Archive for September, 2022

Looking Back almost 20 years. How to Organize and Mobilize for a Contract Fight

Attending my second in-person UFT Executive Board on Monday, September 20 made me
realize how much I miss being a member of that body and how much things haven’t changed.
When the elected high school Exec. Bd. members presented their resolution (see the New
Action report on the Exec Bd. That night), it was predictable Unity would line-up to attack the
resolution. Two things came to mind. As one Unity Caucus speaker after another lined up at the
microphones to speak against you could tell how scripted the attack was. Many speakers stated
that the UFT Negotiating Committee of 500 should constitute and be the controlling factor in
forming a UFT Action Committee. This was supposed to make sense! Really a committee of
500? But the real point is two-fold. In 2004 when Randi Weingarten was UFT President she
agreed to form a bi-partisan committee at the recommendation of New Action/UFT.
Parenthetically she formed other bipartisan committees -the UFT Organizing Committee and
the Social and Economic Justice Committee. One other committee she said she could not get
through her own Unity Caucus was one on Union Democracy.


Back to the point. In November 2004, she formed an Action Committee when there were only
30-35 UFT members on the then Negotiating Committee – not 500. Certainly a committee of 35
made more sense, was more manageable, and probably more effective. That Committee co-
chaired by Elizabeth Languilli and Michael Mendel(officers of the UFT) put forward plans to
mobilize and organize the entire UFT membership. New Action should and I hope will publicize
the suggestions that came out of that bi-partisan committee. But Unity today doesn’t seem to
have a collective memory of just how effective the proposal was. But equally important, the
UFT Action Committee didn’t just convene to organize the fight for a contract. The scope of the
committees work included: plans against budget cuts, a campaign against abusive
administrators, plans to fight the closing of 47 schools, plans to mobilize the membership for
smaller class sizes, to name few.


Sometimes it’s a good thing to remember history.

-Michael Shulman, Co-chair of New Action and former UFT Vice President of Academic High Schools.

Substitute Rights, Healthcare, Buses, 6th Classes, and a No to Action Committee – UFT Executive Board, 9/19/2022

Open Mic: Crystal Mendez Covington:

Occupational therapist who has a child who is supposed to receive bussing. Matron has been great. Son has not been picked up. The offer is he is only being picked up at very odd hours – hours after school day begins. Having to take time off to bring him to school. What can be done.

S. Cohen: Aviation high school won an arbitration that non-‘shortage’ area classes should be paid the full rate, not just a coverage rate. But many teachers are afraid to file their own grievances to get that pay, not to mention the many teachers across the city. What about retirees – this affects their pension? We’re supposed to have 6 years to file. Can the union file a class-action grievance? What will Michael Mulgrew do?

Joseph Diodato: Was a substitute teacher and now am full-time. 2 issues: per diem members, and new teacher experience. Definitely a value to the new teacher experience, but our unionists deserve fair pay. Article 8-G specifies mandatory contractual obligations to new teacher week, but compensation is only daily $51.70 – about 55% of the minimum wage. How can this practice continue? Our contract should not trump state labor laws.

Substitute teachers aren’t being paid enough. We have to do better on advocating for teachers and making sure they get their relevant pay (e.g. O, Q, or Z-status). Long term teachers deserve to be paid for their labors.

 Routine Items

President’s Report:

Mulgrew: Moving to our first negotiating committee. Gonna be a lot of work to do, especially in terms of mobilization. Not going to be an easy negotiation. Focusing on a lot of things that have nothing to do with the bread of butter what makes the city work. Almost all unions are now out of a contract. In 2 weeks when we come in, we’ll strategize. Everyone is on notice. MLC does not feel good about it.

MOSL: Calendar is on Oct. 7 and closes on Oct. 22nd. Want a virtual quick training. Sep 29th at 4:30. Different ways to choose. Might have to wait if we don’t come to a decision.  CLs have to be on this. Schools made choices that were not in their best interest.

FSF is not equitable, despite what many say. Staffing positions should have nothing to do with a school’s budget. Often sped is cited as why, but if you look you’ll probably see an escalation of SPED noncompliance, so that can’t be right. Chancellor says he thinks the formula is wrong, but people on the committee in DC who originally designed this.

