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NEW ACTION SAYS “ISN’T IT TIME FOR THE UFT TO FULLY DIVEST OUR PENSION MONIES FROM GUN MANUFACTURORS OF ASSAULT WEAPONS”

As the “Day to March for Our Lives” rapidly approaches and our UFT has called on members to join in the national march against gun violence in NYC, New Action can’t help but notice a glaring contradiction regarding our union’s policy. In 2013 five members of the UFT Executive Board co-authored a resolution condemning gun violence and calling for strict restrictions.


Those five included Michael Shulman, Jonathan Halabi, Douglas Haynes (then UFT Exec. Bd. members and leaders of New Action Caucus), Leroy Barr and Dolores Luzapone (members of Unity Caucus). This bipartisan effort was an exemplary example of how working together our union could accomplish important work on behalf of the UFT membership.


Five years later, In 2018, the Teachers Retirement System divested pension fund monies from companies that manufacture weapons of mass destruction.


But what is the total picture regarding this divestment? As Daniel Alicea of EONYC has discovered, TRS as late as 2018 decided that we would stay invested in companies that derived under 5% of their revenues in civilian gun sales. We are still presently invested in index funds like I-Shares, which continue to profit from major gun companies like Smith and Wesson. Finally, millions of dollars in our pension portfolio are invested in large fund companies like Black Rock and Invesco, both of which are major shareholders in firearms manufacturers.

After Columbine, Sandy Hook, Parkland, and now Uvalde, Texas, to name a few, isn’t it imperative to go back and correct this glaring oversight/error and completely pull out all pension fund monies from these companies?


New Action calls on all members to turn out on Saturday, June 11 to demonstrate our outrage over these obscene, all to frequent, episodes of gun violence that plague our nation.

Do delegates on phones deserve rights? – Notes on the June, 2022 UFT Delegate Assembly

At the June 8th DA (2022), Unity made clear their intent to disenfranchise non-Unity voters in perpetuity. Let’s look at the tactics, skipping over the long President’s report and his not calling on UFC for a moment.

  1. Wasting time during the New Resolutions Period. We only get 10 minutes to raise new motions and haven’t been called on since November, so why all-of-a-sudden is so much time being wasted on reordering the agenda during this period? Why is it that the people being called on to do the reordering are often members of Adcom and the Executive Board – the very people who supposedly set the agenda in the first place BEFORE the DA? As an aside, mark my words – if UFC ever gets another resolution on the agenda (not holding my breath), Unity will use the ‘reordering’ technique to make sure that resolution never sees the light of day.
  2. Pretending UFC Doesn’t Exist. Near the end of the new motions period, Mulgrew asked ‘any more business anyone wants to raise?’ with the implication that no one was raising their hand. I was raising my hand to introduce a critical resolution compelling the UFT to fight to suspend APPR this year. But he pretended I wasn’t there, and waited for another delegate to raise their hand to introduce a motion that was less critical. It was clear that when he said ‘anyone’ he meant that delegate, not anyone else. Mulgrew was a like a Drama Teacher telling a student performer their line.
  3. Only calling on Unity higher-ups during debate periods. Matt Driscoll of MORE raised an important amendment to the Hybrid DA Resolution. This amendment would have given full rights to introduce resolutions or amendments over the phone. Only I was called on to speak in favor of that reso, despite many people having their hands up or putting themselves in line to talk on the phone. Instead, a slew of Adcom members and Executive Board members. many of whom work for the UFT full time, were called on to make sure the debate seemed to be in their favor.
  4. Prematurely calling the question: After that slew of adcom members was called on, but only 1 UFC member, for the second time in a row, a Unity member has called the question to a contentious amendment before UFC people really had time to speak on it. (Last month it was for our decorum resolution amendment). This ensures that people who are voting don’t hear the UFC arguments.
  5. Blatantly disenfranchising phone voters (who tend to vote with UFC). I was the only UFC member called on to speak in favor of the amendment to give full rights to people on the phone. I argued that (1) The majority of delegates participate over the phone now and many can’t be here because of childcare or other responsibilities – they should have a right to offer resolutions or amendments; (2) People over the phone have called to offer amendments in the past and have been told no, which has affected the end form of passed resolutions. (3) The vote counts are often very different over the phone than in person, meaning we are disenfranchising people who tend to vote one way, but not the other. (Mulgrew scolded me for bringing politics into it on that one). In addition to me, 5 or 6 Unity people spoke against us, and convinced just enough people–literally 4 votes–that it would be a bad idea to give rights to people over the phone. Their main argument, I think given primarily by Mike Sill, was that we can’t trust that people over the phone are actually UFT members, a bizarre argument given that we’ve been voting primarily over the phone for the last several years, and during the height of COVID introduced resolutions/amendments that way as well. We were prepared to speak on this, but were never called on to do so (I would have spoken on it myself, but that argument hadn’t yet been made by Unity at the time that I spoke). Nevertheless, 2/3 of the phone vote was in favor of the amendment. That means that we lost the vote because of voters in the room. Voters in the room are overwhelmingly Unity, and many if not most are paid staffers with voting privileges. In other words, it was primarily the people we pay to represent us, who voted to disenfranchise the majority of us from participating in the union’s democratic process.
  6. Signaling that phone votes don’t matter. When Mulgrew looked on in horror to see that the phone amendment would have passed if not for 4 votes against, he indicated that if it had passed ‘he would have had to verify that people over the phone are really UFT members.’ Something tells me that they’d use not being able to get ahold of someone, who say, screens their calls, or turns off their phone during dinner, to overturn votes in the future. That should worry us.

