Sunday, May 11, 2014

UFT Contract: Secretaries Ask MORE for Help After Mulgrew Ignores Pleas

Mulgrew being handed requests
Dear Mr. Scott,

The secretaries of the UFT have been working under a 1979 contract. Some of the secretaries put together an outline of requests to up date our duties, title and protections against out of license employees being put in our positions. They have not opened up the test or upgraded it for yes ads. We handed these outlined requests to Mr. Mulgrew personally. We are not even mentioned in the new contract. We have had no reply from mulgrew or Mona Gonzales the chapter leader. We pay dues and work hard to keep things afloat while dealing with students, parents and administrators. Can you help us?

Secretaries are one of the forgotten segments of the UFT. When one of them challenged MORE for not taking up their cause I challenged the secretary to get involved and lobby for their case. They seem to have tried using the UFT mechanisms and got nowhere. Their chapter has long been a Unity controlled sellout chapter.

Our correspondent continues:

Most of them are so depressed.

The negotiating committee never sends us update, no test for the secretaries was even suggested in the contract, no secretaries have been hired in years, secretaries that leave are never replaced with secretaries, the workload is always dumped on them or when we complain, they put school aides in our spot. Aides have access to DOE programs that detail information about students, they work in payroll, attendance and admitting students, programing, etc. The DOE knows that they are aides and still OK's requests for access to these programs on the request for access forms OK'd by the Principals, Assistant Principal in charge of running the school and/or a DOE hired administrative assistant.

We are asked to do work for programs that are run after school during our regular working hours. They stopped giving us per session to work after school in these programs and hired aids to do this work.

There are aides in the college offices, handing transcripts to colleges and SAT information to send to the colleges and the students.

No one listens. Not Mulgrew, Gonzales, Principals, AP's, no one.

These are the requests that were handed to Mr. Mulgrew in a folder last May. We know all of the requests won't be met, but no one even mentioned updates to the secretarial area. 

Last May? A year has gone by with Mulgrew ignoring them. My message to secretaries is to start organizing. Get emails of every secretary you know and help MORE create a secretary committee run by secretaries.

  1. Chapter leaders, having knowledge of secretarial infringements by aides doing secretarial jobs and as UFT contractual agreement, should put through a grievance without individual request. The arbitration won by the UFT with regard to out of license pedagogues doing secretarial work is not being upheld. The Department of Education is giving Aides access to DOE software programs that only secretaries and administrators should have access to. The DOE is not hiring secretaries to fill areas of need. They are using Aides. More per session for secretaries (administrative assistants)
  2. More per session for secretaries (administrative assistants) should be included in the budget. Money must be made available, not comp time.
  3. When there is per session for teachers/administrators for special programs, secretarial hours must be included to do all the paperwork/payroll involved in the programs. (Often we are forced to do this work during the day in addition to our already heavy workloads).
  4. During higher work volume through the year and upon absence of a secretary, peak load and per diem secretaries should be used to lessen the work load burden of a secretary.
  5. The DOE must ENFORCE not giving Aides access to programs only secretaries (administrative assistants) and supervisors may access to.
  6. DOE should implement updated and job appropriate secretarial (administrative assistants) exams to enter field. The test should include MS Office experience, Excel, PowerPoint and Publisher.
  7. Applications for secretarial (Administrative assistants) positions should be accepted this year 2013-2014 and onward.
  8. The date of the Secretarial (Administrative Assistant) exams should be on a date in 2013-14 onward and advertised.
  9. The number of secretaries should be based on the number of students. i.e. H.S .SETTING: Minimum 12 secretaries for 2500 students. There should be a formula for the minimum number of secretarial positions for each school. We are understaffed and our workloads continue to increase.
10. Postings for secretarial positions should be posted after a secretary retires from a position held by them. Aides are not licensed to do secretarial work and must not take the secretary’s place. (This is included in our current contract but not always followed).
11. Salary steps should also be given to secretaries (administrative assistants) who took outside classes to improve their skills (i.e. MS Office classes, Administrative Assistant Seminars, etc.)
12. DOE should hire new secretaries (administrative assistants) to handle burden of workload where and when necessary. (Formula)
13. More secretaries (administrative assistants) should be hired to process data and clerical duties in each school.
14. There should be a Network and/or liaisons for secretaries. Name and phone numbers should be supplied directly to the secretary for contact.
15. Differential 2 should be increased monetarily.
16. Air conditioning or fans should be supplied by the school, as needed, to provide an
environmentally safe and reasonable temperature for the secretary (administrative assistant) 1
working condition.
17. A monthly meeting with the Principal, lasting at least 20 minutes, to discuss secretarial issues and
updates of what is being discussed with the rest of the staff and administration. So that we are
all on the same page, copies of faculty minutes should be provided to all secretaries.
18. All secretaries must be supplied with the appropriate professional development and classes so
that they are proficient in all aspects of their duties.
19. On Professional Development day, secretaries must be required and allowed to have
professional development. Professional development for secretaries should be provided in each borough of the City of New York. Network leaders or the power that be, cannot cancel professional development for secretaries and require them to work on that day.
20. Reimbursement should be provided to secretaries for required classes in order to maintain their license and/or increase their applied skills.


