Mulgrew MIA as Unity Tries to Disorganize OT/PT Bargaining Unit into Revoting ‘Yes’

Something is rotten at 52 Broadway, where higher-ups seem to be orchestrating an unprecedented ‘re-vote’ on the contract for OT/PT’s, nurses, audiologists, and supervisors of nurses/therapists. They’ll do anything, it seems, to avoid doing the work of negotiating a fair deal. 

Some Background: Why did OT/PTs Reject the Contract?

OT/PTs had good reason to reject draft #1 of the 2022-2027 contract. Nothing, after all, was done on the largest issue facing therapists – pay parity. OT/PTs, whose particularly exacting educational qualifications translate into some of the biggest student loan burdens in the DOE, would have still made significantly less than teachers, social workers, speech therapists, and counselors. But, it’s not just that pay parity wasn’t a part of the contract – it’s the convoluted way that UFT leadership tried to get around this by adding a ‘9th optional session’ for which therapists would get an extra 1/8th of their pay. OT/PTs on the negotiating committee, who never discussed this possibility with the DOE, were flabbergasted to see such language written into the tentative agreement, not just because it had been negotiated over their heads, but because they’d been saying ‘no!’ to different variations of it for years. 

There’s a reason OT/PTs pause at the language of a 9th session (right now they work 8). Most of them already work 2-3 extra jobs to make ends meet; they weren’t looking for another opportunity to work more hours. They were looking to see their pay equalized with other similarly educated UFT titles so that they wouldn’t have to work so many extra hours. Agreeing to a 9th session bolsters the City’s view that OT/PTs don’t deserve pedagogical pay for what they’re already doing. It means, to be frank, acquiescence to defeat on parity. And it could potentially open a Pandora’s Box by which at some point down the line all therapists may be expected to work a 9th session. 

Enter UFT Leadership

In my last piece, I touched a bit on the ‘gloom and doom’ communications that Mulgrew et al have shot out at the aggrieved therapists. UFT leadership dangled the new pay increases that OT/PTs would not get, failing (probably intentionally) to mention that pattern bargaining would get them that money eventually as retro. Union officers also suggested that the City might not negotiate with them for months – or perhaps longer. Most importantly, they projected that, when they ‘finally’ did get back to the negotiating table, UFT leadership wouldn’t have the will or the skill to get them anything of substance. Then, with these new ‘facts,’ someone mentioned the word ‘revote.’ 

Since this meeting, the possibility of a revote seems to be gaining steam – especially (but not entirely) amongst the therapists who already voted yes or didn’t bother to send in their ballots. Unity-affiliated members in particular, including some who were voted out when OT/PTs for a Fair Contract beat them in the last chapter election, seem to be leading the drive to ‘revote, but this time vote yes!’ Members of the OT/PT negotiating team are being inundated with form emails that ask for a revote, often giving a false sense of blame to Chapter Leader Melissa Williams for the contract’s fate, despite her not even having a hand in the most controversial parts of the contract draft.  In fact, these are the only communications going around at this point, as UFT officers have been MIA, opting not to bother setting up timely meetings to do the work it will take to negotiate quickly with the City in good faith.

Let’s recap: a chapter organizes a no vote, because they aren’t getting what they need to pay their bills. Union leaders tell that chapter that they were wrong to vote no, taunt them about what they won’t get as a result, and convey that negotiators aren’t going to get them anything better anyways. Then, they let the word ‘revote’ sink in, disappear, members from their caucus start organizing a ‘revote yes campaign,’ using it secondarily as a springboard to sow dissent against the current OT/PT leadership, and the UFT officers just wait to see what unfolds.

What’s wrong with a revote?

Some may ask, what’s wrong with a revote? At least with a ‘re-vote,’ members are still voting – it’s still democratic. And it’s true, there are moments when ‘revotes’ make sense. For example, let’s say that some disaster destroyed thousands of ballots and the numbers were extremely close. There would be an absolute argument for a revote. But that’s not what happened here. 

We had a ratification vote with good turnout – a majority of OT/PTs voting. We had the AAA certify the results. And we had numbers that weren’t even close – a clear no vote. You don’t do revotes because your leadership wanted you to vote yes, or because a small group of people, mostly who voted yes to begin with, are trying to overturn the results. And you certainly don’t try to tip the scales by implying to working educators that you aren’t going to do the work of negotiating a fair deal anyways, so they might as well just go ahead and revote. No, it’s the obligation of UFT leadership to do the work of negotiating, not of trying to orchestrate a plan to sow dissent so that they don’t have to do the work. 

