Posts Tagged 'Michael Mulgrew'

Dear Michael Mulgrew, We’re Overworked!

Dear Michael Mulgrew,

Unity Caucus claims “[they] do the work.” But over the last several decades, they’ve allowed the DOE to pile on extra responsibilities for all UFT members. In essence, under Unity, we’re overworked.

Let’s take a look at an example. The other day, I was logged in for some mandatory per session. After a long day, I was ready to go home. But, this year, whenever a student quarantines, teachers are obligated to do remote office hours. In many schools, COVID rates are so high that teachers find themselves doing these office hours many times a month if not every week. Yes, teachers can pick which days they work the extra hours or forego their lunch breaks. But this extra work is compulsory. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize what’s happened here – our work days have been extended, and undemocratically at that. Had I had a seat at the table, I would have argued to replace Monday PD time with this new task. (After all, there’s precedent for this – we did something similar last year with ‘office hours’ and ‘coplanning time’ in lieu of long weekly PDs). I also would have pushed for better remote infrastructure in the first place. But, I didn’t get a vote. You’d think the DA would have been consulted, but we weren’t. As usual, you and the rest of the Unity leadership pushed the forced overtime on teachers without consulting us.

So, inspired by Norm Scott’s excellent piece detailing the ways that Unity has ‘not done the work,’ I decided to put together an incomplete list of the ways they’ve also pushed more work onto the rank and file. 

We are overworked, because Unity Caucus:

  • Negotiated endless PD Mondays and OPW time on Tuesdays in exchange for one-time wage increases. Years later, our wages have not kept up with inflation, but the extended days remain.
  • Let the DOE enforce mandatory per session for office hours (as well as special education recovery services) rather than repurpose already existing extended days. 
  • Is committed to healthcare givebacks, making us work harder to find providers or get affordable necessary care. 
  • Gave the greenlight for tenure to be extended from three to four years minimum, which is now routinely denied or extended by principals and superintendents, even after teachers put in the work to create expansive portfolios that were never required previously. 
  • Has failed to reduce class sizes or caseload caps in 60 years, even as the instructional techniques mandated by the Danielson rubric (e.g. differentiation, collaborative learning strategies) essentially require small class sizes.
  • Stripped us of many of our protections against abusive administrators, such as the PINI program, and the right to grieve letters in the file. 
  • Allowed the discipline code to deteriorate, without building up the functioning restorative justice programs we were promised would fill the void. Without any disciplinary infrastructure, teachers have significantly more draining experiences managing their classrooms, and to the detriment of all students (many of whom are traumatized by witnessing fight after fight). 
  • Let schools reopen at full capacity, without a remote option, during Omicron, leading to thousands of student and teacher infections. As misinterpretations of the new CDC guidance flourish, many of these teachers have been harassed by administrators to come back only five days after testing positive, despite maintaining symptoms. Many others have contracted long-COVID in the unsafe classrooms that Unity rubber stamped, and now must grapple with whether they even have the energy left to continue their teaching careers.

I for one am sick of being over-worked because Unity fails to deliver. Next election, I’ll be voting United for Change. They’ll actually do the work.

Signed,

-A teacher who votes

What happened to Principals in Need of Improvement?

At the November 12, 2015 Delegate Assembly a member asked how the union could help his school from an abusive administrator.

President Mulgrew answered saying it should be raised in consultation at the school level. If there was no relief (and how could there be!) the issue should go to the Superintendent (of course the DR already knows about it by this time!). If that didn’t resolve the abuse the Central UFT will bring it up at the Chancellor’s level.

Now here’s the kicker. He stated that after that the union would employ the PINI (Principals in Need of Improvement). But the fact is PINI, which was a bipartisan campaign to target the worst of the worst was dropped by Unity Caucus well over a year ago. It was dropped shortly after the election of Bill de Blasio and the appointment of Carmen Farina. President Mulgrew knows this full well.

