Guidepost newsletter, Spring 2011

Message from the chair

Dear Colleagues,

As the spring season begins so does our fight for the future of public education and the middle class. In the past few weeks many states, including our own, have tried to pass or have passed anti-union bills that silence the voices of workers and limit their rights to collective bargaining. We as a chapter need to stand together alongside our fellow union members throughout this country and fight the corporate interests that are fueling the charge to dismantle unions and our rights. Across the country unions have been fighting back, and here in New York City the UFT and others unions have organized several protests and vigils. There will be more, so I encourage all of you to get out and support them! You can also help by calling your state senators and your Assembly member and telling them you will not stand for New York becoming the next Wisconsin. This threat is real and it is in our own backyard: as you know, a bill to repeal our seniority rights and undermine collective bargaining has been introduced several times in the state senate. We need to thank our UFT leadership in stopping this bill and in getting Governor Cuomo to see what this bill truly is: an attack on our collective bargaining.

Rosemarie Thompson

KNOW YOUR RIGHTS: Letter in File

Before any letter is placed in your file, you must be given an opportunity to read it and acknowledge its receipt by signing it. If the letter is negative, you should write a response, detailing why you disagree with its contents. There is no timeframe by which your response must be written. You should speak with your chapter leader, who can help you write an appropriate response and advise you on any other possible course of action, including procedural matters that may be grievable. The response should be attached to the original letter in your file; your supervisor cannot respond to your response.

If a letter is written for your file outside the contractual time limits, you have a right to grieve to have that letter removed. In addition, an arbitrator has ruled that you have the right to grieve “if material is placed in a teacher or employee file under circumstances that are alleged to constitute a violation of substantive Collective Bargaining Provisions.” In other words, if the letter violates a substantive part of the contract, you can grieve the letter under that contractual article.

If the letter is not used as the basis for disciplinary charges for three years, under a recent provision you can (and should) have it removed from your file. Talk to your chapter leader about how to do this.

KNOW YOUR RIGHTS: Hours of a counselor

Article 6 of our contract says:
Counselors' work hours are six hours and 30 minutes exclusive of lunch every day. Counselors are NOT involved in the 37 1/2 minutes of the extended day.

To clarify: If the school’s lunch period is:

  • 30 minutes, the counselor works 6 1/2 hours plus the 30 minutes — a total of 7 hours, five days a week.
  • 40 minutes, the counselor works 6 1/2 hours plus the 40 minutes — a total of 7 hours and 10 minutes, five days a week.
  • 45 minutes, the counselor works 6 1/2 hours plus the 45 minutes — a total of 7 hours and 15 minutes, five days a week.
  • 50 minutes, the counselor works 6 1/2 hours plus the 50 minutes — a total of 7 hours and 20 minutes, five days a week.

Also: Counselors are still governed by Article 7B. They do not cover classes, do lunch duty, dismissal duty, etc. They are not involved in Circular 6 issues. Counselors do not do small group tutoring in extended time.

Social Networking

The widespread popularity of social networking websites like Facebook and MySpace have created a new generation of problems and potential liabilities for educators. Educators may be held responsible for content posted about them and by them on social networking sites. The best way to prevent a problem arising from social networking sites is simply not to have a presence on them. For those who do, take steps to ensure your information remains private. Search yourself on Google on a regular basis to be aware of anything that is posted about you without your knowledge. Educators should not post any material that others may consider offensive and should never, ever “friend” students or allow students to “friend” them.


If you wish to transfer to a different school, there are more opportunities available than ever before. Previously, because of the numerous restrictions, only about 300 to 400 people obtained seniority transfers per year. Now virtually anyone can apply and be selected, provided the principal agrees.

The transfer period begins each year on April 15 and ends on Aug. 7. During this period, principals must announce all their vacant positions and revise listings throughout the spring and the summer as openings occur. These vacancies are posted on the DOE website; the page is revised as positions are filled and new vacancies arise. 

Register now for the UFT Spring Conference

Date: May 7, 2011
Time: 7:30 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Location: The New York Hilton Hotel, 1335 Avenue of the Americas, NYC

Join us for an inspiring and informative day — breakfast, panels/workshops, exhibits, gala luncheon and presentation of the John Dewey Award to Linda Darling-Hammond. Cost is $50 per person. Registration information is here. Deadline is April 18.

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