After educators complained that they were swamped with paperwork, the union defined standards for paperwork reduction in its 2014 DOE-UFT contract and a way for members to hold principals accountable if they ignored the new standards.
Under that contract provision, paperwork issues that cannot be resolved at the school level can be brought by a chapter leader to the UFT district representative, who may bring them to the district paperwork committee. Issues not resolved at the district level may be brought to the central paperwork committee for adjudication. Without a resolution at the central committee, the issue can go straight to arbitration.
That’s what happened at John Dewey HS in Gravesend, Brooklyn, in 2015, when the principal required teachers to grade and record students’ responses each day to required “Do Now” assignments. Chapter Leader Michael Solo described the requirement as a “painful and absolutely excessive burden.”
An independent arbitrator on April 3, 2015, agreed with the UFT that the requirement was in violation of the standards. The principal at first ignored the arbitrator’s order until continued pressure by the union forced her to meet with teachers and rescind the “Do Now” mandate on April 21.
The paperwork reduction process went on to form the model for the operational issues process, established in the 2018 DOE-UFT contract, which is now used by chapters to address a range of workplace issues.
— Linda Ocasio