Pension News / Data on Abusive Admin- UFT Executive Board 12/18/2023

Summary/Analysis: Tonight was a quick meeting. Turnout was low – a combination, I think, of the mayoral control hearing in Queens and weather-induced work-from-home decisions for some UFT staffers. Most of the news came in the question period when Tom Brown answered my inquiry about the new pension legislation. There were some relatively substantial improvements, albeit only for people in unique or tragic circumstances. I’ll leave you to the minutes to see those. Tom Brown pointed out that while not specific to Tier 6, they still give some hope that Tier 6 can be improved. I agree and disagree. I still think the sheer severity of the difference between Tier 6 and Tier 4, let alone between Tier 6 and Tier 1, makes the improvements we need for Tier 6 impossible to make through legislative reforms alone. But yes, small or highly specific changes can be made from time to time using traditional methods, and those improvements are still better than no improvements at all.

Another interesting moment in the question period came from LeRoy Barr answering my inquiry about data we take on abusive administration. I had noted that, while we sometimes have good news from chapters fighting abusive administrations, I hear from people at schools all the time dealing with an abusive administration in one or more senses of the term. I asked if we took any data, other than just the school survey, on things like turnover, average observation scores, etc – and what we did with that data. LeRoy answered that we don’t systematically have that data, that we used to do it for schools on the UFT’s radar, but wouldn’t for schools off the UFT’s radar. Ironically, albeit without naming it, he was referring to the Principals in Need of Improvement Program (PINI) which NAC championed and Unity disbanded. Maybe it’s time to bring it back! Frankly, I’d also like to see more systematic data collected, by the way, far beyond the scope of what PINI previously did.

Mark Collins spoke about major wins for nurses in arbitration decisions – specifically relating to nurses getting paid when hospitals are understaffed. It was good news, though bittersweet. When Yona Adika asked if this could be extended to OT/PTs or other DOE positions, Collins admitted that this decision was highly specific to the private sector nurses, who have very different contracts than ours. No, nothing won by the nurses can apply to those of us in the DOE – and that’s bad news. Much of our good news, by the way, is often about nurses. Why is it so rarely about educators?

Mulgrew gave his usual cryptic updates – taking much too much glee in a statement that ‘few people in the union realize that the executive board meets’ – something which, if true, is clearly not just a trivial anecdote and actually a very bad thing for our union democracy. He also said something alluding to knowing the result of the budget fight, but saying we’d know more by the end of the week – as if we were a TV show asking members to tune in next time. I have a bad feeling about the budget fight that there’s likely been something of a compromise – some cuts but not all of them. I guess we’ll have to ‘tune in’ to the next UFT meeting or email to know for sure.

For the rest, here are the informal minutes.

Informal Minutes Begin

Minutes approved.


Mark Collins:

Short staffing in NYU Brooklyn Hospital – last round, addressed – took cases to arbitration – settlements – saying units short staffed on certain dates, leading to improvements. There was a pending arbitration, which was to be addressed with the hope that remedy could take place in negotiations but come back if that failed, and that’s where we are. There was a mediated settlement – payment in connection with a case – what should happen if nurses are short staffed? There is now a short staffing arbitration panel up. The first decision, done by Edelman, ruled in favor of short staffing in dozens of cases in 2022. The decision is to take the salary of the ‘unstaffed’ position(s) and divide it amongst the nurses who are present. This is the first time an arbitration has been done, not just here, but period. NYSNA in part replicated this but haven’t achieved these outcomes. This morning, next arbitration, financial remedy – keep scheduling.

DOE Per Session decision – a retention rights decision had been denied due to a letter to the file, and in a precedential decision, it was decided that this was tantamount to a disciplining suspension and not right to give on the facts.

Michael Mulgrew: The nurses win huge for us. As presented at the DA, we’re trying to do as never done before and attack the entire healthcare system. We can’t play by their rules. We’re getting aggressive with the Department of Health   – a law we helped pass to make sure hospitals do staffing ratios, not go to the employer and get excuses.

Budget sessions – not letting mayor take money from the children of NYC. Supplanting is the fancy word for stealing. Doing the work, have something everything will know about later this week.

Unpredictability of this administration. Have to go to into schools every day.

Over 75 percent of chapter leaders now submitting consultation notes.

