Friday, May 22, 2015

Mary Ahern on ATRs and UFT Elections

I was thinking of writing about this, but I'm gonna defer to a comment UFT Chapter Leader Mary Ahern left in response to James Eterno last night. You may or may not know that, when UFT leadership was confronted with a demand for a functional ATR chapter, they claimed it wasn't necessary. After all, ATR is temporary, having only been around for ten years. And UFT has been proactive, negotiating great benefits like second-tier due process and the ability to be fired for missing two interviews. And those zany madcap folks at Tweed are pretty good about sending interview commands out at the last minute. Eterno made one by the skin of his teeth. Here's Mary:

Hi James, I've been thinking a lot about the ridiculousness of the UFT claiming ATRs are represented in chapter elections because they are now allowed to run for and vote in whatever schools they were assigned to during the first week of May. I emailed my DR about it and spoke to her about it yesterday. I also brought it up to Queens Borough Rep, Rona Fraiser as she was making rounds before the DA began. The question I posed to Rona was, "Let's say an ATR wins the election as my school's chapter leader but then gets rotated out to another school. What happens when members need the CL to represent them at grievance hearings with my principal? How is the CL going to attend those meetings if they are no longer working in my school?"

Rona's response surprised me. She said, "They'll be able to attend. They'll be given release time."
I then asked, "Will they also be given release time to attend school safety meetings, consultation meetings, chapter meetings, etc.?" But Rona walked away without responding. I guess she either didn't like my question or didn't have an answer.

I wish you, or someone active in the union, had been an ATR in my school the first week of May because I would step aside as CL and ask my members to vote for you just to see if that would really happen. I honestly don't see how it could work.

The bottom line is that I think ATRs should have their own "functional chapters" and the ability to elect their own representatives. Ideally, all ATRs will find permanent placement and no longer be shuffled from school to school, but until that happens they shouldn't have to file a lawsuit against the union in order to obtain the right to fair representation.
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