Tuesday, June 28, 2011


  • We have an agreement between the UFT and the city that eliminates the possibility of over 4,000 layoffs this year. We also gain increased hiring opportunities for Absent Teacher Reserves to be hired provisionally and to get considered for positions at reduced costs to principals. In exchange the UFT has agreed to suspend sabbaticals for 2012-2013 and to allow the DOE to move Absent Teacher Reserves who are not lucky enough to secure a permanent position from school to school on a weekly basis.

    UFT President Michael Mulgrew's report at tonight's emergency Delegate Assembly highlighted the no layoff part of the agreement, which we are all happy about. Nobody in their right mind wants to see over 4,000 teachers lose their jobs. Mulgrew also thanked everyone for doing work with the state and city council. He told us the mayor said he wanted non seniority layoffs. He talked about opposing the mayor with the city council. He didn't, however, talk for too long about the part of the agreement that dealt with Absent Teacher Reserves becoming nomads.

    The new agreement forces each principal to interview at least two ATRS per semester if they have vacancies and they are supposed to hire ATRS for vacancies and leave replacements. I don’t quite understand what happens if they interview two and don’t like them. Can they then hire someone from outside or give the classes away in a secondary school as a sixth class for special per session pay or to substitutes? UFT leadership believes these new procedures will lead to a big reduction in the ATR pool. I hope they are correct because anyone unfortunate enough to be left behind in the ATR pool risks becoming a teacher gypsy.

    The agreement on page three contains the following ominous clause: "An Excessed Employee/ATR shall be assigned to a school within his/her district/superintendency each week. A 'week' shall be Monday through Friday, or shorter if the work week is less than five(5) days." Then there is clause C which says: "An Excessed Empoyee/ATR shall be notfied no later than Friday (or the last work-day of the week) if he/she will be assigned to a different school the following week and, if so, to which school. An ATR who has not been notified that he/she has been assigned to a different school by Friday shall report on Monday, or the first work day of the work day of the work week, and for the duration of that week, to the last school to which he/she was assigned." In other words, if a teacher does not find a permanent job on his or her own, buy a good GPS.

    Besides the obvious problems of ATRS not having stability from week to week and not being able to bond with students, or know which person in each particular school to go to in order to resolve issues with payroll or their sick bank days or other items, this makes it virtually impossible for ATRs to do any per session work (extra activities for money that are pensionable.) We are truly worried that ATRS will now become third class citizens.

    One of the worst parts of the horrible giveback laden 2005 contract was the loss of placement rights for members whose schools close or are excessed because their school or program is downsized. Since then, there has been a pool of teachers ranging from the hundreds to thousands called ATRs who have no permanent job and must substitute. Under current rules, ATRs usually stay in a school for a year and then can be reassigned. It is not a very professional existence but we are told by UFT leaders that at least the ATRs have jobs. In 2008 the DOE and UFT came to an agreement to allow principals to hire ATRs and only get charged on their budget the cost of half of a starting teacher for seven years. (The teacher still gets full pay.) The UFT predicted this would basically end the ATR problem but it didn't. The reasons ATRs are not hired are either because they have obscure licenses or they are activists who are not going to say, "How high?" when a principal tells them to "Jump!"

    UFT Secretary Michael Mendel told me the ATRS will have a much greater chance of getting a full time position under this new agreement. Again, I truly want him to be right but I fear he might be wrong. The subsidies didn't lead to the withering away of the ATR pool and neither will this as I see it because unfortunately some principals don't care about cost as much as they care about control. Furthermore, having teachers do coverages is much cheaper than hiring someone they don’t know.

    Balancing the budget on the backs of ATRS is not quite as awful as balancing it on the backs of newer teachers who would have been laid off but it was totally unnecessary. With Bloomberg’s poll numbers on education sinking to "Bushian Post Hurricane Katrina" levels, the UFT was holding all of the cards and should have insisted that to save money that the DOE should be compelled to place all of the ATRS into positions in their districts. That would save some money for sure as it would eliminate the ATR pool if DOE was not allowed to do any new hiring until every ATR in a license in a district was placed. Any remaining ATRs could cover classes in an individual school so as not to create the potential chaos that this agreement could bring.

    Teacher bashing continues. When firehouses close, the firefighters aren't blamed and they are sent to another firehouse. When police precincts redeploy whole precincts because of corruption scandals, the clean cops who worked in the corrupt precinct don't have to apply to other precinct captains. They are transferred. Only teachers face the indignity of having to pound the pavement to seek a job because a program was downsized or closed.

    President Mulgrew said this union leaves no educator behind. This is not totally true as the ATRs have certainly been left to basically fend for themselves.


Marjorie Stamberg said...

Yes, the ATR agreement is very problematic and does nothing to deal with the systemic issue caused by Weingarten/Unity selling out seniority transfers in 05.

