Monday, January 29, 2018


I've been chapter leader for almost nine years. I've worked under two principals. Whenever there's a problem, they call "legal." I'm not sure who exactly is in "legal." Nonetheless, every single time UFT disagrees with legal, without exception, "legal" is wrong. I always wonder how their conversations go.

Principal: Is it okay if I place a letter in the file of a UFT member for something that happened six months ago?

Legal: Yes sure, that's no problem.

Principal: The chapter leader says if it happened over three months ago then it's a violation of contract.

Legal: No, what it means is you can place it in the file within three months of knowledge.

Principal: Yeah, you told me that last time. But the chapter leader showed language from the contract, and it specifically said from three months of occurrence.

Legal: Yes they might use that word. But what it means is three months of knowledge of occurrence. That's one of those fine distinctions chapter leaders never understand. It isn't written, but it's implied. Anyway, who are you gonna believe, him or me?

Principal: I don't know. It sounds pretty clear to me.

Legal: Well, you never know. An arbitrator might rule either way. Why not just go with it and hope for the best?

Principal: Isn't that kind of a waste of time?

Legal: Only if you lose. But you don't have to. Lots of arbitrators come from legal and may or may not understand English. If you're not sure, why don't you just change the date on the letter?

Principal: Can I do that?

Legal: Sure. You're the principal. You can do anything you want!

Principal: I don't know. It actually happened six months ago.

Legal: Take a deep breath. It happened whenever you say it happened. If you say it happened two months ago, then it did. Just focus.

Principal: I don't know. I have witness statements and they're all dated.

Legal: Don't you have any white out?

Principal: White out?

Legal: Sure. Take the white out, cover the dates, and then write over them.

Principal: Are you kidding?

Legal: Sir, if I had any vestige of a sense of humor I wouldn't be working here. Now make sure you use the same color pen that was on the paper. Those UFT reps notice things like ink color. Bastards.

Principal: Isn't that unethical?

Legal: What are you, one of those bleeding hearts? Maybe you aren't cut out for this line of work. It's us against them, you know.

Principal: Us against who?

Legal: Us against whoever. As long as they're doing those things they do, it's on us to stop them from doing them. Anyway, the teachers won't respect you unless you put letters in their file all the time. It teaches them respect. It keeps them honest.

Principal: Is it honest to white out and change the dates?

Legal: Whose side are you on anyway? Do you want me to go into Carmen's office and have her come out there? She'll hop in the limo, come out to your place, and It's a Beautiful Day you right across your lip. I've seen her do it before.

Principal: Are you threatening me?

Legal: I don't know. If I threaten you, will you do what I tell you to do?

Principal: Probably not.

Legal: Then no, I'm not threatening you.

Principal: Are you just making this stuff up?

Legal: What if I am? What's the difference? Just keep throwing things at the wall and see how many stick. You know, throw them in the well and see if they make a splash. Run them up the flagpole and see who salutes.

Principal: Really?

Legal: Hey, you called me. If you don't want my advice, call someone else.

Principal: OK. Thank you for your guidance.

Legal: That's what I get paid for. Any other questions before I go?

Principal: Just one. Why do you do this?

Legal: There are a lot of reasons, but I have to tell you, it sure beats working.
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