This was a major disagreement New Action/UFT had with union leaders. It was the cause of New Action/UFT pulling out of the UFT Action Committee—a major component of the bipartisan relationship started between then President Randi Weingarten and New Action. A serious question is why is President Mulgrew invoking a program that he himself dropped?

In the same question period, Mulgrew mentioned helping members whose principal gave them 0 out of 60 on the observation portion of their evaluation. 0 out of 60?!? How is that possible?  If there were still a PINI, that principal would have been a candidate for the top of the list. But the answer only addressed helping the members – not consequences for incompetent who abuses his authority to harm teachers.

New Action/UFT has a comprehensive plan to deal with abusive administrators. Want answers? Contact New Action.

UFT election coverage from cityhallnews.com

Fresh Off 91-Percent Win, Mulgrew Enters Ring For Next Administration Tangle

(click here for original article)

By Chris Bragg

Less than a week after winning election as United Federation of Teachers president with a Castroesque 91 percent of the vote, Michael Mulgrew reached a landmark deal with the Bloomberg administration to end the “rubber rooms” that had become an eyesore for both the union and the administration.

The timing of the deal fed already existing speculation that, with the election over, Mulgrew might soften the confrontational approach he had taken towards the administration in the months since he was appointed to replace Randi Weingarten last July.

But Mulgrew said that far from making him more likely to acquiesce, the results of the election only strengthen his hand in dealing with the Department of Education as the UFT continues to negotiate a new contract with the administration and to fight budget cuts.

“It tells people very clearly that they can’t split apart the teachers,” Mulgrew said.

Some observers expected that the new contract would have been finalized already, given the union’s controversial decision to stay neutral in last year’s mayor’s race. The union’s contract expired Oct. 31, just days before voters went to the polls.

The two sides are currently in nonbinding mediation over the contract.

Under the Triborough Amendment of the Taylor Law, the union’s members can continue to work without a contract indefinitely until a new agreement is hammered out.

Norman Adler, a political consultant with strong ties to organized labor, said the delay appears to be a matter of timing more than anything. If the UFT gets another generous contract, this could set a bad precedent for the Bloomberg administration if it engages in pattern bargaining with other unions that have expired contracts, such as District Council 37, he said.

In addition, with the city and state budgets in flux, now would be a poor time to strike a new deal, Adler said.

“If they come to terms now, they can’t possibly be very good,” Adler said. “They’re going to try and do it when things aren’t quite so bad.”

One benefit of the rubber rooms for the UFT, Adler said, could be that it will take a contentious issue off the table as negotiations continue.

Mulgrew was able to run up the huge margin of victory in the recent election, meanwhile, by appealing to the major dissident faction of the union, the New Action caucus, which has pushed for union leadership to take a harder line with the Bloomberg administration. The union recently filed a lawsuit against the Department of Education to try and stop the closure of 19 schools around the city, a move that endeared him to New Action. A judge has since blocked the school closings.

This faction and Mulgrew have not always agreed. New Action leadership felt that the union should have endorsed Thompson in the mayor’s race rather than remaining neutral, a move that could have swung the closer-than-expected race. But in the end, New Action’s leadership decided they agreed with Mulgrew on more than they disagreed, especially on the school closings lawsuit.

“The school closings campaign was really helpful,” Mulgrew said.

Mulgrew’s opponent in the UFT presidency race, James Eterno, heads a second, smaller dissident faction called ICE/TJC that has broken away from New Action over a belief that it has ceased to be a true opposition party.

Though Eterno has not always seen eye-to-eye with Mulgrew himself, he acknowledged that the huge margin of victory had to some extent validated Mulgrew’s approach so far.

“His 91 percent, you can’t laugh about it,” Eterno said. “You can’t say it doesn’t mean anything.”


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Content of signed articles and comments represents the opinions of their authors. The views expressed in signed articles are not necessarily the views of New Action/UFT.
June 2022
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