Do As I Say – Not as I do: UFT Executive Board Meeting Minutes, 10-2-2023

Today’s executive board meeting had many themes. In the end, though, I realized that perhaps the best theme of the night was ‘do as I say, not as I do.’ We heard about resolutions to fix what’s wrong with the City opening school during life threatening storms, without specifying how the union itself can make that happen (hint, it isn’t by writing resolutions that the City probably won’t ever read). We heard about vague reforms that may be made, e.g. on pension, but not how we’re actually going about making them (if, indeed, we really are making them). We heard about how strikes led to new deals out in Hollywood, without realizing that when the word ‘strike’ came up to describe our own potential actions during emergency weather events today, there were audible groans from UFT leaders and staffers. We also heard about a resolution to get rid of time limits for participants at PEP meetings, without seeing the irony that the Unity-led UFT put time restrictions on our own meetings for the obvious purpose of silencing high school executive board members (who aren’t members of the same caucus). Do as I say, but not as I do, is unfortunately the Unity way.


  • The big topic on everyone’s mind was the storm on Friday, which put educators and students in perilous conditions on the way to/from school (and for some of us, even while we were in school). Martina Meijer spoke about this in an open mic speech, which she tied interestingly to the New York Health Act (which NAC supports in its current form). Mulgrew also addressed the storm, focusing on the availability of a remote option, and on the need to make improvements specifically in those areas that we know will be affected – areas that are particularly prone to flooding. Later, Adam Shapiro motivated a resolution that followed a similar line of reasoning as Mulgrew’s. Ed Calamia and I supported the resolution tentatively, while criticizing its lack of bite. In short, that resolution acknowledges what happened, but engages in magical thinking that the union can wish or logic the City into doing the right thing next time, even despite Adams/Banks doubling down that they did the right thing by keeping schools open. To that end, the resolution did nothing about discussing what our union ourselves could do – i.e. organizing ourselves into a force that could compel Adams to close the schools during a dangerous storm that puts our lives at risk, via, e.g. a legitimate strike threat. I wrote an article to this effect earlier this morning.
  • We heard a lot about Tier 6 reforms, but mostly in the abstract. In fact, I was worried by the end that perhaps little to nothing was in the works at all, though I hope I’m wrong. I recommend coming to the Tier 6 working group with New Action this Thursday at 5:30 PM to think about what members can do about specifics, ourselves. In the past, opposition movement within the union has been critical to positive pension reforms – such as 25/55 in Tier 4. Reach out if you’d like the link.
  • LeRoy Barr doubled down on his claim that ‘the UFT’ does not support the NYHA, despite two resolutions from the DA supporting it and amendments that address officer concerns (and which convinced NAC to support it in its current form).
  • A resolution to get rid of time restrictions for PEP members was read, with no sense of irony by Unity members today. The reason, of course, that it’s ironic – is that they wrote a resolution to put time restrictions on the question period in our own meetings, ostensibly to silence non-Unity high school executive board members just last year.

Much more information is below in my informal minutes, however, then what I chose to subject to analysis. Please read on.

Open Mic:

Grace from P.S. 46 in Staten Island with Shawn: The fight for our fair contract wasn’t just about money, it was about respect. The contract teach ins gave my chapter the opportunity to work together like never before. We had a difficult time last year with a new oppositional principal. Met whenever and wherever we could. Energized by help from UFT members and central who came by to support us and guide our team. But one thing we recognized at that point is that our current administrator didn’t share the same goals as us, so we banded together with our PTA to have that administrator replaced. We’re a stronger chapter now. Now people see what the union did for us.

Martina Meijer delegate from D22: 3 questions or concerns. On Friday, Sep. 29 we had yet another climate related catastrophe that Mayor/City seems unprepared. Haven’t seen much from the UFT on this – would have loved to see recognition of that. Banks went on record saying no instructional time was lost – based on attendance can’t be right. Sewage came out of sinks, with cockroaches. That impacted instruction – not acknowledged by chancellor. This is undermining of teachers admin and staff of what we went through. Students had wet feet the whole day – many may get sick. I have health insurance, but students and families might not. In addition, we failed to meet basic needs. We need to keep dry and warm – didn’t do that. What demands are being communicated to DOE? Remote day? We’re having wild fire smoke again this week. Is PPE there anymore?

