Monday, July 17, 2017

MORE's 7/12/17 Hardcore Contract Training Notes

Here is a draft of the notes at the MORE Hard Core Contract Training event last week -- a very difficult job given the range and number of people there and the wide range of issues discussed. If you were there and we missed something or you want to amend leave a comment or email me. Thanks to Jia Lee for doing such an often thankless task and putting these preliminary notes together.

This didn't turn into a training session as there weren't a lot  of specific contractual issues raised -- the paperwork issue was on the table as were bulletin board issues where there are possible contractual remedies. More details in a follow-up post later in the week.

We view this event not as a one-off but a springboard to further discussions to try to devolve solutions. We will be contacting the participants to get more feedback.

We spent about an hour going around the room and having people introduce themselves with a key issue. I think everyone benefited and got a big picture snapshot of what is on the minds of people in the schools. A big group of newcomers showed up so their insights were especially helpful.

7/12/17 Hardcore Contract Training

Go Around:

  • Cell phone policies often leave staff members responsible for irresponsible student behavior. Often told that if students are looking at their phones, the lesson is not engaging.
  • APPR compliance and Quality Reviews
  • Non-Payment for per session and extra classes taught
  • Supporting untenured teachers
  • PROSE as a two-tiered system, along with ATR and untenured  teachers
  • Organizing staff around the contract
  • Adult education
  • The need to organize grievance committee
  • Pressure to not refer students for special education services
  • Common planning time
  • Pensions (divestment from fossil fuels)
  • Only 7 arbitrators for the grievance process for the entire city (clogged on purpose) and indicates we must come up with other ways to combat contract violations at the school level
  • SPED/ICT teachers pulled to do coverages
  • Beating apathy
  • School safety issues
  • Professional conciliation
  • Paid maternity leave
  • Paperwork grievances
  • C:30

Based on Stories Told by Participants:

  • Issue: Paper work grievances are winnable through the process
  • Issue: Class Size (Arthur): was able to use the media when class size was not being addressed through regular means. SPED/ICT class sizes are different and can be complained at the state level
  • Issue: Attacks on individuals (Peter): knowing when you are being targeted- patterns:
    • Given impossible to achieve work assignments
    • Divide and conquer of staff
    • Contract violations and told by admin to grieve if they don’t like it
    • Drive by observations and arbitrary and capricious observations (building up a case)
    • Logging of support (by admin) and teacher has to sign
    • TO COMBAT THIS: collect your own evidence
      • Record conversations
      • Document all emails and exchanges
      • Note unprofessional conduct by admin as outlined in the contract
      • File APPR complaints
      • You can fight an observation if there is a procedural issue

Strategies for Wins:
  • SBOs around specific issues that may not be covered in contract (that end up becoming gray areas)
  • Paperwork grievances
  • Hold “know your contract/rights” sessions in your chapter
  • Organize your staff through consultation committees (invert the power structure)
  • For certain issues- organize outreach with the families (parents and students)
  • Use the media
  • Reach out the exec board as an avenue for UFT support

For Developing a healthier/more empowered chapter:
  • Develop visible solidarity, learn how to organize your chapter
  • Develop a collective vision for the kind of union/school you want to work in and discuss strategies towards that

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