Notable at the D.A., was that no speaker was allowed on the floor who would raise the more than 1,000 layoffs of DC 37 union brothers and sisters, overwhelmingly black and Latino, who our union seems to have thrown under the bus. A number of those laid off are DOE employees such as school aides.
--Marjorie Stamberg

Anonymous said...

Actually, all this smacks of a way of getting rid of a whole lot of unplaced ATR's without the city's having to go through the inconvenience of paying buy-off money, as was suggested might happen long ago. ATR's who are forced to suffer the indignity of a nomad existence might very well simply call it quits rather than have to drift around district from school to school that way.

Naturally, the real sufferers in all this will turn out to be the students. Fancy the chaos that is likely to develop for who knows how long at the beginning of next year, when the principals decide that they want to "audition" two or three new ATR's for each vacancy, then pass on one after another until they find someone to their liking. The process could, technicall, stretch on forever.

Anonymous said...

Good point Marjorie. I was just dealing with the UFT part of this agreement. Obviously, there are wider union issues involved too.


lprisco said...

"At least they have a job", a common refrain from so many in the leadership of Unity. Do they even know why teachers teach? Do they teach? We chose to teach to guide young minds to help create a literate, just and equitable society. How many of them ran out of the classroom to jobs with the union? Working as an ATR is collecting blood money, not teaching. We must remember ATRs are in this position because their schools were closed or downsized, it is not a commentary on their teaching ability.

I've yet to see how this new system of dealing with ATRs saves money. Am I missing something?

And saving 4000 jobs? Nonsense. They were never going to be laid off and the leadership knew it. That was a political strategy, not a financial move of the Mayor's.

Gladys Sotomayor said...

I just beacme an ATR execessed yesterday at 2;20 after I filed agrievance for excessive preparations. The principal stated he need to make room for an ESL teacher and that he is under investigation actually. He has teachers who are junior to me working out of license. I suspect its retaliatory for so many years of being vocal on behalf of the ELL poulation in our school.

Anonymous said...

Jeff and I are the only ones mentioning what happened to the subs. ATRs are doing our job. Many do not like being subs, and subs need to work. There are thousands of subs who ae being disenfranchised here at the same time when ATRs are not getting a classroom.

Anonymous said...

ATRs in my school work as subs. They cover classes. This agreement doesn't change that. Why are all the day to day people so angry?

Anonymous said...

Dear annonymous -- That's right, I guess we should have been
"angry" when this started. Sorry for the delayed reaction. But, the new agreement SOLIDIFIES IN WRITING the already IMPROPER PRACTICE of using ATRS as day-to-day subs. In addition what's new if you have actually read it, is that it states that "ONLY ATRs" can work in long term assignments, whereas previously there was no such stipulation. This will now be enforced and has a chilling effect on whether schools will hire subs for long term assignments.
A sub was told already they can't complete their maternity leave assignment in even though previously they were asked to return. It was because of this new agreement that they will not be permitted to work there in September even though no ATR is yet assigned to the position.
No one cares that sub put in many weeks of work. We already know ATRs have priority, but they should not be working as subs in day-to-day asignments in our place. This dispalces one member with another.
If you were you were a day to day sub, you may have a different answer when your ability to be assigned gets cut down to practically nothing. I went from working 160 days per year to 131days to 98 days. This year I only worked 27 days. I agree with Jeff, it's amazing how they said there is no layoff when this is actually a type of layoff for subs and that it is wrong that the UFT said NOT ONE WORD by the UFT in support of us when we are dues paying members. They muzzled us and the media from reporting this. An equally disturbing thing is that subs don't seem to be putting up a fight even though they got thrown under a bus on Tuesday. Let us observe what happens this year. How many will speak up when they can find no work.

Anonymous said...

Great points raised. Another fact that needs to be highlighted is the fact that ATRS are licensed certified Teachers they should not be allowed to work as day to day substitutes. This is unfair because as the agreement states they are being placed in long term leave assignments so, if the person returns to work they are once again displaced and made to serve as a day to day sub. Another concern lies in the fact that they can be redeployed to different schools that means the teachers will be forced to teach out of license and that also means that you can have common branch teachers with no high school or middle school experience teaching on those levels. What happens to their evaluations at the end of the year? This is unfair and a travesty of justice. What are we paying for the DOE to have rights and teachers to be treated like we are less than human beings. People in the know act(union representatives) as though our levels of experience and professional education doesn't count. Like the other blogger stated this is not done in any other profession except for education. The reason why the day to day substitutes aren't saying anything is because they are not being made aware of what their rights are. Also, they want to talk about long term assignments and vacancies we still have schools with vacancies that ATRS can fill, these vacancies are not being posted on the open market. But, I gaurantee that come September there will be hiring done from the outside and we will have new hires with no experience even though they claim there is a hiring freeze. So, can someone please explain to me what exactly are we paying union dues for?

Anonymous said...

Has anyone seen the video to the principals on how ATRS will be deployed? Worse than anyone expected.

Anonymous said...

ICE told you so. ATRs won't have to be hired through this agreement.