Archive for the 'UFT Executive Board' Category

Imminent UFT Contract? Healthcare Alternatives, and More: UFT Executive Board Minutes 5-8-2023

Summary/Analysis: I’m getting home a bit late tonight, so just some quick notes/analysis.

  • Contract: From Carl Cambria’s summary, it appears that the contract is imminent. It sounds like we’ll be seeing a draft as early as the end of the month. It’s clear that UFT leadership wants to ratify before the summer. But, Carl also alludes to potential issues – a pattern with poor raises, committee members who are saying things they want to say to the DOE, but not necessarily getting the needed changes in return. I gotta say, I’m worried we’re potentially rushing into a contract that won’t have everything we need.  Will a summer’s share of 3% raises be worth ratifying a potentially bad contract – especially if we’d end up with retro eventually either way? It’s starting to look like we might find out soon. But, let’s keep on ‘keeping on’ with contract actions so that that draft is as good as it can be.
  • Healthcare: Peter Lamphere gave a phenomenal open mic with a great analysis of healthcare changes. He pushes for the New York Health Act (NYHA). Note that New Action hasn’t taken a firm stand on NYHA, but I do recommend reading Peter’s speech in its entirety.
  • Credit where credit is due: we heard a lot of responses tonight from UFT officers/staffers to questions raised by the UFC’s high school executive board: stuff on denials/discontinuances (and hopefully, soon: on tenure extensions, which I was surprised to learn the UFT knows nothing about), a relatively full grievance report (though I believe some of us still want to hear more on wins vs. losses and the number of grievances turned down). The list goes on. Thank you to Mike Sill and Mark Collins for their responsiveness.
  • Pension: there were some vague updates on pension, and some promising news that the recent stories on losing money to SVB overstated the impact on TRS. We need to keep on with this. Tier 6 needs to be reformed well before we are ready to retire – our contribution rates are so high that they will lead to significantly lower lifetime net earnings if things aren’t fixed quickly. But at least we hear that UFT staff are working on it.
  • There is a new round of endorsements, with some names that were missing last time. There are more progressive names on here, but some names that probably shouldn’t be there, as Alex Jallot noted. I pointed to some potential positives and negatives with the process, and plan to put out a larger piece within the week. I’ve included the text of the reso below.
  • We unanimously signed a reso in support of the strike by the Writers Guild. I wrote a bit on this in the context of our own reluctance to petition for the right to strike here.
  • For everything else, and there’s much more, please see below for the informal minutes.

Open Mic

Peter Lamphere:

Good evening Executive Board members and UFT siblings… 

I recently had a second child and have come to even more appreciate the value of our hard-won health care benefits. Not only have I been paying for health care on COBRA during my childcare leave, so I know the exact monetary value of the plan, but I’ve come to appreciate even more what the health care means for my family – surgery for my wife to enable her to have children and a complex c-section with only limited out of pocket costs. It has helped with important mental health care for my teenager and regular checkups for my baby. 

I don’t need to tell this room that this premium-free health care is in danger due to the rapacious cost increases from greedy pharmaceutical companies and even greedier hospital chains and insurance giants. However, there is a massive but hidden debate in this union about how to solve this crisis and I speak to you tonight to ask you to have this debate in an open, democratic way so that all members can both appreciate the depth of the crisis we face and contribute their voice, and actions, to help change it. 

Our union has embarked on finding a 10% savings on the Emblem Health/GHI plan by switching to a new provider. Although this body has not been able to get basic information about the request for proposals or even been informed of who is bidding (which I hope folks will continue asking about, since those answers will be available later by FOIL anyway), we know these savings can only come in a few ways – by further reducing and restricting the networks of doctors and hospitals that our members have access too, and increasing copays and other out-of-pocket costs. If you think we can get a 10% cost savings without reduction in services, I have a bridge in Brooklyn you might be interested in.

This crisis is coming to a head in a number of months. How do you think members, after being sold a below-inflation contract as the “best that we can do” and told that it preserves our health care, will react to receiving a new health care insurance card and gradually seeing that their hospitals or doctors now charge them more to access services or be out of network entirely? How do you think they will react, after seeing years of increasing copays at ERs and CityMD, to higher out of pocket costs? How do you think, after dealing with a dental plan whose reimbursements rates are so low that I’m embarrassed to ask my dentist if they accept it, they will react further worsening of services?

