Per diems under the gun

Carol Ruiz is a substitute teacher in Brooklyn.

There is no other group of members of the union I can think of that are more under-represented than substitute teachers.

We are called upon to serve the children of the city of New York on a moments notice, and to work in some of the worst conditions imaginable, yet our union fails to negotiate on our behalf to draft substantial objective due process protections within our contract.  The claim has been that they have no leverage to negotiate due process for per diems. Yet there are other states that have drafted contracts that at least provide some sort of “verbal warnings” or conferences with administrators before a substitute is placed on a “do not call” list or ineligible list.

In 2005 the UFT and the Department of Education agreed to implement a massive teacher recruitment system called “Sub Central”; which was implemented under the premise that there was a need for substitute teachers to work in districts that were “under-serviced”. Not one substitute was called in to the union to be informed about the implementation of this registry, nor were they told what affect it would have on their jobs.

There have been many abuses against substitute teachers by the substitute registry that I can discuss at another time.However, right now, as we speak, this same registry has sent a letter to all substitutes dated June 11, 2010 that has literally threatened our very livelihood.The letter states that if substitute teachers do not log onto a certain website and register to agree to certain conditions which are ambiguously stated, we will be terminated.

Strong language, and yet we are being asked to agree to teach under conditions yet to be clarified, or be terminated on or about June 28, 2010. That only gives us a few days to examine this and almost no time to think for fear of losing our jobs.

No one in their right mind would ever agree to do a job before being told what requirements they will be expected to fulfill. This is an absolute outrage! How could substitutes agree to such terms?

But, the only advice given by the UFT is to log on and agree and wait for the union to discuss the terms at a later date. The UFT has not expressed publicly its outrage, nor have they sent notices to the per diems about what they advise them to do. However, I was informed that the union had already known and agreed to “raise the standards” for substitute teachers in the coming school year, and yet failed to inform the members.

On the “renewal” website it also states that if a sub fails to respond to a call for work, they will be made ineligible.  The nature of a subs job is have the freedom to turn down jobs that they feel are inappropriate for them. To monitor subs in such a manner is nothing but control and harassment of substitute teachers.

These kind of tactics need to be squarely addressed and this abuse of power by the DOE against “itinerant workers” must come to an end.

Carol Ruiz
June 25, 2010

1 Comment

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    Roberta Simms

    Bravo to Carol for giving a voice to and working tirelessly for the vastly under represented and under supported Substitute Teachers who must meet enormous challenges teaching day to day in the NYC educational system.

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