Friday, March 26, 2010

"Here Comes The Clowns" - The Legacy Of The 2005 Contract - Part 2: Elimination Of Grievances When Given A Letter To The File

In my encounters with many of the teachers I meet at workshops and from other schools, I am stunned how little they know about the terrible consequences of the 2005 contract. While I do understand that the newer teachers really have no way of knowing what we gave up in the "giveback" laden 2005 contract. It was the lack of knowledge from more veteran teachers, especially the elementary school teachers who were actually clueless about the 2005 contract, except that they obtained a raise. Even the Chapter Leaders didn't seem to understand the things we gave up and I can only shake my head in disbelief at the lack of knowledge that New York's "Brightest" have. Is it any wonder why only 22% of the members actually voted? However, I need to remind the members what we gave up in the terrible 2005 contract and why it is important to the members. Part two deals with the elimination of grievances when given a disciplinary Letter-To-The-File (LIF).

Elimination Of Grievances For LIF:

The union has maintained that very few grievances were successful and that giving up the right to grieve was not a major loss. and that all disciplinary LIF would be removed after three years unless used in a 3020-a hearing. However, the grievances procedure actually was an effective check against vindictive principals who had to hear grievances and the DOE who found the three part grievance procedure wasteful and encouraged principals to be selective in issuing disciplinary LIF. Moreover, the few that the union took to Arbitration put a check on the Principal who could be identified as being too zealous in giving LIF to his or her teachers since the DOE had to pay their share of the Arbitration process. However, even one successful grievance was well worth it and stops principals from filing 3020-a charges within the three year period by using the LIF.

While the union has not published the increases in LIF since the terrible 2005 contract, it is a very good bet that principals have significantly increased LIF to their staff since there are no longer any checks on the principals. I am quite sure that the UFT research department know what this increase in LIF is, but are afraid to show these statistics., except to the leadership who approved the elimination of grievances. Remember, the leadership doesn't want to be shown that they made a terrible mistake, especially during an election year.

Therefore, while principals no longer fear giving their staff more and more LIF, the union professes to ignore the situation since they are not subject to getting LIF themselves. "Here comes the clowns" once again.


Anonymous said...

It was the loss of the threat of the grievance that did the most harm.

So what if we lost most? Having the threat stopped so many more from ever being written.

I am absolutely convinced that both the number of LIF has risen, and that we have lost whatever ability we used to have to track numbers.

Chaz said...

We both totally agree here.

Anonymous said...

You can't track LIF if teachers are not allowed to grieve them. I always found it perplexing when Randi stated that there's was a spike in LIF, yet there was no way of tracking that information.

I can only speak for other members who have told me that they received LIF when they have challenged/questioned the principal on education issues. Most LIF, I assume, are based on retaliation from administration.

Why would anyone in their right mind give up grieving LIF? Of course, MONEY!

Anonymous said...

If teachers were to use the New York Freedom of Information Law on a yearly basis and request to inspect, or receive copies of, all disciplinary letters that the principal has written in the past year, the principals might not be so quick to write such letters in the future, knowing that the letters, or portions thereof, are available for public inspection and copying.

It's not only Joel Klein's and Eva Moskowitz's E-mails that are public records, you know.

Here is an interesting public access case that arose in Michigan, which has a public access law similar to New York's:

Chaz said...


I'm not sure that would be an effective policy to limit LIF.

I believe the CL must aggressively defend the teacher and show the Principal the consequences to him or her by not working with the administration.

Anonymous said...

Chaz, perhaps the method should be tested out in a couple of schools to see whether there is any effect.

I would imagine that some principals would feel rather uneasy at the thought of having their literary rantings and ravings made public!