Archive for April 3rd, 2023

Privatization of UFT Positions; Political Endorsements: UFT Executive Board Minutes 4-3-2023  


During the open mic, two visiting members spoke about the ongoing conflict going on for Instructional Coordinators and Social Workers in the DOE’s early childhood department. As a recap, massive excessing occurred over the summer and there is good reason to believe that the City is seeking to replace UFT positions with non-unionized contractors via private companies. Members of UFT’s administrative committee responded, but didn’t speak on many specifics. Another member spoke out about getting assistance for UFT parents whose own children have IEPs.

During the questions period, Ronnie Almonte pointed out that, despite asking many times now, we still haven’t heard back about where the data comes from that supports Mulgrew’s decision not to support the New York Health Act despite two DA resolutions telling him to do so. I wrote about Mulgrew’s missing homework here with Daniel Alicea. Rather than give Ronnie the still missing answer, LeRoy Barr suggested that this had been asked and answered. But, New Action hasn’t missed a day of executive board minutes this year. The question has been asked many times; it’s never been answered.

Two massive political endorsements were put up with no prior notice made to the High School Executive Board (and therefore to any caucus other than Unity). We pointed out that it was impossible for us to vote on this many endorsements at once, since no one coordinated with us – literally only giving us the lists of names the moment of the vote. We also pointed out that it was difficult to believe the endorsements were ‘bipartisan’ (in the union ‘caucuses’ sense of the word), because some of us were literally dropped from the endorsement committees between when we were in Unity and when we were a part of other caucuses. We also pointed out that just through a quick look, we could spot names that we weren’t sure should be there – such as people who voted for DOE budget cuts. We didn’t ask for any amendments, just that we be given more time before voting. Unity wouldn’t grant it.  No offense Unity, but who is really political?

Mulgrew wasn’t there, and we heard nothing about healthcare or about what the DC37 pattern means for our upcoming contract negotiations. Surprisingly, only one person—George Geiss—spoke out about the contract actions last week (see info here for mine), though it was better optics for a school-based member to speak on school-based actions rather than UFT staffers. Geiss had a good story about a ‘contract action haircut’ that went viral. But, he also offered that the cycle on Trump’s indictment probably drowned reception of our organizing out. To that end, I wonder how widespread/effective the overall strategy was. Does analyzing our contract actions make me ‘against organizing,’ as Unity misrepresented recently as part of a blitz on high school representatives? No. Rather-as I have argued in various places, the fact that our union officers are against even having the right to strike, and are willing to accept bad patterns over risking disharmony with other labor leaders, has put us in a bind. Their unwillingness to organize in these critical areas has done us no favors in terms of mobilizing our members or leveraging our power against the City. Nevertheless, I hope the contract actions prove to be a success. At a minimum, they helped organize chapters to bond over union activities and engage with their communities. I certainly saw that at the contract action that I attended. But, let’s hope they swayed the City too. Because now that we’re stuck with a bad pattern, the nature of our fight just changed big time.

More from the executive board can be seen below. Alternatively, see Joe Diodato’s minutes here.

Informal Minutes for the 4-3-2023 UFT Executive Board Meeting

Open Mic: (Name missed): Instructional coordinator supporting birth through pre-k. Noticing that my colleagues and I are being glossed over by the UFT, prompting me to speak out this evening. My colleagues and I are the UFT, and here’s what we’ve done: we’ve spoken out, had rallies, come to executive board meetings before, spoke with the Deputy Chancellor and their team, conducted a vote of no confidence, written articles; yet still, our voices are not being heard. Decisions are being made without us in the room. We know there’s a new admin – but their changes are privatizing union jobs. We are asking that our union be our ‘ride or die.’ We appreciate the work that’s been done before, but our future is up in the air.

Jia Lee: I’m on sabbatical this year, and it’s been pretty busy. In September, 2 days before school started, early childhood people were told their positions were being eliminated. We fought, we organized. I appreciate everyone in the room for their efforts. But, it’s unknown what’s going to happen for next fall. Seems like these positions are slated to be eliminated. It’s about sending a message to this administration. There’s nothing about us without us. Educators/admin are saying this is our central support; not perfect, but can’t just eliminate them. We’re asking that the executive board please meets with these essential workers. We know the goal of this administration is privatization. They’re getting ready to contract out. Let’s come together and make changes together.

Christina, School psychologist. Also a parent with a child who has an IEP. This year, my child with an IEP wasn’t getting services. It’s been a long road. Would like there to be a mechanism for UFT parents. Found a lot of support from our own members; key people in my chapter. Moving forward, having such a mechanism would be a good thing to have around.

Minutes: All approved.


Ronnie Almonte: What is the data around the NY Health Act that says it is not in our interest. Can you please correct the current source being cited – which cites anti-union persons in favor of privatization. I don’t want to be misconstrued on facebook. I’m simply asking about that data – following up.

LeRoy Barr: This has been discussed ad nauseum in these meetings. President has said it doesn’t make financial sense. I’ll punt that question to the president (not here).

District Reports:

Mary V. Curriculum report wasn’t exactly what we planned. Not that it was bad, but we didn’t get info on the actual learning. We will have workshops ready to go on May 1st. So we should be ready to go on all three curriculums as well as Algebra.

Ibeth Mejia. I would like to report in recent months there has been a spirited resistance started to grow at Middle College and I been their CL for 5 years and I am very familiar how the principal retaliates against any teachers that uphold the contract. I myself was retaliated against the principal for advocating for children with special needs and I was eventually pushed out and with that said I got some very disturbing information that a union official came into a school and bad mouthed two members of the UFT opposition at a meeting of a group of chapter members. I raise this not to attack anyone. That said, can we get clarification that when UFT officials go into a school in their official capacity that all of us here are on the same team, the UFT, and we don’t represent a caucus or look to criticize members who might not hold the same political views within the UFT as we do? 

