Tuesday, November 06, 2012


Absent Teacher Reserves, thanks to a DOE UFT agreement that this blog strongly opposed, are forced to move from school to school on a weekly basis within their districts.  The ATRs have no UFT representation of their own choosing at the school level.

An Absent Teacher Reserve problem was created by the horrible 2005 contract which changed the part of the contract that previously had guaranteed teachers from a school that closed or downsized a position in another school.

Now, they basically cover classes of absent teachers while hoping that a principal will hire them for a year long or full time regular position. Some ATRs are asked to perform tasks that are totally unrelated to their job and must complain to chapter leaders they might not know or non-elected UFT district representatives..

The ranks of the ATRs have grown again recently with so many schools being closed or downsized.  To their credit, the UFT has said in public that they will not settle on a contract where the ATRs can be  terminated if they can't find a full time job with a fixed period of time like a year. However, since veteran UFT members cost a principal more money on their budget (particularly among non-teacher titles), there is an incentive for principals to hire new people and leave ATRs to roam. UFT's totally inadequate answer is to tell ATRs they are lucky to have a job.

Some ATRs have organized to try to get ATRs elected representation.  Phillip Nobile is one such individual.  He asked us to print his letter to UFT Brooklyn Borough Representative Howie Schoor so here it is in its entirety.

For the record, ICE supports the ATRs having their own Chapter until we can gain decent placement rights for excessed individuals or at least having elected borough liaisons as Phillip is pushing for.


A week has passed since you and two of your reps in the Brooklyn UFT office sinned against solidarity. At last Thursday’s ATR meeting Ellen Driesen, John Capuano, and you attempted to sabotage the collection of names and email addresses of attending ATRs. This grassroots effort was the consequence of your refusal to share your sign-in sheets.

Apparently, you and your reps are opposed to ATRs organizing among themselves. The UFT even denies us teachers in good standing the same level of representation (i.e., democracy) once granted to suspended and suspect rubber roomers. ATRs are essentially unmoored from the union: we have no chapters, no chapter leaders, no chapter meetings, no delegates at the Delegates Assembly, no seat on the ATR Review Committee, not even elected liaisons a` la the rubber rooms.

On top of this steady disenfranchisement, you guys decided to go gangsta and rip off our contact list. Making matters worse, you have not shown the courtesy of a reply to my email of October 27 asking for an apology and explanation. What were you all thinking?

I copied the email to President Michael Mulgrew, Secretary Michael Mendel, and Staff Director LeRoy Barr. No word from them either. It seems that your contempt for ATR organization goes right to the top.

Nevertheless, this embarrassing incident need not drive a further wedge between UFT leadership and ATRs. Surely, if we had reps of our own protecting and advancing our interests within the inner union circles, tension would relax and hundreds, maybe thousands, of ATRs would have some real skin in the game. How bad is that?

If the UFT won’t budge from its un-Jeffersonian, no-ATR-reps-at-the-table position, there is room for compromise. Unofficially, without commitment from the UFT, our people could arrange for a small group ATRs drawn from all boroughs to meet monthly with Amy Arundell, Our Lady of ATRs. Let’s start the conversation in November and see how it goes. The first item on the agenda: sharing UFT sign-in sheets.

Thanks for your consideration

P.S. I have copied all ATRs who signed our contact list before it was rudely interrupted.

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