UFT Executive Board Minutes – Unity Caucus Votes Down UFC Resolutions to Fight Abusive Administrators and Fund Our Healthcare

UFT Executive Board Minutes – 11/21/2022

Sill: Calls for minutes. All Minutes approved.

Mulgrew (President’s Report): CEC tonight, so short report. Schools doing their own policy books – no such thing, there are strict guidelines. Had this issue a couple years ago which superseded our contract and chancellor regs. Can’t do that! Going to share out guidance with DRs and Superintendents. No such thing as getting a letter in the file for not following such a reg.

This Saturday, 7 place giving away thousands of books and here at Shanker giving away thousands of coats. Holidays are tough for people, especially kids in shelters.

Consultation with Chancellor today. Moving forward with class size legislation. Law is quite prescriptive. Schools with greatest economic challenges get the first class size legislation.

Special education: If you hear about schools that are just changing IEPs, let Michael know. Can’t just change an IEP because you don’t have the program.

Negotiation season. Also holiday season – try to take the time with your loved ones. Happy Thanksgiving.

Open Mic:

Chapter Leader from District 2:  Learning that functional chapter members like paraprofessionals are being asked to do random things – party planning, bulletin board decoration, hallway duty. Psychologists, social workers, counselors, all have massive caseloads. In addition to SEISIS and crisis intervention, they also have to train staff on suicide prevention, coach parents, organize field trips. My question is how do we make sure we protect our functional members from administrative abuse and overwhelming extracontractual asks.

Sill: Some of those things are covered by contract. We can stop by. Workload issues can be handled in operational complaints. I would recommend emailing Debbie Poulos.

No staff director’s report today (LeRoy not here), so please do that doing.

Question Period (15 Minutes):

Nick: Which schools/principals are under investigation in respect to the 25 teachers who came to teach here from the DR? Has the UFT reached out to all the teachers involved?  Has the AFT already begun to help these teachers to avoid deportation?

Mary Atkinson: Have met with pro bono attorneys to discuss housing support, visa support, clarity in terms of who they pay rent to, who they need to continue/not continue paying rent to, relationship with ADASA and other organizations. You probably read in the news that the principal of MS80 did get removed, his wife is a teacher at another school. So there are some questions about who is involved. We need to make sure people understand who they can trust. Talked to lawyers, who will connect law firms, pro bono aid, and immigration rights. Only school I’m aware of that there is an investigation is MS80, may be others. Another administrator works at Tweed. There could be any number of investigations of people involved that would never be shared with UFT until someone is asked to be given representation in such an investigation. This means a lot to me.

Ed Calamia: What is our exit strategy if the amendment to 12-126 does not pass?

Geoff Sorkin: Cannot give you answer right now. MLC is working on it. Right now our focus is on changing the administrative code.

Ronnie Almonte: Great that we were able to work on a reso and get it passed on the agenda. Thank you to those working, like Mary, to make sure they do get justice. Hearing different things about compensation. In what cases would educators be paid a substitute rate?

Sill: O to Q grievance is when a teacher is getting paid per diem rates for doing regular teacher work. But all of the teachers involved from the DR are on the Q payroll (the higher rate). Are some questions about steps, like subs can’t go on to 4B.

Mary Atkinson: Adds that this is also an everyday issue.

Lydia: Which companies answered the RFP for in-service healthcare? Who are we actually considering working with?

Geoff Sorkin: I signed a nondisclosure agreement, so not available for public consumption at this time.

Question period ends early.

Reports from Districts:

Karen Alford: People are struggling to make ends meet. Please do a toy drive in your schools. You can also donate money or send us a new toy. We are having a holiday party for students in early December. In addition to those students, we’ll be passing out toys to students in homeless shelters.