The reaction will not be good for this union. It will increase the demoralization of our membership and their distrust of the UFT.  It will not be good for people in this room. 

And, it will only be the first step – because after this 10% savings, we will have to find more, and more, and more – the thirst for profit from the insurance conglomerates, the hospital chains, and the pharmaceutical giants will never be quenched.

Fortunately, there is an alternative of this vicious cycle of cost-cutting. Imagine if, instead of fighting to defend our premium free benefits for this tiny corner of the workforce that happens to have NYC as it’s employer, we fought for free health care for every worker in New York State. What if the teachers union, instead of being politically isolated because of our “Cadillac benefits” was known as the champion of workers everyone who had won a pioneering health plan for everyone?

A majority of both houses of the state legislature support the New York Health Act, which would provide insurance for everyone in the state, including dental, vision, and long term care.  Our union has emphatically supported single payer health care for years (although we are not on the list of sponsors of the latest 2021 bill from Representative Jayapal, which we should be).  We know that the only way to stop the cost spiral is for their to be a public health plan that covers everyone. We also know that federal legislation is years away – it’s not coming under a Biden or Harris administration, regardless of what happens in the elections.

But, there is a possibility of winning single payer in New York State. New York has a bigger economy than Australia, Spain, Switzerland and Sweden, all of which have national health care plans. If they can do it, so can we.  Despite the right-wing rhetoric from the Manhattan Institute types (which we have unfortunately echoed on our website), this plan will not break the bank. Studies from the RAND corporation indicate that it can be fully funded without hurting the budget. 

And yet, our union and our MLC partners remain the key obstacle in Albany. If we have issues with the bill, let’s sit down with the sponsors, who are eager to talk, and work them out.  

Out of state retirees do have their health care maintained by the bill, but if that’s a concern let’s insist on stronger language. If you are worried about your welfare fund jobs, those could be retrained as health care advocates explaining to people their new benefits – I would imagine the bill could even include provisions to keep those jobs within the control of the union. If you are worried about how the bill will be funded, that is wide open for discussion with the sponsors of the legislation.

But at the very least, let’s have an open and democratic debate in this union about it. In our classrooms, if there is an important question, we encourage students to debate it out: should you use the associative or distribute property to solve this equation? Was the main cause of WWI nationalism or economics? Get in groups and prepare your case with evidence – that’s how we teach our students.

If your goal is to get members on board with the strategy of saving our health care 10% at a time with piecemeal negotiations, then you should be able to defend that strategy in our union newspaper – let’s have pro and con editorials about GHI RFP and about the New York Health Act.  We should be able to have forums about our health care crisis where we talk about single payer and how to win it. 

Because we aren’t going to defeat the healthcare industry, nationally or locally, without massive mobilization of our membership – and that starts by engaging people with a debate about what strategy to move forward. 

So that is our choice: engage in a debate about whether we can, together, win health care as a human right for all the workers in this state, or be faced with a constant, downward spiral that will only result in more givebacks, continued worsening of care, demoralization of our members.

Minutes all passed. Some reports:

LeRoy: The president is in a meeting with OLR – hoping good things will happen.

Some reports tonight, endorsement.

Karen Alford: 3 reports. (1) k-5 is rolling out a new curriculum for 15 districts, choosing between three options. Press conference to occur. A rollout in early childhood as well. Every elementary school is impacted. Impact from rollout. (2) new teacher week, august 28-30. DOE deciding where to do this. First day will be in-person at a large high school. Then, new teachers will report to home schools. Moment to be acclimated. We’ll offer workshops to new members. (3) first divine 9 annual event – black church, fraternities, thread of community service. Special day – god’s love we deliver, 10,000 meals a day. Great to have UFT members there packaging the food. Teacher who had her daughter there who consistently brings daughter there. Folks are making time to give back to the community.

Mike Sill: At last executive board meeting, question about high school discontinuance. DOE is open to talking about the change. Turns out it’s a state issue. So it would require a state change for the definition of a district. Lawyers are looking at that right now. Don’t want unforeseen consequences, but that’s where we are now – trying to make sure teachers get the process to do it again.

