Archive for the 'UFT' Category

UFT High School Executive Board Update!

Dear UFT Member,

The New Action UFT caucus, as a member of United for Change coalition (UFC), would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your support in last spring’s UFT election. UFC received 42 % of the Active Teacher vote, 32% of the Functional vote, 30 % of the Retiree vote, 43.83 % of the Middle School vote and 55.87% of the High School vote. Our 7 High School Executive Board members have been working the first half of the school year for all members and divisions. Two of our resolutions have received bi-partisan support, while the majority have been shut down by our union bureaucracy. It is worth visiting to read the full informal minutes of UFT Executive Board meetings to get a sense of how hard New Action and other UFC members are working to represent us at the executive board. However, for your convenience some of that work is summarized below. We have put forth the following:

  1. A resolution to preserve our medical benefits for both active and retired members. This resolution, unsurprisingly, was defeated by Unity Caucus, i.e. the UFT leadership. As most of us know, the Mayor and UFT leadership are thus far unsuccessfully lobbying the City Council to do away with 12-126, a statute designed to protect health care for all City employees/retirees. That goal directly contradicts the mission of New Action, who is working behind the scenes to try and preserve traditional Medicare as well as high quality premium-free healthcare for in-service members. 
  2. One resolution to organize and mobilize all members for a contract fight. (Again, defeated by Unity).
  3. One resolution compelling full disclosure of a finalized tentative contract and memorandum agreements to prevent what happened in 2014 and 2018. We can’t allow back-room deal agreements to go into appendixes of which members aren’t informed before a vote. 
  4. One resolution on ending the disproportionate impact of discontinuances of high school probationary teachers. Unlike teachers of the elementary and middle school grades, high school teachers are discontinued from all of the DOE’s high schools, regardless of district, when they are discontinued or denied. This resolution, written by New Action and UFC, would compel the UFT to petition for equalizing the rights of high school teachers. The resolution received bipartisan support and will go to the Delegate Assembly for final approval.
  5. One resolution on Tier 6 pension reform. This resolution would have made the UFT lobby for an immediate return to at least Tier 4 benefits, a return to a 25-55 option, exclude COPE funds from any politician who doesn’t support our pension goals, and compel the UFT to immediately mobilize if any new inferior pension tier is introduced. The resolution was defeated by Unity, who instead opted to push a ‘keep doing what we’re doing’ resolution on Tier 6 reform at the December DA. When New Action tried to put forth an amendment with most of the above goals, Unity defeated the resolution using a dubious parliamentary technicality. 
  6. A resolution to end the reign of terror on abusive administrators by forming bi-partisan “ swat teams “ to go into schools with a history of abuse and restoring the once-successful PINI program. This resolution was also defeated by Unity, who argued that their existing infrastructure is good enough. 
  7. A resolution to fund health care with taxes on millionaires and billionaires. Again, this was defeated by Unity Caucus, who would rather save money by forcing retirees onto Medicare Advantage or making members pay premiums to keep existing traditional Medicare.
  8. A resolution on creating a Minority Report, so UFT members get the full scope of debate in official UFT communications about contentious union issues like healthcare. This resolution was defeated by Unity, who disregarded the15,092 UFT members who voted for United for Change.
  9. A resolution to support the teachers who were allegedly abused by a group of administrators after being brought to NYC from the Dominican Republic. This resolution received bipartisan support and was introduced at the Delegate Assembly. 

Currently, we are proposing the UFT use all of its resources to keep GHI premium free. We also urge all school chapters to support the UFT teach-in on Jan. 30th and build strong Contract Action Teams. We urge all of our supporters to participate and propose strong, collective rank & file actions.

In solidarity,

Nick Bacon, Gregory DiStefano, Michael Shulman, New Action/UFT co-chairs

New Action/UFT…a caucus of the United Federation of Teachers

Fighting for educators, building chapters, increasing democracy, with a progressive agenda

615 77th Street, Brooklyn, NY 11209


Who actually needs time to read a contract anyways? – Executive Board Meeting, 1-9-2023

Summary: The full minutes are below, but here are some highlights:

