Strikes, charters, contract, and endorsements: UFT Delegate Assembly Summary/Analysis/Minutes,  4-10-2023

Quick Summary/Analysis:

  • Strikes: We now have a pro-strike resolution approved to be on next month’s agenda, which means it’s quite likely to pass at a future DA. Matt Driscoll (MORE) motivated it, and you should take the time to read his full speech in the minutes below. I am thankful that Mulgrew called on Matt, a known opposition figure. I am also glad that, despite Unity having recently argued against our own right to strike, they did not speak out against this resolution. The difference here is that Matt’s resolution had to do with the general right to strike in the U.S., which is distinct from UFT arguing to reform the Taylor Law that prevents us from striking here in New York City. I look forward to hopefully seeing Unity expand its strike support to UFT’s own members in the future. In the meantime, this is a good move forward. Just look at what the mere threat of a strike just did for teachers in L.A.
  • Contract: Mulgrew was a bit vague, but based on things he said today, it does appear that things are moving forward on contract. Might we have a tentative agreement by the end of the school year? I’m starting to think the answer is yes. Whether that contract will be worth the paper it’s printed on will be another story.
  • Charters: We do still need to worry about charter school caps being raised in New York City. That’s still on the table. The High School Executive Board collaborated with Unity on a resolution presented at the end of the DA solidifying our opposition to Hochul’s move. There are other actions also happening. This needs to be on everyone’s radar.
  • Curriculum: Things aren’t looking good on curriculum. I’ve gotta say, this could be a major workplace issue, and one which will hurt teachers and students. Unfortunately, it’s not a subject of collective bargaining, according to Mulgrew. Although, since we’re currently in the middle of negotiations, I do wonder why we don’t move to change that.
  • Endorsements 1: The endorsements part of the DA was a farce, and based on the vote, I think that many members understand that. First, Unity used precious time in the motivation period to move the District Attorney endorsements before City Council. The DA endorsements were always going to be less controversial, which I thought was the purpose, but it turned out that two of the endorsed DA candidates were there. There’s something unsettling about Mulgrew having brought them before the endorsement – can you imagine the egg on face if we’d voted this down or contended it?
  • Endorsements 2: City Council was more contentious. Ryan Bruckenthal introduced an amendment to add a missing name (Tiffany Caban). They responded that she might be in the next round and that she first should go through the process. Of course, the process is heavily flawed, monopolized by one caucus within the UFT, but I wasn’t called on to make this point. With a ‘second round’ of endorsements in mind, I’ll add that it’s not just who was omitted that was the problem. No, many of the candidates who were proposed to be endorsed were far from progressive. Some had voted for budget cuts and at least one was pro charter. A few people were allowed to speak out against and make these points, but not too many, and the Unity response here was that we should stick to the amendment. Then, the question was called for all issues before the house. If you aren’t versed in Robert’s Rules of Order, this means that the entire resolution was now going to be voted on, even though delegates had predominately only spoken about an amendment that Bruckenthal withdrew anyways.  Unity loves calling the question, but it was an odd moment to call it. Based on the results of the later vote, delegates clearly voted to end debate in part because many thought they were only voting to end debate on a withdrawn amendment. When immediately after ending the debate the entire resolution was up for a vote, a full third of delegates voted against the endorsement. This was not at all the unanimous result that Mulgrew probably wanted. Seemingly startled by the low approval, he gave an apologist argument for the ‘mistakes’ that endorsed members made last year.
  • Peloton: A minor point, but UFT is doing a ‘peloton’ event. Do they have any idea how little we make? Pelotons are priced for UFT officers, not teachers. I’m a little lost here and heard from many members who felt it was out of touch. But I digress. The minutes follow.

Informal Minutes

Mulgrew: Introduces Pallotta, who did great work for us on the political side at NYSUT. NYC teacher who is retiring.

Andy Pallotta (Outgoing NYSUT President): Been a UFT member, District Rep. When we work together we do great things. Thanks for your support over the years.

Mulgrew: You will be missed.

Nationally, having conversations on gun control. Not sure what’s gonna have to happen. AFT has spoken to us, contact at NEA. Things are getting jumbled around. Thankfully good people down there.

Supreme Court: Constantly watching. Roe v Wade, what they’re doing on the other issues, overreach. If this unsettlement keeps happening, will be interesting to see what happens nationally. I know you wanted to see the Fox News Trial, but you can afford to lie with such a massive payout. Some more lawsuits.

