Teachers union in court win


Last Updated: 1:36 AM, July 25, 2012

The city can’t proceed with plans to significantly change the staffs at 24 struggling schools because the move would violate union contracts, a Manhattan judge ruled yesterday.

The decision by Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Joan Lobis upheld an arbitrator’s earlier decision finding that the Department of Education was using school closures as a means to go around seniority job protections for teachers and principals.

Under staffing rules, teachers without poor evaluations can typically be removed only when their schools are closed, and new schools are required to hire back 50 percent of teachers from the schools that were replaced.

The city had intended to combine those provisions — closing the schools and restaffing them like new schools, while keeping the students in place.

City lawyers said they would appeal, but are faced with a shrinking window for legal action with the start of the school year just six weeks away.

“The mayor and chancellor will not allow failing schools to deprive our students of the high-quality education they deserve,” said city Law Department counsel Michael Cardozo. “Although we will, of course, comply with the judge’s ruling, we strongly disagree with it.”

Mayor Bloomberg first announced the unusual overhauls in January. They would have impacted more than 3,000 teachers and other school workers.

Judge upholds arbitrator's ruling
published July 24, 2012

UFT President Michael Mulgrew sent the following email message to members in the 24 PLA schools.

Dear colleagues,


Today Justice Joan Lobis of the Supreme Court of the State of New York upheld the arbitrator’s decision that the Department of Education violated our contract and the CSA’s contract when it decided to excess all of the staff at the 24 PLA schools and make you reapply for your positions.

Specifically, the judge determined that the arbitrator was within his authority to issue his decision ordering that you have the option to return to your school or the school that replaced it.

This is a tremendous victory for UFT members in the 24 PLA schools and for our entire union. We stood firm in this fight because we knew, from day one, that the DOE was wrong in its interpretation of our contract — and because we could not sit idly by while thousands of good teachers were unfairly forced out of their positions by a mayor intent on maligning our profession.

We fought for what is right, and today we were successful. The DOE has said it will appeal to the Appellate Division, and we will continue to defend your rights. We believe we will prevail on the appeal.

You should have by now received a letter from the DOE informing you of your rights and responsibilities moving forward. We encourage you to read it carefully and make a decision about your plans for the coming school year. If you have any questions, please call your UFT borough office.

Michael Mulgrew