Amy Arundell: Success Academy. In Queens we are facing two new success academy co-locations (28 and 29). Working with the parents, schools, SLTs, to organize resistance to these co-locations. All in southern queens. One even involves putting an elementary school in high schools. PEP vote upcoming on Nov. 30 on a colocation in D. 27, please show up and talk about not supporting co-locations. Jan. 5 for the other two. We are back in it, and are asking for your support against this charter.

Servia Silva: Origami event upcoming.

Leo Gordon: CTE awards are upcoming, Jan. 3rd. Dec 5th and 6th (?). Full day of instruction for students and teachers to have adobe vouchers (free but worth $150).

Janella Hinds: UFT fighting against distributive scoring for about a decade. They have changed the policy and are going back to local scoring. Still work for small schools and some particular exams without as many people taking them.

Also, Dec. 1st, event on ‘La Race.’ Theatre buffs should join! Flyers will be coming out shortly.

Sean Rockowitz: A few events mentioned, including a movie night (completely booked despite being put out last night!).

Rashad Brown: World Aids Day, going to have our first candle light vigil. We want to get rid of AIDS. St Vincent Square.

Secondly, on behalf of Rich Mantell, coat drive was beautiful.

Elizabeth Perez: On Nov. 5th, parent resource fair, over 1,000 parents and teachers attended. Over 40,000 books.

Adam Shapiro: Tenure workshop week and a half ago. Had 85 untenured teachers there. Thanks people for helping. Next week, over 60 people registered for new member meet and greet.

Tom Murphy: Last hybrid meeting, we had 200 people in this room and 2600 people online. Q and As alternated between online and in-house, well received. Georgia, if we win the runoff, huge implications. Flyers if any of you are interested in helping. Some people are travelling there.

Victoria Lee: Good news from pension department. 31,000 people signed up last year for our pension stuff. Go over much of the nitty-gritty. Never too early to start planning for your retirement. Please come.

Lamar Hughes: Oct. 28 had a new member meeting group in Queens at a pool hall.

Camille Eddy: Win for district 16. BCOES cleared out and came into the districts. Classroom teachers displaced, so went in with Brooklyn team, principal, superintendent, we got a staff lounge renewed, parents office redecorated. Use the power of your union to get things done.

Name Missed: Dist. 23. Had our tenure workshop in Brooklyn. New Superintendent. Asylum seekers. We helped bring some resources to them. Everyone in here is blessed. You have food, shelter, these people don’t necessarily. So please help out these people.

Tanisha Frank: UFT African heritage committee on Dec. 8th having Kwanza event, 4:30 PM.

Pat C: Moment of silence for five people murdered in Colorado.

Howie Mandell: Nurses. Had our federation of nurses. Day of celebration. Also updates on things like wound care, COVID-19, etc. Incredible event. Members are still buzzing.

Geoff Sorkin: Welfare fund business cards you can distribute to contact welfare fund.

Michael Friedman: Gun violence. Not ok. Need to do something about it.


Resolution on abusive administrators, motivated by Nick Bacon:

Imagine a teacher who has to commute 10 miles, but used to commute 3. A teacher who thought they would work at their school forever, loved it, was the CL at their school, and then found themselves under attack, with no way to stay. Their choice: leaving their school or a sure 3020-A, because an administrator was after them and others in their chapter. Imagine a chapter that organized for their CL and others under attack: wrote letters to the superintendent with names signed, did a vote of no confidence with high turnout and over 80% voting no confidence, only to find the DOE and the UFT would ghost them. Imagine time after time finding your calls for investigation went unanswered, only to find the DOE investigate your chapter meetings to dig up information, interview and make your members feel dirty for being members of the union, and find that the UFT refused to do anything about it. Imagine your principal seeing the union leadership would do nothing, and that your members would be afraid to do anything else as a result, so they went after you even more than before: writing retaliatory observations, humiliating you in front of teachers and students, writing retaliatory letters in the file for other members. Imagine too little from UFT and too late, even though many were doing their best under the circumstances. Imagine your chapter feeling so disenfranchised from the lack of support that they often asked how to withdraw COPE money or how to leave the union. All of this is a true story for a real former CL who had to leave. There are hundreds–perhaps thousands–more out there. This is why we need structures like what is shown in the reso below.

