Reading the education blogs, my emails and speaking to many teachers as I rotate through the schools weekly, the overwhelming sentiment is that the UFT negotiated contract is short on money, too much of it is deferred for too many years in the future, and that they feel sorry that the ATRs are being sacrificed. However, most will probably vote for the contract since they believe that there's too much risk in not voting for it. Almost universally, the teachers are very uncomfortable with this new three-tiered system that the union agreed to that has "special rules" for the ATRs since it shows that our union is willing to "sellout" a group of its members and that with the expansion of charter schools, they can find themselves in the ATR pool sometime in the future.
The union claims they didn't "throw the ATRs under the bus" and in their flyer they state the following about ATRs:
- "The union stood by its commitment to educators in the ATR pool. We prevented the DOE from summarily firing ATRs, and we also won a voluntary severance package for ATRs.
- "In a new two-year pilot, ATRs will get improved access to professional and relevant job placements. Under the new contract, the DOE is obligated after October 15 to send an ATR to any school in the district/borough with a vacanvy in the teacher's license area. The Principal retains the discretion to keep a teacher or return him or her to the ATR pool".
- When an ATR is found to have committed "unprofessional conduct" (a vague term subject to abuse) by two principals in two successive years, they will be given an expedited 3020-a one-day hearing to determine if they should be terminated.
- When an ATR fails to show up twice to a "mandatory interview" in the two year period, they will have voluntarily resigned and taken off payroll.
- When an ATR fails to appear on the second day of a "forced placement", they will have voluntarily resigned and taken off payroll.
- The ATR severance package is inadequate as it gives a resigning (not retiring) ATR only 20% of his or her salary with a maximum of $20,000. Its also deceptive since these ATRs will lose their "retroactive raises" and pay as well that will exceed the severance payment that is being offered.
- There's no "mutual consent", an ATR must take a "provisional or leave placement" if a Principal offers it.
- Allows the DOE to continue the useless and demoralizing rotation system that has proven to be a disaster and a colossal waste of money. Obviously, its being used as a "punitive practice" by the DOE with the UFT's approval.
For ATRs who won their 3020-a termination hearings, no matter how long ago it was, the DOE has imposed "special provisions" for them. Any ATR that received a fine of $2,000 or more, a suspension of 30 days or longer, or took a stipulation will stay in rotation and the DOE reserves the right not to offer them a mandatory interview or "provisional placement". In other words, the DOE has decided that these teachers are guilty of their 3020-a charges despite the findings of an independent Arbitrator that showed that the termination charges were false or frivolous and are now known as the "untouchables" in the the DOE developed and UFT approved, "caste system". How can the union agree to this is mind-boggling and very unfair system is very troubling. Combine that with those teachers who were subject to a substantiated corrupt OSI or SCI investigation and "red flagged", the union is allowing the vindictive DOE to unjustly punish these teachers yet again for charges that were found to be untrue in a fair hearing in front of an independent Arbitrator.
When a police precinct or fire station closes or the police officer and fireman is disciplined, they are sent to another precinct or fire station, only the UFT allows their excessed members to suffer the indignities that the DOE has imposed on them. Please vote NO for this unfair contract that hurts its most vulnerable members.