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Thursday, January 3, 2013

UFT Wins SESIS Arbitration So That Members Will Be Paid For All Work

UFT prevails in SESIS arbitration

Members to be paid for work outside regular workday

The UFT on Jan. 3 prevailed in its grievance charging that the Department of Education’s implementation of the Special Education Student Information System (SESIS) required members to work beyond their regular workday. After the longest arbitration in UFT history, the independent arbitrator, Jay Siegel, concluded that the workday provisions in the union contract had been violated. He ordered that UFT members be paid for all the time that they were logged into SESIS outside the regular workday.
The union argued that the only way that its members could complete their SESIS work was to do it outside regular work hours, whether early in the morning, after school, in the evenings or on weekends, or on holidays. It argued that the DOE, in essence, lengthened the workday of members.
When the problems with SESIS first came to the union’s attention, the UFT asked the DOE to do more training, to set aside time in the workday for members to do SESIS work and to provide the proper equipment and necessary bandwidth to complete SESIS on school computers. When the DOE refused to fix the problems, the union filed for arbitration.
The arbitrator ruled that the DOE has records of when employees logged into and out of SESIS, providing the necessary documentation of any work performed outside the regular workday.  He ordered the DOE to turn over those records by Feb. 8.  Members will be compensated on a pro-rata basis for any time outside the regular workday that they were logged into SESIS from September 2011 through Dec. 31, 2012.
The arbitrator said that UFT members should be paid by March 15, but if the DOE appeals the decision, it can ask the judge to delay implementation. The arbitrator retained jurisdiction to ensure that the DOE complies with his ruling.
The arbitrator also ordered the DOE to negotiate with the UFT on all relevant issues related to the implementation of SESIS going forward.
UFT President Michael Mulgrew thanked the Grievance Department representatives who argued the case for the union: Grievance Department Director Ellen Gallin Procida, Special Representative Diane Mazzola and Special Representative Mark Collins. He also thanked all the members who sent documentation to the union and filled out the surveys that the union used to prove its case.


Teachers who worked outside of their regular school day to enter information in the Department of Education’s special education data system last year will get paid for their time, according to a labor decision announced today.
After teachers told the United Federation of Teachers that using the new system to record information about their everyday activities was burdensome, the union filed an official complaint in mid-2011. An arbitrator heard the union’s case and the Department of Education’s defense on 19 dates between December 2011 and October 2012 before concluding that the department’s implementation violated the union’s contract.
“After the longest arbitration in UFT history, the independent arbitrator, Jay Siegel, today concluded that the workday provisions in our contract had been violated,” UFT President Michael Mulgrew wrote in a letter to other union officials late today.
The city was permitted to introduce the system, called the Special Education Student Information System, without the union’s consent, Siegel decided. But he ruled that it was wrong to require educators to record their encounters with students when doing so required them to work outside of their contractual school day.
Now, the department must examine the system’s usage data and issue compensatory payments to anyone who used the system in the evenings or weekends between September 2011 and last month. The payments, which union officials say could go to more than 10,000 teachers and paraprofessionals, must be made by early March, according to the decision.
Department officials said the contract ruling comes in spite of SESIS’s usefulness for the city’s schools.
“We are disappointed with the decision,” said a spokeswoman, Connie Pankratz. She added, “However, this system has allowed the DOE to capture important information regarding special education services and, as noted by the arbitrator, there have been improvements to the system.”
And the arbitrator said he hoped the union would not need to seek repayment in the future for time teachers spend on SEIS. “Going forward, the parties would be best served by spending their time jointly analyzing and negotiating over what else needs to be done to improve the efficiency for SESIS users,” he wrote.
The arbitrator’s full decision is below:
 Doc 010313
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