May 27, 2022

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UFT Delegate Assembly March 23, 2022–Debate Gets Us Nowhere

Delays as more people enter hall. 

President Michael Mulgrew–Welcomes us. Albany last 8 days of budget. Some good, but some things left out. Bail reform becoming an issue. Were feeling positive, but want education things in place. Ukraine, Jackson hearings followed closely by AFT. Thanks Karen Alford for supporting Ukranian refugees with partner group. Poland welcoming them. We support that however we can and through AFT. 

State--Official budget due next Thursday. Was on track, but things went awry. Bail reform makes it complicated. Cuomo has 22 million, running commercials, pushing bail reform. Our mayor hired on platform of cleaning up streets, and being tied to bail reform. We want to ensure CFE funding. Mayor saying schools lost 120K kids. Not just due to pandemic. Was happening during last administration. We need CFE funding. 

City–Community schools big piece of this, parents like them. Colleagues in other locales, small cities, want to emulate them. Want 100 million investment, only to be used for community school work. Teacher centers growing again because people want teacher-directed PDs. Few like when people come in and tell you how to fix schools. More and more schools want PD based on needs of staff and students. Pushing for increase. Had been 40 million, now only 14. Teachers centers help get schools printers and equiptment, promote positive learning. 

We had fights with previous admin over school discipline. Being unable to suspend no matter what, we don’t support. With emotional trauma we are seeing more and more incidents. Tough issue. Superintendents were told to make suspension very difficult. We’re not for zero tolerance but common sense middle of road. We want positive learning collaborative. Another mayor simply didn’t report incidents. Not a political game. Doesn’t work for anyone like that. We need positive learning collaborative, results good in over 50 schools that use them. Discipline needs to be in best interest of school system. 

Mayoral Control–Mayor pushed very hard to make it part of budget. Has not happened. Don’t believe it will be part of budget. We have complete evidence that mayors have all made mistakes, bad policy decisions, decisions based on politics. Don’t want to go back to school boards, but there have to be checks and balances on mayor. PEP panel doesn’t have to be in complete control of mayor, only done this way here. 

Mayor announced PEP choices, half were charter advocates. One was stopped for not respecting others’ beliefs. Parents of NYC are not 33% charter advocates. Now, they vote as mayor says or are removed. Suggested different options. Did anyone think giving all kindergarten students G and T tests was a good idea? No, but was passed in this system.

Ten years ago, every public sector employee in NYS was put under Tier 6. At that moment, we knew that this was a small but influential group of people who did it with Cuomo. We are at a point where we can start reforming this Tier. Most people start teaching at 21. Tier 6 says you work until 62. That’s 42 years of teaching. We have had members who’ve done it, but we want it an option, not the burden put upon them. We had to fix tiers in the past, but this is not just UFT. We have to work with all public sector employees, or people will use tactics to split us. Doing work through AFL-CIO, has taken us 5-10 years to reform in past. How can this city recruit teachers when they have to work until 62, pay 6% of salary, wait ten years to be vested.

First step is to get a reform, and that’s where we’re headed right now. We need different entities to give fiscal notes, identify costs. First editorial in Post about how workers want to fleece city. Thank you. There was no fiscal reason to do this, especially in NYC. Comptroller in NYC said this was straight up politics. We can now lobby and push this piece. Will do more work on these issues.

COVID–hopefully will be reduced, but is slow. Masks optional preK April 4 by mayor, Will still be access to PPE and rapid tests. We have to constantly monitor and take appropriate actions. We’ve been told by doctors there will be increase because 25% now BA2. Now from 1.1 to 1.5. First increase, but we want 0.0. Testing continuing. 

Heads up–When we get to spring break, UFT access shut down outside of country due to cyber wars. Doctors have said because BA2 more contagious than Omicron we should know severity before spring break. I see more and more people comfortable unmasked. Strongly recommend you continue to get rapid tests.

DOE restructuring–Superintendents getting nervous. They always say they’ll make them reapply, but this time they are being thoroughly vetted. Sometimes this changes behavior for better or worse. We will see both. Speaking with chancellor and team, they say they want evidence people can support and help schools. Not what they were asked to do before. Some schools seeing many observations. Please discuss with principals. We’re trying to get through school year. Had to do screenings last year for no reason. Speak to principals and keep us informed.

BCOs ready to end. Borough citywide office. Was good sounding idea, but didn’t work. Upset because a lot of members work there. Will work to make sure they don’t lose livelihood. May go back to pre-Bloomberg, when superintendents had lot of staff. 

