ATRs seeking fair representation take UFT to the US Department of Labor.

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The United Federation of Teachers union is not fairly representing members not permanently placed. We deserve our own chapter and elected chapter representatives.

This is a copy of the letter sent to President Michael Mulgrew and others.

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April 12, 2015

Michael Mulgrew President
United Federation of Teachers
52 Broadway
New York, NY 10004

Via Fax (212) 510-6399 and email

Dear President Mulgrew:

There will be UFT Elections coming up in May or June for Chapter Leader and Delegate positions in every Chapter. This election is denying Absent Teacher Reserves (ATRs) and Leave Replacement Teachers the right to serve as a Chapter Leader and/or Delegate because ATRs or Leave Replacement Teachers belong to no UFT Chapter.

As you are well aware, ATRs have sought to establish a specific Chapter so that our unique needs can be met. Despite numerous requests for a Functional Chapter, the UFT leadership has consistently rejected them claiming that all of our union representation needs can be met within the schools we rotate in and out of by Chapter Leaders in those schools.

Fundamental to our Union’s Constitution, our history and the Labor Management Disclosure and Reporting Act (LMDRA), it is incumbent upon our union leadership to protect the voting rights of members and our rights to qualify and hold elected union positions.

Recently, the UFT Executive Board promulgated new provisions and a bylaw which, while attempting to give ATRs and Leave Replacement Teachers some kind of voting rights, falls well short of allowing us equal rights to hold union office and will still deny some of us our right to vote.

According to the UFT Constitution, in Article 5, Section 8 on page 6 it states:

The UFT Executive Board shall supervise all elections in the manner provided for by the Constitution and shall decide all disputes arising out of such elections.

Please view this letter as a formal protest of the upcoming Chapter Elections. The Election Guide and Bylaws approved at a recent Executive Board meeting do not permit full voting rights and full rights to hold union office for ATRs and Leave Replacement Teachers.

The remedy we seek is to:

1-Permit the organization of an ATR-Leave Replacement Teacher Functional Chapter to authorize the election of Chapter Leader and Delegates by and for ATRs and Leave Replacement Teachers in the same manner as provided for other Functional Chapters.

2-Amend the recent Executive Board action to allow ATRs and Leave Replacement Teachers to run for Chapter Leader and Delegate by guaranteeing that we will be able to serve in those positions so long as we remain ATRs or Leave Replacement Teachers.

Some of us were Chapter Leaders and Delegates in schools we worked at that either phased out or we were removed from our Chapters for other reasons. We would like to have an opportunity to serve again in office to be able to have a hand in making UFT policy at the Delegate Assembly (DA). According to UFT publications, the DA is the highest policymaking body in the UFT.

The UFT Constitution states in Article VII, Section 6 concerning the DA:

The Delegate Assembly shall have the power to legislate all matters except for those pertaining to the admission, suspension or expulsion of a member of this organization.

According to federal labor law, since the DA has a policymaking role in this organization, the Delegates must be elected. Federal regulations gives every member of a union an equal opportunity to vote and to serve in union office. The Landrum Griffin federal regulations say this concerning eligibility to be candidates and to hold union office:

Every member in good standing is eligible to be a candidate and to hold office subject to reasonable qualifications in the union’s constitution and bylaws that are uniformly imposed.

As mentioned previously, the UFT Executive Board approved an Election Guide and Bylaws at a recent meeting. The Guide says in a Section called ELIGIBILITY:

Any full-time member may nominate, run for a position and vote in a school’s election if he or she is on the school’s permanent table of organization or assigned to the school on the first Monday in May of an election year.

This provision means that Absent Teacher Reserves who rotate on a weekly, or biweekly or sometimes monthly basis from school to school would vote in the school they are at on the first Monday in May this year. However, constitutionally Chapter Elections can take place at any point in May or June so many ATRs might not be in the same school when the Chapter holds its election as they are at on the first Monday in May. The Election Guide prohibits absentee balloting so some ATRs will be completely disenfranchised.

As for Leave Replacement Teachers, this group of teachers are filling in for up to a year for teachers who are on approved long term leaves. Leave Replacement Teachers will be voting at the school we are temporarily assigned to. However, some Leave Replacement Teachers and Absent Teacher Reserves would like to serve as Chapter Leaders or Delegates (Chapter Leaders are also members of the Delegate Assembly). The Chapter Election Guide says we can nominate, vote and run for a position but it does not say we can hold office.

