We Worked In Hazardous Conditions. We Worked Remotely. We Want CAR Days.

[UPDATE: Want to file a group CAR grievance at your school? See our toolkit here.]

UFT President Michael Mulgrew and Mayor Bill De Blasio. Photo by Daniel William McKnight

We Worked In Hazardous Conditions. We Worked Remotely. We Want CAR Days.

On Sunday March 15, Mayor De Blasio, facing declining student and teacher attendance over the previous week, as well as calls for a mass sickout among educators for school the next day, gave in to demands that schools be shut down. Chancellor Carrannza said Monday  would be a “snow day” with all school buildings closed due to the pandemic. 

However, teachers were told to report to work on Tuesday through Thursday. This clearly violated national and local health advisories, endangering the lives of educators all over the city. Tragically, New York educators have died from COVID-19 since that week. Our school system has been scarred. Furthermore, many UFT members called in sick during the week of March 9, the last week of in-person classes, fearing for their health. Schools should have been closed that week and those members should not have their Cumulative Absence Reserve (CAR) penalized.

Even more educators stayed home the week of March 16, working remotely to set up virtual classes and coordinate with administrators. In response, the Department of Education announced staff who reported and worked remotely, as advised by public health guidelines, would be penalized with a loss of CAR days. 

MORE Caucus demands that all CAR days be restored and that members who showed up for work have days added to their CARs.  We need the UFT to begin organizing mass grievances across the city in order to gain CAR days for UFT members. Our suggested language for this grievance is below. We are also encouraging individual members who reported to work during the weeks of March 9 and March 16 to use the same articles below to file a grievance asking that days be added to their CARs. Schools should have been closed and UFT members should not have been ordered to come to work. 

Note: Chapter Leaders have access to the grievance portal and will need to fill in some of the information below. We are recommending that this be an “et. al.” grievance that can include as many members of your chapter as possible. Unfortunately the UFT has shut down the grievance portal for Chapter Leaders. Therefore, we recommend that members file grievances via simple emails. Whether or not you are a Chapter Leader, you can simply send an email to the principal (and cc the UFT District Rep and/or Chapter Leader) saying you are filing a grievance and using some of the justification above. You can use the information below and include the names of other co-signing grievants. If you need assistance there are several chapter leaders in the working conditions committee who can help. Email more@morecaucusnyc.org or reach out to us on one of our social media channels. 

GRIEVANCE #1

Articles to cite from the Teachers’ contract:

  1. 10, sections D,E. This covers health and safety issues at school.
  2. 16, section A. This covers members rights to not use CAR days when they contract illnesses such as German measles, mumps, or chicken pox. We argue that the contract could not have foreseen COVID-19 but that the same logic should apply.
  3. 20. Matters not covered. All regulations and policies of the Department of Education are contractually binding on the employer. This allows us to include any obscure regulation that we may find in the future.

Remedy requested: We request that all days that were removed from our CARs when we were marked absent during the weeks of March 9 and 16 because of COVID-19 concerns be restored to our CARs.

GREIVANCE #2

Articles to cite from the Teachers’ contract:

  1. 10, sections D,E. This covers health and safety issues at school
  2. 16, section A. This covers members rights to not use CAR days when they contract illnesses such as German measles, mumps, or chicken pox. We argue that the contract could not have foreseen COVID-19 but that the same logic should apply.
  3. 20. Matters not covered. All regulations and policies of the Department of Education are contractually binding on the employer. This allows us to include any obscure regulation that we may find in the future.

Remedy requested: We request additional CAR days be added for all days that we were marked present from the weeks of March 9 and 16 because of the hazardous work environment we were placed in. 

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