Thursday, February 21, 2013

Some Legal Questions

You've probably heard that a judge barred Governor Cuomo from stealing $250 million from NYC schools to satisfy his ego. The judge correctly ruled that children should not be punished because the city and UFT failed to reach a deal. This, to me, brings up a question.

Why isn't the UFT using the courts to prevent Cuomo from imposing an evaluation system on NYC teachers? Obviously, I'm a teacher and not a lawyer, but it seems to me there's a strong case here. Our contract, which was collectively bargained, is still in force and there is no provision in it for a new evaluation of any kind. Since when does the state have the power to unilaterally alter a contract because it doesn't like the terms? The few law courses I took emphasized the fact that contract law is pretty solid in this country. Has that changed? How can the state, which has a stake in the outcome of this dispute, simply choose to override a valid contract signed and agreed to by both parties?

Furthermore, any evaluation system imposed on us would be in direct opposition to the Triborough Amendment to the Taylor Law, which states that a collectively bargained contract must stay in force until a new contract is signed. How can the governor just vacate that law? If he does, would that invalidate the rest of the Taylor Law as well, and allow teachers to strike without penalty?

If Cuomo can force this contract alteration on us, what would stop him from passing a law mandating a 50% cut in salary for all city workers if he wishes to? It's the same thing. Collective bargaining itself is threatened if the state decides that it can simply alter contracts it doesn't like.

I'd appreciate the opinion of any lawyer out there on these questions. I think the courts would enforce existing contracts and tell the Gov. to stick his power grab. So, how about it?


Anonymous said...

The UFT is supporting these changes in law.

Mr. Talk said...

That is true. However, if a bad system is forced on us, it might be possible to overturn it in court. Individual teachers could sue on the grounds that they were illegally fired while covered under the 2007 contract that should still be in force.

Anonymous said...

There are neither facts nor statistics in observation reports. They consist solely of advice, criticisms, evaluations, and recommendations. The UFT is aware of an appellate judicial decision which concluded such.

How can observation reports be used to evaluate teachers, when they are opinions, and have not been substantiated by a recitation of facts and/or statistics?