As usual, I left the Delegate Assembly feeling disenfranchised. But, UFC is holding strong. The opposition is here to stay.

6/6/2022 UFT Executive Board Minutes – Class Sizes, Gun Control, and Literacy

LeRoy Barr: Greets members. Starting off with approval of minutes. All approved.

Events coming up:

Wednesday, 6/8/2022 is the last DA. The following Executive Board meeting is the last Executive Board, which is an executive session.

Tomorrow, 6/7/2022 is the Albert Shanker Award Ceremony. If you can attend in person, that’s fantastic. Online is good as well.

We have a Secretaries luncheon on 6/11 Saturday. We have a First Book event the same day. Then, a rally in conjunction with a group doing this throughout the entire country.

Then on Sunday, 6/12 we have the Puerto Rican Day Parade, and we want everyone to come out and celebrate. We want a full UFT contingent there.

Janella Hinds: Secretaries luncheon on Saturday, 6/11. Please join us. We will be partying and celebrating. 12:00 PM the program begins. We’ll be honoring our school secretaries. Then we can walk to the March for Our Lives event (you can come to both Saturday events).

Michael Mulgrew: Busy weekend coming up. The world is opening back up and wants to open back up which is good. The COVID numbers are coming down.

School budgets were given to Principal today. CLs should have those conversations with principals. Schools that lost a lot of enrollment, should only be charged for half the students they lost. We’ll see where that goes – if that’s actually true.

Albany recap – had a successful week. Two big things: class size and mayoral control. A lot of our resolution recommendations are part of the final Mayoral Control piece.

A mandatory overtime piece that our UFT nurses are now a part of – congrats.

Class size: we had no idea if we’d be able to get this done at the state level. We’ve always done two pronged: state and City (city by health code, state level much cleaner). Bill that was introduced took a while. As always, the DOE kept producing ridiculous numbers – we were in a wrestling match the entire week. Jon Liu was a really good friend here. He stood tall and we stayed close with him as well as with the Assembly and DiBenedetto. City acted like this would bankrupt the system, but we brought the numbers. Cassie and myself did the real strategic pieces in Albany last week. We were shocked we got it introduced and went to the committee, then it got ugly to say the least – a non-stop 72 hours of fighting. It’s a significant bill. We have to wait for the governor to sign it, but 79-4 and 150-0, I’ve never seen her not sign something with those numbers. We now have a law that says our schools MUST reduce class sizes. Thanks everyone who did a really tough job.

As city moves forward, we’ll try to help them, e.g. with the Dyslexia screening. We can do this, we don’t need a RFP for $30 million.

Class sizes again – We wouldn’t be in this place if we didn’t have that phenomenal campaign last Spring on class sizes.

Let’s see where the City budget goes.

Mike Schirtzer: With the school shootings, my members and I have been talking about the lockdown drills. We’re on a CUNY campus, different from elementary, but they do something called ‘run, fight, or hide’ – locking the doors and putting the papers on top, not bullet proof doors, with 75 different locks…and hiding under desks. Are we revisiting with the DOE about locking the door, the paper, and hiding under our desks being our policy?

Michael Mulgrew: Large meeting tomorrow with NYPD on how we can better prepare. We have different types of training now.

Jeff P. We don’t do active shooter drills, we only do soft lockdown drills. With regard to Mike’s school being on the CUNY campus, we’re glad you have their drills. We don’t train for that in NYC schools. I’d like to talk to CUNY. I can’t speak in depth on this. I can circle back. We don’t practice active shooter drills – many think they cause distress on our students. We have a meeting tomorrow – TBC.

