Healthcare Changes and Class Size Reductions – UFT Executive Board Minutes, 9-12-2022

UFT Executive Board Minutes, 9-12-2022 (Unedited).

LeRoy: Welcomes all new members of the executive board following the election. Looks forward to working with all of us.

Moment of silence and remembrance for: Florence Vidal and Sherry Bailey

Vincent Gaglione: Florence Vidal was a para in District 6 back to when the paraprofessional chapter was established. Helped organize paras in Dist. 6 that exceeded expectations; then asked to serve on exec board. Also served at Florida UFT office as political action operative.

Shelly: met in 1967. Helped organize d75 and SRP advisory of NYSUT.

Moment of silence.

Executive board talks about policy and things this union that needs to get involved. We then bring our decisions as recommendations to the greater body – the DA. We have an agenda that we follow. One thing we put in place is a 10 minute period to hear from members in the field. There are other mechanisms that you should bring to your CL or DR, etc, first, but the door is always open either way.

Open Mic.

Alison Ditmas, Instructional Coordinator for Div. of Early Childhood: On Friday before Labor Day Weekend, ICs received a press release announcing a restructuring from the DOE. That’s how we found out we were being reassigned. Later, it was confirmed that we were being excessed. Article also said that UFT applauded the move. Told we were being sent to superintendent offices (were centralized, but position was eliminated). Were asked to use open market to find a new position. Many of us were unable to use the Open Market system, we weren’t listed as excessed. Apparently HR was ‘backed up.’ There was a back and forth, we went to Mulgrew outlining the events. We have not gotten a response, and have since contacted the media and legal representation. We were told not to go back to our sites or reach out to them, but then were told we could go back. No, we were excessed, if we’re going to be at our sites, we need to be there officially as ICs. We demand that our union demand that our excess letters be rescinded in writing. And we demand to be reinstated.

LeRoy: Responses will come later, but don’t believe everything you read in the papers. Someone will respond later.

  1. Routine Items

Approval of the Minutes –

Lydia Howrilka, HS Executive Board, asks question about the minutes – who is invited to attend expensive conferences. LeRoy responds that school-based members do go.

All minutes are confirmed unanimously.

2. President’s Report

LeRoy – Michael Mulgrew can’t come. He wants us to report on Medicare and Class-size.

Vincent Gaglione: Last year the city issued an RFC to companies to make insurance options for retirees. Medicare Advantage was challenged in court, with the basis as administrative code 12-126. A judge approved the MA+ plan but also ordered the City to issue another plan premium free as well. Healthcare costs have risen astronomically. The City appealed because the cost of the decision exceeded the City’s budget. The MLC is even more concerned about the judge’s decision, so the City and MLC jointly approached the Council to alter administrative Code 12-126.

Cassie Prugh: Michael is disappointed he can’t be here. The governor signed our class size bill, which is great news. The bill requires that immediately the DOE works with us immediately to reduce class size by 20% a year for 5 years. Implementation window begins in Sep. 2023 and runs til 2024, and so forth for the 5 years. You can find more information at the UFT faq. We want this to be a living breathing document. 20 for k-3, 23 for 4-8, and 25 for the high school grades. For physed- 40. A process to negotiate exceptions also will be there, but we will be involved. But there is no provision to allow us to just skip over and overenrolled class. Thanks J. Liu for his efforts on this, our PAC and lobbying volunteers, and our internal and external communication teams.

3. Staff Director’s Report

LeRoy: we need to know who people are in this meeting. Don’t black out your screen and write ‘Lila’s daddy.’ We need to know who you are – put your name up there. Do not record this meeting. Minutes are fine, but no audio or video.

4. Question Period

Alex, HS Exec Board, CL Pace High School: Happy that the Gov. finally signed. Will there be provisions to hire more teachers? Money for that? Will the UFT push them on this?

LeRoy: There’s money, but we need to see that it’s actually put it to use lowering class sizes.

Cassie: Nothing to add. Points also to school based cuts. Not many processes in this legislation that doesn’t involve us and bargaining with us.

Mavis, CL in Dist. 23: MOSL. Getting emails about ratings not being ready yet. We used F and P, which is an approved MOSl.

Response (missed name): Data issues. Anyone tenured who has an S at these 51 schools, who had a 3 last year, will have a minimum of 2 observations this year.