State: Judges are done. Happy with some appointments. Seems like there’s some sort of bail compromise, but confusing because tied to housing, also important to us – difficult to live here. If we can’t increase housing stock, prices will go up.

Charter fight is not over. Not even sure how you come up with the term Zombie Charters. Not in the law. Same with expansion of charters from k-5 all the way to 12. Big thing is why are we even talking about this? Charters are half empty in NYC. NYC Charter Institute, basically Fox News, talks about waiting lists, but that doesn’t compute when schools are half empty. If you need more charters, backfill the ones you have. We have a class size law now in NY. So why would we put more charters in NYC when we need more space now? Thanks people who activated on Friday night to keep pushing. I know you aren’t hearing a lot about it, but need to understand it. If Albany doesn’t base it on the facts, kids are gonna get hurt.

Class size, three entities: CSA, DOE, UFT, not just about next year. In September, some schools will already get the reductions, based on student need. Moving on issue. Going well.

City Council / Budget Fight: City calling for more cuts. Council digging in heals. Progressive Caucus already saying they won’t approve the budget. Others as well. Appreciate that Albany sent more money to NYC, but the problem is schools still getting cut. Can the state tell the City what to do in terms of budgeting? Yes. If we have a second straight year. City Council Breakfast shortly.

Curriculum project is not going well. Lots of communication issues. Will see where that goes. Keep hearing about outside vendors, and we’re saying no.

Contract: Good governance negotiation this morning. It was constructive, moving. Money is one issue. We’re still playing with everything. Happy with colleagues in La who got 21%, so they can get their top salary up, which will help with recruitment. But, we’re now having a real problem with that too. The other issue that goes across all titles is time being wasted, autonomy being taken away, and being disrespected and having no voice. This is a national problem. Have to have this fight and have it now. When people are saying half of their work time is waste – nothing to do with why hired, that’s a massive problem.

Political landscape around education: We know who the enemies are in general, but some things are being done by us. Data Driven instruction is driving us nuts. They are now assessing the assessments – not kidding. Laughing, but no joke, this is what’s going on. And so disconnected from what’s happening to schools. Chapters just want toner for the printer, because they’re required to print so much. Schools are still submitting per session sheets – why not an app that makes it easier for us? Yesterday, there was a CAT team meeting. We’re finalizing the survey results – they’re strong. People are fed up with everything. Next week, we want a week of action of informational leafletting. ‘50% of my time is not me working for your child. The assessments are causing morale issues.’ So on Monday, we’ll send everything out to CAT teams. We’ll do a run of pre-printed leaflets. Then, from Tuesday to Friday, we want the leafletting, and we want NYC to understand that enough is enough. We want the city to understand we’re being made to waste our time. Borough Reps will pick some schools to distribute. I’ll be with the press. Money was the number one priority for members, we knew that, but this was close behind. There’s traction to move right now. So we have to move.

Secretary’s Report:

LeRoy Barr: Academic high schools awards on Friday, May 5th. Doors open at 4:00 PM. UFT pedal pushers a virtual team Peleton riding group, April 25th, reach out to Team High Schools (Peleton). Aids walk, Sunday May 31st. 10th annual 5k run, Saturday June 10th at Coney Island.

Questions Period:

Name Missed: Question about curriculum. Y

Mulgrew: Right now it will be 15 of the school districts. All but 2 would be using HMH. We’re trying to work this out with them. This the tough part of the union. We know it’s in our interest to work with them, because it won’t work out if left to just them. But we get frustrated hearing the agendas, etc. We’ve had planning sessions, but we’re adamant on a couple of things, but we don’t have collective bargaining rights on it. We want teachers to work with teachers, masters teachers, teacher centers, career ladder – and that’s where we’re stuck. The DOE tells us they have no money, but in ten minutes I could slash millions of dollars of contracts out of the DOE – stuff that is a joke, works for no one. We also know as teachers we need to engage our students. The literacy/comprehension parts are solid, but we want to be able to fill in the other pieces. Culturally responsive instruction: we have 200 cultures we teach to NY. DOE doesn’t even seem to grasp that. Love that we live in the most diverse city in the planet, but we know that to engage our students we need to work out how we will support them. A little more positive last month than I am this month. But worth aggravation if we can get somewhere.

Jessica LaBarbera: Principal preference for possibly working remotely on curriculum days? All of the math/science depts are being told to come into the building to do virtual training.

Mulgrew: Our position is clear that it’s a waste of your time. City has said no longer support virtual work, but if you go to DOE on a Friday you see everyone is working virtually. If you really want people, treat them as professionals.