Question Period:

Mike Schirtzer: Asks if Crystal’s issue can be fixed.

Mulgrew: Busing has been smoother the last couple of years. There are consequences to how they do this.

Name missed: Do we think members will have time to make a decision?

Mulgrew: Working on it…

Alex Jallot: Fair student funding (FSF)? Who do we push to fix this and how?

Mulgrew: Not a subject of collective bargaining. So it’s mayoral control. Still working on it in committees and such.

Nick Bacon: Last year, a bill was signed which allowed districts to waive APPR. NYC didn’t bite. You (Mulgrew) signed that you agreed we shouldn’t have it. There were several problems with APPR last year – teachers/students were acclimating to the regular classroom while being afraid to socialize (making it hard to score well on things like 3B), and growth based MOSL scores were calculated on the basis of tests taken years apart. TIPs often set teachers up to be 3030a’d, because they give admin the right to micromanage teachers, and therefore to discipline teachers if they fall short of expectations that often exceed what is asked in the contract. Since UFT leadership opted not to make this a big fight, are we at least doing anything to protect teachers who might be 3021bd or 3020ad as a result of advance ratings that we didn’t have to have at all?

Mulgrew: Set up a system, can get information from Mary.

Approval of the Minutes

Lydia: why was there nothing on the agenda?

Leroy: Says we already voted. For the other complaints if you disagree, we’re saying go to AFT.

All minutes approved.

Staff Director’s Report

Many meetings, contract committee coming up. DA Oct 12th

Question Period

First question missed.

Mike Schirtzer: The disasters in Puerto Rico and elsewhere, anything on what the UFT can do? Keep us abreast.

LeRoy: AFT is keeping up with this. Puerto Rico is near and dear to us. We’re in full support in addition to our own outreach to our own folks.

Karen Alfred: Some communication from folks before the power went out in PR. Sending some help RE disaster relief. Tom Murphy has connected us.

Name Missed: We have one of the messed up MOSL. We’re all getting different numbers of observations. What is the rationale behind why people are getting different things?

Mary Jo Genese: Yes, put in a complaint, but there are over 100 complaints. We’ll look. Email me.

Ilona Nanay: Did subs get the opportunity to apply to be on the negotiating committee?

Leroy: Yes.

Llona Nanay: New teacher week – how did we agree to that rate (below minimum wage)?

Mike Sill: Training rate has been in the contract rate for many years, since at least 2008. Definitely before onboarding training. We can look at that rate in the next round of bargaining, e.g. demand per session. When that got added to the contract, we didn’t know what it was gonna look like. We got a better sense in 2018 when it first became part of the contract, so it’s worth revisiting.

Ilona Nanay: Last week’s question – is the UFT going to work on getting their reinstatement put out in writing, or get them transportation to sites?

Mike Sill: First I’m hearing of the track issue, but we can look at that. We sat down with those members for about 45 minutes. Next day we met with the entire office at DCEE. Thursday we met with that office and the DOE. In the meantime, we got the new postings. We don’t agree with their plan, but don’t have contractual leverage. Doesn’t mean we can’t try in other ways. But again, if the positions are the same or similar, that’s an excessing condition. No one is going to end up in excess, people will end up in their DCEE positions – if the DOE gets its way – plus other opportunities. But we need to know what those other opportunities are. Not seeing anyone ending up in the ATR pool.

Ibeth Mejia: UFT had a big precedent setting grievance at Aviation (see Cohen, open mic). Thanks David Campbell and team for advocacy. Thanks Janella Hinds for testifying. How can teachers who did not yet get paid get that pay? Memo on shortage pay hasn’t been put out – when?

David Campbell: Meeting at Aviation tomorrow to discuss in detail the implications at school. This arbitration was from one grievant – filed back in 2018 – then others filed (thanks Ibeth). We can only get backpay for people who filed. We won’t be able to get it for people who did this in the past and didn’t file. DOE is not quick to pay people and may try to contest other grievances, but to put pressure on them – we put 18 grievants on there for the October Arbitration. Don’t anticipate another hearing, because the issue is settled. The basis of the ruling that there are particular rates in our contract: class coverage (clearly defined – covering for one teacher). Teaching a full class is much different from the work involved in covering a class. So you need to get paid a full shortage rate, not a coverage rate. Not sure how widespread the issue is, but now the issue is settled – so let us know if it ever comes again. Should be able to pro-rate 6th period pay in Prose schools with different contractual.

