2-28-2022 UFT Executive Board Minutes

Nick Bacon (open mic): Seeks support from and consultation with UFT leadership for his school. Speaks on the need for a robust PINI program and organizing committee, so that schools in need can rely on a real targeted response from the UFT when chapter organizing or district/borough conversations fall short. This is important for morale in chapters that have done everything but seen no results. If we do the work to build–really rebuild–our city-wide organizing infrastructure, we can co-organize with schools in need and show solidarity. Says he would sign up to picket with another school in need any day, and knows other members across the city would do the same. Also speaks on the importance of giving real say to teachers in the C30 process to prevent foreseeable issues. Thanks executive board for hosting him.

Leroy Barr: Thanks Bacon for coming and notes that staff will be in contact for next steps for school issues. 

Motions to approve adcom minutes are approved unanimously. 

Michael Mulgrew: (president’s report): Says he hopes everyone took advantage of the break. Says March is the busiest month in terms of union activity, as every weekend is full of events. 

Masks: working closely with the AFT to push the CDC to come out with some sort of criteria with areas to look at for schools. We’re in NYC, but imagine at the AFT level where some parts of the country are all political. It gets ugly. That’s the reality for AFT work. Thankfully, the CDC listened and came up with a color coding. If you’re green, you may start looking at lessening restrictions on masks. Important because we plummeted in positivity in New York. 

We decided before the break that we wanted everyone to have test kits, then continue to do the surveillance program. We’re going to take this week and see if the numbers continue to get lower than look at possibly lessening some of the restrictions. 

Brings up graph: discusses the omicron spike, which turned out to be less serious (but is still serious), then we had a much more rapid decline than expected. It was like we ‘stepped off a cliff.’ But are there other variants? The variants out there of omicron are less serious than omicron, so our doctors are telling us that we can start looking at loosening restrictions – that’s how we get out of a pandemic. Keep your monitoring in place, but you can start loosening your restrictions. So we’ll do the testing – another 85,000 tests done in schools this week – people can still report the at-home tests.

To be clear, if that decision is made, it’s not our decision, but our doctors have said that if that data remains steady, if there’s no spike after break, then we can loosen restrictions. All of our other safeguards will stay in place (masks, testing, etc) if that happens. If we loosen up restrictions and we get to Spring Break and see nothing in our surveillance, we could maybe–cross your fingers–be getting there. But if something happens, you’re gonna have to move in a different direction. Our doctors are telling us we should not fight the administration if the city decides to unmask. But you should be able to wear a mask if you have a situation. We had teachers being disciplined for wearing masks before the March shutdown. We’re not in that situation anymore.

The state mandate will be lifted on Wednesday, after which we’ll be talking to our mayoral administration. We have members who like masks and don’t like masks. The majority of members who communicate with me tell me as long as the data is there and the doctors are ok with it, they just want to know about the particulars. 

That’s it on the masks. I’m apprehensive and optimistic at the same time. I have way too many conversations in my life about this – takes up a lot of my work time. Two other times before we thought we’d be leading our way out of this, and that didn’t turn out to happen. So we’ll do the surveillance and look at the data and go from there. Possible that on March 7th we’ll have an optional mask program in the schools. But you can see the drop there on the graph. 

Negotiating committee, first meeting is on March 30th.

No one is talking about the socio-emotional problems that came out of the pandemic, but I keep talking about masks. Reality is there was a lot of damage. As a workforce we’ve also been damaged, and if they would listen we’d love X, Y, and Z so we can ‘do the work.’

Ugliest negotiations we’ve ever had with NYU. A lot of work went into it and we were highly active throughout the entire practice. Last Thursday, they were able to get their contract ratified, but it was a difficult negotiation.

Mulgrew – Question Period:

Mike Schirtzer: (1) We passed the resolution at EBoard and it never made the floor at the DA, the resolution on distributive scoring being kept in home schools. Need to move that up because it’s about to happen. What’s the protocol, can we move that up here at Eboard?

Mike Mulgrew: Not sure, might be called out of order, which seems to happen a lot lately. But, assuming we as an executive board – we can make a motion to move that up the agenda at the next DA. 

Schirtzer: Makes motion to move up the aforementioned resolution at the next DA. Seconded, no debate, question called, motion passes.

Mulgrew: this is how the agenda gets set, so it was appropriate to do it that way. 

Schirtzer: (2) Speaking as a social studies teacher, social studies is under attack all over the USA. We have great committees here. How do we go about making a resolution to teach history as it already happened, especially with all the laws being passed across the country to the contrary?

Mulgrew: That resolution was already passed at the AFT level, but we can take that resolution and go from there.

Janella Hinds: Happy to work with Mike. We love writing resolutions so let’s make it happen. 

Mindy Rosier-Rayburn: Vacation days and 683. Can they be used during 683?

Mulgrew: Think so. The arbitration says we can, so don’t as questions for things we think we already have. 

(Missed name): On masks, hearing diverse opinions, but in schools where vaccine rates are low and maybe a teacher has an immune problem, nervous about this. 

Mulgrew: That’s one of the conversations I’m having. But this decision will not take away your ability to wear a KN95 mask. Vaccination rates are highest in Manhattan, there’s a map out there, it’s public now. So let’s have a campaign to get rates up, because some schools have extremely low vaccine rates (which tend to mirror the neighborhoods they’re in). But, NYC has reached the threshold for herd immunity. But your ability to wear your mask and get your test is still there.

Rashad Brown: Does AFT have a resolution yet on the Florida Parental Rights and Education Bill

Mulgrew: There’ll be some debate at the AFT, but we’ll make sure we put in our own input, but we can do it the opposite way – do our own resolution and bring it to the AFT.

George Geiss: ENL coordinator – any numbers citywide for students who are Ukranian? Can we pass a resolution in solidarity with Ukraine?

Mulgrew: Don’t have that data at this time. Assuming we’ll get an influx of Ukranian students rather quickly. Will work with you.

Camille Edy: Teachers in district 16 are worried about masking. We have low vaccination rates. We’re wondering what the relaxation of the masking guidelines will have on encouraging vaccines. We think the opposite will happen – if they see masking relaxation, parents won’t think there’s a need to get students vaccines. 

Mulgrew: Hear that fear. But there’s a lot of misinformation about the vaccine that you hear in the AFT debates. I’m concerned about 7 districts, including District 16, but remember – members, wear the masks – the 95s. 

Camille Edy: CLs are brainstorming ways to get the students vaccinated. 

Mulgrew: Thanks everyone and closes. 

Leroy Barr: asks for reports from districts. 

Janella Hinds: 4th Herstory celebration this Friday, 4-5:30 – theme is strength, courage, and women. Virtual event. 

Karen Alford: March 19th (saturday) early childhood conference, first time in person in a few years (hybrid event). CTLE hours offered and ask your school for a purchase order if you don’t want to pay for it. 

Leo Gordon: March 15th, CTE awards. First time in person in a while.

Rashad Brown: March 3rd at 4:00 PM, Dr. Monique Morris ‘Pushout’ documentary about criminalization of black girls. 

Motion to adjourn carries. 

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