  • The meeting started with two librarians talking about the specific issues they face. They called for better union infrastructure, such as the creation of a functional chapter.
  • Then, Luli Rodriguez (ICE/Solidarity) was ‘sworn in’ as the replacement for Lydia Howrilka (Solidarity), who recently left the DOE and thus her HS Executive Board seat to pursue other opportunities. We thank Unity Caucus for not running a candidate of their own against Luli. They agreed that UFC should keep the seat we won. I look forward to working with Luli in the future (her full endorsement by Ibeth Mejia can be seen below in the full minutes).
  • Two resolutions were presented on the floor. One, made in solidarity with the nurses, had no opposition. The other, motivated by Nick Bacon, was supported by MORE, New Action, Solidarity, and ICE, but voted down by Unity. That resolution asked that (1) After the experience of 2018’s rushed contract vote, especially in the DA, UFT members be given more time to read/understand contracts before holding pre-ratification and ratification votes; (2) all changes to contracts be summarized neutrally – i.e. not just claim in the ‘contract at a glance’ or equivalent that ‘there are no givebacks and we preserved premium free healthcare,’ if we actually ‘bargained’ away $600 million in healthcare ‘savings,’ basically compelling the privatization of Medicare; and (3) we get to vote on all MOAs, which function as addendums to contracts but often aren’t voted on even when they have profound effects on the workday (think ‘mandatory per session office hours when any student in your class has COVID). In any case, this resolution met with fierce resistance from Unity. Some of the points made sense. Carl Cambria in particular made a few fair arguments, like that the resolution would prevent timely votes if agreements came up in June. I still think an informed executive board, delegate assembly, and general membership is more important than a quick vote on something as important as the contract. But his point is taken. Amy Arundel, on the other hand, gave ad hominem attacks on either Nick Bacon or the High School Executive Board more generally depending on how you read her arguments – accusing the motivator(s) of having political motives. She also argued that somehow ‘being in schools and talking to members’ (a strange false dichotomy to make as a UFT staffer in opposition to school-based members) or doing the ‘teach in’ in January (where there won’t be a contract to read) is what is really needed, not additional time to actually read said contracts. It was a confusing set of ad hominem attacks and irrelevant points in an otherwise calm meeting. But, nevertheless, many in Unity applauded when she was done. And they voted down our right to vote on MOAs or have time to understand our contracts before we vote on them. A disappointing finish.

Full minutes below:

Open Mike

Victoria (Librarian): 22 year veteran. Came in as a teacher. Always felt like I had a union presence in district 85. Feel like I’ve been thrown into the waters since I’ve moved into being a librarian. Gave up money coming out of teacher leadership to become a librarian, find out I’m teaching 6 different courses and a librarian all at once. I want to be fair – a lot of people tried to help. But, no one really knew. Got into contact with other librarians. Felt like I had to come down and speak for those librarians. We went to school to be librarians and are treated like substitute teachers. Need support on a union level. UFT librarian ‘Check me out’ shirt design was disturbing. Good intentions, but our questions weren’t answered. So I’m just here to see we need help. I’m on my way out, but we’ve got new people coming in and they deserve help – the kind of union that I saw helping me all my years as a teacher.

Daniel Leviathan: Long-time librarian. Was also at the above UFT librarian meeting. The question of what can be done in libraries, especially in elementary schools, is a big question. There are library tasks (e.g. skills) that we can teach while teachers focus on content. But that isn’t happening in most places. We often find that UFT unable to help here. So, we need to ask about a functional chapter for librarians. This will help students get what they deserve.

LeRoy Barr: Introduces new district reps. Minutes approved.

Reports from Districts:

Karen Alford: For this year, instructional coordinators and social workers will remain in their original positions and not be excessed. Know the fight isn’t over, but enjoying this moment.

Amy Arundel: Update on success academy. Hearings on Success Academy. Well attended – long hearings. Asking people to get ready to come to Long Island City to join us in being vocal opponents to co-locations. Success will bring plenty of people, so we need to do the same. Another vote for a Bronx school coming up.

Debra Penny: In March of 2020, COVID death benefit, created. It has been extended to December 2024. Amazing benefit, but I hope no one has to use it. 50% of salary + health benefits for qualifying beneficiaries.

Seung Lee: Some well attended pension meetings mentioned. CDC training weekend. Next week, Asian American Lunar New Year banquet tickets. Everyone is invited to buy a ticket (March 10).

Adam Shapiro: District 21 met CLs and want to do district-wide contract negotiation activities. Button making, 75 people volunteered to donate their labor.

Nancy Armando: Feb. 2, Brooklyn will celebrate SRP event.

Carl Cambria: 500 negotiating committee. Wednesday, Feb. 1. Over 800 schools with CAT teams. Going to hold trainings for CAT members. Gearing up for teach-ins late January so they can gather to discuss contract benefits.

(one speaker missed).

Special Order of Business: H.S. Executive vacancy.

Ibeth Mejia: Nominates Luli Rodriguez (H.S. for Economics and Finance). Leader who received the majority of high school votes in her campaign for Treasurer. She was tapped for this for her extensive experience of accounting. She can follow the money on school budgets. Led evacuations out of the World Trade Center on 9/11.  Staunch advocate for students of disabilities. Used to call her the IEP maiden when worked together. Battled two abusive administrators who were trying to change IEPs. She is respected for these reasons. Elected as a UFT delegate and a member of the consultation committee in her current chapter. Her experience in advocacy makes her the ideal candidate for this position.