Mike Sill: will follow up on the memo.

Ed Calamia: Given all the federal money we have for education and the need for parents to get to work, is there any money for UFT members to work those programs – i.e. latchkey programs?

What exactly does the UFT disagree with in terms of the administrative code 12-126.

LeRoy: no info on latchkey.

G. Sorkin: When looking at the administrative code, we want protections. Recently, there was a Medicare Advantage ruling, and a judge—in my opinion—exceeded his authority. So we want to go around that by changing the administrative code. We disagree that the City only has to have one health plan – we believe in ‘choice.’

Lydia: How has UFT been involved in the budget cuts? How can we get our members activated to fight for fair funding?

LeRoy: We’ve been involved all summer. There’s great stuff on Infohub. As soon as some meetings are done, we’ll figure out how to get out and get our voice heard.

Ronnie Almonte: What capacity do we have to organize new members? We have two labor systems – people on the DOE line and the Bard line at my school (Bard Early HS). Bard doesn’t have tenure, pension – they’re at will. There’s other schools with similar setups. We have a good history of organizing the unorganized. What now?

Name Missed: Dist. 30 new member meet and greet, so share my event. We are including high schools this year, used to just do middle and elementary schools.

Janella H.: Agreement Ronnie described is different than many agreements around the city. Agreements with colleges – professors teaching alongside HS educators. Those members are PSC-CUNY. That classification means they’re unionized – just not UFT. Work to be done for sure.

Alex Jallot: Smaller class sizes – committee formed last year. How do we make sure everyone honors the class sizes agreement?

LeRoy: The pressure is on. Rallies are great, but the real pressure is the law. Thanks everyone involved in the class size fight. We’ll be going after them if they don’t follow the law. Districts that are black and brown are supposed to get that money first – and we’ll be looking there.

B.  Standing Committees

1. Report from Districts

Tom Murphy: been a tough week for retirees. We’ve lost several people. Thanks Staten Island for grief counseling, e.g. S. Bailey. Also, Florence Fidel, Mona Davidson (created Florida office). Town hall meeting tomorrow (M. Mulgrew to give). Campaign 22, busing to places like PA, really important with senate races. Inflation reduction act, passed in August, great for drug prices for retirees.

1 report missed.

Pat: annual bocce tournament, raised money for disaster relief fund. Thanks SI office.

Nancy Armando: controversial mural being redone, now great.

Adam Shapiro: Working in D21 and happy to share in one week’s time we’ve raised $1 million.

Servia S.: In honor of Hispanic heritage month, D. 4 having special dancing events in East Harlem, flyers should be up on the UFT website. Sep. 30. Only for UFT events.

Mike Sill: Furious about how the medical accommodations are being handled, teachers aren’t hearing back, on HR Connect for hours and hours. DOE is supposed to find suitable central work for teachers with accommodations. Folks can rest easier.

Rashad Brown: report missed.

1 Report missed.

Lamar Hughes: District 25. Shows UFT puppet created by Andy at 244.

Janella H.: Caring Kind work – Alzheimer’s and Dementia.

2. Legislative Report

C.  Special Order of Business

Teacher Center Courses:

Mary: 146 sites, another 30 coming online shortly. Workshops coming up – CTLE, LCTLE. Google going to do a workshop on Next Steps. Some courses can also help with differentials. Mandated courses now happening through teacher center – e.g. Autism. A lot getting sold out, so we’re going to offer more. Also, when teacher center sites have after school hours, can go by – there’s a printer, laminator, etc. We’ll send out a list of where those sites are.

Resolution to Organize and Mobilize for a Contract Fight:

Nick Bacon: endorses

Resolution to Organize and Mobilize for a Contract Fight

Whereas, the UFT contracts expired on September 13, 2022; and

Whereas, there have been no negotiations for a successor agreement;

Whereas, the UFT has a long history of involving our rank and file membership in mobilization to put pressure on the city to come to agreements.

Whereas, in the past President Randi Weingarten worked with a bipartisan executive board to establish just such a rank & file committee (the UFT Action Committee).