On positive side, trying to enshrine pre-K and 3K. 

On bad side, how can we fix special ed, when DOE believes its job is to rationalize why not to provide service. It’s inhumane and we must fix it. We need to remove paperwork so we can do our jobs. We’re at end of March. Planning for next school year already behind. DOE not ready to move, but we want to. If people lose complete faith in system it’s existential threat. We’ll help, but we have to move. 

Point of order–Chair has no right to interrupt speaker with question about minutes. Says cutting off speaker act of anti-woman (something).

Mulgrew–We know it’s election season. Our job is to do work of union. Many people online.

(Chant in background, unintelligible to me.)

Mulgrew–I get emails saying we need to do work. Please keep electioneering out of agenda. This part was set by AdCom and Executive Board. That’s how work happens. 

Testing--Was on phone, was in DC, explaining why this is major issue. Last time standardized tests given, less than 42% took them. Feds now saying they want tests for 95% of students and want to label schools based on those results. We think results will not be that good. We don’t want anyone judging schools based on these test results. Shouldn’t be happening. People who hate us always write how it’s all teachers’ fault. This has to stop. We’re pushing, and we won’t stop pushing. We won’t let it go. We need a waiver. Nothing else helps. With lists for every state, this will severely damage public education. Please explain to members. My school visits this week was about this.

Other locales say NYC has it great. We’ve been epicenter of pandemic, but in those places they don’t have teachers. One district gives students half live instruction, half virtual. When kids come in, classes start at 50 per class. Going on all over the place. Recruitment, retention early. 

Waiting for calendar from DOE. Very early. Again, too many holidays. We can get 180. We can’t extend school year before Labor Day or after June 28. Very happy with holidays. When calendar comes out, more than 500 of you will do SBO to combine parent teacher night and day into one. We’ve shown DOE 500 or 800 did this in elementary. Hoping to make this standard and SBO for other option. Will utilize chapter leader hub. 

Medicare Advantage Plus–Judge said city could go ahead, asked mayor not to. Many things unsettled. Our job is continued fight to make sure we have premium free health care for all members. Nobody asks what hospital charges are, but we’re presented with all charges. We have hospitals charging 300 percent above Medicaid. Doctors were 62% of medical costs, a decade later hospitals 63%. 

We’re now in a study looking at longterm effects of COVID. That data might give us leeway and flexibility with retirement and pensions. 

Over 400 people on negotiating committee, meeting next Wednesday. No one negotiating with city, our contract still in effect, 80% of unions already out. Will do training at UFT. Have expanded space. Want to make sure all members have access to a survey. Will use company to make sure it’s objective. Key here is every chapter talk in general and for own chapters.

CL hub live next Friday. Had started before pandemic. We have many new CLs trying to get info and access. Have focus group on what you need to make job easier.Will modify as needed.

Speaker–Had focus group working on project to create dream site. Existing login will work. Will give grievance status, COPE, member report. Info on current campaigns. Will migrate from current CL section to here. Can contact reps and guests. Resources include CL handbook and training resources. Sample SBOs available. Forms available. Calendar will show upcoming events. Search engine same as that used by call center. Will help give answers to members. CL update available. 

Maggie–Was CL on panel. Shared complaints about site. Wanted all on same page. December we met and things were changed. Tired of huge CL binders that take up a lot of space. Now digitized. 

Mulgrew–As we move forward, we will build on it. You can talk members through APPR, special ed. complaints. We believe this tool will help. Thanks all who worked on it. 

Inquiry--When we’re here to deliberate, according to Robert’s Rules we need to alternate. What is guiding principal?

Point of Information–Are there rules higher than Robert’s here?

Mulgrew--Yes there are. We are allowed to set rules through parliamentary process that supercede Roberts. That’s why we end at 6.  Goal for me is to do business at union. If people want to do special considerations, two-thirds vote and up to body, not point of order. If people speak only for something, we ask if people want to speak against. About ability to have respectful conversation.

LeRoy Barr--Ballots going out April 8th, get out the vote, want great turnout. CL training Saturday and Sunday. Special ed. town hall Mar. 29. HS Awards April 8. MS conference April 9. March 13 great turnout for CTE awards. 19 early childhood. We are coming back. March 16 was anniversary of UFT. Happy 62nd anniversary. Union still strong, largest local in country.