As Leave Replacement Teachers and Absent Teacher Reserves, we have no right to a job at a particular school once the person we are replacing returns from their leave or when we rotate to the next school so it is highly unlikely that we will still be at the school we are temporarily assigned to after June when a term of office for Chapter Leader or Delegate would begin.

Therefore, as a Leave Replacement Teacher or ATR, we are being denied the right to hold union office because UFT policy has been that once a person is no longer assigned to a particular school, that person is not permitted to represent that school’s Chapter in the DA as a Delegate or Chapter Leader.

Federal regulations say that every member in good standing is eligible to hold office subject to reasonable qualifications. It is not a reasonable qualification that we are only eligible to serve in office if we somehow manage to stay in a school where we have no right to stay. Officially, Leave Replacement Teachers and ATRs belong to no chapter.

Many of us have proposed that Absent Teacher Reserves and Leave Replacement Teachers have our own Functional Chapter as a way to be able to vote and hold office since we are not part of any UFT Chapter. The ATR position is now imbedded in the contract with a whole section of the 2014 Memorandum of Agreement. We believe the best way forward is to grant us the status of a Functional Chapter, with an elected Chapter Leader and proportional number of elected Teacher Delegates, as our needs are unique and separate from those of the regular teaching staff.

We have attempted to work this out amicably with union officials but have received no satisfactory resolution.

The US Department of Labor’s Office of Management Standards has been contacted concerning representation for Absent Teacher Reserves and Leave Replacement Teachers. They have advised us that we can use the union’s official internal remedies before the election to try to uphold our democratic rights.

Since the Executive Board is the body charged by the UFT Constitution with resolving election disputes, we are asking for time at the next Executive Board Meeting to call for the upholding of the rights of Leave Replacement Teachers and Absent Teacher Reserves to vote and to be able to hold union office. We demand equal treatment which is our right under federal labor law.

Sincerely,

James Eterno
 Al Zucker
 Francesco Portelos
 August Leppeimeier
 Donald Campbell
 Jane Martin-Lavaud
 Jonathan Berlyne
 Sally steur
 James Mills
 John Silvers
 Douglas Castagna
 Renee Osborne-Hill
 Scott Barusek
 Clare Cortez
 Jose Cueto
 Nicholas Weber
 Lawrence Zajac
 Criseyda Dortalina
 Carolyn Green
 Phyllis nuchman
 Keith S. Shikowitz
 James Calantjis
 Robert Torrens
 Sheila Daniels
 Pasqual Pelosi
 Sonia Algarin
 Gerri D. Watkins
 Jassy Ubhi
 Donna Goliger
 Jonathan Berlyne
 Susan Rau
 Laurie Luft
 Lisette Banegas
 Samuel Davis
 Martin Haber
 Leonard Maurice Robertson
 Deborah Williams
 Latica Greer
 Odalis santana
 Robert Provenza
 Judith Jones
 Lorraine Engel
 Claudia Giordano
 Maria Adames
 Aixa Rodriguez
 ilona lieberman
 Holly Springer
 Noe Aristil
 Naomi Lucas
A Rahemtulla
Karine Lherisson
Stella Spunt
Kathleen Farrell
Sally Steur
Vishnu Bisram
Evan Lowenthal
Dan Forero
Anurag Jaiman
David Hedges
George Henry
Marcy Licari
Claire Sullivan
Karen CurleyGoldblatt
Lisa Martin
Lisa Martin
Roberta Reid
Sonia Algarin
Matthew Sarkowicz
Sha Shi Partee
Patricia Capella
Twana Adams
Zulma Villalba
Gerri D. Watkins 
Rosemarie Sylvester
Christopher DeNigris
Joan Seedorff
Claudia Bienenfeld
Robert Druss 
Stella, Szpunt
Anthony Johnson

 

CC: Leroy Barr
Emil Pietromonaco
Adam Ross
Randi Weingarten
C: Robert Rennard Investigator- US Department of Labor
Office of Labor-Management Standards

Use this form to add your name in support.
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A similar complaint is being sent to the New York State Public Employment Relations Board (PERB).

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2 Comments

  1. This is a foundational document- I liken it to reading the best of labor statements! So sad- and so true to form- that those who have been most abused and neglected by our union leadership have to seek a solution outside of the union. And when I say “true to form”, I mean the avoidance and disdain for the rank and file that Mulgrew and co. have shown is their “brand”. Where is his promise to “protect” ATR’s now? Please count me in as one who stands with you!

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