There seems to be some confusion in the blogosphere about the Teacher4Action's lawsuit against the DOE and UFT. I hope to clarify this lawsuit to teachers and how important it is if the lawsuit is won. Teachers4Action is a large group of teachers who were reassigned by the DOE for various alleged offenses. This group which represents all the reassignment centers in New York City sued both the DOE and the UFT in State and Federal Court. Previously, Jeff kaufman on the ICE blog discussed the problems with regard to the State lawsuit. However, the more important federal lawsuit is alive and well and I hope to summarize the "cause of action" the best I can as an outsider looking in.
The basis of the lawsuit can be summarized with the group accusing the DOE of violating the 1st Amendment (Freedom of Speech), the 5th Amendment (Freedom of Association), and the 14th Amendment (Equal Rights and Due Process Protection) of the teachers. Further, the lawsuit accuses the UFT in aiding and abetting the DOE in violating teacher rights. Specifically, one of those rights was that the UFT failed to properly advise their membership of the impact of changes in Article 21g that was negotiated by the DOE and UFT in 2002 and 2005. The federal lawsuit is based upon the seven issues (cause of action) listed below:
- Violations/interference of the 1st, 5th, and 14th Amendment rights of the teachers by the DOE.
- DOE harassment and allowing a hostile work environment for teachers who chose to stand up for their rights.
- DOE retaliation against teachers that complain about violating their rights to a safe and appropriate work environment.
- Breach of Contract by the DOE that ignores time lines and proper procedures as defined by the UFT/DOE contract.
- Failure by the UFT to do their duty of fair representation by teachers in the 3020-a proceedings.
- Negligence against the UFT who encouraged deals rather then to go through the 3020-a hearings.
- False confinement to "rubber rooms" causing physical, and emotional injuries.
What also seems to be important about the federal lawsuit is how the UFT and DOE made side agreements that are not included in the changes to Article 21g. For example, the elimination of the right for a teacher to request a three arbitrator panel. Or Appendix "H" that allows the teachers to be suspended for up to three months without pay or health benefits simply on hearsay. The result, is the reduction of teacher "due process" rights which I have discussed previously.
Teaching for the DOE has become more and more difficult as Randi Weingarten and gang has negotiated many of our rights away and increased our workload, resulting in a worsening of the classroom teaching environment. If the Teachers4Action lawsuit is successful, it might lead to a more progressive and equal relationship between the teacher and administrator and reduce the teacher abuse that currently resides throughout the DOE.