Friday, June 5, 2015

Another Chapter Leader Under Assault at a 3020a Hearing

Cases like this must not be treated the same as a non chapter leader, since employers often target union officials as a way to shut down union activity at the workplace -- and in many ways the DOE over the past 14 years has succeeded in doing just that. That the UFT is not blasting this all over the place is a perfect example of the union's accepting its role as as a head with little body.
I'm heading over to Chambers Street to attend the hearing of a Manhattan elementary school chapter leader who I've been speaking to at the Delegate Assemblies. She has told me quite a story of how she became a target after a lifetime of teaching due to her doing the job of chapter leader. I told her I would try to make some of the hearings. Today her principal is listed as the first witness.

This will be the first hearing I've attended where the teacher is not using a NYSUT  lawyer for reasons I am not totally clear, which means she has to pay the lawyer. Let's see how this works out.

I learned a lot about these hearings by attending. For instance, DOE Legal has 2 units - conduct and incompetence charges. NYSUT lawyers have the same system.

The two NYSUT lawyers, Chris Callagy (Pakter and Portelos - conduct) and Jennifer Hogan (Peter Zucker - incompetence charges), were both pretty impressive. Jennifer pointed out that handing each type of case requires different skills and gave me a great understanding of the thinking behind their strategies. One reason I believe people should not just abandon a NYSUT attorney without careful thought is that there is 40 years of experience in these cases to draw from.

Now, none of these teachers were totally found innocent - there were big fines and Peter just started serving a 4 month suspension without pay, which is a very heavy fine in essence - plus the loss of health care. You can read about Pete's case on his blog: SOUTH BRONX SCHOOL
 
I'll write more about his case to supplement what he will be writing. 
 
He called me yesterday and now that he is on suspension, may come down to today's hearing. I'll only identify the teacher if she wants me to, even though her name has been all over certain listserves (something I am careful about doing.) But I will write about the major issue here to me: this is not just any teacher but the elected union rep. Cases like this must not be treated the same as a non chapter leader, since employers often target union officials as a way to shut down union activity at the workplace -- and in many ways the DOE over the past 14 years has succeeded in doing just that.

That the UFT is not blasting this all over the place is a perfect example of the union's accepting its role as a head with little body. OK, Unity slug gang, let's start commenting about how somehow the union really shouldn't pay special attention to a chapter leader under assault.
 

5 comments:

  1. There is the 13% provision that serves to protect our chapter leaders. There is no doubt that the Bloomberg years encouraged this kind of intimidation and that some chapter leaders have retained their licenses but not their schools. This was a major issue in our last recommendations for contract negotiations. Is it enough? No, but it is a start.

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  2. Anon: 13% to protect "our" CLs? Wow, that was blatant. By "our" you only mean those CLs who are in unity caucus. So. . . really, your, not ours. You obviously inserted the 13% clause to solidify your base. Disgusting. Because, previously, all grievances were heard on their own merit. Now, only the ones of *your* choosing; e.g. nly those effecting members if your caucus.

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  3. As a former chapter Leader, if you do not attack your principal in three ways, you lose. You must find out about contract violations, you must find out about arbitrary and capricious findings, and you must find out about other devious actions. That said, you need something on your Principal, so that you have was is known as leverage. Thank you, Dr. John Marvul.

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  4. Why assume that chapter leaders under attack are not being protected if their names are not splashed across public media? It has always been a tactic of unscrupulous administrators to go after chapter leaders, especially activist ones. I have been a chapter leader for 9 years and I am not aware of the 13% rule. I do know that chapter leaders are the backbone of our union and are defended vigorously by our arbitration advocates and lawyers. Not to do so would be to dismantle our union. This does not make sense.

    These issues are discussed in the Delegate Assembly and in the meetings chapter leaders attend. Actual cases are necessarily confidential. To put too much in a public forum does not help us but does give comfort to our enemies. Let's refrain from calling our union brothers and sisters names. It weakens the union from within. There are enough folks on the outside who would love to see the largest local of the last strong public employee union in the country dismantled.

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  5. How are you not aware of the 13% rule? It states that inky 13% of grievances will be pursued by the UFT. It is in our new contract. Mulgrew, himself, publicized it on the Brian Lehrer show as if it were a good thing. A teacher called in a called him out on it. It is a "thing," it is a clause that was inserted into our last contract, and it is damaging our working conditions. It also undermines the democracy of our union. Stop apologizing for bad policy and start working to improve out contract.

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