Resolved, that the Executive Board will form a UFT Action Committee made up primarily of school based Executive Board members of all divisions to plan a series of escalating actions to build public support and force the city-DOE to come to a fair agreement on a new UFT contract.

Amy Arundel: Against. Speaks against, not because I’m against it, but because it doesn’t have one. Stands against because not necessary, not in theory.

Mike Sill: Against. What are the differences between an executive committee – this committee is smaller.

Rashad Brown: Opposition, excludes people, not large.

Carl Cambria: Against. We did it then, why not now? 2004 we did it, because the structure has changed.

Mike Schirtzer (favor): Here on exec board would be a good place to get some action started. We got some good work done for strike readiness. Exec-based committee could do lots of great work in addition to what

Alex Jallot:  For. Doesn’t have to be an either or thing. Would be good to have an action committee. Good for our students and schools.

Ilona Nanay: For. Not either or. This is both and. Also contract committee has been a slow start and meetings have been haphazard. So a more consistent and regular meeting here could help flush out what can’t be discussed.

Adam Shaprio: opposes. Let’s give the negotiating committee. Indirectly undercuts that.

Question called.

Bacon notes that it has been uneven in this debate (for and against). Would be unfair to call the question given how many more have gotten to speak for than against.

LeRoy lets one more ‘for’ person speak.

Ed Calamia: Pretty decent debate, but one thing that has not been mentioned – the Action Committee would not be redundant with the negotiating committee. It has carried out a number of other mobilizations (e.g. on abusive administration). It can keep the base energized between major events and would make a huge difference. This action committee is more than ‘extra’ on the negotiating committee. It’s an independent committee with a lot of history.

Melody A. Asks if that was the intention? Would vote for this reso if it was more than just contract.

Nick: That was the intention – to form an Action Committee for and beyond the contract. Could amend the language if people would like, but that was always the intention.

LeRoy: out of order.

Question called:

UFC and Mike Schirtzer vote in favor. The rest vote against or abstain.

Meeting closes.

Future Meetings:

AdCom:   Sept. 30; Oct. 7, 14, 21

Exec. Bd.: Oct. 3, 24

DA:          Oct. 12

New Action Message to UFT Chapter Leaders (September, 2022)

Dear UFT Chapter Leader,

The New Action/ UFT caucus welcomes all Chapter Leaders to the 2022 school year. New Action/ UFT, as a member of the United For Change coalition received 42% of the Active teacher vote and 34% of the Retiree vote in the recently concluded spring UFT election. United For Change won all 7 High School Executive Board seats. Despite receiving 42% of the Active teacher vote United For Change only has 7% of the seats on the Executive Board and despite winning the High School election we don’t have a Vice President from the High Schools. This is due to the at-large voting changes Unity Caucus made over 30 years ago. Despite these undemocratic conditions the 7 High School members can be a voice for you and your members regardless of Division. We would like to hear from you and your members as to the important issues the 7 members can bring forward.

At this moment, New Action is sending out an alert about impending changes to our healthcare for both retirees and in-service members. Mayor Adams and the Municipal Labor Committee (of which the UFT is a major part) are negotiating to put our healthcare into the hands of privateers. This goes against the trend to move to single payer health care. Please become informed and alert your members to these developments.

We recommend that all Chapter Leaders join a caucus, our union’s political parties. Caucuses, such as New Action, offer key support to Chapter Leaders, Delegates, and other union activists to help conduct both school-based and city-wide union activities. New Action is the oldest progressive opposition caucus in the United Federation of Teachers. In existence since the mid 1980’s (and forerunners since the 1970’s), and still running strong today. JOIN today to be a part of our community, and work with us to pass resolutions that matter at the UFT Executive Board and the Delegate Assembly.

If you don’t yet receive the New Action /UFT literature at your school please send your name , personal email, cell number, and school to either :

Greg Di Stefano,  head of organizing – unionuftgreg@yahoo.com    718 757 4552   

Michael Shulman, co-chair New Action – mikeifish@aol.com            718 238 8030 

Nick Bacon, co-chair New Action –        bacon.nick.a@gmail.com    860 922 5833

Thank you.


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.
September 2022
M T W T F S S
 1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
2627282930