Notes on the UFT February Delegate Assembly (2-15-2023)

Summary/Analysis The President’s report was similar to that given two days ago at the executive board. Same with the Secretary’s report. Still worth a look.

Questions: There were only three questions tonight (really two). Most of the time was eaten up by one question – really a planted statement from a chapter leader whose chapter was able to rid their school of an abusive principal. I applaud the chapter, but this is not a normal case. To that end, I question whether the far more common CL who wasn’t able to get rid of a principal despite similar organizing tactics would have been allowed to eat up 7 minutes of question time to tell their story without Mulgrew calling them out of order. Frankly, I think it’s irresponsible of UFT leadership to put forth propaganda that chapters can get rid of abusive principals and that the UFT will help them do it. The normal course of events is outlined here. There are far more casualties than victors in our union, and most victories turn out to be pyrrhic.

Resolutions: It’s amazing how many resolutions we can get through outside of an election year. When I walked into the DA, the materials table was covered with hundreds of copies of several resolutions. If this is the new normal, and resolutions written by opposition unionists are also allowed to be motivated,  I’m happy.

I motivated one of the few resolutions UFT Leadership has approved out of the UFC-elected High School Executive Board. The reso called for discontinuances and denials for probationary teachers in high schools to be limited to geographic districts. Currently, if we’re discontinued by a single principal, we can’t work under that license at another high school in the entire city, whereas elementary and middle school teachers are allowed to apply to schools in any other district. Mike Sill motivated the resolution with me and made some jokes about the irony – referencing this blog (which, apparently is now rated the 9th best teacher blog on the web, go figure). It was a good moment, though I wish it could happen with more HS resos, which are seeking for lots of progressive change and yet routinely being quashed.

The resolution about ending police violence was motivated in beautiful fashion by several speakers. No one from opposition amended it to talk more about getting police out of schools and fostering restorative justice programs. There had been talk of doing this, but the moment wasn’t right.

There were also good resolutions about solidarity with other unionists and a well-amended resolution on the fight to save libraries. Two resolutions were also motivated that will end up on next month’s agenda – one well written resolution on helping those affected by the recent earthquakes, and one good resolution on putting an end to standardized testing for elementary school students. I look forward to voting yes on those resolutions in the future.

Outside the DA: There were a number of people handing out leaflets, including supporters of the New York Health Act (NYHA), Retiree Advocate, and Unity Caucus. New Action was also handing out leaflets, which can be seen here.


President’s Report:

Contract: A lot of press on what’s going on with contracts. Teach-ins were a success. DC37 up first. Mayor is putting up 1.25% for raises – unacceptable. Pattern bargaining rules the day. We won’t set the pattern this time, so tomorrow’s action is important. All the unions work together in MLC. City is trying to do things that the MLC halted. Next step is to halt the other unions. Our subcommittees are working. The DOE is having some dysfunctional issues. They’re listening on us to some extent on things we need just to be able to do our jobs better. We want more money, we want healthcare. Then we want to be able to do our jobs. Can we at least get what we need to do our jobs? Stop wasting our time. Let’s do the work we have to do – it’s challenging enough – to help the children of this city. In the rest of the country, teachers get curriculum, trainings aligned to that curriculum. We don’t get either. We’ll start speeding up the subcommittees right after the break.

Federal: President says teachers deserve more money. Also said all career training should start in high school, not after…

State: Funding/Charters: want money in school systems but not given away to corporate charters. We’re going up to Albany. Budget fight is that we want the money in the schools. Coalition of AFL-CIO unions about stopping expansion of charters. We are for transparency with charters. Legislation needs to be overturned that says NYC and ONLY NYC must supply rent payments or school spaces (rent free) to charters. Mayor said this was an unfair unfunded mandate. He said the same thing about class size bill, which we corrected him on.