With no other nominations, Luli gets the nomination. She is welcomed to the Executive Board.

Resolution Supporting Striking NYSNA Nurses:

Mary Vaccaro: We support the NYSNA nurses that are striking seeking a better nurse to patient ratio, so they can provide better patient care. We support patients before profits.

Resolution passes unanimously.

Resolution Supporting Full Disclosure of Finalized Tentative Contract Agreements and Memorandum of Agreements.

Nick Bacon endorses the resolution. Full language is here. This resolution is inspired by the experiences of many chapter leaders, delegates, and regular members during the 2018 contract vote and during 2020. In 2018, there was a sense that CLs and delegates didn’t have any time to read the contract (only a few hours) before having to hold a pre-ratification vote. There was also a sense that some of the changes in that contract (later I note the commitment to healthcare ‘savings’) weren’t adequately and neutrally communicated to members. So this resolution would give members a bit more time before each vote to read over the contract. It would also ask UFT leadership to communicate neutrally and completely any changes in writing to the various bodies before their pre-ratification votes. Finally, it would obligate that all MOAs in the future are held to a vote. Many MOAs during COVID, for instance, changed our working conditions (e.g. mandatory per session ‘office hours’ when students tested positive for COVID). But we didn’t have a chance to vote on them at all. This resolution would mean future MOAs would be subjected to a vote.

Karen Alford: Stands in opposition. Charged with taking information back to our schools. It seems like a bureaucracy. We’re entrusted to make a decision. Teach in becomes very important as we make contract decisions. But we don’t negotiate in public. Would hate for all our work to lead to stuff getting leaked and the City saying ‘deals off.’ This isn’t what happens for negotiations for any City.

Alex Jallot: Supports. Giving folks to read over what’s going in our contract and to be informed decision is not just good for morale but good for participation in our union.

Ilona Nanay: Supports. Understand some of the concerns, but what we’re asking is that members have a chance to understand what they’re voting on before they vote. In elections, we have time to think about things before voting. But what often happens here is that we’re given an hour or so, don’t even understand what voting on, and asked to vote. Under COVID, I often got MOAs from my principal before the union even sent anything out. I certainly never had a chance to vote.

Mike Sill: One resolved at that time. Says it’s theatre because all this is done in terms of appendices for collective bargaining. COVID was not a typical time, was unrealistic to do some of this. Summarized.

Geoff Sorkin: Opposition. Don’t negotiate publicly. If you wait too long, beneficial agreements go away.

Carl Cambria: Stand in opposition. Can’t do everything in this reso. It will put our membership at a disadvantage. Can’t wait until every member understands every part of everything before we vote. How could we do it? Good goal, but how would it be possible. Second resolved is something that already done. Contract at a glance form is an example of that. That’s used for many functions including arbitration. Orally, not sure what’s meant there. Certain people will have certain opinions. Parts of this reso would require ratification only in Fall/Winter if something came up in the June resolution. We’d be handcuffed by some of the language.

Amy Arundel:  Ask people to join us in what we’re doing at the school level. When I read these, I wonder if people are in schools. I had lots of meetings. We had lots of structures that bring member voice back to our leadership. Speaking hostilely, says she’s offended (looking at Bacon) at all these political resos that make it seem like people aren’t doing their jobs. The key is the ‘teach in.’ Asks everyone here to join the teach in.

Nick Bacon: Point of personal privilege. This isn’t political. We’re here today because people need more time to read contracts before we vote on them. We’re here because things aren’t communicated neutrally – Michael Mulgrew said there were no givebacks. It turned out we were promising healthcare savings. Teachers didn’t know and didn’t have time to analyze. Not sure what teach-ins have to do with anything since there’s no contract there for people to read/understand.

Name Missed: Question called.  UFC votes in favor. Voted down by Unity.

Blue Senate

It is urgent that we take advantage of this moment of financial improvement in New York State and the change in the political landscape in Albany. We should not wait for the next contract period in to see changes that are crying out for improvement.

Teacher Evaluation – The current teacher evaluation system was dictated by state law – a law that we should repeal and replace. Student test scores should be entirely removed from the teacher rating process.

Pension Reform – It’s an opportune time to press our elected friends that we’ve helped put in office to: CALL FOR IMPROVEMENTS IN THE PENSION TIERS. We’ve done it before. We can’t have this multi-tiered system which makes for tremendous inequity between members and costs such financial disparity.

Single Payer Health Care – The United Federation of Teachers is on record supporting a single payer system, but our leadership and Michael Mulgrew have claimed that this just means “Federal Single Payer” and they are opposing single payer in Albany. New Action supports single payer at the federal level AND at the state level.

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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.
February 2023