By Philip Nobile
Why does Michael Mulgrew’s UFT persist in shafting ATRs by denying us representation within the union? Why hasn’t the Mulgrew established a bill of rights for ATRs? In contrast, Randi arranged for rubber roomers to elect liaisons who met monthly with UFT Secretary Michael Mendel and Co-Staff Director LeRoy Barr at 52 Broadway. She also produced a pamphlet on our rights. Surely, what was good for reassigned members in the past is good for ATRs in the present.
The UFT disagrees. Instead of real representation the union has handed us crumbs, insisting that revolving (and usually invisible) chapter leaders are all the representation we need.
On Sept. 24, hoping to change hearts and minds, I emailed two questions to the chain of command (Mulgrew, Mendel, Barr, Amy Arundell, Brooklyn Borough Rep. Howie Schoor, and my Brooklyn District Rep. Tom Bennett):
(1) Why hasn’t the UFT drawn up an advisory to CLs on how to handle ATRs? Or have I missed it? In the good old days of rubber rooms, we not only had elected reps (liaisons) and monthly meetings at 52 Broadway, but Randi produced a brochure on our rights. (2) Can you explain why ATRs in good standing get less respect than accused members in the past?
There was no reply until October 9 when Bennett emailed me and said to give him a call. I preferred a written response and Bennett obliged in his fashion. Herewith the ensuing correspondence revealing the UFT’s contempt for ATR rights:
Oct. 10: Bennett to me
Ok, written response it is. I dont agree with the premise of question #2 in your email, so, I cant respond in a meaningful way. As for #1, there is no specific handbook on ATRs for chapter leaders, but it has been addressed at Chapter Leader training and at monthly meetings. Professional courtesy, bathroom keys, no menial assignments, no 6th period, etc. have all been emphasized repeatedly. It has also been addressed in chapter leader weekly, as well.
Sorry to hear you are in high dudgeon, but I think I am innocent of the charge of being unavailable. If I dont respond it is because I dont know the answer, or because your question is, shall we say, tendentious. But I have always taken your call.
Let me know where you are, and Ill come by.
Oct. 13: Me to Bennett et al:
Good to hear from you. Thanks for the info on the indoctrination of chapter leaders in the care of ATRs. In my experience it’s not working. The only CL to meet and greet me in Brooklyn and Staten Island all last year was the esteemed Bill Kalogeras at Automotive. If the union were serious about the least of its members, at the least you would establish a protocol whereby CLs welcome their ATR brothers on day one, maybe even get them a cup of coffee. Is that too much to ask? If you were an ATR, wouldn’t you like to be treated with such solidarity?
The premise of question 2, as you know, is the UFT’s refusal to grant ATRs the same rights as rubber room residents of the past. Nobody in the UFT, including you, has explained why ATRs in good standing are less worthy of direct representation than suspect resassigned teachers who had elected liaisons to guard their interests at monthly meetings at 52 Broadway with LeRoy Barr and Michael Mendel no less. This is what I meant by a dearth of respect. Once again, if you were an ATR, wouldn’t you prefer to have a representative fighting for you inside the UFT instead of depending on invisible chapter leaders? Nevermind the Unity line, tell me what you really think.
Thanks for your consideration.
Oct. 16: me to Bennett et al.
Let's stipulate that you're in a tough spot along with Amy, Howie, LeRoy, and Mendel. Apparently, none of you can explain (justify) denying ATRs in good standing the same representation (e.g., elected liaisons and monthly meetings at 52) once granted reassigned members in bad standing. So why not walk the golden bridge of retreat and give ATRs their due. Call it solidarity.
Oct. 17: Bennett to me
Thanks for the email. Your comments are very thoughtful, as always. I look forward to seeing you at the meeting.
Oct. 17: Me to Bennett et al.
How sad, even pathetic, that you won't express your personal opinion on the union's refusal to extend the same representation rights to good standing ATRs that were formerly bestowed on suspect rubber room members.
The UFT's refusal to deal with this disparate treatment is really shabby.
But you know that. You just can't admit it. You've taken the Unity oath.