Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Getting Physical and UFT Delegate Assembly Reports from James Eterno

UPDATED: Weds. June 29, 7:45AM
Balancing the budget on the backs of ATRS is not quite as awful as balancing it on the backs of newer teachers who would have been laid off but it was totally unnecessary. With Bloomberg’s poll numbers on education sinking to "Bushian Post Hurricane Katrina" levels, the UFT was holding all of the cards and should have insisted that to save money that the DOE should be compelled to place all of the ATRS into positions in their districts. 

Teacher bashing continues. When firehouses close, the firefighters aren't blamed and they are sent to another firehouse. When police precincts redeploy whole precincts because of corruption scandals, the clean cops who worked in the corrupt precinct don't have to apply to other precinct captains. They are transferred. Only teachers face the indignity of having to pound the pavement to seek a job because a program was downsized or closed. President Mulgrew said this union leaves no educator behind. This is not totally true as the ATRs have certainly been left to basically fend for themselves.--- James Eterno at the ICE blog
As much as it pains me to admit this, it's not really a bad deal for most of the membership.- Miss Eyre at NYC Educator
It is absolutely a bad deal for most of the membership - at least anyone in front of a class--- Norm Scott
I hope you all had a great final day of school. It wasn't all that great for the people who had to miss school parties to attend the UFT Delegate Assembly to vote on the recent budget agreement - see some of my posts on that over the last few days.

Today: UFT Delegate Assembly to Sell Deal, Bloombe...
For Shame! UFT Victory Lap at Settlement Pilloried...(MUST READ FROM LORETTA PRISCO)

(E$E also had an end of school year party at a bar on the high line - fancy shmancy - for all their people who are not popular enough to be invited to their own school parties. I know one thing - I bet there weren't 2400 people who supposedly support them there.)

Health and welfare
I had my annual physical with Dr. Mark, who all my pals from the UFT activism of the 70s are using because he is such a good doctor. He's a pretty liberal guy. He brought up an article by Joel Klein in the Atlantic and said it made some sense. My blood pressure shot up. I gave him a copy of our film to set him straight and we talked ed deform. He gave me a prescription to lower my horrible cholesterol and told me to lose about 15 pounds. "I don't care if you drop dead tomorrow," he said - did he join Unity Caucus? - "but a stroke that disables you is something you don't want to happen." Clarence Clemmons dying at an age only 3 years older than me is certainly scaring me into trying to avoid those Little Debbies, (though the first thing I did upon leaving his office before heading over to the DA was to grab a slice of pizza). Before I left his office I went over to pay anything I owed - nada - thank goodness for Medicare.

The Delegate Assembly
They actually let guests into the DA because the place was not full but I am not in touch enough to give a cogent report of the DA. But the Unity faitful outdid themselves in patting themselves and Mulgrew on the back to such an extent chiropractors had to be called in to deal with wrenched shoulders. Many of their speakers were pre-planned (I heard conversations downstairs).

There were lots of winks but no details from Mulgrew on how the ATRs were protected but he couldn't talk about it - like he was the smartest guy in the room. After the meeting PS 193 chapter leader Yelena Siwinski and I paid a visit to Bloombergville where I took some pics and video (I'll post later).

Yelena got the floor at the DA yesterday to remind Mulgrew of the SOS march in Washington on July 30 after Mulgrew announced a major labor march on Washington on Aug. 27. Mulgrew said the UFT is supporting the SOS march but labor has to get is act together - he said he and most major ed leaders will be in South Africa at the end of July. GEM is going down for the showing of our film at American U on July 29 and we are doing a workshop on July 28. Come march with GEM on July 30.

Later in the eve, 13 of them were arrested for civil disobedience, a tactic I am hearing more and more of being used. NYC teachers have been intimidated from participating in CD due to stringent enforcement of the DOE - like jaywalk and you can be fired  - especially if you are an ATR -   ok, so I'm exaggerating a bit.

