Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Rubber Room Deal: Breakthrough or Missed Opportunity

By now most of the NYC Board of Education community has received news of an 8 page agreement in which our Union has ceded to the City's contract demands for few, if any, concessions and entered without membership approval.

In the wake of his electoral victory our newly elected president has determined that membership consultation or approval of DOE contract demands is not necessary. As widely reported the DOE has sought a way out of the embarrassment that the rubber rooms have caused. News reports on almost a daily basis have highlighted long-term rubber room detainees waiting for long periods with nothing to do but read or sleep while they remained on payroll. Despite contractual guarantees, approved by the membership, grievances challenging the long delays were either never brought or abandoned as the grievances were delayed.

Now, on the eve of the premiere of a highly anticipated documentary, The Rubber Room Movie, our union comes to the aid of Klein and Bloomberg in what is sure to be a public relations nightmare. And our new president is proud of it.

To be sure the Rubber Room issue needed to be resolved and contract negotiations are the perfect place to deal with it even though it might not be a mandatory subject of bargaining. But in the context of negotiations what did we, as union members, get for this agreement that our leader has unilaterally agreed to.

We got the right to be suspended without pay for an expanded list of charges.

We got the right to perform a full day of cafeteria or bathroom duty if the DOE thinks we are not a danger to students.

We got the right to sit an office and do who knows what (perhaps sleep and read) if the DOE deems we are a danger to students.

We got the right to "expedited hearings" which currently were reserved for time and attendance issues for any case that the DOE wants a suspension for more than 4 weeks. This means that cases which might involve the need for a full and fair record but could "only" cost a teacher a one month's fine can be performed in the kangaroo court of time and attendance arbitration.

While theoretically hearings should proceed in a more expeditious manner and that is generally a positive aspect of this negotiation it is clear, as always, we gave up way too much and received little in return just to allow the Mayor and the Chancellor to answer the Post and other critics of our rubber room.


Anonymous said...

Norm Scott told everyone that a strong Mulgrew vote would lead to further sellouts and this is exactly what occurred. To the 40,000 who voted for Mulgrew, thank you so much for agreeing we should be sold out. What did we gain here?

Anonymous said...

Good job Mulgrew as your first act as UFT president-elect you have sold out the teachers in the Rubber Room. Did Randi leave you the instructions?

Hell, one didn't even have to be a union activist / historian like the authors of the blog or Norm Scott to have predicted this one.

ATR's I hope this grabs your attention; but if not, wake up! Get yourself a new resume and / or start preparing for a new career.

Teaching is a dead end. If it doesn't kill you first.

Here's what my crystal ball shows in the not too distant future:

Two teachers outside the building walking to their cars:

"See Ms. X remember how she spoke up at the last meeting and how we all silently agreed? Now she's doing the same job as the aide that was let go last year."

"Yeah, I know. I heard the next teacher to criticize that fool AP's next harebrained scheme will be on vomit duty."

"But, you know, the way it's going even that's better than being in the classroom...."

"Yeah. I changed my mind. My Master is not going to be in Education after all."

"Good for you!"

Anonymous said...

So, there are no negative consequences for the Rubber Room abuse of teachers by the DOE?

Anonymous said...

Bunch of whining conspiracy theorists here.

Idiots here write that Mulgrew sold us out by making sure that no other teachers will be sent to the TRCs and that the DOE will stick to the prescribed time frame and not drag it's feet.

Anonymous said...

I'm hoping someone can help me with a situation at my school. My Principal has just announced that next year she is changing the schools schedule and use of 37 1/2 minutes. We are an elementary school and we currently are scheduled with 37 1/2 minutes of small group instruction 4 days M-Th. 8:30-3:27 1/2. She wants to change the schedule to 8:30-3:40 T-Th. As part of this change she also wants to change the schedule to use the time as a 9th period and make all students in 2-5 stay until 3:40.

As I see it there are a few issues:

The first what is the process for changing the schools schedule?

Second, is there a process for allowing the extend time to be folded into the regular schedule?

Third, what about the students? Is she able to essentially mandate a longer school day for all students?

Anonymous said...

She needs a school based option and the agreement of at least 55% of the UFT staff who vote in a secret ballot election to do this change.

NY_I said...

I'm in agreement:
this weak new regime is not representing us well. The sell-out moves continue.
As to the cynical posters here,
the accused have rights, but not accused teachers, apparently. As I've said in a blog post essay today, "After the rubber room closings: essential procedure rights issues ignored by UFT, media," the UFT must now address the denial of basic legal procedure rights for accused teachers.

Anonymous said...

I read that Bloomberg and Klein's minions are staging a rally in favor of the bill to get rid of seniority when it comesto layoffs at City Hall on Sunday, 4/18, at 11 AM. PLEASE GET OUT THE TROOPS AND PROTEST AGAINST THEM TOMORROW!!!!

Chaz said...

While I am usually in agreement with ICE, I must disagree with Jeff. The closing of the rubber rooms is a good thing and quicker hearings (time will tell if they will be fairer) is also a good thing. The only real negative is the expansion of the "probable cause" provision to include violent feloney assult.

What the long-term brings is still up in the air and as a person who distrusts "Unity" to do te right thing for teachers, I believe this was a victory for all teachers.

Anonymous said...

To Anon, Friday, April 16, 2010 1:52:00 PM

Although the school must have an SBO (Article 8B), it is up to the chapter leader if an SBO should be done. The chapter leader must get feedback from the members if they want to have an SBO. If the members want it, then the Chapter Leader conducts it. If the members are against the SBO, then the chapter leader must listen to the members. An SBO is only done when the members want to modify the contract in order to meet the needs of the children in the school.

If the principal changes the schedule to eliminate the 37.5 or changes the configuration of the 37.5 minutes, M-Thurs, you must call your district rep. immediately!

If you want more information, go to where you will find answers to many of the school-related issues.

Good luck

Anonymous said...

Can someone explain why this is a sell out???

A Rubber Room Inmate said...

This is a sell out because MM will not hire enough NYSUT attorneys to represent us. He is essentially doubling the amount of arbitrators. Do you think he is going to double his staff? As a result, the lawyers will not have the time to defend us.
This deal is a sell out because it puts limits on hearing times, but that will hurt us. DOE has SCI and OSI and by the time we meet with a NYSUT atty the hearing would be upon us.
This deal is a sell out because now we will have to pick up paper clips for our principal and see him every day.
This deal is a sell out because it expands the cases where teachers can be removed from payroll.
This deal is a sell out because we got nothing in return.