A big win for United Federation of Teachers NYC school staff that lost their Spring Break vacation days in 2020.
See letter from union president Michael Mulgrew below for details.
|At this moment when we are dealing with so much at our schools, we have finally received a decision on our spring break arbitration. At a hearing before an independent arbitrator on Dec. 15, we argued that the full value of the days we worked over the 2020 spring break must be given to us and that CAR days — which the DOE gave members as compensation for four of those days — were unacceptable.|
The arbitrator issued his decision today: Members will receive a vacation day — a brand-new type of day that UFT members have never had before — for each day they worked during the 2020 spring break.
The arbitrator ruled that a vacation day can be used on any workday of the school year. You may use a vacation day any way you wish, and you can take these days either one at a time or consecutively without fear of any disciplinary action.
Vacation days are to be granted. The only time an administrator may refuse the use of a vacation day is for a compelling reason.
The arbitrator set out these basic parameters concerning what would not constitute a compelling reason:
- If many staff request the same day, it cannot lead to a blanket refusal of all requests. Vacation days must still be granted to a reasonable number of staff in seniority order among those who requested it.
- A staff member who is one of only a small number of employees in a given title or license cannot be denied a vacation day on that basis alone. But it could be relevant in terms of the timing of the vacation day (i.e., if the only physics teacher asked to use several vacation days in the week before the physics Regents).
- The proximity of a requested vacation day to a holiday recess cannot by itself be a compelling reason for refusal.
|When you use a vacation day, you should let your principal know via email as soon as possible of your intention, but you must give at least 10 school days’ notice. Your principal will have 48 hours to notify you if they believe they have a compelling reason to deny you the day. If they don’t get back to you, the vacation day is considered granted.|
The arbitrator has also set out an expedited appeals process that UFT members can use if they believe the principal has denied a vacation day without a compelling reason. The DOE and the UFT will be notified of every denial. If the DOE and the UFT do not agree that there is a compelling reason, it will immediately go to expedited arbitration.
A vacation day is worth the full monetary value of a full workday. When you leave service or retire, vacation days will be exchanged at a rate of one vacation day for one full day. People can choose, therefore, between taking their vacation time or being paid at the end of their DOE career for each additional day they worked during that spring break.
|How is a vacation day different from a CAR day?|
|Definition of a CAR day:|
- A CAR day is a bankable day that can be used as a sick day or a personal day.
- If you use a CAR day as a personal day, it can be subject to supervisory approval. You may need to provide documentation to support your use of a CAR day as a personal day.
- In certain circumstances, the use of a CAR day requires a doctor’s note.
- When you retire or leave service, CAR days will be paid out at a rate of two CAR days for one full workday (2 for 1), essentially making a CAR day worth half the value of a full workday.
|Definition of a vacation day:|
- Vacation days can be used at any time, including before or after a holiday or recess, and no reason needs to be given. Supervisors must have a compelling reason to deny a vacation day.
- A vacation day does not require a doctor’s note.
- When you retire or leave service, vacation days will be paid out at a rate of one vacation day for one full workday (1 for 1). Vacation days do not expire, and therefore their value increases over time as your salary increases. A vacation day will be worth the full value of a workday at the rate you are paid at the time you retire or leave service.
|Other important points to note|
|The arbitrator has instructed the DOE to credit these vacation days to you effective Feb. 1.|
Vacation days will be given for each day that you worked during the 2020 spring break. If you took religious observance days or time off during the break, you will only be given vacation days for the days you worked.
|Tomorrow afternoon, in the School Year 2020-21 FAQ on the UFT website, we will post a new spring break arbitration FAQ and an online inquiry form if you have further questions.|
The UFT argued for a cash payment, and while the arbitrator agreed that we should be fully compensated, the members of five unions were affected and he didn’t want the city to face that financial burden with so much uncertainty due to this pandemic.
We all lost a vacation in 2020, and vacation time was what we are owed — not sick (CAR) time as the DOE argued in the arbitration. The union was able to get the arbitrator to see it from our point of view.
I want to thank our Grievance Department and its reps for their work on this case, and I want to thank all of you for your patience while this case worked its way through the process.
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