Extra Parent Outreach Time? UFT Executive Board Minutes – 9/18/2023

Summary/Analysis: The UFT’s second executive board of the year was strangely eventful for one which followed just 7 days after the opener. (Usually, we wait 2-3 weeks between sessions). Some highlights with analysis:

  •  There were some reports on the new contract, especially around the new remote time. Later on in the question period, I asked some clarification questions—and unfortunately confirmed some bad news: we have to do 55 minutes of outreach every week, no matter what. It’s no longer tied to Tuesdays. Now, I’m not against parent outreach – I suspect I do far more than 55 minutes each week anyways. But the problem here is that this realization negates the flexibility we thought we had. Instead of having 55 minutes on Tuesdays but getting to do it whenever you want during the week, we now know that we must work 55 minutes of remote outreach every single week, even if say there are holidays and Friday is the only day that week. Now there’s some nuance here that I’m planning to explore in another blog post, but the bottom line is this: what we thought was going to give us more flexibility is sometimes going to do the opposite. And I don’t think most of us realized that when we voted to ratify the contract.
  • Kate Connors spoke about new labor-friendly amendments to the New York Health Act. NYHA, as we know, would create a single payer healthcare plan for residents of our state. New Action’s Executive Board supports the proposed law conditionally. Those conditions are that: there is no extra cost to us (as of now, there isn’t – it would likely be cheaper), the health care stays as good or gets better than our current plans (it does), and out-of-state employees/retirees are given the same treatment without suffering from reduced networks (that appears to also be in the works). LeRoy Barr responded that ‘the UFT’ has not changed his position. Unfortunately, I expect he means Mulgrew’s position (against) and not UFT membership’s (we endorsed a resolution in its support before we even had these positive amendments).
  • There was a resolution on the UAW Strike. I didn’t speak on it, as I of course support my fellow unionists and had already spoken enough. But, there was a certain irony to voting to endorse another union’s strike for 40% wage increases over 4 years when Unity Caucus spoke out against gaining our own right to strike, and later mercilessly heckled opposition members for suggesting we ourselves should be strike ready. The DC37 pattern that UFT conceded to without a fight, remember was just 16.37% over 5.5 years. To put this in perspective UAW was offered 21% initially over 4 years – that’s more than we got in our final deal. We heckled our own members for asking for a strike over a smaller wage increase than the offer UAW is rightly striking over. I support the UAW, and also support the UFT being able to strike. UFT leadership supports the UAW, but not our own right to strike. The contradiction should speak for itself.
  • Finally, a somewhat personal note on the timed question period. I was surprised when I asked what I thought was an unhostile multi-part clarification question to be continuously interrupted both by (Unity) audience members and the chair. I was even more surprised when I was not allowed to even finish asking the final part of my question (about arbitration – I’ll write more about that in another post). Part of Barr’s rationale for cutting me off was that the question period is limited to 15 minutes, and I’d apparently already taken up 4 (I’d have gotten it down to two if not for the interruptions, shown directly in the minutes, but I digress). So just a note: the question period should not be limited to 15 minutes in the first place. It was unlimited for 60 years and was only made to be limited to 15 when Unity Caucus members voted to do so in a draconian political move to silence non-Unity speakers. Limiting the time high school members can speak is now being coupled with using the time limit as an excuse to treat high school members with hostility. This isn’t good for anyone—it created an awkward and hostile experience that led to a question not being answered during the course of our meeting (though I later found Mark Collins to get clarification and thank him for answering me). Perhaps the solution is to end the question period being limited or let the DA confirm that they want us silenced.   

Unofficial Executive Board Minutes Follow – mostly unedited.