A Note on Precedent 

Those who know their union history know that UFT leadership isn’t above revotes. When NAC co-chair, Michael Shulman, won the VP of High Schools position in the 1980s, they stole half his term while the question lingered in courts, only to eventually compel a revote that Shulman re-won anyways. (Then, we know, they changed the constitution so that opposition caucuses could no longer win divisional officer seats unless they won the entire election).

Communications with PERB suggest that were we to do a ‘revote’ on the OT/PT contract ratification, rather than do the work of renegotiating, we would set the precedent for revotes in general. And with Unity in power, we know that this could be abused – we’d see a semblance of democracy, but only when it suited the ruling party. 

It gets worse. A high-up lawyer working for the UFT has expressed that votes aren’t even legally how contracts need to be ratified. If they wanted to, it appears, UFT leadership believes that they could sign a contract without having us vote at all. Whether they’d actually do that is an open question, but the precedent that they appear to be supporting, by withdrawing from good-faith bargaining and encouraging a revote in the middle of summer, bodes badly for union democracy.

UFT leadership, in this blogger’s opinion, needs to do the work of getting back to the bargaining table, not of disorganizing membership into revoting so that they have an easier summer. 


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    Clearly this is one of Melissa’s 4-5 supporters out of the group. Majority want a re-vote but Melissa wants her agenda to go through. Disregard this phony article to attempt to distort public view.

    Also perhaps instead of being on radio shows, any form of communication from her leadership would be appreciated because NOTHING has been communicated

    • BaconUFT

      (1) Did AAA certify that the “majority want a re-vote?” Because barely more than a week ago, they certified that the majority of voting OT/PTs wanted to negotiate better terms. Speaking for a majority, when the majority has clearly stated otherwise, is troubling, Trumpian-level, interference. (2) Official UFT communications can’t just be sent out by functional chapter leaders. In order to access your emails, they have to have Unity-elected officers approve the communications. Not only would that take time, but since those officers want a re-vote, it’s unclear what communication they would even allow sent out. (3) Melissa, I know, has been working to get Mulgrew to set up follow up meetings. My understanding is that he has gone MIA – hence the title of this article. Do not scapegoat someone who has nothing to do with the problem.

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    This is an amazing piece. A revote would act to disenfranchise those who showed up and voted “no”. With UFT leadership telling the chapter that they have no leverage and will never get a better contract, this smells an awful lot like an attempt to intimidate folks into changing their votes. “We can’t get you anything better, so if you want those measly bonuses and substandard pay raises you better change your vote to yes.”

    As you wrote, the precedent a revote would set is truly frightening— and very blatant Trumpian election denialism. What would stop leadership from a revote on a “no” to contract ratification in the future? What’s to stop them from calling on election revotes if they loose seats?

    This is not how democracy works, and Mulgrew loves to say “everyone loves democracy until it doesn’t go their way.” Let’s hold them to it and support our OT/PT colleagues in calling on UFT leadership to demand the city comes back to the table. That was the decision the chapter made in its resounding “no “ on ratifying their contract.

    • BaconUFT

      Absolutely. And what’s striking – and inexcusable – here is that OT/PTs and the rest of the bargaining unit are being told by leadership that they may as well revote since they aren’t going to do a better job of renegotiating anyways. That’s an absurd dereliction of duty, especially since much of the ‘no votes’ seem to have come from a piece of the deal that UFT leadership threw in without the consent of the OT/PT negotiating team.

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    Mike D.

    FACT: If UFT leadership can force a revote for a functional chapter, they could easily force a revote for all of us in the future if things don’t go they way they want.

    • BaconUFT

      Agreed, to make matters worse – the precedent would even formally be set for this to occur later for all of us if a revote is put through now.

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    Right after your story was published on the wire — literally minutes – Mulgrew sent out an email to the OT/PTs for a meeting. Keep up the good work holding their feet to the fire.

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    David G.

    As a retired high school social studies teacher and one who knows little about the work of the OT/PT, and one who does not live in NY anymore, there’s something very fishy about Mulgrew’s push for a “re-vote.” It sounds a lot like this fellow, Donald J. Trump (or his acolyte Kari Lake of Arizona) who cried “fraud” in the 2020 (and 2022) elections. Did Mulgrew hire Trump as a UFT advisor?
    Moves like Mulgrew’s (or Trump’s) do not augur well for democracy, as little as we have left.

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