Vinny: Back to legislative. NYSUT sent us a request to help lobby to allegedly protect retiree pensions. A friend indicated that it went back to something with the CSEA.

Cassie: That was a piece that NYSUT’s council’s office thought they needed RE an impact on CSEA and whether retiree benefits had to be officially mentioned in the contract. Beth and I looked at it to make sure there wasn’t impact.

Beth Norton: These changes were going to reverse our case – not good for our members. City has different codes – not directly applicable to us.

Michael Friedman: Superintendency of District 79 – members are agitated. They saw the so-called Town Hall meeting and weren’t impressed with the other candidates. No one seems to have been asked in UFT. No one understands why. You were vice president when they broke up all the programs in 79. We’re afraid there’s something more behind this – not just changing superintendents. We don’t want to see a mayor just come in and tear the whole house down. We aren’t seeing collaboration. What can the union do to keep our Superintendent.

Michael Mulgrew: We are the union and get to voice our opinions. In this case, we don’t have the case of being able to do more than voicing our opinions. At least he’s in the process now, not sure what the problem is. I do want the house torn down, but Superintendents are the least of the issue. It’s mostly the stuff going on in the bureaucracy that’s the problem. I’m afraid the bureaucracy will mess it up and say it was bad legislation when its really their implementation issues. I will continue my advocacy for him and know you are doing the same thing.

Melody: The staff exists now for Dyslexia – 400 literacy coaches. Cut off by Mulgrew. The posting is out, we need to understand what is happening. Postings say coaches will be given 2-5 schools at elementary school. Secondary 5-6 schools. Universal literacy shows that doesn’t work. We aren’t being listened do. Our numbers are being cut in half – are we aware. This is not what equity looks like.

Mulgrew: This is one of our most important positions, all I can say at this moment.

George Geiss: Can we get buzzers in the building? Could be better for security in the context of shootings.

Mulgrew: Part of tomorrow’s conversation.

Undrea Polite: Chapter 683 programs – now acceptance is being sent out with caveat of having 3 days to respond. I received mine on Saturday, some of my schools did not get a response back, then found on system that they did have offers but hadn’t gotten that email. Making you aware of this problem. To me it’s redundant to make us confirm we want a job we applied to.

Mulgrew: Sill will followup. BTW it’s three workdays, not Saturday, not Sunday. They’re having enough problems with Summer Rising.

Michael Sill: We have been coordinating with the AFT on a number of actions, some of which will be taking in the next couple of weeks, related to the American problem of gun violence. Amazing that we have to spend time talking about this over and over because our elected leaders won’t act. The March for Our Lives location this Saturday has changed, now Cadman Plaza at 11:30 AM, then over Brooklyn Bridge, end at Zuccotti Park. Impressive group of young people leading the way – they’re lives are on the line. They’re leading the way – we’ll support.

Camille Eddy: Thank you to Leo Gordon for meeting with me and my Superintendent in District 16, acknowledged the CTE desert and arranged a meeting. He showed folks in elementary and middle school that there are other options than a traditional high school. We hope to further this and visit other CTE sites.

Karen Alford: Thank you to all of you for your generosity. We’ve collected 20k for the Ukraine. We’ll be sending that to AFT who will forward it to Education International. All of that funding will get to our unionist advocates who are ensuring that students still get an education in this time.

Rashad Brown: Danny Dromm scholarship deadline has passed. Please reach out if you’d like to help select.

On Saturday, June 25th, we’re hosting an LGBTQ conference called ‘Unapologetically Us.’

Melody: I’m emotional when I’m cut off and unable to fully expressed. Wanted to remind the body that last year when the pandemic was creating a shortage, universal literacy coaches were plucked out and put into schools. We aren’t an a la carte menu item. Literacy should be a civil right. It needs to be clear that what is happening will hurt our Black and Brown children. Though not much will come from me coming here, and we don’t have much contractual recourse, this sucks. This is the opposite of equity.

Michael Schirtzer: The DOE is doing away with Pupilpath or Skedula and offering their own in-house software. We have trepidation on that (e.g. SESIS). You might want to come out at the event this Thursday to see what they’re rolling out. I’m going. We want as much UFT input as possible.

Beth Norton: This isn’t the DOE’s brainchild. This comes from the data breach.

Michael Schirtzer: Hopping on Thursday and hope you do too, Beth.

Mary Vaccaro: The PD Day on Thursday, June 9th (also Brooklyn Queens day) and June 28th. We’re working with the DOE on this. People should be remote if it can be done remotely. Let your CL and DR rep. We’ll compile that.

Motion to adjourn.


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