Open Mic:

Kate Connors: Some major amendments to the NY Health Act. They will reintroduce the bill with amendments that are of interest to public sector workers. First one is that whatever contribution from your employer before bill passes – it must continue. That means we wouldn’t pay a dime for health insurance. No copay, no premiums, no deductibles, and exempt from the payroll tax. That is a perk – makes being in a union appealing in case anyone was worried about that variable (the act making unions less desirable). Other folks will have an 80-20 ratio. Most will pay less for their insurance – unless they make over 400,000 dollars. Any benefits that have been negotiated with our union – if they have been negotiated by us, it can’t be taken away, even if it’s otherwise not covered by the  NYHA. The other thing is for the retirees, who are out of state, they will keep the Medicare they currently have, but they moved the goal post and will have 18 months to make sure providers work with them. We are the only industrialized country without universal health care. If anyone is going to change the way, it will be New York. Can’t wait for it to be nationwide – not going to happen that way. Those were the three biggest amendments. Everyone in NYHA gets care from beginning to end. No more evil insurance companies – all gone, no more negotiating. We will collectively bargain with doctors and hospitals. No one will get to screw us at hospitals anymore. Collectively bargained – and that is it. UFT – have to support this. You can’t say healthcare is a human right without supporting this.

Kaitlyn Kelly: CL of PS398. Wanted to come to speak to the union’s support to a grievance matter in my building. November, 2022 – principal denied one of our resolutions in consultation. Went through the normal escalation process, got it fixed. But, principal put out her own consultation minutes, which gave us the right to a union animus grievance. Had 28 out of 32? Sign on. Haid UFT reps come and help us deal with this. Had Step 1 process, grievance denied. At step 2, we began organizing. For instance, Instagram page. Met once a month outside the building to talk about what we wanted and how we could support each other. We have 12 new staff members in the building – all of them showed up. Thank you for the support from the UFT.

President’s Report:

A lot of different marches this weekend, well done. Keep it simple. Contract implementation moving forward. Specifically focused on workday for elementary schools. Also dealing with the remote work idea. Some principals not getting it. Stupidity is the stupidity. NYCDOE ranks high with stupidity. 4 in a row, same rules follow as with middle and high schools.

Acs. Elementary schools. D75, documented 130 rooms. Traditional schools: 176?. Only get what we get from members – but enough for campaign.

Virtual schools, some expansion of the pilot program. Goal is to have all schools with some by February. Want to make sure technology is there for anyone who wants it.

Asylum seekers – millions have done this since 1945 on. When we’re talking about the students, make sure we call them asylum seekers, because the political weaponization is terrible. We’ve been aggressively involved in shaking this issue up, because our students and families have been through incredible situations. Our colleagues are in classrooms doing this work. If you walk into a school, politicians will be told by teachers that politicians have failed these children. Proud of our teachers. Enough is enough. We need a per pupil allotment. Not just in NYC – also some upstate and in Long Island. Those are property tax-based school systems. We know the dog whistles, but that should be taken off the table. Need per pupil allotment.

UAW – we are supporting them. Workers took brunt of economic hit, lost a lot. Enough is enough.

Minutes: Approved.

Recording plays of George Altomare being honored by the City Council.


Carl Cambria: On Friday night, OLR released an FAQ on our recent MOA. It went out to superintendents. Wanted to make sure everyone here was aware. FAQ for the most part is very good. Often on point. As with any FAQ, the person writing it has a certain slant and a certain audience. Our audience was UFT members. This audience is for supervisors and principals. For instance, in the investigation section, we say that someone can request the results of an investigation on them. In the DOE FAQ, it’s two pages long, which agency needs to be asked, etc. They’re looking at the back end. For our member, it’s one sentence. You’ll see some of that. Another example of that is around remote work. We’re focused on all titles being able to do remote work. They’re getting into how supervisors approve—or in some cases, deny—remote work. We’ve been dealing with these questions when these come up, e.g. in the functional chapters. We’re working through it. Overall, the FAQ is still a good document.

