 DA. It would need a majority vote of delegates to be placed on the UFT DA agenda in March.
Below is the actual resolution and what follows is our rationale in support of our plan.
Independent Community of Educators (ICE)
February 6, 2008 motion
Letters in the File Grievances: Resolution to Reopen the Contractual Provision
For the March 2008 DA
WHEREAS, in selling the 2005 Contract to the members, UFT President Randi Weingarten answered objections to the removal of the right to grieve letters in the file by claiming the Contractual provision eliminating grievances for unfair and inaccurate letters could be reopened if there is a spike in letters to the file; and
WHEREAS, The Chief Leader reported recently that there was a 36% increase in teachers receiving unsatisfactory ratings in 2006-07 (the first full year under the 2005 Contract), a 39% increase in tenured teachers receiving U ratings, a fourfold increase in the number of teachers forced to extend their probation and a doubling of teachers denied tenure; and
WHEREAS, the UFT reported that there has been a dramatic increase in the number of teachers resigning compared to just a few years earlier; and
WHEREAS, it is reasonable to conclude that the spike in unsatisfactory ratings and resignations would not have been possible without a huge increase in negative letters to the file; be it therefore
RESOLVED, that the UFT reopen the Contract provision on letters in the file so it can be modified to allow members to grieve negative material in a timely manner and include the right to contest supervisory judgment to an impartial party, in addition to demanding that any material removed from a file can never be used in any proceeding of any kind against any UFT member.
NY Teacher stated the following in the October 20, 2005 issue: “City Labor Relations Commissioner James Hanley wrote to the union that the city agreed to negotiate on the issue (reopening the letters in the file provision) ‘if there is a disproportionate increase in the number of letters to the file.’” The evidence is in and for the first year under the new Contract it is not a pretty picture:
1,333 Unsatisfactory ratings in 2006-07 compared with 981 in 2005-06. (U rating increase of 36%; Source: Chief Leader)
918 tenured teachers rated U last year up from 662 the year before. (U rating increase of 39%; Source: Chief Leader)
The number of teachers denied tenure more than doubled last year compared to the year before. (Source: Chief Leader)
The number of teachers forced to extend their probation increased almost fourfold in 2006-07 compared to 2005-06. (Source: Chief Leader)
The UFT’s own figures show that 4,606 teachers resigned last year, up from 2,544 who resigned just a few years earlier; it is sensible to conclude that many of those 4,606 were forced to resign.
Chancellor Klein in 2007 created a “gotcha squad” of lawyers and retired administrators to help build cases against tenured teachers.
There had to be a disproportionate spike in negative file letters to support all that increased discipline. We have to fight back now. The November 26, 2007 candlelight vigil was a good start but it was not enough. Let’s demand a letter in the file grievance process that is better than what we had before so we can challenge supervisory judgment. This Delegate Assembly should take a giant leap toward winning back our rights by putting this resolution on the DA agenda for February. Tell Hanley and Klein we mean business. Klein’s “gotcha squad” makes it “open season” to hunt teachers; we say close the hunt down now!
Please tell Chapter Leaders, Delegates, District Representatives and the Union officers to support the proposal to reopen the Contract so we can fight unfair file letters.
PS We are fully aware that if a letter stays in the file for three years, you can take it out of the file if disciplinary charges haven't been filed. However, the DOE still keeps a copy and can still try to use it. In addition, three years is too long to wait. Material that is over three years old is not normally admissible in 3020A cases against tenured teachers and the DOE doesn't wait three years to go after us. Finally, non-tenured teachers can easily be terminated at any point in their first three years of service and having a grievance procedure for unfair letters was their only hope for fighting back against abusive administrators.