Monday, September 01, 2008

What Is The Teachers4Action Federal Lawsuit Against The DOE & UFT About?


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:
  1. Violations/interference of the 1st, 5th, and 14th Amendment rights of the teachers by the DOE.
  2. DOE harassment and allowing a hostile work environment for teachers who chose to stand up for their rights.
  3. DOE retaliation against teachers that complain about violating their rights to a safe and appropriate work environment.
  4. Breach of Contract by the DOE that ignores time lines and proper procedures as defined by the UFT/DOE contract.
  5. Failure by the UFT to do their duty of fair representation by teachers in the 3020-a proceedings.
  6. Negligence against the UFT who encouraged deals rather then to go through the 3020-a hearings.
  7. False confinement to "rubber rooms" causing physical, and emotional injuries.
I can't get into the specifics with each "cause of action" since I am not part of the lawsuit and some of the charges are particular to one or more of the plaintiffs. However, many of the charges are valid for all teachers. For example, the failure of the UFT to protect teachers from DOE retaliation by allowing DOE to have their own one-sided and unfair investigation. Further, the UFT allows the DOE to discriminate against tenured (older) teachers by imposing the fair student funding program and eliminating the seniority transfer system that led to the ATR and "rubber room" problems.

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.

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11 comments:

Anonymous said...

I read somewhere last week in the dailynews that Teacher4action dropped its charges against UFT. There has been a post regarding the part of state lawsuit by Teacher4action was thrown out.

Chaz said...

anon:

You are correct. However, the Daily News got it wrong. It is my understanding that Teachers4Action is still suing the UFT in the Federal lawsuit. They just reduced the charges.

Yes Ice reported about the State lawsuit and that is correct but the Federal lawsuit is still going on.

Anonymous said...

What Teacher4action did is truly brave and admirable. I am afraid the City Hall will drag this case for another 5 to 10 years, like what they did with the lawsuit against Dept of Recreation and Parks,for any of the current members of the group to see the positive change. By the time, Bloomberg and Klein might move on to bigger things in their lives.

Fidgety said...

In my case it has truly been a one sided investigation. They investigate and then they don't even report their findings! How long must I wait for the results from OSI? Is there a timetable somewhere?
The UFT also fails to explain the process of reassignment to any of its' members. The rubber room is full of question and conflicting answers which equal NO answers.

Anonymous said...

Of the seven claims in the lawsuit against the UFT, plaintiffs were
shamed by the judge into voluntarily withdrawing four of them because
they obviously did not have any merit. The UFT has made what the
magistrate judge hearing the case has described as a "serious" motion to
dismiss the remaining claims. In the meantime, as members of
Teachers4Action see the lawsuit's deficiencies, more and more of them
have asked to withdraw their claims. The attorney representing
Teachers4Action even withdrew from representing Teachers4Action's
president. Anyone can file anything, but this lawsuit is not going
anywhere because the plaintiffs have not - after three tries - been able
to plead a valid cause of action.

Chaz said...

anon:

I hope you are wrong. I was informed about the lawsuit status and according to my source 14 of the charge were folded into the 7 remaining charges.

I don't know who you are and what your interest is. However, it appears to me that you want this lawsuit to fail. I guess you are not a teacher, maybe a Unity lacky????

Anonymous said...

To Fidgety:

If OSI and your principal do not reduce whatever incident into writing with 6 months, then they can not put any letter to your file. It might work to your advantage if it exceeds the clause of limitation. I am grieving 2 letters to file, which were put into my file after 180 days of the so-called incidents, UFT is scheduled to take it to arbitration.

Anonymous said...

Some of you are posting inaccurate information for either innocent reasons, not so innocent reasons, or some combination thereof.

Those who have current and accurate information regarding the subject lawsuits are not at liberty to divulge all of the details by reason of legal limitations.

Please be perfectly clear on the following point:

The United Federation of Teachers is, if anything, more culpable in destroying the physical health of teachers, the psychological health of teachers, their careers, their ability to eat and to enjoy shelter over their heads rather than live in the streets, homeless than the New York City Department of Education.

The UFT contributes mightily to the destruction of the families of teachers and, in a somewhat more subtle way, the destruction of our students, their families and communities.

The so-called "leaders" of the UFT, in the many and varied time-honored traditions of other entirely selfish and often sadistic political entities, plunder those whom they claim to represent.

Make no mistake, and perhaps eventually, the UFT "leaders" may face entirely truthful and substantiated charges of criminal collusion and racketeering and civil rights violations.

Our esteemed "suits" make a great deal of money, indulge their materialistic and hedonistic desires by taking YOUR money while they plot with the NYC DOE to overwork you, underpay you and abuse you in an ever growing variety of ways.

Worse, and literally more deadly to some of us, the UFT "leaders" have thrown in their lot with the DOE in a brilliantly thought-out and comprehensive plan to destroy public education, privatize the schools, make richer a bevy of billionaires and their friends.

And . . . exterminate, by any means necessary, and in a whole host of ways both subtle and gross, ALL TEACHERS.

Every single TEACHER (a human being with the necessary training, experience, years, wisdom, age to teach, guide, mentor and nurture our city's children) is targeted for extreme, incremental and eventually literally terminal torture until that teacher dies, falls into extreme depression and dysfunction, quits teaching, or is fired.

If you are truly a TEACHER and have not yet been targeted, just sit back and wait your turn patiently.

The DOE, as often and habitually as they lie, can at least be somewhat excused as "employer" or "enemy."

The UFT, however, takes our money, purports to help us and instead literally destroys us and our students while laughing all of the way to their many banks.

- A Teacher Whose Mind Works Well

Anonymous said...

After reading the last comment, I believe that more psychologists are needed immediately. Does the previous anon actually teach in the NYC school system?

Chaz said...

To the last anon:

While he may of rambled and ranted a bit. He is right that the UFT has aided and abetted the DOE in making a teacher's life miserable.

Instead of demanding an independent investigation, the UFT allows a DOE kangaroo court to investigate a teacher. The results are self evident. The teacher is guilty.

The DOE is the enemy and we can't expect them to be fair and objective but what excuse does the UFT have in allowing teachers to be treated sop badly?

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