Mark Collins: Following up on FAQ on which there have been a lot of questions about. First question is parent engagement time on teachers and paraprofessionals. What’s not new is parent engagement, nor is the logging of it. All of this there in 2014, including the log. The list of parent engagement activities is also still with it. What is new is that there’s more time—55 not 40. Also, more significantly you can do it wherever you want. This is not added work time. It was already there, now it’s just not required to be done on site. It also doesn’t need to be done consecutively. We say to do your logging very quickly. It’s simple – write down what you did, to whom was communicated with, and how much time you spent it on. There’s also a part of the parent engagement time in that it’s completely self-directed. Another piece is if you don’t have 55 minutes worth of work to do, you can do it. I suggest you do that – just to account for that time. Emphasis on the time should be the work – not on keeping track of it.

Second topic I want to speak about is remote time for related service providers. There, there’s also 55 minutes, but in that case it’s up to 55 minutes. No dispute about that. Having a hard time believing a related service provider wouldn’t have that much work to do a week and that they couldn’t figure out a way to do that at time. We’ll deal with those situations as they come up. Work with your principal and chapter leader to figure out what types of work can be approved. If all else fails, file an operational complaint. Again, this is nonconsecutive, so if your supervisor is saying it can’t all be on Tuesday – how can it be broken up that way.

LeRoy Barr: October is breast cancer awareness month. DA. Some walks mentioned. A Movember event in D25. Literacy event in D5 – please sign up for shifrts.

Question Period:

Nick Bacon: It used to be that parent outreach was only done on Tuesdays. If there wasn’t school on Tuesdays, you didn’t stay late to do it. But, now we have a new contract where parent outreach no longer has to be done on Tuesdays. My question is, say there is only school 1 day a week, say only a Friday, do teacher still have to do 55 minutes of outreach at some point that week?

Mark Collins: Is there still 55 minutes? You don’t have to do it during a school break, but it’s paid work time for every week regardless of how many days.

Nick Bacon: Ok, so a follow up question: there’s a stipulation that your principal can remove your right to do parent outreach from home; that would be tied to a certain day. I believe that day is Wednesday—saw that in the Paraprofessional contract.

Mark Collins: Yes, if you’re not performing satisfactorily, then it can be required in person on Wednesday.

Nick Bacon: If there’s no school on Wednesday, then would they have to stay on Friday?

Mark Collins: I don’t think so

Nick Bacon: Since this could mean that we are working more hours –

Unity Audience Members: ‘No – there’s no extra time.’

Nick Bacon: No, I mean it’s just logical – we work more time if we have to do outreach no matter what days are in one week. Think about it with PD, we lose a lot of Mondays this year. If this happens on Tuesday, we could end up working extra minutes this year relative to last year and maybe on days we aren’t able to do so (say Fridays).

LeRoy Barr: No, these are the minutes that you should be working. These are not extra minutes; these are the minutes that you should be working. “Extra” implies addl. time beyond what it’s contractual.

Nick Bacon: Compared to last year –

LeRoy Barr: No, you’re framing it inappropriately. I’m just entertaining you to ask multiple questions.

Nick Bacon: Apparently I struck several nerves, so I can sit. Moves to sit.

LeRoy Barr: I don’t have any nerves, you can ask your question.

Nick Bacon: Comes back. Ok then, final question: since this could be problematic, some people were only going to do it on Tuesday, a week comes that there is only a week where school is only on Friday, they have to do 55 minutes that day. I think the contract language is a little bit vague. Is this definitely decided or might it go to arbitration?

Mark Collins: I think I lost what “this” is

Nick Bacon: “This-”

LeRoy Barr: There is only 15 minutes for question. I need you to clarify this fourth or fifth point…..

Nick Bacon: Yes, I’ve been trying, can do so quickly – could have asked it by now but I keep getting interrupted.

LeRoy Barr: I am the chair, not you, I can rule you out of order.

Nick Bacon: Right, so to clarify Mark’s question on my last point –

LeRoy Barr: No, cutting you off. You will have to ask Mark after.

Later after the meeting I confirmed with Mark that yes, theoretically we could go to arbitration on this, as the contract language has some vagaries, though I think that’s unlikely. My read is we’re probably going to get stuck with being held to 55 minutes of logged outreach every single week, even if say there is only a Friday on that week. I’ll post something later with more nuances. Mark did share some helpful insights, and I thank him for staying after to confirm the question.