Questions–

Q– Helpdesk needs help. You call, you have to wait. We have resources here, but sometimes you have to reset password. Frustrating when they don’t know what’s going on.

A–DOE helpdesk–People call us when they give up on them. Then we have to call them. Parents have to call too. Doesn’t build confidence in school system. It’s a shame system is so bad. They spent a lot of money on it. FAQ for us is optical, because we increased benefit. We use our call center to drive info members want. DOE desk is embarrassment.

Q–Former CL asked when school quality surveys would carry weight. We have issues at PS 211, many of us left. We were in DN next Sunday. Principal still there. We need support. Thanks DR. 

A–We want retention at school level to count. Churn big issue, and usually fault of leadership. Should be number one indicator. When you have 30-40% leaving every year, you have big problem. Surveys are meaningless. Part of CBA with principals’ union. Now that we are hopefully through pandemic, we have to focus on bad leadership that makes school improvement impossible. People hear a lot about these places where parents are unhappy. We need to deliver people ready to be school leaders.

Q–Heard Banks speak. Said kids don’t need four years of HS. Why not incentivize early graduation? Why make them come 5 days a week, why not virtual? Opinion?

A–2.5 years problematic. Not his decision, but NYSED’s. Five day a week schooling seems to work okay. If someone has creative idea we will listen, but need to understand what they will do. Some schools have four-day instruction and innovate day five. Some schools do six weeks on two off. More virtual? We learned a lot about it. A small percentage of kids did well. What are we going to do with two years of students who didn’t graduate and now are working? Maybe we can create virtual school for D79 and try something, Must maintain class sizes. Must be tech infrastructure. We are not tech experts. 

Q–Last year did SBO votes virtually. Can we continue?

A–Yes. CLs like Election Buddy. 

Q–I was very sick, had negative CAR. Didn’t get vacation days. Update?

A–Had to go back into arbitration. Few thousand people in that position. Arbitrator has jurisdiction. DOE “interpreted” that it meant if you had negative CAR days were not entitled to additional days. DOE asked how it would look if they had vacation days but owed days? We said deal with it at retirement. They didn’t want to do any work. Ruling said vacation day not equivalent to CAR day. We say this violates ruling. Waiting for decision. 

Q–Paraprofessionals–This week we had PCMs in classroom. Will that continue? Will we have path to teacher?

A–Big question. Have negotiated where paras who qualify as subs can take charge of classrooms. We will have to go into negotiations. Many paras qualify to be teachers. Some don’t want to do teacher paperwork. 

Q—OTs want to know what’s going on with money we’re not being paid, or being paid incorrectly.

A–We need to know, but will file union-initiated. DOE moving to get people paid, but it shouldn’t happen. We proved they didn’t pay. Shouldn’t have to do this. Was no one in Tweed. We got movement. They are rushing it, and we have to keep process moving. Sometimes when we file grievance they stop paying. Should have never been in this position. Please send in all info so we can get payment done. 

Motions

Thomas Conavoy--This month–Resolved– UFT will advocate DOE be respectful of Diwali, promote multiculturalism. 

 Passes.

Meredith Soladis–Next month–Resolution on UFT expectations for new admin and chancellor. Resolved loss will not be remedied by spending more on bureaucracy, want fed money in public schools, student expectations reflect what students will know, smaller class sizes, Banks and Adams listen to teachers. 

Peter Lamphere–Moves to extend motion period ten minutes.  

Mulgrew–Out of order. We have elected delegates who have a meeting at 6 PM here. Will rep. UFT at NYSUT. Will make sure our agenda is protected. They have to do same work at national convention. We are debating motion on floor.

Point of Order--Nick Bacon–Invite says 6:30. 

Mulgrew--Was informed to clear room at 6.

Lamphere–Appeals chair’s ruling.

Point of order–Can we debate motion on floor?

Mulgrew–We have to debate his point, that he feels he can make a motion while someone else’s is on floor. ?

Point of order–Can we just get on with our business?

 Lamphere–Debatable motion.

Mulgrew–We have automatic adjournment in minute and a half. People tried to use Robert’s Rules to hijack the work of the union. 

Chant of “UFT.”

Mulgrew--You heard my report. You heard all the issues we are trying to deal with, We all have many real challenges with union as whole. Please try to be respectful of each other. Vote on challenge to chair.We have automatic adjournment. Room has to be cleared and set up for next meeting. Thank you all for coming today. Sorry we didn’t get to do the work we came to do.