Resolution on Abusive Administrators

Whereas, hundreds of DOE administrators have been flagged by UFT members as abusive for creating toxic workplaces, taking liberties with the contract, and/or targeting teacher unionists. 

Whereas, abusive principals can destroy the careers of both tenured and probationary teachers, and in the case of probationary teachers, can do so for “any or no reason.”

Whereas, UFT Leadership does not have the power to hire, fire, or discipline administrators, but does have the power to act on our behalf by petitioning the State for increased legal protections, negotiating with the City for increased contractual protections, addressing the Chancellor during consultation on behalf of affected chapters, and, if necessary, by organizing the broader membership in solidarity.

Whereas, for several years, the UFT had a multi-caucus committee dealing with principals in need of improvement (PINI), only to needlessly disband it in 2016 without any ‘successor’ program. 

Whereas, as a result, the UFT has no dedicated formal mechanism for identifying and pressing for the removal, transfer, or remediation of abusive administrators. 

Whereas, a lack of systematic response by UFT to abusive administrators damages member morale, and signals to problematic administrators that they are immune from consequences.

Whereas, in the wake of the Janus decision, failure to address abusive administrators can lead our members to lose faith in the union, putting our local at risk.  

Resolved, that the UFT will work to amend State law to give probationary teachers more protections so that teachers and other staff are not subjected to arbitrary and capricious actions, and be it further

Resolved, that the UFT will work to increase protections and resources against workplace bullying of our members by principals, drawing on recent legislation such as Senate Bill S3395A:  the New York State Healthy Workplace Bill. And be it further

Resolved, that the UFT will work in negotiations to strengthen the UFT contract to afford more protections for both probationary and tenured UFT members, and be it further

Resolved, that the UFT will  highlight the problems of abusive administrators, through membership involvement, various forms of social media, publications, etc., and be it further

Resolved, that the UFT will employ a multifaceted campaign to end the reign of terror of abusive administrators. This campaign will include the many tools and approaches that have previously been passed at Delegate Assemblies including: taking all legal remedies, establishing “swat teams” to go into schools with a history of abuse, assigning key UFT personnel to monitor and regularly visit said schools, organizing campaigns within and outside these schools to modify the behavior of abusive administrators and if necessary to remove them from their schools. And be it further

Resolved, that the UFT will re-establish a multi-caucus Principals in Need of Improvement (PINI) committee to oversee this process. 

Signed by: Ronnie Almonte, Nick Bacon, Ed Calamia, Lydia Howrilka, Alex Jallot, Ibeth Mejia, Ilona Nanay


Rashad Brown: Rises against. We already have programs. Build the chapter.

Lydia Howrilka: 10 years ago, I was a first year teacher at District 9, had amazing CL. My principal was a well known career ender. Was discontinued in my first year after asking for a mentor. When I spoke to CL, that’s when the trouble started. At the end of the year, I filed a grievance, was put in a rubber room, before being fired. I started out my career, trying to help my members fight back. We were a strong chapter. Respectfully, the UFT knows who are the trouble principals. We need to give our members a chance to fight. We just need backup.

Janella Hinds: Stands against. We are the union. What’s being requested in this motion already exists, not in PINI form. The work that is being done. Because principals are protected by a union, we can’t come into schools to help. Speak in strong opposition because the work is happening.

Ilona Nanay: Surprised that there are so many speaking against this reso. A lot of those things being said of strong CLs was true of Nick. A lot of chapters use the existing structures. Saying that from personal experience. To have folks come up to talk about better training, why? So they can martyr themselves. This seems antithetical to why we’re here. A single chapter does not have the resources or the force that the union has. We don’t negotiate school by school. That’s why we do it as a City. We’re stronger together. The only evidence that’s needed is MS80. That principal has been there for a while, had allegations against him before teachers were brought from the DR to him. Perhaps we could have prevented what happened there if we had more structures in place. Struggling to see why we’re against this.