Anonymous said...

It is about time that the needs of secretaries in public schools is heard. The UFT collects our dues and does absolutely nothing for secretaries. The UFT knows what is going. They continue to allow school aides to take over the job of a secretary. The UFT expects the secretary to complain and file a workload grievance when a school aide does take the job of a secretary.

Sorry, but having Mona Gonzalez in charge of the secretaries' chapter is a joke. She doesn't update the secretaries website or give us any information. We need to vote someone in who actually cares about secretaries. Since secretaries aren't being replaced when they retire, in a couple of years, secretaries won't be part of the UFT -- unless they really need the dues. We are never mentioned in the Union paper. Are secretaries really part of the UFT?

Will secretaries get the $1000 that the UFT says all members will get upon ratification of the contract? Are we considered UFT members? I don't feel like we are.

The next time Mulgrew or M. Gonzales run, every secretary should vote to get them out. They don't deserve one vote from the Secretaries' Chapter. For Mulgrew to have a list of requests to help secretaries for a year and for him to do absolutely nothing about it shows what type of person he really is. If he can sell out an ATR, then he can easily sell out a secretary.

Are secretaries getting a new contract? Did he negotiate anything for us? Are we still part of the Union?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for kicking up the dust. We work hard and want to be recognized as part of the UFT. We should be represented by people who care about the Secretarial Chapter. From what I see, the UFT is trying to phase out the position. REALLY, speak to anyone on the school level and ask them who they go to for information, assistance and most importantly to get the job done. In most cases, I believe the answer would be the secretary. I agree that the secretaries test should be opened and secretaries should be replaced when someone leaves. If a teacher leaves, a school aide cannot teach the class. Why is it ok for school aides to take over a secretaries position? If a school aide wants to be a secretary, they should have to go through the process. Secretaries had to take and pass not only a written exam but then had to sit before a panel and be interviewed. Only after passing all requirements were we deemed Licensed School Secretaries. We did that because we are professionals, and want and need our jobs. Let's continue working together to accomplish our goal of keeping the Secretarial Chapter of the UFT alive.

Anonymous said...

I really wish some other secretaries would make their feelings known on this site. Maybe the UFT will find out how secretaries really feel and make some changes. We have a tentative contract and our chapter leader, Mona Gonzalez, hasn't even mentioned the fact on the secretaries website. The UFT posted a tentative retroactive list for teachers, but not for secretaries. Are we getting the retro salary also? Do we count at all? It's time that all secretaries make their voices heard.

Please start speaking up. There are so many websites letting teachers know that they should vote "NO" on the contract, but us secretaries, get no advice at all. I think our chapter leader should post something for us - at least let us know that we are included in the tentative contract agreement that was made.

Another thing about this contract - the teachers have a committee that will look at the amount of paperwork that teachers have to do. This committee will probably say that secretaries will have to do the paperwork instead of the teachers. Will they give that paperwork to the school aides to do? Somehow secretaries, always end up with an increased workload. How many secretaries are entering per session for teachers that did scoring during the break, or on weekends or evenings. The teachers are getting paid for their work and us poor secretaries get to add the entering of the scoring per session to our already busy day.

I thought per session is done after the normal school day. Doesn't that include the entering of per session payroll? Shouldn't per session payroll be entered during after school hours - shouldn't secretaries get paid per session to enter per session?

Anonymous said...

To some, secretaries may be a dying breed, but guess what? We're not dead yet. We need to speak up for ourselves while we're still breathing. Mona Gonzalez? Who's that? Forget about her and let's start sticking up for ourselves.

We need to be recognized more than once a year on Administrative Assistance Day. We are the the ones who keep the schools functioning. Ask any teacher or Assistant Principal, or Principal, for that matter, who they go for for answers to their questions. We need to stop being short changed.

The contract does nothing for us. In fact, it doesn't even mention us. We are still living by a contract that was formulated back in the stone age when typewriters were in production. We need training on all DOE systems i.e. ATS, Payroll, SESIS, HSST, Galaxy, Famis.We need our Chapter Leaders to represent us and put an end to school aides doing OUR jobs. We are ENTITLED to per session just as much as our fellow colleagues are but shockingly "there's no money in the budget for us."