Mental Health: We support, but how do we get children-directed services done at our school. We need actual supports in our school. Already dealing with the DESA, which doesn’t serve any function despite all the work. This has to come down.

Tier 6: Working across the state. This is every public sector union’s problem in the state. Our goal is that no one ever actually retires under the original version of Tier 6. We’re working on it – a little ahead of schedule.

Yesterday, lobby day announcement went out. It’s clear in P-Weekly that this is the day to go. Buses, not virtual. Monday, March 13. That’s also a DA week.

Professional front: graduation requirements. Real possibility that State might do something other than the 5 Regents exams. Tough conversation. Some states made it easy to graduate; we kept our standards. There’s a balance. Testing out of control (3rd graders doing online testing!?) But actually would save districts a lot of money to reduce testing. Supposed to be PD on exam delivery with clear explanations. Not happening with most. DOE has claimed they’re checking the broadband in all of our schools. (laughter). We need support doing these exams.

Safety: Last week was one of our worst weeks. If there’s an incident in your school, CL gets a copy of OORS report number. The specifics won’t be there, but there are mechanisms for UFT making sure details match. Shootings out of control. Chancellor yesterday met with principals and superintendents – relationships with police commanders. I had a challenging school safety wise. If you have a principal who hides things, it blows up. Get us that info – we’ll share that info with the police department if there are real concerns. This isn’t just high school.

Budget: DOE is locking down budgets. If you need something, make sure to talk about adjustments now. Principals wanted rollover last year and DOE said no. We had a big fight. Don’t have to worry about a rollover if you spend it.

UFT: Memberhub is going nicely.

Early childhood fight. What was reported to us is these people did nothing and were disrespectful to principals. It turns out they were wrongly told they got a curriculum…. Applauds the teachers in early childhood fight.

First teacher center in DC37 school.

Secretary’s Report:

Black history film series continues. 20 Pearls is being shown in person in Manhattan, Queens, SI UFT offices. Can also do online. March 2nd there will also be an installment, Aftershock. March is also women’s history month.

Lunar New Year Banquet is Friday, March 10 (House of Joy, 6:00 PM – register in advance). See Seung Lee for details.

School counselor’s conference and Herstory celebration same day.

March 16: anniversary of founding of the UFT. There will be a resolution on that. 63rd birthday. That’s in line with teachers.

Holocaust conference on March 19.

Paraprofessional rewards luncheon on March 25 at Hilton. E. De Jesus will be key note speaker.

Danny Drum scholarship fund – please contribute. See Rashad Brown for info on donations.

Next DA is March 15. Enjoy Feb Break – brought to you by UFT.

Question Period

Chapter Leader MS 51 (D15): was a shining star school, highly ranked. We were a family. Fall of 2020, we had a shake up of administration. That led to many negative impacts. Safety was a problem. There were actions against unionists – including sending them wrongly to the Rubber Room. Birth of a movement came about. What started with a small group became a grassroots movement to save our school. As a CL, can’t stress how important it was to document everything. That’s the only way to prove ineffective leadership. Members had support of the union, which is why they felt they could do it. Votes of no confidence on March 8, 2022. Still wasn’t enough. Led by our DR, Nancy Armando and VP of MS, Rich Mantell, UFT Rep. Brad Alter, Anthony Valentino, and Mary Vacarro, we forged forward. We had flyers, tshirts, outreach to the neighborhood, but still nothing changed. There were retaliatory responses. Consultation was a problem. We persisted. Filed the largest union animus grievance in the history of the UFT. Was able to speak to Michael at a CL meeting. Morale was gone. We continued to file and document as much as we could, but there was no improvement. Finally, we saw our principal was absent. A new principal came in and there was instantly a change. Sharing this story to tell you that you are the union. Question: can you come to the school to help us continue to forge forward? (Mulgrew: yes).

Name missed: We just received a lot of asylum students. Big problems. What do we do?