Concern about healthcare brings me to NYHA. Twice at DA we’ve passed resolutions to support the NYHA – 2015 and 2018. Not sure why they’d have to do that twice, yet the UFT still is still not supporting the NYHA. New amendments/language meets the concerns mentioned by UFT (cost and amount of care). It would be a big win for the entire state. Students such as asylum seekers deserve health coverage. We need to inform ourselves before criticizing. Criticisms of labor have been listened to in revising bill. Imagine what could we possible if we took healthcare off the table – think of the retirees fighting right now, think if they didn’t have to. If all the concerns have been addressed, is there perhaps a more insidious reason we aren’t supporting NYHA? I hope not and want to see more transparency.

President’s Report: Friday was a disaster. My conversations with this administration—it’s getting to the point—we have the ability to go remote whenever we need to. That’s not stopping educational process -it’s going remote. We need to get out of the argument that ‘children need a place to go…’ Whenever we have more than 2.5 inches of rain we know we have issues of flooding. We had more than that Friday. So let’s think about common sense approaches – start putting things in place. You have special education students on bus routes that are two bus routes each way because of the distribution of services. Kids go between SI and Bronx, for instance. We’ve been advocating to change that for years now – how to get kids like them home. Not commenting on administration – think you’ve heard enough. I don’t think it was appropriate for them to go on the news and say everything is fine no problem. We are also having conversations with the state. Ability to go remote is a huge tool that we have. Can’t keep making decisions based on 20 years ago.

One bit of good news – not going into a shutdown. Leading into election. Getting uglier. Asylum issue – no one wants to deal with the reality of it. At least we have the 45 days until the middle of November and am sure we’ll have another fight then. Everything is tied to the election cycle. Attorney general here in NY is doing a great job, but using up all time right now on that case. But we want government to go on about doing the work. Biden has allocated money to education.

Ratings are out today.

On state issue, we are preparing for the legislative session. We absolutely have to fix Tier 6. It will be a long ugly fight. We started chipping away and have to continue hitting harder on it. Can’t keep the work force. We need to get that age down, significantly. Doing work with the state union, other public service unions too, but we need to lead on it. Have to work harder on it – some changes made, earlier than thought, but still need to go harder on that.

Virtual option in the contract – game plan now is to finish the work of the criteria by the end of this month. October. November, apply. December, trained. Up and running by Feb. To be in a virtual class, need to be trained. Will be done virtually. Goal is majority of high schools and D79 schools. Main thing it’s for is acceleration and graduating on time. Looking for flexibility in the school system. So if you have schools that are interested, there will be a survey for CLs, many great opportunities. Teachers in the schools are who will have the ideas.

New rights for substitutes. We do thousands of grievances for substitute teachers and we win them. It’s ridiculous. But we can only do the grievances that come to us. E.g. Q/Z status. Working on the guidance. Will get out shortly. When you talk to the DOE they talk like they don’t know what vacancies there are. Should get Q status because you are supposed to get it – not because you filed a grievance to get it.

Class size legislation – Friday was day NYC had to submit first document to SED. This is the law – not whether you want to do it or not. City is going to do everything it can to get around this law. More money than ever had, foundation aid locked in also. Started at 1.1 billion, then 1.3. Only one entity that removed education money from NYC and it’s NYC itself. They’re taking the money from the federal and state money and supplanting it out. Mayoral control sunsets this legislative session – going to be a big fight. One part of that is how can state send us money knowing the Mayor is going to just take it out on City end? No, we don’t believe in capping in a school. All that means is build an annex to the school. That’s a political strategy to scare people. Class size law will be focus other than tier 6 at state level. This is for all children, all, first lower income students than the rest. Yes, there will be waivers, but we’ll figure these things out as we go along.

