Monday, January 14, 2013

Slow computer system results in extra compensation for teachers

The UFT in New York has substantially prevailed in an arbitration arising from the Department of Education's implementation of a "Special Education Student Information System" (SESIS). The Union claimed that the system, used in connection with the development of Individualized Education Plans for special education students, was plagued with deficiencies and operating difficulties which caused teachers  to have to spend time outside of their normal work day entering date into the system.
 According to Arbitrator Jay Siegal "[t]he gravamen of the dispute was that the Department had extended the workday by failing to provide adequate training, equipment, access to equipment, support, etc., for SESIS-related work."

Arbitrator Siegal rejected the Union's claim that the Department was required to negotiate with the Union before implementing the system, but agreed with the Union that many teachers were required to spend time outside their work day utilizing the system. After reviewing the voluminous testimony, Arbitrator Siegal concluded:

      in exchange for the salaries the Department agreed to pay teachers, the Department has the right to expect teachers to work their full contract day. However, the Department does not have the right to assign teachers tasks that routinely require them to work beyond their contractual work day. Article 6 [setting forth  the hours of work] has been violated because SESIS duties took too long to complete within the work day.

As a remedy, he ordered the Department to compensate teachers for documented time spent using the SESIS system outside their normal work day or on weekends. While noting that the evidence did show that some teachers attempted to utilize the system during their lunch periods, or spent time attempting to fax data in, he determined that requiring the Department to attempt to ascertain the precise times a particular teacher was engaged in these activities would be "unduly burdensome and will result in endless argument and disagreement over some issues that are nearly impossible to determine." In lieu of a monetary remedy for these claims, the Arbitrator encouraged the parties to spend their time jointly analyzing and negotiating over methods to improve the efficiency of the system.

While finding that the implementation of the SESIS system was within the scope of the Department's management's rights, and was not a mandatory subject of bargaining, he did conclude that the Department was obliged to engage in "impact" negotiation with the Union concerning the impact on affected employees of the system's implementation.

The Arbitrator agreed to assist the parties in these negotiations if the parties mutually agreed to have him work in that capacity.

GothamSchools links to the Arbitrator's award here.

1 comment:

  1. Great topic! It's really interesting and best article.... Thank you