Thursday, December 05, 2013
Will There Be An ATR Time Limit In The Next Contract? The Union Says No!
The Independent Budget Office (IBO) came out once again that if there was an ATR time limit the City could save 71 million dollars each year. This report, on top of the Bloomberg influenced New York Times Editorial asking for an ATR time limit has worried 2,000+ excessed teachers, guidance counselors, social workers, assistant principals and secretaries. "Is the union going to completely sell us out"? According to the union leadership the answer is an emphatic no.
First, let me give the reader a brief history of how the ATR pool came about. The ATR issue goes back to the non-binding"fact finding" by a three arbitrator panel which was the basis of the terrible 2005 contract. The arbitrators recommended that the seniority transfer system that allowed senior teachers who wanted to leave their school, could bump untenured teachers out of their positions at more desirable schools. The result was the highly experienced teachers ended up in the best schools while the poor and minority students in struggling schools experienced an unstable and inexperienced teaching staff.or so that was what the DOE claimed and accepted by the arbitrators. However, then Chancellor Joel Klein wanted to take it one step further and requested that the provision that required that "all excessed teachers in a district in the license area must be placed before schools could hire teachers outside the Department of Education" should be eliminated. Shockingly, Randi Weingarten agreed to Joel Klein's request with one provision. That the teachers in excess cannot be terminated and that failure to obtain a position is not grounds for termination. Joel Klein eagerly agreed to the provision and from the moment the 2005 contract was signed, Joel Klein demonized the ATRs. The Chancellor told the principals, politicians, the media, and anybody else who would listen that the ATRs are :"bad or failed teachers". The introduction of the "fair student funding formula", tightening budgets, and teacher salaries as part of a school's budget have brought about the ATR crises we are now in with over 2,000 ATRS without a permanent classroom. That's were we now find the situation at the present time.
Previously, the union has consistently refused to include an ATR time limit in contract negotiations with the Bloomberg Administration. According to the union leadership, the City offered the union the two 4% raises if the union agrees to a 4 month time limit for the ATRs. The union has refused and have informed me that an ATR time limit is not a negotiable item in any contract negotiations with the new de Blasio Administration.
Another reason for the union's steadfastness on the ATR time linit is that the other Municipal unions would probably file a lawsuit since it violates New York State Civil Service Law and sets a "slippery slope" for other government organizations to form their own "excessed worker pool" and then set a time limit to ensure their termination. I spoke to one high union official in a uniformed service who claims that the rest of the Municipal unions warned the UFT that they would pursue legal action if they negotiated a ATR time limit. How true that is, I don't know but I believe its true.
Can the union change their minds and negotiate an ATR time limit? Well, anything is possible but I believe the union will not sell out the ATRs and let the DOE impose a time limit. Instead, I look for the union and the new de Blasio Administration to work out procedures to get ATRs back into the classroom by the 2014-15 school year.