Permission not needed to put union materials in mailboxes

Feb 17, 2005 12:34 PM

Is it your right to put UFT material in colleagues’ mailboxes at school without getting permission from the principal?

With misinformation and even intimidation clouding the issue at many schools, this question often comes up at UFT meetings throughout the city.

The answer?

Absolutely yes, as long as it’s done during non-working time in a non-instructional area, according to Howard Solomon, director of the UFT grievance department.

“While the principal has the right to see union material that’s being distributed, permission is not needed and the principal can’t prevent it from going into mailboxes,” Solomon said.

He pointed to the Baizerman Decision, a grievance that the UFT won in 1974 on behalf of teacher Harriet Baizerman, whose principal at PS 9 in Brooklyn put a letter in her file for distributing union-related material. The material circulated by Baizerman was critical of some policies of the UFT leadership at the time and urged all union members to attend union meetings and participate in union activities.

The principal informed Baizerman that the letter would be placed in her file as evidence of her willful disregard of the Board of Education bylaws and his verbal direction.

The UFT Grievance Department went to bat for Baizerman, arguing that as a member of TAC she had the same right of access to teachers’ letter boxes as is enjoyed by members of all teacher organizations, did not need prior approval and was within her constitutional rights.

Baizerman claimed that the principal discriminated against her on the basis of her membership in an employee organization, in violation of Article II (Fair Practices) of the UFT contract.

The arbitrator ruled in the UFT’s favor and directed the principal to remove the letter from Baizerman’s file.

“This was a landmark ruling,” Solomon said, “setting the precedent for UFT members to distribute union literature at their schools without fear of retaliation.”

He added that anyone having trouble regarding this matter should speak to his or her chapter leader or UFT district representative. 1