Alex: Had a teacher, who was discontinued, went to a middle school, was told he couldn’t work at a middle school. What should I tell them?

Amy Arundull: When someone is discontinued, they become a new hire. When a new hire applies, they fill out the application. They have to be cleared by the office of investigations. Person should not lose hope. System needs to have these kinds of checks.

Melody A.  Question about reading curriculum. I’m trained in everything, 60+ hours. Anything to rumor (missed?). Some people were not given access to an AI they need for the curriculum. Mary Vacarro not here, so missed.

Ilona Nanay: My question is around NY Health Act. Will the UFT support it now given the amendments

LeRoy Barr: You should have asked Mulgrew when he was here – but our position hasn’t changed.

Name Missed: Many of you might be following the OT/PT. A lot of static. Our chapter leader resigned. Ray of hope is the 55 minutes of remote work. One duty we have to do is SEISIS. Can we schedule that as part of our remote work?

Mark Collins: I would certainly build that into the schedule and make that argument.

Ed Calamia: Asylum seeker situation. Do we have an informational resource? A lot of people are confused and don’t know what to do think. Is there a video or something? As much as can be covered.

LeRoy Barr: Passed a resolution – maybe people can read that and see how we got to where we are and what we’re going to do. If you don’t have that. Need to get resources to teachers to help them to understand the situation.

Ed Calamia: Nothing that official – just something easy that tells the store.

LeRoy Barr: One of the ways to do that is through a reso.

George Geist:  UFT sent something out about newly released ELL students.

Reports from Districts:

Ashley R: Echoing Kaitlyn Kelly from District 30, which I represent. Organizing happened long before she says – she’s being humble. She got mostly untenured folks to sign on to things. Since then, we’ve been able to help amplify – they did a lot, wearing black, getting community and parental support. In the thick of it right now. That’s where they’re at. It wasn’t easy, but it’s a lesson to us all. Probably one of the strongest chapters in this city. When the pressure gets hot, stay together. She said ‘she can’t fire all of us.’ They stood together. Thanks Kaitlyn Kelly for coming. Other news from District 30 – heard Long Island is a place they want to go. Cohort, which started for dual language teachers. What we learned last year is it became a cohort of how to survive with newly arrived students. Gather voluntarily at our office monthly. So any time people are wondering where they get answers – you have them.

Michael Friedman: Lost of a member of our program (pathways to graduation). From the Phillipines, had stage 4 cancer – from Queens to Manhattan almost every day. When I went to visit her, she asked how I could help her get accommodations so she could still work with her students. There were tears and even some laughter today – speaking about how she brought joy. Digna Minda Efondo.

Aqeel Williams: Bronx UFT office reopened today. Had an event with the Red Bulls at Yankee Stadium. Bronx is doing big things, more to come.

Adam Shapiro: UFT has a long history of altruistic endeavors. Scholarships, 5k, coat drive, toy drive, breast cancer awareness. All of these events which are now yearly were once just getting started. November is a month where we think of issues effecting men – testicular cancer, prostate cancer, suicide. Looking for help in this endeavor. Piloting in D21, but hope is to expand it into a UFT endeavor. You can join the team. Another way is to grow a moustache. Yes, my moustache might embarrass my daughter (laughter), but if it can help raise awareness… Can also order fake moustaches. Can use this as an organizing opportunity.

Rashad Brown: This past summer, NEA delegates went to Orlando for the convention. Touching part of the trip was the trip to the Pulse memorial. Not a dry eye. Brought me to repurpose to why we have a Pride Committee. If you haven’t been, you should go.

Servia Silva: September 30th, street fair between 2nd and 3rd on 120th. Last time, when had the Making Strides march. Considered why do we consider the color black – metastatic breast cancer. This year the tshirts are black and pink.