May 8th, so next week is May 15th – if we have people on leave, they need to declare intent for next school year before next Monday. If want to extend leave, they have to take next step and actually APPLY for the leave. We’ve gotten the list pretty small by doing phone calls, but we definitely don’t want people to go past this Monday without declaring intent.

Leo Gordon: In absence of Anthony Harmon, I remind you that the spring conference is May 20th. Going to be a great event. Please sell it – get more people to come. Something this summer for new and emerging CTE teachers – this is new, something different (tactile nature of job – different skill sets). New training for them in conjunction with the CSA. Teachers will evaluate the evaluators. Will dig deep into advance. New, different, and specifically for CTE teachers. So if you know a CTE teacher, let them know.

Mary Atkinson: Prom committee – this Thursday, May 11th will be the prom boutique in the Bronx office. Free clothes and accessories, so if interested in donating or participating, please email

LeRoy Barr: Next contract action on May 24th at each of the boroughs, rallies at each. Borough Hall, Parkchester Train Station, Queens Borough Hall, Harlem State Office Building, Staten Island Board Walk. May 24th, full participation of the members out there, awareness – best contract possible. Share with schools and networks.

Question Period:

Ilona Nanay: Questions about the solutions not suspensions act. Rally on Friday, some youth and parent allies are asking for adult allies.

LeRoy Barr: Not sure who is connected with that group.

Ilona Nanay: We’ve been organizing with them for  awhile.

LeRoy Barr: don’t have

Nick Bacon: Reports of tenure. There are anecdotes of excessive extensions, principals/superintendents extending or denying at higher rates. Tenure is simple due process – we wait far longer than most other jobs to get it. Is it possible that we’re getting a return to Bloomberg numbers under Adams? Do we have data on overall tenure extensions/denials/discontinuances? Can we also aggregate by division/district? And to that end, what are we doing in response to particularly problematic principals/superintendents?

LeRoy Barr: Confident that we don’t have data on tenure. District reps probably have a good idea of which principals are less than cooperative. Sure that our district reps are there to fight against tenure but also other things.

Mike Sill: No problem getting that data. We aren’t entitled to it, but I’ll try to get it.

Ronnie Almonte: Happy with change to Tier 6. Saw an email last week of pension updates. What are they?

Dave Kazansky: Whole list of mods that can be made to Tier 6 to improve it. Looking at which ones are most attainable at this moment. At NYSUT last week, there were resolutions passed around this. Also work is emboldened by the fact that other unions with members in Tier 6 are right alongside us. Reductions, contribution rates, etc. Long process – but goal is that by the time we’re ready to retire it’s implemented.

Ed Calamia: A colleague forwarded me the article about some implications of the SVB bank collapse. According to it, NY pensions stand to lose a little bit of money about it. Not sure if it’s correct, but I’m concerned. So are we concerned or is this just to stoke fear?

Tom Brown: Don’t focus on the dollar amount that you might have read. That dollar amount was spread among 5 pension systems. Among the five, the percentage was a minute part of one percent maybe one twelfth of one percent. So it had a limited effect. Bureau of Asset Management is always looking at where we invest our money. We had approximately 124 billion dollars invested; so negligible loss. Of course it’s a concern, and we’re proactive. Since 1917, when TRS was formed, we’ve never missed paying a benefit to the retirees and beneficiaries. Our goal is to keep that going.

Alex Jallot: Speaking of news, as of recently, there’s been a lot about the rent guidelines board. Folks are looking at 17+% increase in rent. Members are concerned about the amount of money we’re going to get in the contract. So have we thought about….what kind of messaging can I bring back to my members?

LeRoy Barr: Yes, and goes beyond rent – inflation period. If there is a position we want to take on cost of living, with all the bills we all have to pay each day, we can talk about that. Turn it over to Carl on mic.

Carl Cambria: We all know that the pattern is out there. 16.26 percent is what we’re looking at. We’re concerned about this relative to other numbers like rent. Contract isn’t going to be the answer for everything out there, such as rent stabilization.