Mulgrew: So frustrated. We did not get into the profession for this – we need to be able to help these kids. Last week, we had a school that just wanted food. Teachers were bringing in clothes for kids. None of this is being taken care of, not where the kids are every day. We all need to all write a letter and send it to higher ups like the President. We need support. No one is asking us what we need. Let’s write this letter.

Randi Boxer: We are suffering every single day in our school, lack of paras. Crisis of coverage. Every single day it’s a concern.

Mulgrew: DOE claims we have 11,000 substitutes in the pool. That’s absolutely not true. Becoming a crisis.

New Motions:

(Name Missed) For tonight’s agenda. Resolution in Support of the People of Turkey and Syria. Resolution in response to earthquake on Feb. 6, in which over 20,000 are expected to be casualties, along with many other terrible consequences. In solidarity with them, the AFT, NYSUT, and UFT will find out how we can assist those in need, and that we will seek monetary donations in our own UFT.

(Name Missed): Motion for next month. Resolution to call on the panel for educational policy to end high stakes standardized testing in grades 3-5.

Resolution on Ending Disproportionate Impact of High School Probationary Teachers. Nick Bacon motivates alongside Mike Sill. This reso was written by the UFT High School Executive Board and aims to make sure high school teachers aren’t completely terminated from the DOE when they are discontinued/denied tenure. They deserve a chance to work in other districts and boroughs, a right afforded to our peers in elementary and middle schools. Sill notes that many might be surprised he’s up there with Bacon, which goes against the ‘blog narrative,’ but this is a good reso. 98% vote in favor.

Resolution Supporting the National Union of Rail, Maritime & Transport Workers. Most excited about last resolved: the UFT educate our members on the labor struggles that face working people in this country and across the globe. We can build connections – points to teacher strikes in Woburn, to nurses, and to DC37 now. Excited to build these connections.

Resolution Supporting New York Public Libraries (motivated by Randi Boxer): Mayor threatening to close public libraries via budget cuts. We need to support the libraries.

Christina Gavin: Excited about resolution. Motion to amend (crowd-sourced). A few motions have to be made as the amendment is long and apparently out of order. But all motions pass. A few supporters from different caucuses speak in support.

Gabe Barry: Resolution Supporting KCVG Amazon Workers. Already union busting in their efforts, so we need to unify with them more than ever. Already, similar resolutions have been made by other unions. Mulgrew adds that AFT is on board and that UFT is now the main meeting hub for the Amazon union. 97% vote in favor.

Resolution in Support of Just, Respectful and Safe Public Safety Practices for All

Janella Hinds: Discusses tragic Tyre Nichols death and links it to statistics on massive numbers of people who have died, particularly people of color. I have been stopped many times. Every time I hear the siren my anxiety is off the charts. Because I could end up like the many who have been killed by police. Asking you to support this resolution so that we can have a society with true justice. Amy Arundel adds that we can have conversations around our schools. Important that some areas do and don’t trust police. So we need to discuss this and push for a better society. Let’s have these difficult conversations at our schools. Another speaker also speaks in favor (name missed). Tanesha Franks speaks in favor – had first incident with Rodney King, thought it was isolated, but it turns out police brutality is a historic issue that has been going on since the origin of policing. I continue to work to decrease police brutality. Eric Garner murdered in walking distance from my home. In conversations with NYPD, we’ve gotten to a better place. But this issue isn’t about bad apples, it’s systemic, began in 1619. Might be confusing that 5 black officers murdered Nichols, though non-black officers have also since been disciplined. This is an opportunity to look at education and how we create the understanding of our future citizens. We get to impart wisdom on the next generation. Law enforcement needs ongoing education on this. Police have high domestic violence rates, suicide rates. Hurt people hurt people. If you can hurt your own spouse, what will happen when you see a Black child that you’ve conditioned to think doesn’t matter? The largest local can impart change. Tired of being afraid. We need everyone to get on board. We don’t hate the police. Motion passes.

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