Although the new UFT contract doesn’t officially take effect until Feb. 14, UFT President Michael Mulgrew urged those attending the Delegate Assembly on Dec. 12 to start utilizing the part of the agreement that gives new authority to chapter leaders to address operational issues at their schools.
That piece of the agreement went live on Dec. 5, Mulgrew said, noting that chapter leaders now have a new mechanism to resolve violations of the Department of Education-UFT contract related to professional development, basic instructional supplies, curriculum and paperwork and, for functional chapter members, also workload and space. School chapter leaders now have the right to raise these workplace issues with their principals, and if the principal doesn’t rectify the issue in five days, the complaint is automatically escalated to the district paperwork and operational committee.
“This is a great new tool for chapter leaders,” Mulgrew told the standing-room-only gathering at union headquarters in Manhattan.
Mulgrew announced that training sessions on how to utilize the new contractual provision had already taken place in some districts and would be scheduled in all districts in 2019. He suggested that chapter leaders sit down with their consultation committee and devise a strategy for using this new lever of power to address school needs.
“This provision was specifically negotiated so you can empower your professional voice,” he said.
Mulgrew said complaints could be filed any time a school administration was not heeding the DOE-UFT contract.
“If the professional development is not in alignment with what you are teaching or your instructional programs, then it’s a complaint,” he said. “If you don’t have your basic instructional supplies, it’s a complaint. If you’re being asked to do unit plans that are longer than the one-page, agreed-upon format, file a complaint.”
But Mulgrew warned the body against making frivolous complaints. “Before you go ahead with a complaint, you have to make sure it’s a true violation of the contract,” he said.
Mulgrew said chapter leaders can bring the complaints to their principals in a one-on-one meeting, a consultation committee gathering or via email.
“Once people are empowered, you can organize at the workplace,” he said. “You can make a difference in what goes on at your school each day if you use this and make sure it holds its integrity.”