The announcement on May 27, 2016 that Jia Lee, New Action/MORE presidential candidate won 21% of the citywide vote was a terrific victory, especially since this was her first run for the position. Michael Mulgrew won with a total of 76%. While a solid victory for Unity Caucus it is interesting to note that in the last UFT election (2013) he received 84% and in 2010 his vote totaled 91%.

Clearly, the fact that Mulgrew was not cross endorsed by New Action, as he was in 2013 and 2010 was a big factor in his decreased vote as President. The total vote for Mulgrew was 39,175 and for Jia it was 10,743

Our major goal in this election was to win the high school division. We did!

Several significant factors characterized this election:

  • New Action/MORE won all seven high school seats by 2,292 to 2,077. Our candidates: Kuljit Ahluwalia, David Garcia-Rosen, Arthur Goldstein, Ashraya Gupta, Jonathan Halabi, Marcus McArthur, Michael Schirtzer will meet as they begin to serve as executive board members. This victory continues the legacy of New Action’s role in the high schools, Beginning in the mid 1980’s, New Action dominated the high school division. After 1985 when Michael Shulman won the Academic HS Vice Presidency, New Action has either won or played the determining role in high school elections. Only after Unity Caucus rammed through UFT constitutional changes did Unity win the HS Vice Presidency. Divisions no longer elect their VP’s – instead all officers are elected by the membership at large, thus guaranteeing no division can elect their own representative.
  • This election cycle, it was New Action/MORE that won the high schools. It could not have been done if the caucuses ran separately. The combined strength of New Action and MORE not only secured the high schools but increased our vote totals in all divisions. For the two caucuses, this was the first attempt to turn the direction of the union around. Our major joint campaign literature- featuring Jia Lee and the New Action/MORE program- was distributed to 60,000 UFT members. In addition, New Action and MORE put out tens of thousands of additional pieces of election material to the schools. In future elections, an increased focus on the intermediate and middle schools may turn that division to New Action and MORE.
  • Literally, hundreds of Chapter Leaders agreed to distribute New Action/MORE literature in their schools. We were very successful in having our members and supporters in the schools get out literature not only in their own schools but to surrounding schools. New Action played a major role in having our retiree members distribute in over 300 schools.
  • The total vote went up considerably from the previous election. In 2013 only 18% of in-service members voted. The three caucuses—New Action, MORE, and Unity made a larger vote turnout a priority. This was also accomplished. In 2013 the total vote was approximately 42,000. This election the number was 52,000.

New Action and MORE have a real challenge going forward. The UFT led by Unity Caucus has ignored so many issues facing our members. We have an obligation to put forward our program on behalf of the entire membership. Our election commitment was to activate and mobilize UFT members for a better contract in 2018. Immediately, we have to protect members and Chapter Leaders from abusive administrators. We are committed to opposing the use of standardized tests to evaluate teachers. We must demand the permanent placement of ATR’s and putting a stop to the practice of arbitrary and capricious discontinuance of probationary members. We will continue to support the Opt-Out movement. We must fight for real union democracy. We do not have any confidence that Unity Caucus has these issues as their priority. Most importantly, we must foster membership involvement at the school level. UFT members must know and feel their union has “their backs.”

Where we agree, where we disagree

From New Action’s May 2016 Leaflet

Where We Agree

We agree that 200 lawyers at Tweed is about 200 too many. But we need leadership that tells this to Fariña, sits down, and gets something done.

We agree that the current funding formula for schools makes no sense, that principals are forced to discriminate against experienced teachers, that schools, kids, teachers all get hurt. But we need leadership that tells this to Fariña, sits down, and gets something done.

We agree that abusive and incompetent administrators are a problem. But we need leadership that restores and expands the Principals In Need of Improvement Program, resurrects the highly successful Organizing Committee, and targets principals who go after our members, leadership that brings the abusers to Fariña, sits down, and gets them out.

We agree that arbitrary extensions of probation are unfair. But we need a leadership that tells this to Fariña, sits down, and gets something done.

We agree that parents have a right to opt their children out of tests. But we need leadership that actively informs parents of this right.

Where We Disagree

We disagree with a leadership that insists that student test scores be part of our evaluation.

We disagree with a leadership that is in love with the Common Core. We disagree with one-size-fits all in math, and we can’t believe that teachers are being stopped from teaching whole books and are limited to chapters or excerpts.

We disagree with creating separate, unequal “rights” for members in excess.

And we disagree with jobs and promotions being given out based on obedience to a caucus instead of merit.

