Young Teacher knocked on Chapter Leader's door. "Can I speak to you for a minute?"
"Sure," said Chapter Leader. She was a kindly looking old lady. "What's going on?"
Young Teacher explained her tale of woe. It was the old story: administration was harassing her when they had never bothered her before, she felt enormous pressure to resign, they didn't want to give her tenure, etc. Her AP had brought her up on charges of "professional misconduct" and was putting letters in her file every day when in her previous years she'd never even had a counseling memo. Tears ensued.
Chapter Leader assured Young Teacher she'd talk to administration.
A few weeks later Young Teacher returned. Things had gotten even worse. Young Teacher was being barraged with a paper trail of negativity. She had taken her case to the UFT's central offices and was fighting hard for her job.
"Could you do me a favor?" Young Teacher asked.
"Anything for you, baby doll," replied Chapter Leader.
"Could you speak to the principal and my AP and …"
At this the Chapter Leader started furiously shaking her head. "I can't do that," she said. "My job as chapter leader is to remain neutral. I can't make it seem like I have any power in this school."
Young Teacher was stunned by two things. One, that someone was calling her "baby doll." Two, the idea that a Chapter Leader had to remain "neutral." Wasn't the job of the Chapter Leader to represent the teachers?
Young Teacher asked around about Chapter Leader and her predilection towards neutrality. "Why did you tell Chapter Leader ANYTHING???" thundered one of her friends. "She's going to go to Principal Sappenbottom and sell you out!!! Everyone knows that!!!"
The next time Young Teacher ran into Chapter Leader in the hall, things had gotten even worse. In fact, it was as bad as it could get.
"How are you, baby doll?" asked Chapter Leader.
"Fine," said Young Teacher, in a very neutral tone.