For some reason, some people at DOE don’t want to do virtual until next school year, but chancellor on the same page.

Minutes all approved.

Secretary Report:

Teacher union day coming. Honoring George Altomare. Also honoring people who do the union work every day. Coogan award going to Debra Penny. Other awards going to Victoria Lee, Raul Garcia, Rashad Brown, Trisha Arnold, Emily James, Seth Gillman, Seung Lee, Vincent Pedula, Clifford Hagen, and a few others.

Questions Period

Ilona Nanay: Thanks Martina for speaking. Would still love a response. What is the UFT’s stances on the NYHA?

LeRoy Brown: Don’t mind if you have several questions, but you should ask a question, then release, then come back. But our position has not changed. Not gonna have a debate on it.

Ilona Nanay: RFP for active member healthcare. What is the timeline and when will members be informed.

Joe Usatch: No knowledge.

Cynthia Bennett: Masks. School nurses still required to wear in the medical room. Custodians telling us they no longer have PPE budget, so where do we get the masks?

LeRoy Barr: I’ll be in touch.

Ronnie Almonte: Admin has implemented a few things I have questions about. First is in regard to new contract. Not in my school. Hear from other schools that one hour PD it’s going over. Adding time between time between end of school and when PD starts, e.g.

Leroy Barr: I call B.S. Operational complaint.

Ronnie Almonte: Coverage pay. For educators who are under programmed, 23/25, can admin assign them a coverage, e.g. 1 weekly without having to pay them.

Sally: his school is prose, we’re working it out. Go to DR if other schools. I’ve already answered your email.

Amy Arundell: If a teacher is underprogrammed (MS or HS issue), they are supposed to be assigned a T period that is fixed. Doesn’t mean that across the board they do coverages – they should still be rotated. T period has to be fixed.

Nick Bacon: Question about Tier 6 reform rollout. There’s a lot wrong with it, so what are we prioritizing? Retirement age, yes, but also some stuff that is time sensitive, such as people who are already ten years into Tier 6 paying tons more money into the pension than anyone in Tier 4 ever had to. The percentage is too high. What timelines are involved? What can regular members do to get involved?

LeRoy Barr: Having a lot of conversations around that. Education campaign is being rolled out. There are things that are being fixed, but a lot of people don’t even know the differences. Right now we want teachers to do know what the differences are. Underpromise, overdeliver. There was a time when what is wrong with Tier 6 and Tier 4. It takes time. It would take the work a disservice to put a time stamp. Never going to be Tier 4 , maybe better, but campaign to chip away just as did with Tier 4.

Nick Bacon: Have we gotten the information about percentages of discontinuances and extensions that we didn’t have last year? Sill had mentioned he’d look into it last year – not sure he’s here.

LeRoy Barr: No information on data but will bring it to you.


Sally Ann – Everyone should get their update tonight from DOE. May be a website glitch if you don’t do drop down to correct year, so make sure to do that. Two separate forms on MOSL/APPR for appeals.

Rashad Brown: First day of LGBTQ history month. Just let your students know that you’re here and that they matter. Wear purple on Oct 17 for LGBTQ youth day.

Servia Silva: Oct 11 is pink day. Oct 15 is the walk. Oct 22 as well. Thanks UFT dream team – we had a great time. Names some people who went.

Name Missed: CEC in District 15, welcome to sweet 16 for asylum seeking students and their families. Had over 175 students and their families show up. Most popular exhibit was the table that could help with studies. Distribution of clothing and food. A lot of information for them – but they said they really needed help on curriculum.

Leo Gordon: 148 days for writers guild to get their contract. Tentative contract, but work of that union in getting workers to understand the plight of their union. Came to thank members of the UFT who helped. SAG back to table as well.

Faiza Khalid: Had a phenomenal first books event in D 5. Gave away thousands of books – still have more books to give away. Thanks those who helped, including Vacarro and Weingarten. Thanks over 100 volunteers.

