Excuse me? The rubber rooms are a huge black eye to the city in times of fiscal crisis. They'd love to announce some kind of victory in advance of a contract settlement. So my question is, why is the UFT seemingly willing to hand the DOE a victory with a ribbon wrapped around it while we are fighting to get ourselves a contract? Why not tie any changes to the Rubber Room system to a 4% contract with no givebacks?
Trust me, I fully understand that many of our colleagues are languishing in those hell holes, and some movement towards getting them out would be a boon. But the UFT has done nothing for the past 7 years while the RRs continued to get bigger and bigger, so why the sudden need to negotiate when the city has not budged an inch in our contract talks?
It would be different if I thought that the UFT had any chance of coming out on top in these negotiations, but their history is--shall we say--somewhat spotty? Let's not forget that it's already in the contract that RR cases are supposed to be settled in 6 months--the city has steadfastly refused to follow that rule.
Gotham suggests that the UFT may give in on suspensions without pay, with the caveat that anyone found not guilty would get backpay of 150%. That sounds good, except that given how long the DOE drags these cases out, a person could lose their house or starve before getting that back pay. They've dragged their feet on cases for years, so what's to make us think the DOE will expedite them now? It would benefit the DOE not to resolve such cases in the hopes that the accused teacher would go bankrupt and have to resign in order to find a new job. And it seems to me it would be pretty easy to recoup that 150% with fines.
Let's face it--the DOE is looking for a way to empty the rubber rooms by firing people. They have no intention of expediting cases or holding fair hearings. If they wanted that, they could do it right now, without any kind of negotiations. The UFT has an abysmal track record on these issues, and there's no reason to trust them now.
Especially as they're not even using this as a bargaining chip. Don't forget that we are headed into our 6th month without a contract. If the DOE wants the rubber rooms on the table, they should sit down at the negotiating table. Now.