This has been cross-posted from the OTs/PTs for a Fair Contract. You can find the original post, here.
The results of a survey initiated by rank and file Occupational and Physical Therapists found that at least 374 therapists who provide Special Education Recovery Services have not been paid a single cent since the program commenced last year in November/December. That amounts to hundreds of hours of unpaid work done by our chapter members. It is unknown how many therapists in total are staffing the federally funded program. At a chapter meeting held on 2/9, therapists weighed in on the DOE’s failure to comply with the basic expectation of employment - getting paid. The following comments were posted in the Zoom chat box:
"I will commit to going to the Queens UFT office tomorrow after work to file an individual grievance for my 40+ unpaid hours of SERS/SEED. This is willful nonpayment by the DOE!!!"
“This is ridiculous. Now I've worked for free for nearly 3 months, and I have to spend more time filling out forms??”
"All of my earned money will be on my 2022 W-2. This is hugely problematic for my family being that I have 2 kids starting college."
"What should also be mentioned is the number of therapists who chose not to work recovery knowing they would not be paid in a timely manner due to a history of payment problems. Because of this history a lot of students did not receive services they were entitled to."
The point of the survey was to prove that the failure to pay therapists in a timely manner for overtime, return from maternity leave, and per session work is not the exception but the rule. The survey results were used to pressure the UFT to file a mass grievance against the DOE to resolve this ongoing issue once and for all. This problem naturally impacts service delivery for children in Special Education. Our chapter leader reached out to legal counsel at Advocates For Children to alert them to the problem. AFC took action by raising concerns with leadership at DOE Central. The systemic nature of the DOE’s inability to implement a process that is simple, effective and respectful of workers rights is nothing new. What is new however, is that the OT/PT chapter isn’t shying away from holding them accountable.