The following email was sent to all hearing officers (per session) on May 5 by UFT Special Representative Ilene Weinerman.
As we enter month two of the city's Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings shutdown and await Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s decision on lifting the statewide PAUSE order, I hope you and your families are safe and well. I know many of us are finally seeing the first payments in response to unemployment claims filed several weeks ago, which makes the awfulness of this situation only slightly less awful.
During the past two weeks, I have heard from many of you about our shared concerns regarding when the city Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings will resume operations and what the office conditions will be like when we return.
On April 15, in response to our concerns, the UFT presented OATH Deputy Commissioner Amy Slifka with a demand to bargain over the health and safety measures that will be in place. The union received a terse response from OATH’s acting general counsel on April 22, indicating, among other things, that they are awaiting “a plan for the safe reconstitution of the office” from the Department of Citywide Administrative Services and the city Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Once that plan is received, the letter stated, it will be “discussed with the union in the ordinary course and in a manner consistent with the terms of the contract.” To read OATH's full April 22 letter, please use the link below.
The UFT's assistant general counsel responded on May 2 and made it clear the union wants input before final decisions are made. The letter cited OATH’s overall poor record when it comes to addressing our chapter's previous concerns. To read the UFT's full May 2 letter, please use the link below.
The UFT is creating a list of priorities to present to OATH. Please feel free to communicate your thoughts and suggestions to Chapter Leader Sofia Balile at firstname.lastname@example.org or me at email@example.com to ensure our collective voice is heard. As soon as there are further developments in this matter, I will let you know.