On Budgets

This summer, news of dramatic decreases in funding to the majority of NYC public schools shook the city. A series of protests, calls to action, and a fascinating lawsuit worked to bring Adams’ budget decrease into the public spotlight. And, as of today, that lawsuit has apparently succeeded in allowing for a formal reconsideration of the budget. While we wait to see the details of what a possible new budget might look like should the City now opt to restore what was taken away, we at New Action commend the activism of parents, students, community members, and educators who worked tirelessly over the summer to get to this point. We are hopeful that the budget is rapidly reconstituted to reflect the reality of our city’s increased need for educational spending in the wake of COVID. New York City deserves schools that are not just ‘technically’ funded based on enrollment considerations, but truly funded in a way that maximizes the ability of our children to learn. 

Truly funded schools mean enough funding to:

  • reduce class sizes to a level consistent with the rest of NY State. Adams’ budget would have funded class sizes at the usual too-high unadjusted caps, taking advantage of Governor Hochul’s conspicuous failure to sign a popular bill that would have soon reduced those caps dramatically. 
  • keep up with dramatic inflation that is sure to affect school supply and labor costs. As states like Arizona and Florida rush to fill teacher shortages by keeping pay low but reducing qualifications to teach, we need to keep funding up to supply our students with qualified and fairly compensated educators who have everything they need to effectively do their jobs. We aren’t going to get that by reducing our budgets; we can only get there by raising them.
  • Provide the rich array of services, ‘electives,’ and extra-curricular options that our students need for a full educational experience. Many schools lost key programs like art and music to make way for Adams’ budget cuts. Those need to come back.

Adams’ cuts are far more than enrollment right-sizing. His cuts ensured that actual class size averages would go up (instead of down) pretty much everywhere, that school-wide programs like the Arts would be cut (rather than just departments ‘right-sized’), and that teachers would go into contract negotiations with less money on the table (making it easier for the City to not fairly compensate us in our next contract). It’s time to end austerity funding for our city’s schools. Let’s truly fund them so our students can obtain the education they deserve. 


As the “Day to March for Our Lives” rapidly approaches and our UFT has called on members to join in the national march against gun violence in NYC, New Action can’t help but notice a glaring contradiction regarding our union’s policy. In 2013 five members of the UFT Executive Board co-authored a resolution condemning gun violence and calling for strict restrictions.

Those five included Michael Shulman, Jonathan Halabi, Douglas Haynes (then UFT Exec. Bd. members and leaders of New Action Caucus), Leroy Barr and Dolores Luzapone (members of Unity Caucus). This bipartisan effort was an exemplary example of how working together our union could accomplish important work on behalf of the UFT membership.

Five years later, In 2018, the Teachers Retirement System divested pension fund monies from companies that manufacture weapons of mass destruction.

But what is the total picture regarding this divestment? As Daniel Alicea of EONYC has discovered, TRS as late as 2018 decided that we would stay invested in companies that derived under 5% of their revenues in civilian gun sales. We are still presently invested in index funds like I-Shares, which continue to profit from major gun companies like Smith and Wesson. Finally, millions of dollars in our pension portfolio are invested in large fund companies like Black Rock and Invesco, both of which are major shareholders in firearms manufacturers.

After Columbine, Sandy Hook, Parkland, and now Uvalde, Texas, to name a few, isn’t it imperative to go back and correct this glaring oversight/error and completely pull out all pension fund monies from these companies?

New Action calls on all members to turn out on Saturday, June 11 to demonstrate our outrage over these obscene, all to frequent, episodes of gun violence that plague our nation.

Do delegates on phones deserve rights? – Notes on the June, 2022 UFT Delegate Assembly

At the June 8th DA (2022), Unity made clear their intent to disenfranchise non-Unity voters in perpetuity. Let’s look at the tactics, skipping over the long President’s report and his not calling on UFC for a moment.

  1. Wasting time during the New Resolutions Period. We only get 10 minutes to raise new motions and haven’t been called on since November, so why all-of-a-sudden is so much time being wasted on reordering the agenda during this period? Why is it that the people being called on to do the reordering are often members of Adcom and the Executive Board – the very people who supposedly set the agenda in the first place BEFORE the DA? As an aside, mark my words – if UFC ever gets another resolution on the agenda (not holding my breath), Unity will use the ‘reordering’ technique to make sure that resolution never sees the light of day.
  2. Pretending UFC Doesn’t Exist. Near the end of the new motions period, Mulgrew asked ‘any more business anyone wants to raise?’ with the implication that no one was raising their hand. I was raising my hand to introduce a critical resolution compelling the UFT to fight to suspend APPR this year. But he pretended I wasn’t there, and waited for another delegate to raise their hand to introduce a motion that was less critical. It was clear that when he said ‘anyone’ he meant that delegate, not anyone else. Mulgrew was a like a Drama Teacher telling a student performer their line.
  3. Only calling on Unity higher-ups during debate periods. Matt Driscoll of MORE raised an important amendment to the Hybrid DA Resolution. This amendment would have given full rights to introduce resolutions or amendments over the phone. Only I was called on to speak in favor of that reso, despite many people having their hands up or putting themselves in line to talk on the phone. Instead, a slew of Adcom members and Executive Board members. many of whom work for the UFT full time, were called on to make sure the debate seemed to be in their favor.
  4. Prematurely calling the question: After that slew of adcom members was called on, but only 1 UFC member, for the second time in a row, a Unity member has called the question to a contentious amendment before UFC people really had time to speak on it. (Last month it was for our decorum resolution amendment). This ensures that people who are voting don’t hear the UFC arguments.
  5. Blatantly disenfranchising phone voters (who tend to vote with UFC). I was the only UFC member called on to speak in favor of the amendment to give full rights to people on the phone. I argued that (1) The majority of delegates participate over the phone now and many can’t be here because of childcare or other responsibilities – they should have a right to offer resolutions or amendments; (2) People over the phone have called to offer amendments in the past and have been told no, which has affected the end form of passed resolutions. (3) The vote counts are often very different over the phone than in person, meaning we are disenfranchising people who tend to vote one way, but not the other. (Mulgrew scolded me for bringing politics into it on that one). In addition to me, 5 or 6 Unity people spoke against us, and convinced just enough people–literally 4 votes–that it would be a bad idea to give rights to people over the phone. Their main argument, I think given primarily by Mike Sill, was that we can’t trust that people over the phone are actually UFT members, a bizarre argument given that we’ve been voting primarily over the phone for the last several years, and during the height of COVID introduced resolutions/amendments that way as well. We were prepared to speak on this, but were never called on to do so (I would have spoken on it myself, but that argument hadn’t yet been made by Unity at the time that I spoke). Nevertheless, 2/3 of the phone vote was in favor of the amendment. That means that we lost the vote because of voters in the room. Voters in the room are overwhelmingly Unity, and many if not most are paid staffers with voting privileges. In other words, it was primarily the people we pay to represent us, who voted to disenfranchise the majority of us from participating in the union’s democratic process.
  6. Signaling that phone votes don’t matter. When Mulgrew looked on in horror to see that the phone amendment would have passed if not for 4 votes against, he indicated that if it had passed ‘he would have had to verify that people over the phone are really UFT members.’ Something tells me that they’d use not being able to get ahold of someone, who say, screens their calls, or turns off their phone during dinner, to overturn votes in the future. That should worry us.

As usual, I left the Delegate Assembly feeling disenfranchised. But, UFC is holding strong. The opposition is here to stay.

Content Policy

Content of signed articles and comments represents the opinions of their authors. The views expressed in signed articles are not necessarily the views of New Action/UFT.
August 2022