PS 140 Chapter Leader Andrea Frederick-Marsh’s creation of the first consultation committee at her school in the Longwood section of the Bronx has quickly paid off with a stronger, better-informed chapter that can head off problems before they mushroom into grievances.
“For the first time we have a consultation committee with members willing to stand together, unified in making sure our bargaining agreement is honored,” she said.
Among many improvements resulting from the consultation committee’s work, UFT members now get a copy of the school budget so they know where the flex money is, cluster positions are posted at the appropriate time, and annual reorganizational sheets come out on time. Frederick-Marsh credits the monthly meetings between the five-member union committee representing general and special education teachers and paraprofessionals and the principal for a more collaborative atmosphere and for greater mutual respect.
Frederick-Marsh has spent three years as chapter leader working to bring a dormant chapter to life. By keeping members informed — including emails of the consultation committee minutes and twice-monthly newsletters — she has seen attendance at bimonthly chapter meetings improve and more teachers willing to be involved in school-based committees.
“We’re all more aware of the contract now, what we should and should not be doing, and we are more assertive in making sure the contract is honored,” she said.
Viola Francis, the PS 140 paraprofessional representative and a member of the consultation committee, describes Frederick-Marsh as “a great advocate with our best interests at heart.” She said the chapter leader never failed to track down answers to members’ questions.
“We weren’t a strong chapter but that has changed,” she observed. “The stress is on the importance of our coming together for ourselves and for our students.”