There is just no way this story can be made up. First some background.
On September 3, 2013 I entered my school on time at 8:10 AM thinking that I was about to begin my 11th year there. I knew it was to be a long day. Going through PD, the usual getting to know you stuff and the fact that I had dreaded being there at the very least until 3:25 PM if not the year.
It was already a crappy day. My wife needed the car so I got a ride in from a colleague and to make matters worse I had left my wallet on my bedside table. I wasn't too concerned for my carpool colleague had said he would spot me some money at lunch time.
At about 10:15 AM about 15 minutes before a break from the PD I was summoned to come to the main office. There waiting for me was a process server to serve me my 3020-a papers along with 2 of the biggest school safety officers I had ever seen. I had to immediately leave the school.
Unfortunately my stuff was still in the library. I needed to retrieve my stuff. The school safety officers escorted me not just to the library but into the library where all my colleagues had to witness my humiliation and embarrassment.
I collected my stuff and left with feeling even more shame that I had when I had walked in. Through the halls and out the doors the shadow of the two big school safety officers had never left me.
I was supposed to report to 49-51 Chambers St which is the intake location of those that have been rubberized. However, there was one issue. In the meshugas that was ensconcing me I had forgot to ask super special permission to the two big school safety officers to allow me to talk to my colleague and get that money he was to spot me. There was also no way to get hold of him for he does not possess the 21st century technology of a cell phone.
The way I was treated along with the shame and humiliation I felt I didn't dare call the school to ask to speak to him. Being how I was just treated I felt that that they would not let me speak to my ride if I called nor would they get him the message in a timely manner. What was I to do?
With $2 to my name there was no way I could have gotten on the train to go downtown. So I bounded over to the McDonald's across the street and ordered a coffee, and much more coffee. Luckily someone I knew worked there and I was afforded a bottomless cup of McD's best Colombian blend. Along with my trusty book that I had the hours went very quick waiting until 3:25 came so I can meet my colleague in the parking lot of the projects.
Now it gets weird.
Several paychecks later I am short $250 because that day was counted as an unauthorized absence. How could it be an absence if I had been there for 2 1/2 hours?
I immediately called the Bronx UFT and filed a payroll grievance. I was told it can take several months for the hearing and I had nothing to do but time. So I waited. And waited.
About a year ago I had my payroll grievance meeting. The person from the Bronx UFT told me before the meeting that the best she can argue for is to be paid for the hours I was in the building and working. Fine. I understood.
In the hearing both sides of the story were given. I gave mine, they theirs. They did not dispute that I was in the building for 150 minutes! It ended I was told to wait for a decision.
And boy did I wait. Through the rest of the spring, through the summer, through the beginning of this school year when I finally decided to call the payroll person at the Bronx UFT. She told me that the person we argued before (I forget his name) awarded me the pay for the 150 minutes I was at the school. OK, I was good with that and was told that he would be a few paychecks before I got the money.
I then waited, and waited, and waited, and waited some more.
In March I received a letter in the mail from the grievance department at UFT HQ informing me since no decision had been made I get to go to expedited arbitration on May 5--yesterday.
The gentleman from the UFT I spoke with told me that my pay for the 150 minutes came to $76.12 but would I be willing to settle for less. I told him no. He informed me to forget getting the $250 back and I agreed with him. But I was curious as to why the DOE is going through all this trouble for $76.12 when this was to be a hearing which would not set any precedents.
When I arrived yesterday at the American Arbitration Association at 120 Broadway in Manhattan my rep told me the DOE still refuses to settle and we had no choice but to go forward to collect my $76.12.
In the conference room was the arbitrator, my rep along with another from the UFT and a lawyer from the DOE. My rep gave a statement and cited the contract. The DOE lawyer cited that since I did not continue on to my next assignment I can not get paid for the entire day. The one question I was asked by the DOE lawyer was why I did not call to ask for money to get downtown. Yes, in my humiliation I was thinking straight. Besides, what would allow me to think of my school would be so benevolent towards me after what had just happened?
I still can't believe that the DOE would spend all this money to keep from coughing up $76.12! How much did that lawyer cost? What was the DOE's share of the arbitration? How much time away from serious matters did the lawyer have to spend? Transportation? Taking time away from a real arbitration case that needed to be heard?
The DOE has a budget of $23.8 billion. The $76.12 is a mere fart in the wind to the DOE. This is an agency that wastes millions upon millions of dollars a year and they can't put a crowbar in their wallets and give me what I earned? I was at the point laughing it was so pathetic and even told the UFT rep I would accept 1 ticket to see The Who at the Nassau Coliseum in two weeks.
I will know what happens 10 school days from yesterday and if I win I have to wait 8-11 weeksto receive my $76.12.
And we all wonder why.