Reports from Districts:

Howard Sandel: This week is nurse’s week, so a couple comments. Let’s recognize these care givers. UFT hosted us here for a nurses celebration. We had a massive turnout. Sea of red.

Pat Crispino: Represent D79 (transfer schools). Because aspiration high schools was losing lease, so Brownsville Academy chapter rallied and won (now colocation). Then they teamed up to beat colocation, still working on that battle. Westside high school, one of first transfer schools, BOE decided that since population diminished, they’d bring TYWLA over from D5 (east side to west side). CL and his members rallied. At the PEP, the vote was 9-12 and westside is to be moved over. Round of applause for hard work. Meet the president event went well—D79 specific, questions could be asked.

Mindy Rosier: UFT will be participating in the AIDS walk on May 21st at 8:00 AM. Would like to raise $5000 for this cause, so consider joining us and donating.

Name missed: On Thursday, all teachers being observed under advance received another copy of MOSL selections. They should talk to principals/CL if wrong. May 23rd, CLs in affected schools will get 2 CTLE hours and hear about the curriculum. Email link going out Thursday morning.

Seung Lee: Happy Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage month. Small march on May 21st in afternoon in midtown. On May 25th, meeting AAPI staff and students, so please come.

Melody Anastasiou: Saturday, May 15th action research showcase. Small but mighty group, great presentations. 8 to 11, with hour break for lunch, then afternoon session. Randi Weingarten will be there, her favorite program. Expectation of a robust turnout for our group. Union siblings who are in this program are on your teams, in your borough offices, testifying at City Council, at your walks, at your conferences/conventions. If you want to see the next group coming up, then come on Saturday, May 15th.

Rashad Brown: Happy nurse and teacher appreciation week. Holding a few webinars for student debt relief. There are opportunities to get forgiven – don’t wait for Biden, there are other options. Secondly, in looking out for our students, the Daniel Dromm scholarship, deadline extended to May 31st.

Faiza Khalid: ps36, had great well attended events. Had our district 5 teacher appreciation event. Lots of members showed up. Had chance to be appreciated. Prom dress giveaway for district 5. Hiring fair coming up for District 5 May 18th/19th.

Carl Cambria: Not a whole lot has changed since report 2 weeks ago, except we’ve negotiated a lot in the last 2 weeks. 500 member negotiating committee on May 23rd and will try to give as much of a report as possible there, before moving into borough rallies next day. A lot of subcommittees are wrapping up, seeing some agreements going into tentative agreement, other groups getting less. After subcommittees wrapping up, there are different emotions about what they got out of the process. There’s been a lot of positive feedback that people got to say what they wanted to say to City – not necessarily heard back what they wanted to hear, that’s another story. We keep talking about the pattern, we all know it’s out there. The pattern is out there, it’s not in our members pockets. We have to wrap up negotiations and put something before our members so that they can have something to ratify and get that money in their pockets and everything else. A lot of people putting in a lot of time. We’ll continue doing that until May 23rd and will have a fuller meeting then.

Name missed: Letting you know that Friday, May 12th is national provider appreciation day. Celebrating at 7 pm here. Honoring VP Janella Hinds.

Mark Collins: Grievance report, asked to give, about numbers for this year. Some context for these numbers. For many years, the DOE has struggled to issue timely decisions at chancellors level. In 2018, tried to address those problems. In that year, we scheduled 200 arbitration dates, 10 percent were for reorganization (typical since 05), about 45% for class size, remaining 45% for everything else (discipline, contract cases, suspensions in particular). Using that 45 percent, we could get through 110, setting aside organization and class size. In 2018 MOA we had the class size change, prior to which class size had to be done in arbitration. Now it’s done by DRs. That work replaced 45 percent of the arbitration done prior. Second, we created a unique process for salary, leave, and religious observance. Under this procedure, any Leave or religious observation could go to expedited arbitration. Whether compliant or not, we can take those issues to expedited arbitration. Third change, timely decisions, developed process to codify into contract. In this instance, any issue can go to expedited arbitration, but only if late decision or no decision, exception of union animus and one other. Para due process provision also created, huge issue that paras were being suspended without pay if arrested, and we needed to use the grievance process to make the paras whole. 10 dates in 2018, we used a lot of days back then, but now we need to use dates for that anymore. This year, reorganization is typical. Class sizes went from 90 dates to 6. That allowed us to do salary, leave, and religious observation: 175 arb, 250 for another, and 30 for traditional cases. So, in that four years, we did 4x increase in these types of arbitrations. A couple topics this year, fallout from covid – timekeeping issues related to COVID days (misapplied provisions). A lot of per session retention issues. A LOT of substitute teachers issues, people who weren’t paid for a period of time. Many made whole. Many para termination cases – 3 reinstated this year, and many others. Another decision LODI, great decision that don’t need causal factor for the line of injury claim.