Vote MORE/New Action

Combat Abusive Administrators – Return to Fair Funding! – Get rid of the Lawyers! – Protect Probationers

Protect ATRs – Fight for Union Democracy – End “Drive By” and “Test Score” Teacher Evaluation

Support Jia Lee, Opt Out Leader, for UFT President

Resolution on Discontinued Probationary Staff Members

New Action wrote the original version of this resolution (March 28, 2016), and supported the revised version which was passed by the Executive Board (April 4, 2016) and by the Delegate Assembly (April 20, 2016.) It does not go far enough. As long as we have abusive and incompetent principals with the power to arbitrarily discontinue we will have a big problem. But this is an important start, publicly committing the UFT to trying to help, and publicly recognizing that there is a problem with incompetent administrators. New Action’s Greg Di Stefano (MORE/New Action candidate for Assistant Treasurer) has been actively working on this issue for two years, meeting with a deputy commissioner, several times with the Secretary of the UFT, organizing a press conference, a rally, and speaking at PEPs.

Resolution on Discontinued Probationary Staff Members

WHEREAS, a number of Probationary Teachers have been discontinued over the last several years; and

WHEREAS, some of these teachers were in schools with abusive, incompetent and in some cases corrupt principals; and

WHEREAS, many of these teachers were discontinued receiving no support or mentoring, a clear violation of City and State Education Law; and

WHEREAS, New York State Law states that discontinued teachers should have the opportunity to work in another NYC district or work under another license they may have; and

WHEREAS, the last administration under Michael Bloomberg purposely prevented this from happening; therefore, be it

RESOLVED, that the UFT will continue to explore all avenues for these teachers to exercise their right to have the opportunity to work in other districts in full time positions or as per diem substitutes; and be it further

RESOLVED, that the UFT will continue to work with the DOE to ensure that legal, proper and fair practices are in place with regards to teacher discontinuances and that probationary teachers be treated with respect and professionalism.

For Appropriate Supervision

New Action introduced the following resolution at the April 18, 2016 UFT Executive Board. It was tabled to allow details to be reviewed and corrected. We expect a revised resolution to be brought forward at the May 9 Executive Board.

For Appropriate Supervision

April 18, 2016

Whereas both the Danielson Framework and Teaching for the 21st Century envision consistent conversations between teachers and supervisors; and

Whereas these conversations are informed by the content of the class and associated standards, by the curriculum being followed, by the students assigned to the class, by the pedagogical orientation of the school, and by the culture of the school; and

Whereas some supervisors have more knowledge of all or some of the content, standards, curriculum, students, school pedagogy and school culture than other supervisors; and

Whereas teachers should go through observation cycles with the leader of the school or the most appropriate supervisor available; and

Whereas there exists a class of supervisors – ATR Field Supervisors – who are disconnected from students, from content, from school-specific pedagogy, from school-specific culture and who thereby are unable to engage in the rich conversations envisioned both in the Danielson Framework and Teaching for the 21st Century; and

Whereas ATR Field Supervisors perform a function that others could more appropriately perform, and could be assigned instead to productive roles;

Therefore be it resolved that the United Federation of Teachers will convey to the Department of Education our concern that some teachers are being observed by other than the most appropriate supervisor, and be it further

Resolved that the United Federation of Teachers will immediately open discussions with the Department of Education to reassign administrators who are currently ATR Field Supervisors to appropriate assignments, and be it further

Resolved that the United Federation of Teachers will feature a series of New York Teacher and website articles on the appropriate role and function of supervisors in our school system.

Defend Chapter Leaders

(from the New Action leaflet distributed at the March 2016 UFT Delegate Assembly).
For a printable version click: Leaflet 2016 March 

Chapter Leaders are on the front line in our schools. Members vote for them, know them, rely on them. When principals go after the chapter leader, they are sending a message to every member “No one is safe.” The union needs to step to the defense of any and every chapter leader under attack. If you are a chapter leader in this situation, contact your DR, your Borough Rep. And if you are not getting the help you need, contact us.

Did you get fooled into voting for higher co-pays?

(from the New Action leaflet distributed at the March 2016 UFT Delegate Assembly).
For a printable version click: Leaflet 2016 March 

Co-pays are jumping: Emergency Room visits – up from $50 to $150. Urgent Care – from $15 to $50. MRIs from $15 to $50. Specialists – from $15/$20 to $30. Blood Work and Physical Therapy from $15 to $20. Copays for visits to primary care physicians stay at $15.

How could this happen? Believe it or not, we voted for it. In the last contract, Unity put in health care “savings” provisions. But despite repeated inquiries, they never told us what those “savings” would be. Now we know what the “savings” are for this year. But brace yourselves – the contract does not agree to just one year, but FOUR YEARS of “savings.”

A better leadership would have shared this crucial information with the members WHEN WE WERE voting, not two years later.

A better leadership would be fighting to IMPROVE coverage, not making deals to make it cost extra.

We want and need parental leave, not higher co-pays. Vote MORE/New Action.