Legislative Report:

Vaneesa Wilson: Our assembly member, Latrice Walker, her mom passed yesterday. Today, they’re having friends and family; however, she’s in SC so they’ll be doing services there. If do locally we’ll let you know. We’ve sent our condolences.

Vanguard Democratic Association will honor Anthony Harmon for organizing on political economic social justice and community empowerment this coming Wednesday.

Absentee ballot deadline is Oct 31. In person Nov 6. Election Day Nov. 7. Also early voting.

You will hear about canvassing, etc for some priority races. All boots on deck.

Special Order of Business:

Executive Board Vacancies: 3 at large, 1 middle schools. This takes 3 executive boards. Next, exec board, taking nominations. Third meeting following that one, in November, we’ll vote if we need to.

Resolution on Improving Climate Readiness:

Adam Shapiro was not great. District 21, about half received instruction. Remote instruction, they could have made it. Districts have a long history of flooding, some massive. Students shouldn’t have to make decisions about safety because of problems with leadership. Some schools were completely decimated in Sandy. We need to do better for everyone.

Amy Arundell also adds that we need leadership thinking about climate change more broadly. Already dealing with structures ailing – we need city to have a strategic plan for dealing with climate things. Thank you UFT for providing leadership for city

Nick Bacon: I’m glad to see the UFT saying something about what happened. I’m glad to see, in theory, us recognizing what happened and coming to the table to fix it. I wish I had time to process this and add an amendment though, because I see some serious flaws with the resolution. This resolution talks about actions the DOE/City will take, but we can’t speak for them. We can’t make a resolution in their name. We can only speak as the UFT. We already know how the City feels – Adams said point blank that they feel they did the right thing. If we’re going to fix things, all we can do is put pressure on Adams to do the right thing. What’s that look like? It looks like organizing – being strike ready – not to strike as kids are coming to school in inclement weather, mind you, but to be strike ready so that the Mayor knows that we have the power to shut down the schools ourselves if he’s ready to send us all into harm’s way. I’ll support this resolution as is, but I think that while we’re here as an executive board we need to think about what we as a union could do differently. Because a resolution pretending we have the power to act for the city without pressuring them at all? What’s that going to do? It’s just going to go in one ear and out the other – if they even hear it at all.

Ed Calamia: Gonna say into the record ‘reckless indifference and criminal negligence’ to our lives and to our students lives.’ Can remember Carmen Fariña saying it’s a beautiful day when we’re risking our lives and she’s sitting comfortable. When our chancellor is sitting in a raincoat in his library; it is reckless indifference and criminal negligence. This resolution is cool; good first step.

Rashad Brown: We as a union are calling the DOE to the table to reassess our students safety and our members safety.

Name missed: Call the question.

Parent, Community, and Staff Engagement at Panel for Educational Policy Meeting.

Mary Atkinson: Pep allowed for virtual comment; then after meeting concluded its business. Those would often go to 1 in the morning because of this, but it led to public getting to make lots of comments. Then at a meeting, people were notified they couldn’t make public comment. We would like to have policies that members could speak and participate virtually. Limits to 2 ½ minutes to speak. Very important aspect of that job. We are asking you support this resolution.

Ilona Nanay: Rise in support, thank you to support. 5:30 to 6:00 would help engage all members of the community. Time limits to speak is unbelievable. Hopefully at next meeting we can.



  • Avatar
    Joey R.

    I would want to know where Mulgrew personally was on Friday. Was he at 52 Broadway or at home? Were UFT Borough offices open all day? If teachers had to go in, full time UFT workers should have to go in. Otherwise it is total hypocrisy.

    • BaconUFT

      I agree. I very much doubt 52 Broadway had full attendance that day.

  • Avatar
    S Hansen

    Any idea if the UFT will be sending in mold inspectors soon to those schools that had flooding?

    • BaconUFT

      That didn’t come up, so I doubt it. Probably something the City should technically do for reasons of budget and access, though the UFT should push to have that done. The UFT Safety department is quite good, at least in Manhattan, but they are understaffed. I’ll see what I can find out.

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