Wednesday, April 29, 2015
The Absent Teacher Reserve. The Unwanted Orphans When It Comes To Representation.
Back in 2005, with the implementation of the terrible contract our union leadership negotiated with the City. One of the many "givebacks" that our union surrendered to the City was the right to bump untenured teachers out of their position if you were excessed from your school. Moreover, the salaries of staff were in units and did not affect the school's budget, no matter how much a teacher made. However, after the implementation of the 2005 contract, thew union allowed the DOE to change their teacher funding mechanism and the unit method was replaced with actual salaries. The result was the "fair student funding" that encouraged principals to hire the "cheapest and not the best teachers" for their schools as their ever tightening budget made it painful to hire an experienced teacher. The result, was a pool of excessed teachers called the Absent teacher Reserve or known as the ATR.
The ATR pool consists of between 2,600 to 1,000 ATRs annually. Some are covering for leave replacements, others are in provisional vacancies for the rest of the year, while a good 50% are rotating from school to school during the school year. While the former two groups are not considered ATRs by the DOE and UFT in their statistics to the media, they are ATRs and they know it since they have a snowball's chance in hell of being appointed and have their salary on the school's budget. The average age of ATRs are in their 50's, have over 15 years of experience, and make $87,000 annually.
The Union leadership will claim that the ATRs are temporary status employees and don't need their own chapter. However, since when is temporary when some ATRs have been in the pool for almost a decade? How can the ATR be adequately represented by the Chapter Leader of the school that they are rotated into? The ATRs rarely meet the Chapter Leader and in my time I rotated, I met less than 25% of the Chapter Leaders and few ever bothered to introduce themselves to me. Not only are ATRs being treated as "second class citizens" by the DOE but are regarded as unwanted orphans by the union leadership. ATR's need to be represented by having their own chapter to advocate for them since our disconnected union leadership has done a poor job in protecting the ATR by allowing the DOE to impose different rules for the ATRs, like missing two mandated interviews will result in termination, lack of mutual consent, the vaguely defined "problematic behavior" clause, and the expedited 3020-a hearing.
The bottom line, I want a Chapter Leader to represent the ATRs not rely on the school's Chapter Leader who does not know you or what's it like to be an ATR.