Archive for January 29th, 2022

Dear Michael Mulgrew, We’re Overworked!

Dear Michael Mulgrew,

Unity Caucus claims “[they] do the work.” But over the last several decades, they’ve allowed the DOE to pile on extra responsibilities for all UFT members. In essence, under Unity, we’re overworked.

Let’s take a look at an example. The other day, I was logged in for some mandatory per session. After a long day, I was ready to go home. But, this year, whenever a student quarantines, teachers are obligated to do remote office hours. In many schools, COVID rates are so high that teachers find themselves doing these office hours many times a month if not every week. Yes, teachers can pick which days they work the extra hours or forego their lunch breaks. But this extra work is compulsory. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize what’s happened here – our work days have been extended, and undemocratically at that. Had I had a seat at the table, I would have argued to replace Monday PD time with this new task. (After all, there’s precedent for this – we did something similar last year with ‘office hours’ and ‘coplanning time’ in lieu of long weekly PDs). I also would have pushed for better remote infrastructure in the first place. But, I didn’t get a vote. You’d think the DA would have been consulted, but we weren’t. As usual, you and the rest of the Unity leadership pushed the forced overtime on teachers without consulting us.

So, inspired by Norm Scott’s excellent piece detailing the ways that Unity has ‘not done the work,’ I decided to put together an incomplete list of the ways they’ve also pushed more work onto the rank and file. 

We are overworked, because Unity Caucus:

  • Negotiated endless PD Mondays and OPW time on Tuesdays in exchange for one-time wage increases. Years later, our wages have not kept up with inflation, but the extended days remain.
  • Let the DOE enforce mandatory per session for office hours (as well as special education recovery services) rather than repurpose already existing extended days. 
  • Is committed to healthcare givebacks, making us work harder to find providers or get affordable necessary care. 
  • Gave the greenlight for tenure to be extended from three to four years minimum, which is now routinely denied or extended by principals and superintendents, even after teachers put in the work to create expansive portfolios that were never required previously. 
  • Has failed to reduce class sizes or caseload caps in 60 years, even as the instructional techniques mandated by the Danielson rubric (e.g. differentiation, collaborative learning strategies) essentially require small class sizes.
  • Stripped us of many of our protections against abusive administrators, such as the PINI program, and the right to grieve letters in the file. 
  • Allowed the discipline code to deteriorate, without building up the functioning restorative justice programs we were promised would fill the void. Without any disciplinary infrastructure, teachers have significantly more draining experiences managing their classrooms, and to the detriment of all students (many of whom are traumatized by witnessing fight after fight). 
  • Let schools reopen at full capacity, without a remote option, during Omicron, leading to thousands of student and teacher infections. As misinterpretations of the new CDC guidance flourish, many of these teachers have been harassed by administrators to come back only five days after testing positive, despite maintaining symptoms. Many others have contracted long-COVID in the unsafe classrooms that Unity rubber stamped, and now must grapple with whether they even have the energy left to continue their teaching careers.

I for one am sick of being over-worked because Unity fails to deliver. Next election, I’ll be voting United for Change. They’ll actually do the work.


-A teacher who votes


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January 2022