Resolution in Support of the Writers Guild (see full text in appendix below).

Dave Kazanzky: Writers guild, issue of being milked dry. You can read about in the resolution. Staging picketing events outside of Netflix, Silvercup Studios. Finding out at places with shooting to make their voices heard. Janella and I participated in picketing last week.

City Council Endorsements Reso (see full text in appendix below):

Lamar Hughes: Have received inquiries and gone through process. Did extensive search with district reps, cls, full time members, and believe that list of names on this list will represent our districts on education.

Alex Jallot: stands against this resolution. I know a lot of work has gone into vetting these candidates. But some people here, like Inez Dickens, a well documented slum lord, who I don’t think we as a union should be supporting. I don’t think it’s a good idea to group all these people together.

Dermot Smiyth: This is the last endorsement round. We’re never going to get a room to agree on every single candidate. Are there issues with some of these people? But Inez Dickens showed up.

Faiza Khalid: Support, Inez was able to answer a lot of the questions.

Nick Bacon: A lot of names I agree with here. But I hear Alex on some of these names being off. I was on a committee for Council District 1 and agree with the recommendation. The people on my committee all took the process seriously. But there were only two rank-and-file teachers, including me. And I do worry that some of the committees might have also been small and maybe not diverse politically.

Lamar Hughes: Lots of committee members in Queens were rank and file teachers. One district doesn’t reflect the others.

Question called – resolution passes with some no votes and some abstentions from UFC.


Endorsement Reso:

WHEREAS, the UFT will endorse 25 NYC Council candidates in May 2023;

WHEREAS, the 2023 local elections in New York City require all 51 sitting City Council members to run for election due to redistricting; and

WHEREAS, City Council candidates seeking to represent City Council Districts 1, 2, 6, 9, 11, 15, 16, 18, 19, 20, 22, 30, 33, 34, 36, 37, 39, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 48, and 49, submitted our UFT City Council candidate questionnaire; and

WHEREAS, Christopher Marte from CD 1, Carlina Rivera from CD 2, Gale Brewer from CD 6, Inez Dickens CD 9, Eric Dinowitz from CD 11, Oswald Feliz from CD 15, Althea Stevens from CD 16, Amanda Farías from CD 18, Tony Avella CD 19, Sandra Ung from CD 20, Tiffany Cabán from CD 22, Robert Holden from CD 30, Lincoln Restler from CD 33, Jennifer Gutiérrez from CD 34, Chi Ossé from CD 36, Sandy Nurse from CD 37, Shahana Hanif from CD 39, Darlene Mealy from CD 41, Chris Banks CD 42, Wai Yee Chan from CD 43, Kalman Yeger from CD 44, Farah Louis from CD 45, Mercedes Narcisse from CD 46, Amber Adler from CD 48, and Kamillah Hanks from CD 49, all demonstrated to their respective borough Political Action committees that they will be the best representatives for their districts, and continue to support their local school communities and our members’ needs; and, therefore be it

RESOLVED, that the UFT endorses Christopher Marte, Carlina Rivera, Gale Brewer, Inez Dickens, Eric Dinowitz, Oswald Feliz, Althea Stevens, Amanda Farías, Tony Avella, Sandra Ung, Tiffany Cabán, Robert Holden, Lincoln Restler, Jennifer Gutiérrez, Chi Ossé, Sandy Nurse, Shahana Hanif, Darlene Mealy, Chris Banks, Wai Yee Chan, Kalman Yeger, Farah Louis, Mercedes Narcisse, Amber Adler, and Kahmillah Hanks, to be the next City Council Members to represent their respective districts.

