Friday, January 15, 2016

The Sensitivity of a Number Two Pencil

A year or two ago I had a member in trouble. I don't remember who or why. A UFT employee who was repping the member called my home and spoke with my wife. She's from Colombia and she has a pretty heavy accent. The next day he called me. He said, "Yeah, I called you yesterday, and I spoke to some old lady on the phone." I don't remember what I said to the guy.

What I do remember is that I called my District Rep the next day and said I wanted that guy to rep absolutely no one from my school, under any circumstance. The DR agreed. A special rep who works in the office saw fit to argue with me about it. I found his arguments unpersuasive. To my mind, anyone who speaks about women, about family members like that is as dumb as the day is long, lacks the sensitivity of a number 2 pencil, and is unfit to advocate for anyone I'm concerned about.

A few months later, a young teacher recently arrived in my school had a problem, and I had to help her. Turns out the UFT had assigned the same guy to her, though I can't remember whether it was before or after I got involved. To mitigate the potential stupid, I accompanied her to her first hearing, at which we accomplished little. For the second hearing, after my complaints, someone more senior got involved and her problem was conclusively solved before we even arrived.

On Monday I got called down to the principal's office. I sat down with two people wearing visitor badges, with no idea who they were, so I asked them. The woman told me she was from the Office of Special Investigations. I said, as instructed, "Please give me your card. I'll be happy to speak with you as soon as I have representation."

I looked down and noticed her card was already in front of me. She slipped me a note in a sealed envelope and said, "Here is your 48 hour notice."

The next night I got a call from, you guessed it, my friend from the Donald Trump Diplomacy School. I reminded him of what he said to me, told him I had requested he not represent anyone from my school, and that I would just as soon go by myself as be represented by him. I have a big mouth, but 30 years of teaching have taught me to temper it in some small degree.

I decided to call the woman from OSI and make an appointment to see her. So on this, the one and only time in 30 years I've been called to speak with an outside agency, it seemed my union could not provide me with a representative who is not a moron.

When I woke yesterday morning, I had a message from UFT that the person to whom I objected would be replaced by someone I never heard of. I've now spoken with that person, and I have to say he seems to not be crazy, which makes for a marked improvement.

I usually remind my members, when contacted by anyone outside the school, to respond as I did--Give me your card and I'll get back to you when I have representation. Now I think I'll have to also have them run the name of their rep by me, since UFT has clearly not seen fit to honor my rather simple request.  What a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to hire stupid people who vote as instructed.
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