Before the signing of the new contract, the UFT said the reason there was no need for a Chapter for ATRs was that the ATR was transitional and temporary and that once Mayor Bloomberg was gone the ATR situation would be resolved. However, instead of the ATR crisis being resolved, under the new contract the ATRs are now a separate class of educators and in too many cases, are no longer temporary or transitional. Now, the ATRs have different rules when it comes to interviews and discipline and are afforded reduced "due process rights".
For example if an ATR misses two mandatory interviews or not show up to work for two days, they will be considered to have voluntarily resigned. Moreover, if an ATR shouts in the halls or refuses an administrator's order to do more than one circular six chore, the ATR is accused of "problematic behavior" and if two consecutive principals say so, the ATR is terminated after an expedited one day 3020-a hearing, or the DOE so hopes is the case. Finally, the UFT and DOE have agreed to allow field supervisors to give "unsatisfactory observations" to ATRs who are not teaching in their subject area and have faced a class for the first time that day. Therefore, it's necessary for the ATRs to have one of their own to represent the ATRs at the Executive Board, Delegate Assembly, and at Chapter Leader meetings.
As of November 11, 2014, the Absent Teacher Reserve Alliance (ATRA) was formed to push for such ATR representation at the UFT. This group is open to all and includes all of the different caucuses, ICE, New Action, MORE, Solidarity, and yes even "Unity". The elected President of the ATR Alliance is James Eterno, a past Presidential candidate for the UFT and one of the most knowledgeable UFT members when it comes to member contract rights. Mr Eterno will meet with a committee of five elected Borough representatives to discuss issues concerning ATRs and the ATR process and advocate for fair treatment for all ATRs. Furthermore, the ATR Alliance (ATRA) will give guidance, advice, and prepare grievances for any ATR who has been wronged by the school or field administrators.
All ATRs past, present, and future are encouraged to join the ATR Alliance and give us a voice in protecting our rights as educators. More information on how to join and who to contact will be published in this, the UFTICE blog, and DTOE Blog as well as other NYC education blogs.