LeRoy Barr: Hard to address this because it’s vague, get why you don’t want to say names when there’s a record. We can talk 1:1. I like to believe that we are on the same team. Sometimes comments made here or outside are not indicative of unison, because people aren’t coming for me, they’re coming for the entire UFT, so unless we guard the gate together, they will get inside the gate. Goal should be moving forward as one. Unfortunately, that’s not always what people say. Know this, when there are attacks, and it feels like it’s undercutting the foundation on we stand, ultimately we’ve weakened us. I can talk for hours on this. When people go into buildings they represent their truth. I am not going to shackle my people who have an opinion whose opinion might differ from that of others. Let’s have a more private conversation.

Ibeth Mejia: It was purely contractual violations.

LeRoy Barr: Taking opportunity to talk about how we can be better to guard the gate.

Janella Hinds: On Tuesday, a group of us went to Albany to continue in our public schools over corporate charters campaign. Partnered with many groups, including NAACP and NYSUT, to fight back against the Governor. The budget is late, so there’s still an opportunity to lobby. We have a letter writing campaign  – please do that this evening. We want to make sure public schools are strengthened.

Chris Verdone: Reporting out on safety updates. Thanks to everyone for opportunity to speak. UFT liaisons have been holding meetings with CLs – open to all. Working with all stakeholders to ensure safety of our members. Forum for CLs to discuss rise in violence. During first Manhattan meeting, CLs expressed concerns, we brainstormed solutions.

Rashad Brown: Meeting with members about student loans. Holding webinars for paraprofessionals/librarians.

Rich Mantell: Labor seder last week. Well attended. Jewish Labor Committee applied to AFT to become a national caucus. Nov. 30th having first ever Jewish labor committee – award.

Karen Alford: Visited Richmond pre-k center. Girls came over – high school kids read to 3 and 4 year olds. Kids see the high school students, many who are women of color. Big to bring these kids to this center. On Saturday, this room was transformed – early childhood conference. Great day.

Karen Alford with Mike Sill: Karen: Looking at all of what ICs and social workers. With regard to where we are right now, we have debriefed with DOE and are still waiting to hear—when we get back from the break—about their plans for next year. We know that any title can have changes done. We want to make sure it is changed the right way and that they have the right to make those changes. Mike adds that it is April 3rd, the day before MLK was assassinated. He gave a speech to striking workers about collective struggle. Things don’t always move as quickly as we’d like them to move. We have to move toward radical selflessness. To say that the concerns have been glossed over is wrong. UFT has done a lot, including rally. Had demands: (1) no excessing this year; (2) chancellor needs to know what the folks do; (3) any changes made must be made after talking to ICs and social workers. Things don’t go quickly, but we are right there. We’re all working towards justice.

Luli Rodriguez: This Saturday, school librarians did outreach, including here, helping parents access digital library. We talked about the need for having a librarian in every school.

George Geiss: Round of applause for grade-in. Got upset that news of indictment took away our thunder. My barber in Queens showed up and gave me a haircut. Students were reaching out – saying like your haircut, hope you get a fair contract. This is coming full circle. Next action in District 30 on 4/20. Our noise worked.

Ilona Nanay: Speaking on behalf of division of early childhood educators. Sent a letter to the UFT district reps. Urge us to consider all the functionals that make up our union. They are hungry too and want to be considered a part of the membership.

Special Order(s) of Business:

Resolution on City Council Endorsements: (follow hyperlink)

Nick Bacon: Just seeing this list of names for the first time. I used to be on the committee that selected these names; not sure why I was taken off. To that end, I’m worried about how ‘bipartisan’ this resolution is. I don’t know who was on the list to select them. There has been criticism here that when I and others here bring resolutions forward, they aren’t sent to you with enough time in advance so that you can collaborate. But what about this? This list of names is too long for me to look at right now and vote yes, especially since I have no way of verifying that they were selected in a way that respected the diversity of views in our union. I have to do more research and can’t possibly vote yes on a list this big at this at this time.

Response: Political committees in districts. Worked with district reps. Not everyone drew an election. Some members on list we already have a good relationship with. Politics is important. We have 51 members. We have issues where we won’t agree on them. The people on this list have either drawn an election or are leaders.

Rashad Brown: People on committee did the work and sat down. They came up. Mr. Bacon worked at a different school.

Luli Rodriguez.: It’s not necessarily the people on this list, it’s about time for us to vet it. Should table.

Ilona Nanay: Last week we passed a resolution on budget. A lot of the people on this list approved a budget that decreased funding for public schools, including the speaker. Some may have signed a letter of regret, I don’t see them working towards rectifying it. So why are we endorsing?

Motivator: In politics, we can go through each of the names on this list and find things we don’t agree with. Budget was a tough situation. But budget as a whole was a good situation. Relationships now very close. We have to be careful.

Name Missed: Calls all questions before the house.

Resolution Carries, but with some no votes and abstentions from H.S. Exec Board

Same person (name missed) endorses another resolution on District Attorney positions (same link, scroll down).

Ilona Nanay: Should table.

Mike Sill: Speaks against tabling.

Nick Bacon: We’re educators. We don’t do politics full time. So we should have time to vet these names.

Rashad Brown: As members of society, we should be informed what’s going on in our own boroughs. This body is collective, so we have enough people who do know and can make the decision.

Motion to postpone fails.

Motion itself passes.


Michael Shulman Interviewed on WBAI

Yesterday night, New Action co-chair Michael Shulman was interviewed by Daniel Alicea on his WBAI show, Talk out of School. Listen here for Michael’s key perspectives on the history of the UFT and New Action, as well as for commentary on the state/trajectory of our union today. This is a must listen.

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April 2023