Resolution in Support of the Writers Guild of America Strike

WHEREAS, the United Federation of Teachers stands in solidarity with fellow labor unions in pursuit of fair and equitable working conditions for their members; and

WHEREAS, the Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE) and Writers Guild of America West (WGAW) represent writers in motion pictures, television, cable, digital media and broadcast news and are determined to maintain the integrity and value of their members’ profession; and

WHEREAS, the WGA Negotiating Committee entered these negotiations with the intention of securing a fair deal for its members, who are facing an existential crisis, but in return has received wholly insufficient responses from the studios; and

WHEREAS, the media companies’ actions have created a gig economy within a union workforce and have demonstrated a commitment to further devaluing the profession of writing, including by refusing to guarantee any level of weekly employment in episodic television, by creating of a “day rate” in comedy variety, and by stonewalling on the questions of unpaid work for screenwriters and on regulating AI for all writers; and

WHEREAS, last year, eight Hollywood CEOs collectively made nearly $800 million, while pay for TV writers has fallen by 23% over the last 10 years, highlighting the growing income inequality and disregard for the value of writers’ work within the industry; and

WHEREAS, the rise of streaming services has adversely affected the pay and working conditions for writers, as half of TV series writers (up from 33% in 2013–14) are currently paid the basic minimum rate, and the companies have used the transition to streaming to cut writer pay and separate writing from production, which worsens working conditions for series writers at all levels; and

WHEREAS, the WGAE and WGAW, acting upon the authority granted to them by their memberships, have voted unanimously to call a strike, effective May 2, 2023, following six weeks of negotiations with major media companies under the umbrella of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers; be it therefore

RESOLVED, that the United Federation of Teachers fully supports the Writers Guild of America, East and Writers Guild of America West in their decision to call a strike and their ongoing efforts to secure a fair and equitable deal for their members; and be it further

RESOLVED, that the UFT encourages its members to support the Writers Guild of America strike by following the WGAE and WGAW on social media platforms, sharing their posts and raising awareness about the strike and its objectives within their personal networks; and be it finally

RESOLVED, that the UFT encourages its members to join the striking writers on the picket lines to demonstrate our solidarity and commitment to the labor movement and the rights of all workers to fair and equitable working conditions.


A Timeline for the UFT Contract: Executive Board Minutes, 4-24-2023

Summary/Analysis: There was some pretty big news tonight on contract. Carl Cambria explained that ideally we’ll have a tentative agreement before Summer. In terms of what’s left, most of what we’re looking at now is workplace-related (negotiations with the DOE). On the City end, the pattern is set, and unless we have givebacks in some other place (e.g. working extra hours), UFT leadership is conceding that we won’t be getting much more than DC37 in terms of wages – if we get more than them at all. As an aside, I’ll just note here that I suspect they’ll set the vote just before summer in part to help obviate the chances of a no vote). So yes, this will not be Los Angeles. Prepare for a paycut, but hopefully our organizing/negotiating efforts get us somewhere on working conditions.

In other news, we heard more about our existential fight on charters, heard from ICs and SPED teachers on the issues they’re dealing. There is also some more info on the DOE new curriculum initiative. For these and many other topics covered tonight, see below in the full minutes.

Informal Minutes Follow.

Open Mic:

Christina Gavin: CL at 754x and librarian, D75 school in D7. PEP unanimously approved charter expansion. Thank you for support, UFT, including J. Hinds, M. Atkinson, A. Klug, and 7 HS exec board members. Highly restrictive environment at our site. A lot of space needed for services. Worried about expansion of middle school into this high school space. Hoping charter will find its own space with your help.

IC from Brooklyn South: Thanks UFT for what have done for now. Noticing that union is saying want to build community. Union hasn’t done anything to bring us together to help hear/see you guys. Unions that are getting voices out there, are having connections with members on a regular basis. Don’t feel like I’m getting that from leadership – don’t want to exhaust CL. Can you help us to build community?

