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The role, rights and responsibilities of a chapter leader

Thank you for taking on this important role in your school. As chapter leader, your job entails a great many things, but they can all be summed up in one word: LEADERSHIP. That is why you were elected. Your colleagues know that you can provide leadership and they will be looking for it.

Leadership is most effective when it isbased on teamwork, the cooperation of the UFT officers, district representatives, chapter leaders, delegates and membership. Each has a vital role to play.

THIS IS A BIG JOB, SO…YOU’LL NEED HELP. Take UFT weekend training courses for chapter leaders. They are invaluable. Chapter leader workshops offered during the school year are also an opportunity to develop your skills.

Responsibilities of the chapter leader

As chapter leader, your responsibilities include the following:

  • Holding at least six regularly scheduled chapter meetings each year.
  • Forming a chapter consultation committee,meeting monthly with the committee and the principal, and reporting the results of the meeting to the chapter.
  • Representing all chapter members in informal resolutions of problems with the administration and in grievances.
  • Involving the chapter withthe union by advising members of meetings, programs, rallies and other activities.
  • Attending Delegate Assembly, district and citywide chapter leader meetings and divisional meetings where the concerns of the chapter can be transmitted.
  • Explaining VOTE/COPE to the members and collectingVOTE/COPE checkoff cards.
  • Explaining the union’s positions to members.
  • Providing for informal resolution of problems between members.
  • Serving as a resource for members about pensions, health coverage and other matters.
  • Providing regular communications to chapter members (emails, electronic or print newsletters) and maintaining the UFT bulletin board.
  • Working with the district representative and other union representatives.
  • Inviting union speakers into school regularly: officers, staff, the district representative, Welfare Fund speakers and pension experts.
  • Contactin gand lobbying politicians.
  • Registering members to vote.
  • Working with parent groups.
  • Taking the lead in seeking to ensure that the health, welfare and rights of members are protected.
  • Disseminating UFT materials via members’ mailboxes and/or electronically.
  • Conducting letter-writing campaigns and other union activities.
  • Attending training sessions in order to serve the members better.
  • Distributing Welfare Fund forms.
  • Protecting the confidentiality of all members.
  • Involving newer members and members of functional chapters in the life of the school chapter.
  • Ensuring that the negotiated contracts are enforced and implemented at the school level, and that UFT members’ rights and benefits are protected.
  • Leading the chapter in discussion, development and implementation of educational policies in the school in accordance with union policy.
  • Functioning as the chapter’s historian,keeping records that need to be handed down.

Rights of the chapter leader

Access to information (See Agree. Art. 19J and Art. 8C)

All official circulars must be posted on school bulletin boards by the administration and must be made available to teachers on request. These circulars and regulations are usually available online. The UFT bulletin board should not be used for this purpose unless the chapter leader wants to post a particular item on it. Information regarding the rotating of assignments or seniority in the school must be made available by the principal upon the request of a teacher.

A copy of the current teaching and non-teaching assignments must be posted in each school and must also be given to the chapter leader.

The chapter leader must be given access to such school information as is needed to perform his/her duties, including copies of school budget allocations, records of funds raised by the school and audits of school monies; teacher programs; room assignments; and allocations of non-teaching time.

Official time to represent (See Agree. Art. 19B)

Chapter leaders shall be allowed time per week as follows for the investigation of grievances and for other appropriate activities relating to the administration of the agreement and to the duties of their office:

  • In the elementary schools, four additional unassigned periods per week;
  • In the junior high schools and in the high schools, relief from professional activity periods, and exemption from administrative assignments, including homerooms (in junior high schools);
  • In special education schools, buildings and sites formerly known as special day schools, day treatment centers and institutional settings, two additional preparation periods are to be given;
  • The chapter leader of the Teachers Assigned, Education Administrators, Education Analysts/Officers Chapter shall be allowed one day per week for appropriate union activities;

No member may engage in union activities during time assigned to teaching or other duties, except for the union’s negotiating committee.

Appropriate space and facilities (See Agree. Art. 19B)

The principal in consultation with the chapter leader will arrange to provide appropriate space and facilities (including but not limited to a desk, file and chairs).