For those of you who don’t know, the teacher’s union (UFT) and the NYC Dept of Education (DOE) have a contract. It expired in 2009, but due to the Taylor Law everyone has to still follow it. Now if someone feels that someone is breaking this contract you can request something called a grievance (note: I’m finding more and more students are following this blog, so I am going to simplify explanations as much as possible).
In March, 2012 I filed an Article 2 and 20 Grievance because Principal Hill was involved in heavy interference with our UFT business. She has her own union, the CSA, and teachers and paras have their own, the UFT. We should not interfere in their union business and in turn they should not interfere in ours. Simple right? So one of the three disciplinary letters she put in my personal file was about me emailing UFT members about UFT issues. CSA members should not be concerned.
Principal Hill denied the Step 1 Grievance and the union filed a Step 2 Grievance where we go to 51 Chambers St in Mahattan and have an impartial hearing officer listen and decide on the case.
Well here is the decision of that Step 2 Grievance I finally received a month later. To paint a picture, in this small windowless room there was my UFT representative on one side of the table with me, as well as the DOE rep, Stanley Fogel with Principal Hill on speakerphone on the opposite side. The hearing officer, Gary Laveman, was in between us. So we start off by stating our argument that Ms. Hill is interfering in union busting and trying to break the staff apart. They of course denied this. What I wish I had were statements from all the staff that were called in to the administrator’s office and told “Stay away from Portelos”, “Was Portelos at your birthday?”, “You are guilty by association”, “Why are you talking to him.”, “We heard you Liked his post on facebook.” and “Watch who you hang out with”. In hindsight it probably would not have made a difference, so I am not upset with my colleagues for not stepping forward.
Now read the Grievance Decision below and pay attention to the red underlines.
OK, so lets break it down now and I’ll tell you what proof was shown and you tell me if I am wrong in thinking this ridiculous:
- Here is the email Principal Hill sent to the entire staff.
- There were no NON-UFT members who received this email I sent and complained. Only one woman who recently resigned might have received the email, but not the entire staff. That was not even brought up in discussion, so I do not know where Gary Laveman got that line from.
- Ok, Big one. “There is no proof” that Linda Hill is interfering with UFT activities at the school. So I show the email below where Principal Hill bluntly states that I am not to meet with any staff member. Let me remind everyone that I am the UFT Delegate in the building and speaking to the members is part of my job.
Email in response to me offering PD Friday Morning before school started called Techie Friday——————— From: Linda Hill email@example.com To: firstname.lastname@example.org Sent: February 9, 2012 As per my discussion with Superintendent Claudio, you should avoid having meetings of any kind with staff at this time. It would far more advisable to concentrate on your pedagogy, particularly your lesson planning, as you stated was a goal for you earlier this school year. Sincerely, Principal Hill ———————
So I might not have statements from staff indicating union busting, but I have a letter in my personal file and these two emails.
Again…”no proof” was provided?? I read the above email out loud, then Stanley Fogel read it, then Gary Laveman read it, but somehow it was omitted from the Grievance. If I were Chancellor Walcott, I would be furious at having my signature on something when I was not given all the evidence.
4. The union busting continues as I write this. We have our triennial election for Chapter Leader and so far I believe I am running unopposed. Yes, I am running for UFT Chapter Leader from the Rubber Room. It’s 2012 and I can take care of 90% of the issues remotely. I think if I win I would be the first ever to win from the Rubber Room. That would be great and the chapter would be in good hands. What can they do to puppet me…come and observe me? Write more letters? Harass me? It’s a win for the chapter and they need it after being betrayed by the current chapter leader. In any case there was a short rumor of a staff member running as a delegate one day. The rumor got to Principal Hill’s ears and the staff member was called in 2 periods later. They were told they are getting a U-rating for the year. Can you believe that? Rumor goes around for just 2 periods and they are called in and told that they are being rated “unsatisfactory” Oh and ready for this? This staff member was rated the highest in the teacher evaluations that came out. Must be a coincidence. Is there any wonder why 7 staff members left our school last year? Yes SEVEN, with many more speaking about leaving this year. Berta Dreyfus is the “School of Technology” and in less than twelve months they lost their top 2 Technology teachers.
5. Gary Laveman and Stanley Fogel work together in the same office. They have worked together for years. A quick search brought this up from twelve years ago Office of Labor Relations. How can they really be impartial when they have worked together for so many years? A union rep also told me that sometimes they switch spots where Mr. Laveman is the Chancellor’s Rep and Mr. Fogel is the Hearing Officer. I’m new to all this but that does not seem right. Does it?
So please comment below. I open to your opinions and thoughts.