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Friday, May 8, 2015

Betsy Combier: The UFT Calls the 3-member Panel "Historic" - I Call Them Hypocrites

After I posted on this blog the story of the UFT win and the efforts the UFT made to have a 3-member panel to decide grievances, I received many calls and emails from teachers who were very
 happy with this new procedure, and the fight that the UFT made. The UFT bigwigs said that this is an "Historic Rating Ruling" and that the UFT had fought "so hard " to get it:

"PS 90 Chapter Leader Vicky Giasemis Wins Her Grievance to Change Her "Ineffective" Rating Given by Bully Principal Greta Hawkins
PS 90 Chapter Leader Vicky Giasemis (right), whose Ineffective rating from her principal was overturned by an
arbitrator, and delegate Betty Matos outside the Brooklyn school.

Historic rating ruling

Brooklyn principal forced to change Ineffective thanks to appeals process UFT fought for"

Indeed, the article goes on to say:
"UFT General Counsel Adam Ross said the new protection against supervisory harassment was a major milestone.
“We never got ratings reversed on substance under Bloomberg, but now we have secured due-process rights for teachers in state education law,” he pointed out." 


The grievance process has been a scam for years. Everyone knows that.

When I worked for the UFT 2007- 2010, my office was on the 16th floor at 52 Broadway, sandwiched between Gene Rubin and Amy Arundell, both of whom gave me all the ins
Amy Arundell

and outs of UFT trials and tribulations. Randi Weingarten had hired me in August 2007, and told Adam Ross to write my agreement - to work for the UFT 14 hours/week (my choice - I did not want to work full-time). My duties were to help members, particularly those who were re-assigned (in the "rubber rooms").

UFT Attorney Adam Ross

I loved my job, and believed that I was in the right position, as I had been advocating for UFT members since 2003 in the rubber rooms of Brooklyn and Manhattan. Adam told me that I should know the UFT contract, so the staff Director at the time, Jeff Zahler gave me his copy. I memorized it.
Betsy Combier and Chris Callagy (photo by David Pakter)

How did this all start?  A former teacher at the High School of Art and Design, David Pakter, and I ended up speaking on a cable TV show moderated by a mutual friend, Dean Loren. David told me an unbelievable, but fascinating story of hundreds of teachers sitting in rooms called "rubber rooms" awaiting "trials" called 3020-a arbitration. David sneaked me into the rubber room at 25 Chapel Street, and I started talking with the teachers there. David asked me to attend as a member of the public his 3020-a, where he was represented by NYSUT Attorney Chris Callagy.
PICTURED: Back row, from left, are Greenburgh 11 stalwarts Milt Cobb, Richard Rowlands, Hedwig Broetz, Goetschius, Chris Sartory, Matt Magee and Kevin Burns. Missing from photo is Dennis Mosblech. In front row are NYSUT attorneys Chris Meagher, Chris Callagy and Conrad Lower. Photo by Deidre Drohan Forbes.

The arbitrator was Martin Scheinman (see the warm and fuzzy picture below). I like Martin, by the way.
UFT President Mike Mulgrew, Arbitrator Martin Scheinman, NYC Mayor Bill DeBlasio 

David's hearing went on for months, and I missed only one hearing day. I sat against the wall and made notes on what the attorneys were saying and doing. I wanted to learn everything there was to learn about this process. Soon, more and more teachers charged with 3020-a asked me to sit in on their 3020-a, and I always said yes. Before this time, almost no one had an open and public hearing. After I started attending, I told everyone to make their hearings public so I and anyone else could attend. More about this later in another post.

One of the rules for 3020-a arbitration hearings if charged with incompetency, was that if you asked for a 3-member panel within 10 days of being charged, you could have a 3-member panel.

On July 4, 2008, a teacher who had just been charged with 3020-a came to my office at 52 Broadway and told me that he wanted a three-member panel. I said, "Great!!"
"You received your charges 9 days earlier, so let's ask Claude Hersh, Assistant General Counsel of NYSUT, for the 3 member panel!! I was very happy to help the member get a 3-member panel, as not many people actually asked for this, and it is a right to have. I looked at his chrges, and they were for incompetency (contrary to what Claude Hersh says in his emails below)

We composed a short letter request for Claude Hersh, got into the elevator, went to the 9th floor, and tried to reach Claude. The receptionis said that he was not in, so we left the envelope and went back upstairs to my office. The member went home soon after.

Approximately 1 hour later, all hell broke loose. Claude sent me a scathing email, telling me that I violated a thousand million unwritten laws (I exaggerate to see if you are still reading) telling the member that he could have a 3-member panel. He sent this email to Randi, Adam, UFT Attorney Carol Gerstl, Mike Mulgrew (being groomed to be President), and Chief of Staff Leroy Barr, for effect.

I was stunned, but I basically am not afraid of anyone, so I wrote Claude back, challenging him to a duel. (not really). My point is, the UFT fought to remove the 3-member panel from 3020-a hearings in order to expedite teacher trials and get the guilty removed from the DOE.

I was told by the UFT VIPs that my advocacy was creating a liability for them, as everyone charged is always guilty.

This is why I don't work for the UFT anymore. I refuse to agree and not fight for rights.

Betsy Combier

Here are the emails: