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No time clocks for paraprofessionals
UFT scores arbitration victory that treats them ‘with dignity and respect, like any other staff’
by Cara Metz | December 22, 2011 New York Teacher issue
The UFT scored a big victory for paraprofessionals throughout the city on Dec. 13 when an arbitrator ruled that paraprofessionals, like other pedagogues working at schools and school-based programs including LYFE and hospital schools, do not have to punch in and out on a time clock.
“It’s about time that paraprofessionals are treated with dignity and respect, like any other school staff members,” said Shelvy Young-Abrams, the chair of the 20,700-member paraprofessionals chapter.
“We’ve been fighting — and winning — this battle on a school-by-school basis,” Young-Abrams said, but this arbitration decision will now be binding on all schools.
The union-initiated grievance was brought on behalf of paraprofessionals in the LYFE Program, which educates public school students who are parents of infants and toddlers. Paraprofessionals in that program had been informed in 2010 that they would be required to punch a time clock on a daily basis.
The union argued that in 1988 the Department of Education eliminated the use of time clocks for professional staff, including paraprofessionals, in its Special Circular No. 8. Subsequent memoranda referred to the elimination of time clocks for pedagogical staff, but the DOE insisted that paraprofessionals were not covered.
“This victory is further evidence that the arbitration process works for all of us. The rights of paraprofessionals have been upheld in this grievance,” said Ellen Gallin-Procida, the director of the UFT’s Grievance Department.
The arbitrator retained jurisdiction to make sure that the DOE implements the policy, Gallin-Procida said, which means no other grievances on the issue should need to be filed.
The only exceptions to the new policy are for paraprofessionals who do not work in schools but rather are assigned to district or central offices or are in per-session positions. There is also an exception made for individual paraprofessionals who have had issues of excessive lateness or absenteeism. The DOE may direct these workers to use the time clock for a predetermined period of time.
If paraprofessionals are still being ordered to punch a time clock at a school or school-based program, Young-Abrams advises them to contact their UFT borough office. “The district representative or paraprofessional coordinator there will be able to help,” she said.