Jessica Roche: Teacher / Cl in E. Harlem. Access to NEST. Been teaching 12:1:1 bridge for many years, etc. School first to host some AST NEST programs. One of the only examples of DOE doing something right. Services students with autism. Feel like applications drop into black holes – not enough staff to process applications, not enough spaces for horizon program. I see parents sue, but we already have the programs, so shouldn’t have to. If we don’t have the ability to support students in these programs, how do we as the UFT make sure students have access to programs and we have access to trainings?

Approval of the Minutes: All passed.

President not here, but other reports.

Janella Hinds: Charter school initiative. Last DA passed a reso in support of what we’re doing (anti-Hochul initiative). Budget was due April 1,  but it’s April 24th. One of the reasons it’s so late is because of this charter school battle, still ongoing in Albany. Calling out legislators in support. Particularly upset about the Zombie charters. Saturday, there was a lively group participating in a rally opposed to Hochul’s proposal, in the Bronx, Roberto Clemente Plaza. Jamal bowman there, parents and community there. One of the speakers was a student expelled from her charter school – a senior with 3 months left. Disgusting situation; this school community forced her and two others out. She spoke about the opportunities taken away from her. We’re working with her so that she can graduate in a district school. These schools often have to pick up the pieces. Christina mentioned a charter expanse in her building – a UFT represented charter school. That school has said they want to be in another site (one that combines both of their schools), and we have been in support of Christina so that the folks in her school have the space. We are waiting for state budget to be finalized – we’ll continue to fight. NYSUT will soon put out some materials.

Michael Sill: January, get a list from DOE of people at risk of being terminated for certification. 3,000 people in January, which is typical. Sometimes they just have to do something quick, the list is now under 600. DOE often cryptic, often just people have to talk to someone. Folks who were on leave until the end of the year are getting emails that they have to let DOE know – we’re calling everyone – there’s a May deadline. Otherwise, deemed resigned.

Mary Vacarro: Quick report on next curriculum project. We met with DOE. Some agreements. Agreement that all chapter leaders in districts will be invited to a meeting before it’s rolled out to anyone else. They’ll be released from school for the day. Also, we have agreement teacher centers which will be district based. Will be working with superintendents in those districts. Bad news – there’s one, May 8, training that will only be done by third party district. Each district will have a field staff person from teacher center. They’ll be coming back here and reporting to the district rep. We will embed a teacher center in any school that is still looking. We’ll interview coaches to make them teacher center, get them ready. Lastly, we will be going to AFT Teach this summer. Their focus will be reading. We’ll embed some of the trainings in those days. Coaches will be invited to that training. One training just for NYC. Also, every CL will get a list of what should be supplied to classrooms, K-5. That should be out within the next 3 weeks.

Leo Gordon: Chip bill. State is working on a semi-conductor curriculum, state-wide. Started with conversation with teachers – what that curriculum should look like. Invited by largest semi-conductor company in country, they loved our curriculum ideas. New York will be at the forefront of this work. Gonna be a training this summer, 3-5 schools this state. We’ll pilot most likely next year, then bring on more schools to the pilot.

Carl Cambria: Negotiation update. Those of you at DA heard Mulgrew talk about the governance meeting that happened that morning. Positive meeting in that City came ready to respond to each of our general demands. Not everything was a yes, some yes, maybe, no, there was a willingness to come out at a quicker pace to head into Spring. Internally, we started in June. In October, we had our big 500 meeting. Subcommittees have been meeting. Had teach in in Jan. In Feb, we passed demands across the table to the DOE (full gen). That’s also when we wore green with DC37. In March, we continued – did we? – yes, grade in. Today, leafletting has begun. There’s been an escalation of intensity. Gone from teaching our own members to going out to the public and showing all the extra work we have to do. Today, began interacting with the community. We do not have time in the workday to get everything done that we have to get done. So now, we’ve created an intense negotiation schedule for May. Exact dates to come. May action as well, increasing intensity. Over course of month, going to try and whittle down as much as possible, so that we’re in a position to get this contract set for ratification ASAP. City is more ready to do that than DOE. They have their pattern and uniform pattern set. That part of the negotiation is now less intense. We’re having some debates on exact amount of value and how that applies to the UFT. The more difficult partner in all of this is the DOE—whatever they’re calling themselves now—getting them to focus/engage with us on topics on the table. That’s what we’re focused on in May. These leafletting campaigns will help get DOE to start to work with us on workplace stuff. Leafletting is at a crucial time, heals of that governance meeting, May intense – we’ll finish that to know if we’ll have an agreement for the summer or not.

