You are most effective as a chapter leader when you have the support and input of your colleagues. That’s why it is imperative that you establish a UFT consultation committee at your school and that this committee meets regularly.
Calling a consultation committee meeting with the principal should be the first step in response to problems, issues or concerns that arise. Article 19H3 of our collective-bargaining agreement states: "The head of the school and the school chapter committee shall meet once a month during the school year to consult on matters of school policy and on questions relating to the implementation of this Agreement."
The members of your consultation committee can be either appointed by you or elected by the UFT members of your school. You as chapter leader determine the size and composition of the committee.
This committee has a simple, yet critical purpose: to discuss and attempt to resolve issues at the school level before they escalate and to enable all staff members to do their jobs to the best of their abilities. When an issue cannot be resolved by the consultation committee, you should bring that issue to the attention of your district representative, who will in turn have a discussion with the superintendent.
The agenda for your monthly consultation committee meeting with the principal should be set by the committee before the meeting and given to the principal in advance. After the meeting, be sure to share the findings and outcomes with all of the UFT members at your school.
Consultation meetings are vital to maintaining the health of our school system at every level, and for the first time in a long time, we have an administration that is willing to engage and consult, starting at the school level and continuing all the wayup to the Chancellor’s Office. Just as you hold regular consultation meetings with your principal, the District Representatives will be holding regular consultation meetings with the Superintendents. In turn, UFT President Michael Mulgrew and his fellow UFT officers meet regularly with Chancellor Carmen Fariña and her deputy chancellors.
Ensuring the success of this process requires a change in mindset, a shift toward collaboration and away from the days when chapter leaders and principals were permanent adversaries, unwilling to even try to resolve conflicts. The chancellor and the UFT president share the expectation and are confident that UFT chapter leaders and principals will make every effort to work through their differences in the best interest of the children we serve.
Consultation committees are the mechanism by which you as chapter leader can have a true voice at your schools. We believe that educators should have genuine influence on the decisions that affect them. That is why we fought so hard to make sure that educator voice was a hallmark of our new contract. The task before us now is to make sure that we use our voice — and it is heard.