Anonymous said...

I do agree, opening our mouths and standing up for ourselves in a positive way is a great start. I don't think the contract represented us in any way, and they not do fight for us. We need to be much more verbal, get organized, and communicate amongst ourselves instead of standing in the backgroundas we have. We have been letting them open new schools with one secretary who handles all the work and graciously they give you a school aide to help out. Stricter guidelines written down and open communication between us would allow us to track the changes coming about. I feel positive flow will help our message and gain some backing.

Your thoughts? It's even ashamed we have to be anonymous here.

Anonymous said...

After 15 + years in the corporate world, I was thrilled to work with the DOE and be part of a union...someone I can go to seek advice, get assistance and stand up for me when needed, as I never had that experience in corporate. WHY DID I THINK THINGS WOULD BE DIFFERENT??? I've watched over 8 years how the DOE works and how the UFT responds to the secretaries. NO ONE IS LISTENING, NO ONE IS HELPING. ONE WHOLE YEAR AND NO ONE ADDRESSED OUR CONCERNS. The secretaries that leave are not replaced, and their work either gets shifted to the other secretaries to take up the slack without additional pay or given to a school aide. Correct me if I'm wrong but I believe when a teacher works an additional period or 4 classes in a row, they get paid additional I correct to some degree? But the secretaries can keep taking on more work and get NOTHING. Does this make sense? We are not in the times of typewriters, pencil skirts and typing pools; we are professionals that multitask, handling multiple problems at one time...answering the non-stop phone calls, waving the next parent in, attending to the student needing attention that very second, helping colleagues calling for your assistance all the while typing up and mail merging all those failing letters or that needed proposal for the meeting being held in 10 minutes that you didn't know about and forgetting that it's now your lunch time. When someone is not sure of who to talk to about something, or where to go to get certain information, or how to process a grade change, where do they usually go for help? Secretaries. The way UFT is handling things with secretaries, it feels as though they are working to get rid of the title. I just got a response from an email I sent to Mona Gonzalez and she stated that "we are working hard on getting something out to all the Chapters. We expect an email blast to go out to the Secretaries by next week. ....Hopefully this will answer all your questions." My simple one lined question was, "WHERE in the contract are secretaries mentioned?" Plus, NEXT WEEK???? Why wasn't something already done? Useless...completely useless. I'm so fed up.

I'm fed up with how things are being handled.

Anonymous said...

Are there any male secretaries? Perhaps it's that "old secretary" bias that has been set upon us from years ago that hurts our forward motion. Perhaps a change to admin assists would open the door to change within our boring title, where we'd be treated respectfully and also open doors for movement on new ladder restructure...and we'd gain some momentum as forward thinking group.

ed notes online said...

You can remain anon - I get why. But do contact us and get a few people together to talk about strategy for you guys. Isolated you cannot get far. Join the opposition and your voice can get heard through MORE's networking.

ed notes online said...

Let's start a blog for secretaries which you guys can run and publicize your plight. Let the public know what is happening. Just be careful about giving impression you are attacking school aides who are just following orders. emphasize that children are getting cheated by mis-use of school aides. This is a political struggle and the message must be clear - not just griping - but a strategy.

Susan said...

You're terrific. Great idea. Really want to progress and have the respect that we deserve. Our title definitely needs to be changed to Admin. Assistants but I was told that the DOE already has a title in there domain for Admin. Assistants. Clerical Admin Assistants might be useable for us. I don't like the word clerical, But.......

Susan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Susan said...

How do we go about doing this. I don't believe that Mona Gonzales will give us a listing of personal emails for the secretaries.

Susan said...

How do we find out what the secretarial delegates introduced at the negotiating table? Ms. Gonzales would now like to form a committee for secretaries to handle and look into problems and complaints... What have the delegates, representatives and Ms. Gonzales been doing. Aren't they the ones that are supposed to be doing that? Isn't Ms. Gonzales supposed to be protecting us as Secretarial
Chapter Leader?

ed notes online said...

By going public here the UFT is getting nervous and trying to make nice. Don't back off. Keep the pressure on. She's just trying to deflate you guys. Form your own committee and advertize it. You all have ways to communicate with other secretaries. We can help you put together a leaflet. a blog, a facebook page, etc. She had your complaints for a year and ignored them. Contacting MORE makes them nervous.

ed notes online said...

Email me at and we can talk logistics.

Anonymous said...

That's great to hear. Let the UFT get nervous. It's about time they start sticking up for secretaries. Mona Gonzalez has the same message on the Secretaries website since September. It hasn't changed. It hasn't been updated to even say that there is a contract that we will be voting on. Did they even include secretaries in the contract negotiations? All of us secretaries need to get together. The next time there is a vote we need to get someone in that cares about secretaries.