Tammy: Lost long time, provider chapter, secretary, executive board member, Dr. Cynthia Reid. Had her funeral service last Friday. Was with us from inception of our chapter. Previously, called us and helped 125 get payment. She is why their pay did not stop. Moment of silence.

LeRoy Barr: Spring conference coming up on May 20th.


Luli: We get reports from districts. We should also get a regular grievance report. We should know how many step 1 were filed, how many were rejected/passed for step 2, how many went to arbitration, how many resolved in our favor. In past, was told that we had reports made here, so we had that info. Can we get that kind of report?

LeRoy Barr: Used to report on different wins.

Mark  Collins: We can give you a report on some numbers and some other things we’ve been

Nick Bacon: Tenure season – which unfortunately also means that it’s discontinuance/denial season. This is a very anxious time for teachers who don’t yet have tenure. It’s especially anxiety provoking for high school teachers, who effectively lose their careers as high school teachers in the DOE if they get discontinued/denied. So, we had a resolution together about the disproportionate impact of discontinuances on high school teachers.. It was nicely motivated by Alex here, then by me and Mike sill at the DA. It passed. So I’m following up on that. After our efforts to date, has the DOE changed their minds?

Mike Sill: Have not changed their minds, but we’ve raised it. Can check in and raise it at the next exec board and see if they’ve changed it. Nick, we can check in on next steps.

Ilona Nanay: When Carl came up about the pattern, it sounded like the pattern is now locked in. Is there any chance, and I know folks have combed through for other value, is there any chance we could break that pattern? Members are always asking about wage increases and salary. Is that a given?

Carl Cambria: So the likelihood of us breaking the pattern is very slim. Never happened in the city’s history. Gone to arbitration and in other places, it’s not broken. We’re not gonna break the pattern. In terms of how high our wage increases will go, you can’t expect them to go much higher than DC37. There is PBA, but it’s a different pattern for uniform. Still stuff to look at there. Is possible if we were to give in to some demands, the value might increase. That would not break the pattern, but might make our final numbers higher, but only from some sort of negotiation on the whole.

Reports from Districts

Alex Jallot: Report on action to save West Side High School, located on UWS, service students who need to fulfill credit requirements, give services like childcare, counseling. Currently, DOE wants to send them to the east side, which would divorce ability to service. Have been rallies. Press. Understanding is that students will be negatively impact, especially in terms of counseling/childcare. What can be done now? Well, call 311 and let Mayor that we want WSHS to stay in same location. If can’t do that, May 1 -May Day-if not on the streets, call in to PEP at 5:30 to speak in support.

Michael Friedman: Denny Wilson, great unionist, member of staff, by coincidence he taught at West Side High School and I agree with your sentiments. He was born at St. Vincent, member of parliament there. Commanding figure. Got unfortunate news that he died on April 7. Attended memorial service. Never met anyone with a bad word to say. Moment of silence.

Seung Lee: Game night for members. D3/D2 already started leafletting. D2 in news. Excellent organizing events, learned more about the contract, one big thing we can do is take back our time. Hope chapters take this as a chance to come together as a staff – on taking back our time.

Joe Usatch: Thanks Michael Friedman. Happy to announce that high school students have been selected for A. Shanker scholarship. We have 195 undergrad students, 10 more than ever given out. Most graduate students, 12 total, usually 8. Saved a few bucks over the pandemic. June 6 event. Thanks many.

LeRoy Barr: We didn’t take wages at one point to make sure that we’re funding that scholarship, so you’re contributing to that whether you know it or not. Thank you for making that possible.

Name Missed (elementary): Happy Eid. Thanks Seung for sharing on game night. D5, we had a principal’s panel. UFT there, 3 principals, teachers, prospective teachers. Lastly, hiring fair in May for D5, May 18th (virtual) and 19th (in person).

Janella Hinds: Invite everyone to high school awards, May 5.


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.

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June 2023