Mulgrew: Chimes in and welcomes eboard from plane. Says labor parade was phenomenal. On MLC stuff on healthcare, because judge has taken away some of the collecting bargaining rights we had previously. Contract negotiation emails will start going out, we have to move forward and make aggressive decisions.

Ibeth Mejia: Talking last week to deans and she was informed that their radios are no longer compatible with the DOE. There was an incident where the dean had to call on their personal phone. Worst case scenarios with fights on multiple floors and deans having to call on the phone. Principal said CSA is working on it. So what is the UFT?

Jeff Povalatitis: New chief of school safety put out an edict about what frequencies we could be on (and how many). The reason has to do with communication in the case of an active shooter situation. Wasn’t rolled out correctly, though there is a need. Only one agent can be on the DOE frequency – the rest will be NYPD. He’s not budging on his stance. Situation at Lincoln where a student was shot, and the procedure worked, but I hear what you’re saying.

Nick Bacon (HS Exec Board) Almost a year ago, at the November DA, I motivated a resolution on healthcare that would have necessitated that every decision we make at the MLC first be put to a vote. The resolution narrowly failed after a UFT officer argued during debate that such a voting process would not be necessary because we would be forming a healthcare committee, similar in structure to the negotiating committee, and that teacher input could be given in that venue before major decisions were voted on in the MLC. Just last week, the first steps toward making such a decision was made, (a decision which has the potential to reduce the quality healthcare that both our in-service and retirees get without paying a premium). Given that we were told we’d be getting a healthcare committee roughly 10 months ago, when will that committee be set up, and will there be time for us to reverse the MLC decision if our committee deems that decision to be a mistake?

LeRoy: No decisions have been made, for the record. We will keep you informed as to when it is up and coming. It will consist of rank and file members.

Melody: I had to use social media when my DOE account was locked out and I couldn’t get back to it.  There were legal and confidentiality concerns I had (e.g. regarding IEPs).

 Janella Hinds: There have been quite a few issues involving technology on DOE. Mike and  have been in conversation on the Gamma system, but this is another one. We’ve been forwarding the technology complaints to the DOE so that they can resolve in real time. And they are saying it’s a new system and they’re still working on it, but that’s not enough. So the leadership is focusing on the concerns and it is our intention to resolve.

Mike Shirtzer: Thank you to Janella. The situation regarding Gamma. We can’t afford Jupiter at my school, there are some good people at DOIT. Someone has to be held to it.

Last time I spoke at eboard: can we get some information out to CLs re active shooters and the decisions being made around them? As a public school teacher and parent, I don’t want this stuff swept under the rug.

Jeff P: It’s a large feat, but we’re doing assessments at all the sites. We’re still figuring things out, we have to train over 100,000 members. Nothing is secret, we’re just trying to do it the best we can.

Michael Friedman: I got an email from one of my members that they were knocked off of DOE emails and that the only way they could get back on is to give their own personal email address. Why?

Janella Hinds: It is true that you need to do 2 step verification, which is a challenge. There are different methods you can use: through Microsoft office APP, your cellphone, an email address. This is all in the name of security. For many of our systems this is required. We’re going to have a conversation with the DOE about the rollout, but I suspect it will keep going because of security measures for the students. The key is rollout. There’s a way to set this up through Microsoft or IBM verify.  There are other apps for different systems (Google, Facebook, etc) .

Ronnie Almonte, Bard HS Early College: Question about what the UFT knows about Mayor’s approach to contract negotiations – not our own. According to an article in City and State, he only set aside enough for a 1.5% wage increase, which suggests that the City plans to lowball us or use revenue from other sources (e.g. retiree healthcare) to give us a pay increase. Is the Executive Board ready to recommend to publicly dismiss the Mayor’s strategy if it turns out to be true?

LeRoy Barr: We don’t know the strategy yet. Don’t believe everything you read. He’s probably not coming to us first though, because there are other contracts expiring first. We have a 500 member negotiating committee that will inform us on all of this. I don’t believe there was a paycut in the last contract, but this is not a debate.

Ilona Nanay (Mott Hall 5, HS Exec Board): In terms of what was said in the Open Mic. How can members be excessed after June 15? I thought they had to be notified earlier, contractually. Why wasn’t there more transparency? Why wasn’t the UFT more responsive? What is the long term strategy to deal with a Mayor who is pro-austerity and pro-division between our various chapters?