Christine Joseph: Open Market season is here. Most of my school’s teachers want to go on open market for many reasons. Are principals able to see when staff goes on open market?

Mulgrew: They can’t see it, but a principal can always call another principal. A lot of positions not there because of budget. City needs budget from state to put out their budget.

Name Missed: What is happening with the upcoming calendar for 2023-2024.

Mulgrew: Plan is it will be out by the end of this week. Or so we always hear. Keeps changing. Calendar is always tight, because the most diverse city has the most holidays. We are in one of those years where Passover and Easter are nowhere near each other. We feel we have a proposal making everyone happy – well we try, UFT has strong opinions. This has only happened twice in the last 50 years. I was around for the last one – and we had to tell everyone to love they brother and sister.

Name Missed (retiree): Last week there was a retired teachers meeting, but many of us were locked out with a glitch. We received a letter saying thank you for attending and then would be another one scheduled?

Mulgrew: Yes, another meeting is scheduled. There will need to be a series of specific meetings dealing with everything.

Matt Driscoll: For next month. Thanks LeRoy for making copies.

The resolution I’m motivating was written by Workers Strike Back and is part of a nation-wide push to demand the Supreme Court protects the right to strike.

For decades big-business has waged an unrelenting war on organized labor, Starting with the Taft-Hartley Act in 1948.  We saw state after state enact “right to work” laws designed to cripple labor unions, companies and political leaders have worked to destroy union after union,and courts continually side with corporations and bosses over workers. In 2018, the Supreme Court launched an unprecedented attack on public sector workers by reversing the Abood v. Detroit Board of Education precedent that allowed unions to require all public sector workers represented by unions in negotiations to pay dues or agency fees. In Janus v. AFSME all public sector unions in the country effectively fell under right to work rule in a blatant attempt to defund organized labor and shrink our numbers. In 2017 I worked in the UFT’s member organizing institute, knocking on the doors of hundreds of UFT members to talk about what it means to be a member of a strong union. Almost every single member I spoke to recommitted to the UFT. In the wake of this organization, and because of the hard work of rank and file, our membership actually increased after the disastrous Janus decision!

I am grateful to have a union with so many dedicated members, but the attacks I just spoke of have continued, and we need to continue to fight back. In January the Supreme Court listened to oral arguments in Glacier Northwest, Inc v International Brotherhood of Teamsters. Glacier NW is suing Teamsters Local 174 for alleged financial damages from a 2017 strike. In the 1959 San Diego Building Trades Council v Garmon Supreme Court case,  the court set the precedent that a strike protected by the NLRA preempts a company’s claims of financial loss. Glacier NW is the most aggressive anti-labor attack since Janus

Corporate bosses understand that the ability to strike is the strongest weapon workers in trade unions have in the struggle to maintain fair pay and safe working conditions. Glacier NW is nothing short of a direct attack on workers’ right to strike. 

Resolutions calling for national action to defend the right to strike like this have been pushed in other unions nationally, including dozens of unions and labor organizations in Seattle like UAW Local 4121, IATSE Local 15, AFGE Local 3197, and others. A similar resolution in the MLK County Labor Council, which represents more than 100,000 union members in King County, Washington, passed with 97 percent support. I call on the UFT to support our union siblings across the country in demanding that the court affirm the precedent set in 1959 protecting this basic right. We must affirm that the strike is labor’s most powerful tool in fighting against abusive bosses and a system that seeks to exploit workers for the sake of capital. 

As the resolution states “Unions are crucial bulwarks against racism, sexism, transphobia and other attacks on workers.” The right to strike is critical in maintaining the hard fought victories that protect workers from these attacks. I ask that every delegate and chapter leader here join me in standing in support of our union siblings in Teamsters Local 174.

No one speaks against. Matt asks a quick question and Mulgrew treats hostilely, saying he reminds him of an old administrator he used to have.  

Motion passes. 88% vote yes, on next month’s agenda.

Lamar Hughes: Change resolution to change 2 to 1 (district attorneys instead of city councils).

Mulgrew: Understand what you’re doing, but up to body.

78% yes.

District Attorneys:

Mary Atkinson: In support. Good candidates. For instance, Katz helped with schools who were in trailers (getting removed). Has worked with UFT. McMahon has done a lot to combat opioid crisis. Etc, etc.


Then several DAs come up.

