Thursday, June 28, 2007

Ms. Weingarten Brings Green Dot to NY

The NY Times reports that UFT President Randi Weingarten is helping Steve Barr and Green Dot come to NY City.

Green Dot boasts its schools have no tenure or seniority preferences. UFT leadership suggests their process is better than tenure, since there is no probationary period. This, of course, completely ignores the lack of seniority. Ms. Weingarten and her minions hope you will ignore it too.

The UFT suggested I should have read the Green Dot contract before reporting the LA Times statement that teachers "toss tenure out the classroom window" to work for Green Dot. Of course, they didn't provide a link to it. However, Eduwonk has, and here it is.

It states there are183 teaching days a year--Up to 193 days a year for teachers. OK, that's only a few more than Ms. Weingarten negotiated for us when she sold our collective soul in 05. But there's no mention of how long the day is. The Times writes:

Rather than dictating the number of hours and minutes teachers must spend at the schools, it would just call for a “professional workday,” they said.

Hmmm. Perhaps Ms. Weingarten is comfortable with that. As someone who has to take my kid to karate lessons and report to other jobs at predetermined times, I'm afraid I'm not.

Here are some other points from the contract:

  • Teachers are encouraged to do jury duty during vacation time. Jury duty is compensated up to five days. If you’re stuck beyond that, too bad for you.
  • If your kid’s school calls, or anything happens requiring you to leave more than half a day, you’re docked a full day’s pay. If you miss less than half, you’re docked a half day’s pay.
  • Layoffs are based on “legal requirements and qualifications,” “satisfactory evaluation,” and “expertise and relevant experience.” Seniority is considered only if they’re not able to make a determination based on these factors.
  • Strikes are not permitted, and violations will go to binding arbitration. Well, maybe it beats the Taylor Law.
  • If teachers choose a PPO health plan (like GHI), Green Dot will pay a maximum of $525 a month.
  • Maximum teacher salary is $74,182. Hopefully they'd adjust that for NY, though I don't see how it works for LA either.
The contract could also eliminate tenure, but would set guidelines for when a teacher can be dismissed. could "eliminate tenure." That's what the Times says, isn't it? Or am I "making up facts?"

Now in the Green Dot model, you can be dismissed for "just cause." Can you be dismissed just cause your students didn't get scores high enough for Green Dot?

Article XVIII—Discipline

18.1 No unit member shall be disciplined, non-renewed, dismissed, reduced in rank or compensation without just cause.

There you have it. Just cause. Well, Green Dot is from California, and here's part of an email I got from a lawyer I sent the contract to:

Just cause is a term of art with a lot of precedent in labor law. Even still it is a shaky concept subject to a wide spread interpretation.

In California good cause and just cause are synonymous. The California Supreme Court ruled in 1998 that “ it was not the jury's function to decide whether the acts that led to the decision to terminate actually occurred. Rather, the court held, it is the jury's role to assess the objective reasonableness of the employer's factual determination of misconduct. The jury must determine whether the factual basis on which the employer concluded a dischargeable act had been committed was reached honestly, after an appropriate investigation and for reasons that that were not arbitrary or pretextual. The termination decision must be a reasoned conclusion supported by substantial evidence gathered through an adequate investigation that includes notice of the claimed misconduct and a chance for the employee to respond. All of the elements of this standard are triable to the jury.”

This means if you're about to lose your job because you're accused of stealing, say, $500.00, you can question the investigation. You can question the way it was conducted and whether or not it was fair. You cannot, however, present evidence that you didn't actually steal the 500 bucks.

If you have tenure, you can say you didn't steal the money, introduce evidence to that effect, and demonstrate that. Beats the hell out of "just cause," doesn't it? Now it may work differently in New York, and perhaps they can work out contractual language to ensure it does. Who knows? But without seniority rights, it won't much matter. Why?

If you have seniority rights, your job is protected as you get older. This may be a concern for teachers who've raised families based on the assumption they'd have jobs to support them. Of course, Ms. Weingarten's machine has been whittling away seniority privileges for a few years now, which is one reason she's so admired by professional teacher-bashers like Rod Paige.

So here's a question prospective Green Dot employees ought to consider--since you'll have no seniority rights, why can't they just lay you off and sidestep entirely the whole "tenure-just cause" issue? Without seniority rights, tenure, just cause (or whatever you wish to call it) can mean very little indeed.

Related: See Ednotes Online
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