LeRoy Barr: Excessing doesn’t technically happen until the first day of the school year anyways. We’ve been in constant communication with that chapter. There was a year where they wanted to lay off secretaries – a smaller chapter. But the power of the union came around and we made sure that that austerity mayor did not lay off anyone. We’ll do the best we can. Defers to Mike Sill who has been intimately involved.

Mike Sill: This is not the first time a mayor has said there was no money for raises. That’s why we need collective bargaining. Division of Early Childhood. I’m trying to get a meeting this week. One thing I’ve learned is this office is very close. People there who are members are even managers there. Everyone is trying to right by eachother. But the DOE can rearrange offices. Our bulwark against excessing (usually in schools) doesn’t work as well in central offices. The DOE came to us in the last 10 days and said they were interested in downsizing the office to change the positions. They want to take certain people and plug them into new rules. They want to hire back 120 of the 200 ICs for a different role, but we want to make sure that the excessed people have preference for the new positions. Similar for social workers. Well what does this mean, planning wise, for what these staffers do? If it’s the same position, they can’t repost it. That’s an excessing condition. The UFT did not applaud this per se, we applauded investing in schools. At this point, on Friday we had a meeting with the DOE, and what they said was these positions are basically the same (they can’t do that). Also can’t just end up reducing caseloads – that becomes another issue. When new administration comes in, changes happen.

B.  Standing Committees

  1. Report from Districts

Shawn (Staten Island Borough Rep): August 24th, annual backpack giveaway. Was a great even. All 300 were gone, as were other school supplies, and hamburgers. So it was popular and well attended. So we need to find a way to meet the demand in the community next year.

August 31st: CL orientation, along with delegates and para reps, so the new borough office in SI is open.

Rashad Brown: The Pride Committee has teamed up with Team High Schools and the National Black Leadership Committee on Health, Dec. 1st an event on HIV/AIDS. Materials will be out on 9/14.

On Oct. 31st, 2022, the waver for student debt relief will be done. So you must act on this soon to get the debt forgiveness faster. So we’re having webinars on Tuesdays and Saturdays. Look up student debt relief on the UFT website. We’ve saved people 10 million dollars, thanks to Randi and the UFT.

David Kazansky: Earlier today, came together to accomplish that credit card companies adopt an MCC for gun purchases. This flags when gun and ammunition sales are high before there is a mass shooting. This doesn’t flag you for buying a gun (your right), but in a situation where you are blowing huge amounts of money on guns/ammunition, even on multiple cards at multiple sites. So this is a huge benefit that we were a part of.

Karen Alford (VP of Elementary Schools): enrollment is the sustainability of our union. DOE is hiring 3,000 new educators, and we need to make sure they join the union. Thank you to everyone who made sure that many of these new hires joined the union. We ended up filling in a lot of the gaps that the DOE did not (e.g. on differentials, etc). We signed up 1700 members at that event alone. But our work is not done. As leaders of this organization, we have to go back into our school buildings and ensure that we’re giving out our union cards and supporting new teachers. We know how hard it can be for first year teachers.

Janella Hinds (VP of Academic High Schools): On Saturday, Labor Day parade – first since 2019. We joined the marchers from all the unions across the city. Our time on the block was a lot of fun. It was a great way to start the school year and show our solidarity. Thanks everyone who was able to come out.

Ariel A.: District 29 opened a new playground, which was overtaken by trailers for 25 years. That’s how long it took to get those trailers out and to put the trailers up.

Nancy Armando: Celebrating a 43 member union animus grievance at her school going forward. We got a new teacher center last year to help fix this wrong. Thanks UFT for their support.

2. Legislative Report

 Cassie Prugh: Thanks all who helped in the many races we won over the last year. Thanks Tom Murphy for his calls.

C.  Special Order of Business

1.  Smallheiser Awards: Sunday Nov. 6 awards will be given back. Day will commemorate our first strike. Two dates we can never forget: March 16th, 1960 – union formation; Nov. 7th, 1960: we went on strike, the foundation of everything left. Teacher union day is about celebrating what we’ve done as activists around that time.

  • Election Challenge: One omnibus complaint that came out in June. We responded to that one in terms of things that were repeated. The challenge is to go to the UFT, then the AFT. We asked them to go forward to the UFT. Complaints: 1, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 14, 15, and 29 (?) – go straight to the UFT. In terms of the remaining challenges, we want reports by the next exec board meetings/ We know there is a 90 day rule, so we will work on that over the next few meetings.

Meeting adjourned.

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