Archive for July 10th, 2011

Dignity for All Teachers (Draft Resolution, for October, if necessary)

If June’s no layoffs agreement works as planned, many more ATRs may find regular appointments in the fall. But if in the fall the position and conditions of the ATRs are not improved, then New Action will introduce the following resolution at the October Delegate Assembly:

Dignity for All Teachers

(Draft Resolution for the October DA, if necessary)

Whereas each year for the last several years a significant number of our members have been assigned to the Absent Teacher Reserve (ATR); and

Whereas most teachers who are in the ATR arrived there as their schools were shut down; and

Whereas the teachers in the ATR have been subject to a campaign of media vilification, falsely claiming or implying that teachers in the ATR are less able or are bad teachers, and intentionally conflating them with teachers facing disciplinary proceedings; and

Whereas the teachers in the ATR have been targeted for layoff or termination several times over the last several years, including by the Department of Education during contract negotiations; the anti-union group Educators for Excellence in its seniority reform proposal this spring; and Mayor during his campaign to undo Civil Service law in Albany earlier this spring, thwarted each time by the United Federation of Teachers, and its leadership; and

Whereas teachers in the ATR often are made to feel like outsiders in the schools where they work; and

Whereas teachers in the ATR, in too many instances, are forced to perform inappropriate work in the schools where they work; and

Whereas teachers in the ATR, to the extent they are made to feel like outsiders or feel vulnerable to being moved, are often reluctant to seek appropriate relief; and

Whereas the new budget agreement allows teachers in the ATR to be moved from school to school multiple times each term; and

Whereas the UFT values the dignity of all our members;

Be it resolved the UFT will direct its chapters and Chapter Leaders to reach out to members of the ATR who are assigned to their schools, to welcome them, and to support them; and be it further resolved that

the UFT will educate Chapter Leaders about the rights of teachers in the ATR, and direct its chapters and Chapter Leaders to proactively protect those rights, and to intervene if those rights are being infringed upon by administration, as the ATR may be justifiably reluctant or fearful of speaking up; and be it further resolved that

the UFT will designate a representative or committee Centrally, or will designate a representative in each borough to handle ATR issues; and be it further resolved that

the New York Teacher will run an article on teachers in the ATR, including how teachers became part of the ATR; and be it further resolved that

the UFT has always and will always stand for the dignity of all teachers, including our most vulnerable: probationers, teachers under investigation, and teachers in the ATR.

We win! No layoffs! (but the war with Bloomberg continues)

June, 28  2011

We won. Yesterday four thousand teachers were wondering how they would pay rent or mortgages this summer. And today they know – their jobs are safe.

We won by demonstrating, by phone banking, by winning over the City Council.

We have won a big battle. But the war with the mayor continues. He will come back at seniority next year. And school closings. And collocations. We are still working under an expired contract.

We need to keep pushing. We need to hammer away at the wasteful contracts. We need to mobilize as we have. But we also need to mobilize in a way that draws more of our members into the fight. New Action continues to call for school-level actions, including meetings and pickets, as appropriate. Picketing is not a panacea, but engagement by the entire membership is crucial.


Today’s agreement has a series of complicated-looking provisions that may help ATRs get regularly appointed. It would be fantastic if this works. But we have had contract language and side agreements designed to help ATRs get positions in the past, and the DoE has ignored or violated them (think about 18D!). We will need to watch how our brothers and sisters in the ATRs are treated very closely. If their conditions and positions do not improve, New Action will introduce a resolution (see reverse) for the next Delegate Assembly in October.

 Focus on conditions in the schools

Schools just had their budgets cut again yesterday. While this cut is not huge (average is under 3%) this is the latest in a series of cuts stretching back several years. The cumulative effect of is over 20% for some schools. Schools are bleeding not from a gash, but from a thousand paper cuts. And our children are losing necessary programs.

We will lose through attrition at least 2500 teachers. Again, this is on top of ten thousand more positions already lost in preceding cuts. Despite the CFE case, the DoE is forcing our students into larger classes.

Mayoral Control

Bloomberg’s brinkmanship over layoffs would not have occurred without the legislation that gives him direct control over the schools. It is time to end mayoral control.