A Brooklyn Chapter Leader with a basically useless District Rep to ICEMail:
I received a letter to file today from my principal that I consider ridiculous. Can I file a grievance based on my right to union activity? Here is what the letter said:
Please note as a UFT representative you have exceeded your boundaries by asking me to allow Ms. __________, to leave early because she was not feeling well. Your words to me were, "she was afraid to come to me herself because I would not believe her." Just a reminder, I was not in contract violation because of her feelings and therefore you may not ever come to me in that manner again. Please note your job as union representative is to come to me when I violate the contract, not when members are trying to avoid doing their job.First of all the member came to me because she was not feeling well and wanted to go home. I told her to go tell the principal. She said she didn't want to as the last time she asked the principal was very loud, yelling in the office in front of teacher and parents. The last time the principal did not let her go (I told her she could have filed a grievance, that she has a right to go home sick...which she decided not to). I told the principal that the member was not feeling well and didn't want to ask her herself because last time she had talked very loud in front of parents and staff. I told the principal that I had told her that she needed to ask the principal herself. The principal said to tell her to come talk to her. I did and evidently the principal told her she could go home. Then I get this letter to file. What can I do in response? Can she put a letter in my file because I told the principal that a member is not feeling well?
Absolutely. File the grievance. It is absurd that you can only go to the principal on contract violations. The fact that your principal would write a letter is a clear indication of her union animus and should be responded to by grievance and otherwise. The grievance should make it clear that the contract gives the Chapter Leader a much larger role in the school than merely guard dog. The nature of the relationship is envisioned (through consultation and the like) to be cooperative and mutual benefit. I don’t know how your DR will treat this but I would try to get a petition from all of your Chapter instructing the principal how she should treat you with words to the effect that without open channels of communication your school will suffer. Depending on how far this has to go I would send the petition to the superintendent as well if the letter wasn’t removed.
The upside of the incident is that you can use it as a way to get your members less complacent and the letter, from what you quoted, doesn’t really seem disciplinary against you.
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