UFT blasts Bloomberg’s ‘bogus’ disciplinary process lawsuit
Provoking an angry retort from UFT President Michael Mulgrew, Mayor Bloomberg announced today that the Department of Education is suing the UFT for failing to appoint enough arbitrators to handle teacher disciplinary cases. Mulgrew accused Bloomberg of playing fast and loose with the facts.
“How typical of Bloomberg,” said Mulgrew. “The administration mismanages the disciplinary process, and in its last days tries to blame someone else for it.”
In the wake of Bloomberg’s announcement on the John Gambling radio show on Friday morning, Mulgrew pointed out the 2010 agreement that shut down the “rubber rooms” – the reassignment centers for teachers awaiting charges or hearings – requires both the Department of Education and the UFT to jointly agree upon the arbitrators. The UFT cannot act alone in the matter. More than 30 arbitrators have been selected in the last two years. “The mayor’s charge is completely bogus,” he said. “We’re living up to our part of the agreement.”
Mulgrew also said arbitrators, in addition to waiting for the state to pay them for their work, have been reluctant to take DOE cases because of the mayor’s attacks when an arbitrator’s decision goes against the mayor’s wishes. “The mayor uses his bully pulpit to excoriate people,” Mulgrew said.
Mediation, which avoids the costly arbitration process, settled 70 percent of the cases in a two- month pilot program this summer before the DOE abandoned the process. It’s not a new idea: The DOE and the UFT used a mediation process before as part of the 2010 agreement that ended the rubber rooms. Mediation cleared hundreds of cases at that point. By insisting that every case has to be adjudicated, the DOE is creating work for dozens of lawyers, Mulgrew charged.
“Their mismanagement has created this issue,” Mulgrew said.