I'll repeat James Eterno's important reports from the ICE blog below which also talk about the lack of democracy (does the earth turn?). When Mulgrew had to allow an opposition voice IS 218K chapter leader Tom Crean spoke eloquently on why we should not agree to this deal - I asked Tom to write it up for Ed Notes and he said he would - even Mulgrew was impressed and said he couldn't disagree with many of the premises - thus the Aug. 27 march and call for a millionaire tax (I better check my TDA.)

James Eterno on the DA on ATRs

Tom laid out the big picture as to what people will be facing with the cuts, especially with rising class size (Mulgrew admitted during Tom's speech we have lost 8-10,000i teaching positions in the last few years) in essence a response to this statement by Miss Eyre over at NYC Educator that it is not really a bad deal for most of the membership. It is absolutely a bad deal for most of the membership - at least anyone in front of a class.
As much as it pains me to admit this, it's not really a bad deal for most of the membership. Although ATRs will be doing per diem substitute work, they'll be doing it for appointed teacher pay and benefits.  It's not good for them, I realize, and they're in the original situation for the terrible crime of having worked in a school that closed.  But they do still have jobs, with the same pay and benefits they've always had, and it's going to be pretty tough to U-rate them now because they can't be expected to properly plan or participate in the life of a school.
Well, I wouldn't bet they are not going to be U rated. I think that's the plan. What does the DOE lose in U-rating someone? It can take a year to adjudicate and in the meantime the teacher is barred from earning extra salary (there may be some other penalties) and can get so stressed that they end up leaving, especially those nearing retirement age. Call this an end run around LIFO.

This question was raised on ICE-Mail:
How assignment in district for a week at time will work for ATRs in D79 who could be sent anywhere in the city. The answer at last night’s Executive Board was that it will be looked at by the Joint Oversight Committee that is part of the agreement.

James had 2 reports, one focusing on the ATRs and the other on democracy at the meeting. I'll let you read the latter at the ICE blog (A DELEGATE ASSEMBLY THAT LEONID BREZHNEV WOULD HAVE BEEN PROUD OF) while here is his report on the ATRs. Personally, I think long-term the ATRs are in trouble - the problem is most teachers don't see themselves as potential ATRs (which they may very well be once Bloomberg gets LIFO killed and they can start closing down any schools they want without worrying about the ATR issue) while I say every teacher should wear the emblem: "Ich Bin un ATR."

CITY BUDGET BEING BALANCED ON THE BACKS OF UFT'S ATRS

We have an agreement between the UFT and the city that eliminates the possibility of over 4,000 layoffs this year. We also gain increased hiring opportunities for Absent Teacher Reserves to be hired provisionally and to get considered for positions at reduced costs to principals. In exchange the UFT has agreed to suspend sabbaticals for 2012-2013 and to allow the DOE to move Absent Teacher Reserves who are not lucky enough to secure a permanent position from school to school on a weekly basis.


UFT President Michael Mulgrew's report at tonight's emergency Delegate Assembly highlighted the no layoff part of the agreement, which we are all happy about. Nobody in their right mind wants to see over 4,000 teachers lose their jobs. Mulgrew also thanked everyone for doing work with the state and city council. He told us the mayor said he wanted non seniority layoffs. He talked about opposing the mayor with the city council. He didn't, however, talk for too long about the part of the agreement that dealt with Absent Teacher Reserves becoming nomads.


The new agreement forces each principal to interview at least two ATRS per semester if they have vacancies and they are supposed to hire ATRS for vacancies and leave replacements. I don’t quite understand what happens if they interview two and don’t like them. Can they then hire someone from outside or give the classes away in a secondary school as a sixth class for special per session pay or to substitutes? UFT leadership believes these new procedures will lead to a big reduction in the ATR pool. I hope they are correct because anyone unfortunate enough to be left behind in the ATR pool risks becoming a teacher gypsy.


The agreement on page three contains the following ominous clause: "An Excessed Employee/ATR shall be assigned to a school within his/her district/superintendency each week. A 'week' shall be Monday through Friday, or shorter if the work week is less than five(5) days." Then there is clause C which says: "An Excessed Empoyee/ATR shall be notfied no later than Friday (or the last work-day of the week) if he/she will be assigned to a different school the following week and, if so, to which school. An ATR who has not been notified that he/she has been assigned to a different school by Friday shall report on Monday, or the first work day of the work day of the work week, and for the duration of that week, to the last school to which he/she was assigned." In other words, if a teacher does not find a permanent job on his or her own, buy a good GPS.


