...... UFT contract Article 19H3
MORE has a fabulous chapter leader listserve where CLs from all over the city get answers to questions from other CLs.
Kevin Prosen, a middle school CL and one of the most politically astute young organizers I have met, was elected in the 2012 year cycle and re-elected last spring. I remember how unsure he was when he first took on the job and how quickly he grew into the position. He organized the chapter into a force in the school - a significant feat, given the leeway the principal had over many years. Less than a year after he was elected he was able to get most of the people in his school to sign the middle school petition to help get MORE on the ballot in the 2013 UFT election.
I know about his school for many years -- they had a very difficult principal, who has since retired - I like to think that the work Kevin was doing was a factor. Kevin has done some wonderful work in the chapter, even garnering praise from UFT officials who have seen the outcome of the work he has done. Kevin has been producing materials to help other chapter leaders.
One of the most important duties of the CL is to organize and manage how the chapter relates to the principal. The consultation committee is the key vehicle to accomplish this in its monthly meetings - required in Article 19H in the contract.
When I became CL in 1994, my principal refused to recognize the election or meet with me. It had to be made clear to the staff and people above her that she was refusing to meet with the chapter, not me, by not meeting with the committee. She, who rarely backed down, backed down and over the next 3 years we had a monthly meeting no matter how much she tried to get out of it. And a monthly meeting not just between her and I but an open meeting to which I invited any UFT member to attend as an audience, in addition to a regular committee - and I tried to include reps from all grades, divisions in the school, and the non-teaching personnel - a secretary, para, social worker, etc.
Oh, and I never allowed a meeting to take place in her office - her turf - but in the teacher room or some other classroom. And - I, not she, ran the meeting, as is the right of the CL.
Here is a letter Kevin sent to the consultation committee in his school.
Intro to Consultation CommitteeWelcome to consultation! This committee is the voice of the UFT staff on the job. Consultation is a position of leadership within the UFT at the school level, giving voice to the concerns of our members, resolving problems, and helping the membership communicate with the chapter leader.Consultation members keep up with any issues that arise throughout the year that affect the whole school or a whole department. Members with individual issues can take it up with the chapter leader directly.The minutes are the written record of the meeting and the principal's response. We take minutes on a rotating basis. The easiest way to do it is to type them in real-time. Forward them to chapter leader when you're done to review. Minutes are posted on the UFT bulletin board, emailed to the staff, and shared with the Principal and the District Rep.Consultation happens at every level of the DOE. Just like we gather the concerns of our members, look for patterns, and then address them as systemic issues, the same happens between the District Representative and the Superintendent, and the President of the union and the Chancellor. Issues we are unable to resolve at the school level are often referred to District consultation.Here's some things that will help us be more effective-Take it seriously. Please make an effort to be at every meeting. If you can't make it, please let me know in advance. Finish the minutes quickly and professionally so we can get them out to the staff.-Phrase issues as questions when possible. We are trying to get explicit statements of school policy from the principal.-Bring documentation. The issues we try to address are often complex, and without having it “in writing,” they are much harder to deal with. If member come to you with an issue, please ask them to provide any documentation they may have.--Bring solutions. It's the people who do the work every day who have the best ideas about how to fix problems that arise. If a member brings a concern, ask them if they have a suggestion for how they would like to see it solved.-Maintain order. The committee can only be effective if the meetings are respectful and orderly. Please wait to be acknowledged by the chair to speak, and stay relevant to the agenda item at hand.-Come to the pre-meetings. We will always meet on the Tuesday before our official meeting to determine what issues to raise and what solutions we might want to propose. The pre-meetings are important- they are where our union strategy is created in terms of how we react to issues in the school.-Leave individual issues out. Consultation is the voice of the entire chapter, not any one person.