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Saturday, February 11, 2012

My Hardship Travel Grievance, by Philip Nobile

Philip Nobile, NYCATR's resident gadfly, has been complaining for months about his treks from Cobble Hill, Brooklyn to the far reaches of Staten Island.  He finally had his day in court; unfortunately, the court was located at 65 Court Street, where only kangaroo courts are permitted to convene. 

Scene: Office of Lawrence Becker, Chief Executive, Human Resources, 65 Court Street, Brooklyn

“Sometimes you like the schools you go to on Staten Island,” said Mr. Becker. “I read the blogs.”

The now visible hand that controls my transient work schedule was playing with me during a February 6 Step 1 grievance hearing. I came to protest the contract-busting, ninety minutes-plus commutes to the borough across the sea.

UFT special rep John Settle argued that such treks violated Article 18B of the Agreement that entitles teachers to seek a “hardship” transfer if their one-way travel exceeds ninety minutes by public transportation. I presented four MTA trip planner printouts proving that my voyages by subway, ferry, and bus to the College of Staten Island High School, McCown Expeditionary School, Port Richmond, and Tottenville were in violation.

Mr. Becker did not blink. He merely asked whether the Agreement included rotating assignments like the ones ATRs get. Mr. Settle said no, but added that they weren’t excluded either. ATRs have lost so much, he said, that they should not be burdened further. Nevertheless, he was speaking only for me because not all ATRs would necessarily share my aversion. The narrow, yet precedent- setting remedy sought: Cease sending me to Staten Island from Cobble Hill, Brooklyn. This was the stimulus for Mr. Becker’s wry comment about my hymn to Tottenville High School.

A diamond in the rough 
It would not kill me if I were reassigned to this gorgeous diamond in the rough. Still, the contract is at stake. What if I lived in Queens or Nassau County? If I win, other ATRs can, too. But we grievants seldom triumph at Step 1 and it is unlikely that the Grievance Committee in the Brooklyn borough office would take my hardship case to Step 2. Consequently, Mr. Becker is probably the court of last resort. “I contacted Larry Becker who said the decision will be issued shortly,” Mr. Settle emailed me last Friday.

Best case scenario: The grievance is granted; on behalf of the DOE Mr. Becker apologizes and gives me four long weekends for my pain and suffering.

Worst case: Hello, Staten Island. 

Diamond in the rough picture credit:


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Philip didnt read the fine print in the contract. 
    It says that anyone detained in a rubber room for more than six months without charges- in violation of the contract- gets a free place to live in the area surrounding their new school.
    Tottenville is a fine place. At the tip of the borough is the "Conference House, where American rebels met with the Brits to discuss a peace treaty to end the Revolutionary war which, as Randi and Mulgrew probably dont know, was fought to end the tyranny of an oppressive government. 
    Later, we added the 6th amendment, something about due process which Randi and Mulgrew threw out the window for the rubber roomers. 
    Ask the teacher who Mulgrew-when he was V.P. in charge of DOE coverups, tried to stop me from writing a rubber roomeer's story by claiming the principal told him that the teacher had shown a naked photo of himself to an under age girl. He demanded I kill the story. 
    I testified under oath to that event and helped exonerate the teacher.  
    Dont fret, Philip. Tottenville is also home to former Manhattan UFT Rep. Jerry Goldman. You can talk about his sudden "retirement" from the UFT, which you will be hearing more about soon. If you don't like the house, he can recommend some great hotels. There is even a Hilton on Staten Island. He will negotiate the rates for you.

    Jim Calaghan