Susan said...

The is what is on the DOE TEACH website for secretaries, lab assistants:
Other DOE JobsSchool Secretary and School Laboratory Specialist
The New York City Department of Education is currently updating its School Secretary and Lab Specialist application process. At this time, we do not have any examination announcements and we are not accepting paper applications any more. Please keep checking this website for updates.

The following school secretary announcement is for information purposes only.
The following lab specialist announcement is for information purposes only.

Please visit the Careers in NYC Schools page to learn more about current career opportunities within the Department.

In the meantime the was now open. They TOTALLY LEFT US OUT SINCE 2009. This Unity Union is a disgrace. The do not protect us at all.

Pupil Personnel Services SCHOOL COUNSELORS, Social Workers, Psychologists, AND ATTENDANCE TEACHERS

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Anonymous said...

I've been a secretary for 20 years but I can't retire yet. I am in my 3rd school and I am really happy where I am. I was in the first school for 9 years and then due to budget cuts I was excessed. At that time, if you were excessed, you were placed in another school that had an opening. I was lucky, but I went from elementary to high which is a very big change. Some secretaries like being in high schools, but there is a downfall to it.

I guess I was lucky that I was placed into a vacancy, but it was in a split position. I had to travel between a new high school where a grade was added each year and an established high school at another location. One of the schools was housed in a building in a different district. I didn't even have a computer or a scanner. I had to travel to a third school to scan attendance, make purchases and to enter payroll, but as the school grew so did the amount of work that I had to do. I had to even go in the lunch room and serve lunches.

At that time I used to go to meetings. At one meeting I got up and asked a question about what was happening to me and I was told by the Secretary Chapter Leader -- Jackie Ervolina, that I should put in a workload grievance. What did a workload grievance have to do with me being put in a split position when I knew of a full time position in another school. The secretary that was given the full time position had a sub license. I was also told that I should hand deliver a letter to the superintendent of the district that I worked in, and I did. That didn't help. I am going to cut this story short.

I was at the high school for 8 years. It was a struggle, but I had some good times too. In my 8th year, the principal hired a new AP to replace the AP that left a few years before. When he hired the AP I knew my job was coming to an end. I knew he couldn't afford my salary if he was going to pay an AP's salary.

The whole point to this long story is, I was the only secretary at the school. The UFT knew that, but did nothing about it. At the end of the school year, in June, I asked the principal if my position was secure and I guess he lied to me and said, "Yes it was secure." I ended up going on a vacation and coming back to a message from a principal from another school offering me to go on a job interview.

What a way to find out that I was excessed. The principal from the school that I worked at didn't even have the decency to email me or to call and leave me a message. I had to call him about three times to find out that it was true that I was out of a job. He told me that he didn't expect me to find out so fast. I spent the rest of the summer worrying about what was going to happen. Where was the UFT when this happened to me? The downfall to working in a high school is that if you are excessed, the DOE can place you in any district that has an opening for a secretary. If you were excessed from an elementary or middle school, the District Office had to place you in a school in the district that you worked in.

To cut another long story short, I was placed at another high school which took me about an hour to get to or more. The school that I was sent to had another secretary, so it didn't really matter that they didn't even have a desk for me. I had to carry my purse with me all day. I was there for a month and I was very honest with the principal at that school that I was still looking for another position. After about a month, there was an offer and I was interviewed and lucky enough to be hired by the school that I am at now.

I lost all interest and trust in the UFT. They took my dues and continue to take them, but that's it. I don't attend meetings any more. Why should I? Are they going to do anything for us Secretaries? The UFT wasn't there for me when I needed them. I honestly think the secretaries' chapter is almost a thing of the past.

A message to all secretaries, please keep the comments coming.

Anonymous said...

I'm not anonymous. I'm Elizabeth, the Payroll and Principal Secretary who is also responsible of the purchasing, budgeting and reimbursements as if I were the Business Manager. You see, the DOE is slowly but surely phasing out the Business Manager positions and they're having the silent work horses of the DOE do the job- US! As if we aren't overworked already, we are suckered into this. And no... We are not paid as a Business Manager. Their starting salary is 50k a year.... Starting. Some even make over 65k. And guess what... Somewhere in our contract, it states that we are not allowed to "PROTEST". This is a violation of our first amendment right of the constitution of the United States of America... Our freedom of speech has been taken away? I'm sure we have a class action lawsuit on BOTH THE DOE AND UFT FOR NEGOTIATING abusive agreements with the DOE. We have to stick together ladies and lawyer up!