Monday, September 02, 2013


As New York City teachers, we can usually count on our union, the United Federation of Teachers, to represent our employer's interests at least as much as ours if not more so.  Case in point: excessing in phasing out schools.  As a school phases out, obviously the staff is going to shrink as each year there is one less grade.  However, the UFT Contract has a clause that protects senior teachers.  It is Article 17B, Rule 10 which states:

Teachers at all levels who have served 20 years or longer on regular appointment shall not be excessed except for those in neighboring schools who are excessed to staff a newly organized school.

That is strong, unambiguous language that prevents excessing of senior teachers.  However, unbeknownst to anyone out of the inner circle of the UFT and Department of Education, last September the two sides reached an agreement to allow twenty year teachers to be excessed. For teachers in non phasing out schools, they are excessed within their own schools.  They become Absent Teacher Reserves who cover for classes of absent teachers but they are not subject to the horrible week-to-week rotation to different schools that other ATRs have been forced to endure since the 2011 UFT-DOE agreement on ATRs.

Since many Rule 10 teachers are serving in license areas where there are not that many openings, these people no longer have to teach out of license in order to stay in their own buildings. The remainder of the Rule 10 people are primarily teachers from schools that are downsizing, usually phasing out schools.

There is absolutely no reason for the UFT, which says they are against school closings, to not hold the DOE to the letter of Rule 10 in a school that is downsizing.  However, as part of the agreement from last September, the parties agreed that the DOE can excess veteran teachers in the last year of a school's phase out and send them into the week-to-week rotation pool.  This makes no sense educationally and it is a mindless concession on the part of the UFT.

Students and staff in closing schools have already been harmed a great deal through the phase out process as we have been labeled as failures by the city. The DOE then does everything it can to push students out of phasing out schools by not offering many of the classes that numerous pupils require for graduation and then telling them repeatedly that they should transfer.

Each year as the school loses a grade, there are fewer students so the staff is cut proportionally.  As a result, there is less access to more parts of the school building for the remaining students and there are extremely limited course offerings.  Having the Rule 10 people in the school provided much needed stability for the kids as at least there were known faces that pupils could turn to for college recommendations, advice, tutoring and support. In addition, having more teachers meant the DOE was compelled to provide more real classes as opposed to internet classes that are not rigorous and pupils complain about constantly. Rule 10 teachers guaranteed a modicum of normalcy in the insane world that is a closing school. This logic was ignored by UFT leaders when they agreed to force people contractually entitled to stay in a school out of their buildings.

Apparently, the UFT was not too proud about this Rule 10 agreement as President Michael Mulgrew only mentioned it in passing last fall and he never handed the full agreement out to us to let the Delegate Assembly vote on it. I only found out about it because the principal of my school gave me a copy in June.

Finally, for those hoping the UFT leaders would save us legally as they filed suit in 2011 to stop that year's round of school closings, a friend informed me that there have been no papers filed on that suit since May 2012.  Have they abandoned us there as well?

Happy Labor Day all and I hope to start posting regularly again as the school year begins.


Anonymous said...

How can this be stopped if the UFT has turned on its members??

Anonymous said...

So will the UFT sell out the ATRS once again when its contract time and put a time limit on how long we can be ATRS and then we are laid off?

Anonymous said...

I hope this isn't a prelude to that.

Anonymous said...

Is there anything in writing on this.

Anonymous said...

Great Work James in keeping us informed!

Anonymous said...

No wonder no word of this was provided! It would have been very, very difficult, even for the spinmeisters, to provide a positive spin!

Anonymous said...

The union leadership has conducted themselves in an unethical way by amending our expired contract without a vote from the rank and file.

Anonymous said...

The sell-out described in the above article, written by James Eterno, exposes how our UFT leadership practices ‘business unionism,’ relegating teachers, students, parents to the last place when addressing questions of negotiations.

Why is this happening? Because this ‘business unionism’ trains cadre to see the world from the perspective of the boss, in other words, they follow the path of power to protect corporate interests. Our union leaders see themselves as protecting an institution that is controlled from the top. They are not trained to defend the interest of the teachers, the students, an the advancement of a genuine course of education. These leaders only know to “give a little-get a little’ negotiation process.

This is why the movement of rank and file teachers is so important and must defend education in the name of the teachers, students and parents.

The second reason why our union leadership can not represent the rank and file is because most of these leaders benefit from salaries and privileges way above those of the average teacher. Sadly, the union bureaucrats begin to see themselves as more informed, more knowledgeable, higher on the pecking order, and finally with more in common with the bosses and higher ups, with the likes of Bloomberg and company.

Instead of building on our numbers, power, and strength they make us view ourselves as powerless, meek, and willing to accept the meager crumbs while accepting tremendous pressures, constant increases in workloads, larges class sizes, and TESTING results linked to our professional evaluations.

The need for an independent rank and file movement cries out to make the connections to the social realities outside our schools buildings as well. Many students have little support in their homes because parents working one/two low paying jobs. Nourishing meals and safe housing are hard to come by for many students. Don’t these conditions come into our classrooms each day?

We need to build a strong, powerful, diverse, non-sectarian fighting Union, with proportional representation of Black, Latino, White, Asian men and women. The leadership of the rank and file must reflect that as well. There is power in our numbers , there is power in our abilities, there is power in our work!

Anonymous said...

Uft=Ba'ath party

Anonymous said...

That is harsh.