Why are we having a bulletin board problem? We have the data – right at the time of principal reviews, all sorts of legalese about student work and privacy….Sorry for the rant.

Thanks for all the work we do. Most members in schools have no understanding that we get together for this [executive board] meeting.

Janella Hinds: Virtual learning implementation – committee meeting regularly to discuss schools who are implementingso far 20 are approved for February – all parties informed – UFT working with cls over coming months.

Karen Alford: public school in Brooklyn had a boiler that stopped working, due to member tenacity it is back.

Saturday, full of facepainting here. Coalition of the homeless – tons of arts and crafts – games.

Michael Sill: Past, substitute teachers, paid Q-bank paid as per diem. Mulgrew gave out my email – some moving through Q Bank, if members of your schools—folks due for Q bank (covering a vacancy), not Z (filled in for some absent teachers…talk to us as well).

Nick Bacon: Sometimes we hear good news about chapters fighting abusive administrators, but we also hear all the time from teachers/chapters dealing with abusive administrators in the many senses of that term. What data are we collecting and how are we using it? I don’t just mean the school survey data – what are we collecting about other stuff – turnover rates, average observation, I know we’re still waiting for school level data on tenure decisions. What data do we have, how do we use it – both internally, but also externally? What data can we give to members, say, before they make decisions to transfer to schools?

LeRoy Barr: We do pull data from challenging schools, not all 1800 – Mike knows (Shulman) – we used to look at churn rates to determine schools. So we do have the ability to pull some data from particular schools, not all.

Yona Adika: Good news on nurses about paying them fairly, how can we transfer over to others – such as OTPT?

Mark Collins: No overlap with public sector – that grievance was specific to a specific part of a contract precedential to them (private sector nurses) but not to DOE titles like OT/PTs.

Alex Jallot: some covid going around. Can you clarify the COVID days we get – is it still five?

Mike Sill: 5 days, up to 10 If symptoms persist, needs a positive test (rapid fine) for any days, and a doctor note for more than 5.

Nick Bacon: There was some new pension legislation that the president mentioned at the DA, but he didn’t have time to go into it. Can you discuss here – I see Tom getting up.

Tom Brown: Last week, pension related bills signed.

  • Dual membership – before, if you were members of two pensions at the same time, you had to retire from the first pension – the one you were the member of first. So for instance, let’s say you were a lifeguard before you became a teacher – you’d have been forced to retire with a final salary based on your last year’s lifeguarding rather than from teaching. This bill allows you to retire under the final salary of the job under your other pension.
  • Death benefits for in service members, which cap out at 3 years (3 years salary + contributions) had a reduction of 5% per year for up to 10 years after you hit 60 years old and until you are 70. Now it is 3% per year for up to 10 years, so that’s a 20% increase in the potential amount of death benefits at that point.
  • In tier 6 campaign – these things give us hope for chipping away. Another thing – automatic enrollment in BERS for substitutes – start paying, can join TDA, and set their date of membership in stone in case another pension system (tier?) is created – in case you later go into TRS.

Goal of UFT is that we can all retire in dignity.

Reports from Districts:

Vince Gaglione: Moment of silence for Bernie Zemsky.  

Joe Usatch: Al Shanker scholarship portal now open for seniors to apply – already have 36 applicants.

Servia Silva: Coquito event a success.

Seung Lee: Origami workshop, taught by Maggie Joyce, a success. March 14 save the date for the Lunar New Year event.

Elizabeth Espert: D3 had a tenure event. There was also a well-attended Kwanza event in Queens.

Danny Rodriguez: discussion and book signing happened – Latino Caucus.

Teresa Bellow: Teacher leadership program had third meeting – will present in May.

Legislative Report: Had an anti-cuts rally hosted by Progressive Caucus, Janella Hinds spoke. Mulgrew testified at the budge meeting. VP Vacarro testified about dyslexia screening. Tonight there is a mayoral control hearing (many there). Tomorrow at 3:45 at the fountain, goal to stop policy of evicting people from housing.

LeRoy Barr: Happy holidays. Next meeting, Jan 8. Meeting adjourned.

Nick Bacon is a co-chairperson at New Action Caucus. He is also an elected member of the UFT executive board

1 Comment

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    Nick awesome question ! We should certainly extend the initiative to gather data on administrators, ensuring equitable scrutiny across students, teachers, and administrative staff?

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