Nancy Armando: Shoutout to Health and Safety Department. SEA now fixing everything. Assisted members. SPED department. Unique situation with new admits. Principal was at a loss – staff had no training. Our people got the DOE to step up and train the new employees in that building. Students now getting services.

Lamar Hughes: District 25, executive board at large. Last week at the DA, discussed, but there was an election and our endorsed candidate won (Sam Berger). Thanks political action team. We were thanked by his team. In Queens, we’re starting what we call a political action team. Need to expand our team. If anyone is interested, feel free to give us a shout.

Ilona Nanay: Shoutout climate march. UFT contingency, labor, students. Hopefully momentum keeps moving.


Leo Gordon: New resolution, edited from Mike Schirtzer, making motion to substitute. We did have a conversation with Mike Schirtzer, who agreed with all the changes. Some of what we added with resolutions we’ve already endorsed. Actual resolution.

Nick Bacon: There’s some good in this resolution. I’m not going to speak against per se, but just make a few points. Firstly, I like that the resolution keeps some of the language we put in—such as the OSHA temperature range (albeit without that title). There’s some history missing, and I think the resolution would be better with that history—about rank-and-file members organizing themselves to get their own data before 52 Broadway did. I don’t see the need to erase that history, if we’re adding what 52 Broadway did next anyways. I also see that the resolution is written in such a way as to ‘keep doing what we’re doing.’ I don’t like that type of language for two reasons: (1) what we’ve been doing hasn’t worked. Other districts have literally held strikes over no ACs. Not saying to add that to the reso necessarily, but we’re committing to resolve to keep just lobbying, even though that hasn’t worked – we still had disastrous conditions on the first days of school after lobbying for years and years. (2) I have a technical or philosophical aversion to resolutions which commit to continue doing things we didn’t agree to do here or at the DA. That may seem silly for a resolution about air conditioners—who has a problem with organizing around air conditioners? But it’s the precedent. We never resolved to fight 12-126, for instance. Signing off on a resolution to continue doing something despite not voting for it here or at the DA supports that undemocratic precedent. So a philosophical or technical point, but worth making. Again, still a lot of good in the reso, but thought these arguments were worth making.

Amy Arundell: I know that there was an online form sent out to people about heat. Still, it is very important for people to know that there is a safety and health liaison. Those liaisons were doing a lot of that work well before that form on. We can’t make Acs that don’t exist. But what I can tell you is that we had a complete list of what we had. So I don’t think this is about when things are brought up. I think it’s about our members knowing. Where we were. So this isn’t a question of who brought up first. This is about not duplicating work, which doesn’t make sense. So setting up another form. Shame on us if people don’t know. Didn’t like the narrative of the other form – tell us what you want because only we care. That isn’t fair to people doing hard work.

Rashad Brown: Echoing what Amy said. Taking politics out of it. UFT is doing something – they were hurt. NYSUT trying to pass legislation at the state level. Difficult to makers.

Nick Bacon: One more thing – the last resolution that I helped write condemned the Mayor and other agencies who failed us – while teachers and students suffered. I can understand why we took that condemnation out of the resolution on Asylum Seekers, since other aspects of that resolution were more important. But in this case, we were failed by the City, and I’m not sure why the resolution is rewritten to suggest that isn’t the case.

Passes unanimously with some abstentions.

Resolution in support of the UAW Strike:

Janella Hinds: Despite making astronomical salaries, workers making pennies. So I ask you to support this.

Motion Carries.

Importance of Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month: Danny Rodriguez motivates as a descendent of Puerto Rican grandparents who made big sacrifices to be here. Still many Latin American immigrants. Important to honor the work we’ve done. Advocating inclusion.

Servia Silva: Proud chair of Hispanic Affairs Committee. We’ve had this committee since the 60s. Proudly support.

Tanisha Franks: Designated history periods. People are being told their histories don’t matter. This is a period of time that gets neglected a lot – time of the school year. Important for us to shine spotlight. Until these histories are taught completely, we’ll need these periods.

Motion carries unanimously.  

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