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OCTOBER 2006
Message from the Chair
UFT/DOE Sign Permanent Job Security for Paraprofessionals

No More Layoffs
After long delays by the city Department of Education, and lots of hard work by your union representatives, the UFT has reached an agreement with DOE negotiators on final language in the contract for paraprofessionals. It confirms some of the new rights won in the contract last October and makes some new and expanded job rights and protections for paras that went into effect on Sept. 1.

The contract takes a major step forward in the union’s drive to bring paras’ job rights in line with those of teachers. For the first time ever, it provides for paras such long-time goals as permanent job security, citywide seniority and the right to transfer to any school in the system.

The contract is the same one that paras voted to approve in October 2005, but the details of the expanded job rights contained in the agreement have now been hammered out and settled with the DOE.

For paraprofessionals, these new protections translate into a whole new way of thinking about their job. Union protection has been substantially upgraded in three areas:

Permanent job security
Except in the event of a fiscal crisis, there will be no layoffs of paras. If you are excessed you will have the right to be placed in a vacancy, to look for a job on your own at any other school or, if those options don’t work out, you can serve as an Absent Para Reserve in your school or another school in your region. If you are placed in another school, you will have the right, if you want to, to return to your original school if a vacancy opens there within a year.

Citywide seniority
Your seniority is now based on how long you have worked anywhere in the school system. Therefore, when you change districts you will take your total years of service with you. That means you are no longer tied to your current district just to maintain your seniority. See below for how to document your prior service.

Right to transfer
Each year, you will be able to apply for a para vacancy anywhere in the school system. You will have this right if you move far away from where you worked, or if you are excessed, or for any reason at all! You can even apply to several schools that have vacancies. Or, if there is a school in which you’d like to work that has no vacancies you can send in an application and ask the school to keep you in mind if a vacancy opens up. Of course, you will be expected to go for an interview, probably with the principal, and you may or may not be hired. Nobody has an absolute right to a particular job, but everybody is on a level playing field to try to get that job.

In the event that you are excessed, you now have new options to consider:
First, your seniority is calculated more to your advantage. It is no longer limited to just your years of service in your district. It is now based on the number of years you have served in total, even if you have worked in more than one district. So if you change districts, you don’t lose seniority.

Second, if you are excessed, you can be placed in a vacancy in your district, region, borough and, eventually, anywhere in the city. Or you can search for a para vacancy on your own and apply for a transfer. (The Open Market Transfer Period — during which vacancies are listed — is usually scheduled from April 15 to Aug. 7.) If you are not placed or your transfer application is not accepted, you can serve as an Absent Para Reserve in your school or at another school in your district.

Continued