Besides the obvious problems of ATRS not having stability from week to week and not being able to bond with students, or know which person in each particular school to go to in order to resolve issues with payroll or their sick bank days or other items, this makes it virtually impossible for ATRs to do any per session work (extra activities for money that are pensionable.) We are truly worried that ATRS will now become third class citizens.


One of the worst parts of the horrible giveback laden 2005 contract was the loss of placement rights for members whose schools close or are excessed because their school or program is downsized. Since then, there has been a pool of teachers ranging from the hundreds to thousands called ATRs who have no permanent job and must substitute. Under current rules, ATRs usually stay in a school for a year and then can be reassigned. It is not a very professional existence but we are told by UFT leaders that at least the ATRs have jobs. In 2008 the DOE and UFT came to an agreement to allow principals to hire ATRs and only get charged on their budget the cost of half of a starting teacher for seven years. (The teacher still gets full pay.) The UFT predicted this would basically end the ATR problem but it didn't. The reasons ATRs are not hired are either because they have obscure licenses or they are activists who are not going to say, "How high?" when a principal tells them to "Jump!"


UFT Secretary Michael Mendel told me the ATRS will have a much greater chance of getting a full time position under this new agreement. Again, I truly want him to be right but I fear he might be wrong. The subsidies didn't lead to the withering away of the ATR pool and neither will this as I see it because unfortunately some principals don't care about cost as much as they care about control. Furthermore, having teachers do coverages is much cheaper than hiring someone they don’t know.


Balancing the budget on the backs of ATRS is not quite as awful as balancing it on the backs of newer teachers who would have been laid off but it was totally unnecessary. With Bloomberg’s poll numbers on education sinking to "Bushian Post Hurricane Katrina" levels, the UFT was holding all of the cards and should have insisted that to save money that the DOE should be compelled to place all of the ATRS into positions in their districts. That would save some money for sure as it would eliminate the ATR pool if DOE was not allowed to do any new hiring until every ATR in a license in a district was placed. Any remaining ATRs could cover classes in an individual school so as not to create the potential chaos that this agreement could bring.


Teacher bashing continues. When firehouses close, the firefighters aren't blamed and they are sent to another firehouse. When police precincts redeploy whole precincts because of corruption scandals, the clean cops who worked in the corrupt precinct don't have to apply to other precinct captains. They are transferred. Only teachers face the indignity of having to pound the pavement to seek a job because a program was downsized or closed.


President Mulgrew said this union leaves no educator behind. This is not totally true as the ATRs have certainly been left to basically fend for themselves.

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Check out Norms Notes for a variety of articles of interest: http://normsnotes2.blogspot.com/. And make sure to check out the side panel on right for news bits.

3 comments:

  1. Marjorie Stamberg left this comment at ICE-mail:

    Yes, the ATR agreement is very problematic and does nothing to deal with the systemic issue caused by Weingarten/Unity selling out seniority transfers in 05.

    Notable at the D.A., was that no speaker was allowed on the floor who would raise the more than 1,000 layoffs of DC 37 union brothers and sisters, overwhelmingly black and Latino, whom our leadership seems to have thrown under the bus. A number of those laid off are DOE employees such as school aides.

    --Marjorie Stamberg

    ReplyDelete
  2. Subs were thrown under bus without a mumbling word from the UFT.
    Aren't subs also members? We have a CBA. What may be just as disturbinng is that it appears at least for now, not many are screaming. Not many are fighting this injustice. However, there were many turned away and not allowed to enter the DA on Tuesday although they have a file number.
    Heavy security for members isn't it? We will see how many speak up when they won't be able to find work next year. "Sorry, we have ATRs". Sorry, we already hire ATRs..Sorry, we have two or three ATRs. Sorry...At least the schools are "apolgizing"!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks for all the info. about "the agreement." What I'd like to know is where I can get my hands (or my web browser) on this agreement. There are a lot of rumors out there, so I'd love to see the actual text.

    ReplyDelete

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