DA Clark: Thanks teachers. I wouldn’t be who I am without you. You shape lives each and every day. Losing a generation to violence. Need safe environments for our kids. Will continue to go to any career day. I will always be here. Will continue to fight to keep schools safe.

DA Katz: There have been three district attorneys in history of NYC. Heard the nominations before we walked in. Have been there for many fights around schools. Believe my job is to keep this borough safe. Put money into programs so that students know we care. Want our kids not to end up in court rooms to begin with. You are a huge part of that. Partnership that we feel with the UFT.

Resolution 2: City Council

Liz Perez: Moving City Council Endorsements.

Ryan Bruckenthal: Adds Tiffany Caban. She was out there trying not to cut money schools.

Mulgrew: Did she go through the process?

Name Missed: Name is not in this round, but will be in the next. We have 51 council members. What we did in this round is we took people with big primary races. Then we took  it to political action teams. Next round of endorsements in this next round.

Mulgrew: We have a process, Tiffany hasn’t been through the process.

Ryan: Still like to keep this on the floor.

Matthew Z: Speak against. I don’t know all the names. Not sure why we’re supporting those members who voted to defund schools. Feels wrong to do blanket endorsement for all of them.

LeRoy Barr: Against amendment. Don’t want to speak against Tiffany, but don’t want to disenfranchise the people in the district who went through the process. There’s a process. We heard her name is going forward.

Anthony Harmon: Rise to speak against the amendment. Trust the process. Don’t want to usurp .

Maritna Meijer: Question of why we are supporting members who are in support of charter schools. Why are we in support?

Anthony Harmon: Should only talk to the amendment at hand.

A delegate then calls question on all matters before the house, before there’s a chance to debate the resolution itself (not just the amendment). A big majority votes in favor of ending debate, but it’s clear from people talking in the room that there isn’t clarity that we’ve just ended debate for the entire resolution.

66% yes. Motion passes..

Mulgrew: Last year was a learning curve for City Council. Some voted for budget cuts, but wanted to do away with them. So it’s up to the committees to do the endorsements. Cuts.

AGENDA ITEM #3 – RESOLUTION ON MOBILIZING UFT MEMBERS FOR ACTION DURING THE WEEK OF EARTH DAY, APRIL 22, 2023 – Endorsed by Ryan Bruckenthal. (Copy available in agenda sent out by LeRoy Barr).

Item 4: Resolution in Opposition to Gov. Hochul’s 2023 Charter School Proposal motivated by Janella Hinds with Ilona Nanay. We know their proposal will be harmful to New York City. Invite to meet up in Bronx on Saturday to continue to rally. Copy available at bottom of minutes here.



  • Avatar
    Mike D.

    What is, “Governance Negotiation”? I am a tad concerned that Mulgrew is saying that much of what we do is a waste of time. Does this mean that the City is going to push for using the extended day time for more instruction? I hope that is not the case. Extended time should be self directed by the teacher and could be done remotely. Parent outreach, PD, grading papers, lesson planning can be done from home. Last, Mulgrew is lying by stating the the city does not allow remote work. DC37 contract is providing a way for some work to be done remotely starting in September.

    • BaconUFT

      That wasn’t my interpretation of what Mulgrew meant. I think he just meant that the paperwork is out of control. The Unity led UFT is actually very pro PD in my experience, though I’d also love to see Monday PDs be replaced with more self directed OPW time. As for virtual time for tasks that can be done at home (like virtual PDs), let’s see. We know the UFT’s position, let’s see if the DOE budges.

  • Avatar
    Mike D.

    Mulgrew held his outdoor, “Teach In” a few weeks ago where teachers were supposed to go out to parks or cafes and grade papers to show the public how much work we do other than teaching. In the new contract, we should be allowed to go home at 2:20pm to do that work. No need to stay in the building. Same for parent outreach, lesson planning, and most PD’s which should be self-directed and could be done before or after school on our own time.

    • BaconUFT

      Online is good, as long as it doesn’t become an excuse to ram more work requirements through. Ideally, I’d rather see the tasks associated with extended days eliminated or reduced, period. Too many principals already think 35 minutes of OPW time means they can give us 200 minutes of paperwork. Just making that time online wouldn’t fix that. To the extent that some of the things we are asked to do aren’t just excessive paperwork; to the extent that some of these things actually need to happen (e.g. parent outreach, occasional staff meetings), I agree – keep it simple, self-directed, and make it remote.

  • Avatar
    Anna D

    Can we have a count of signatures on the UFT healthcare referendum? This provides motivation.

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