Lamar Hughes: As much as it pains me, I stand in opposition, largely because it implies that members are on islands without any help. You have not lived until a principal has told your wife that you can’t go home and tend to sick kid. Or when you’re written up for taking too long in the bathroom. Will not be dismissive to what you’re feeling. Had school in District 27, won a union animus case. It’s not as easy as we want it to be, at the base of all this is strong chapters. We have contractual language to help.

Nancy Armando: In opposition. Was a CL in Lamar’s first school. Went through some tough times, rallied. Made the right connections, and we did it. Got rid of two principals using the tools we have already at our disposal.

Unity Caucus votes down.

Next reso, Ronnie Almonte: Rich have gotten richer. Wall street profits have risen, but hasn’t been as good for workers. We’ve been hit with big inflation that doesn’t capture the magnitude of impact, e.g. on food. Have to rethink our strategy of where the money is going to come from. We want to propose some tax justice. For instance, the stock transfer tax. We’re encouraging to find other tax sources for our healthcare and for our contract in general.

Resolution to Fund Health Care with new Taxes on Millionaires and Billionaires

Whereas, US corporate profits have risen with the widest margins since 1950, and

Whereas, Wall Street’s profits have returned to pre-pandemic levels, and

Whereas, the rise of health care costs have disproportionately hurt workers suffering from inflation especially food (10.9%) and energy (17.6%) inflation, and

Whereas, the Municipal Labor Committee (MLC), including our own United Federation of Teachers (UFT), agreed to find over $600 million in annual savings to the City in exchange for past salary increases, and

Whereas, co-pays for public sector employees have at least tripled and coverage has narrowed since the MLC’s 2014 agreement to find the City health care savings,

Whereas, the Mayor and the MLC proposed a plan to move retirees from Medicare to a privatized Medicare Advantage plan potentially managed by a for-profit company like Aetna that is under federal investigation for fraud, and

Whereas, in this plan the option for retirees to stay with Medicare would cost them over $4,500 a year for couples, an option that over 64,000 public sector retirees had chosen anyway in a show of their commitment to the quality of Medicare over Medicare Advantage,

Whereas, the proposal to move retirees to Medicare Advantage has caused extreme consternation and anxiety for the 250,000 NYC public service retirees (including UFT retirees) potentially affected due to fears that “cost savings” would be accomplished by reducing access to providers and procedures, and overall diminishing the quality and quantity of health care they would receive, and

Whereas, Judge Lyle Frank ruled on March 2, 2022 that the plan could not go forward as presented, as it violated the City’s Administrative Code 12-126, and

Whereas, the Mayor and the MLC agreed to lobby the City Council to amend the City’s Administrative Code 12-126 to allow their Medicare Advantage plan to go forward, and

Whereas, the proposed amendment to the Code would maintain a premium-free option for health care by allowing the city to create different “classes” of individuals, with each class having its own benchmark for the City’s contribution, and thereby eliminating equal treatment in health coverage which is currently the law, and

Whereas, changing the Code would set a precedent for the City to downgrade health care quality and access in future negotiations, potentially increasing the financial burden and health risk for the city’s entire workforce, which is two-thirds people of color and earns incomes on average much lower than that of most UFT members, and

Whereas, the City has threatened to offer only Medicare Advantage to retirees and impose premiums on in-service employees if the MLC does not find $600 million in annual savings,

Whereas, the MLC as representative of over 100 municipal unions should advocate for better funding for health care that does not cause union members, including UFT in-service members and retirees, grave concerns, and

Whereas, the UFT and New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) have a long track record of supporting budget fairness in New York City and New York State, such as NYSUT’s recent #FundOurFutureNY campaign.

Therefore, be it Resolved, that the UFT now stands in opposition to revising Administrative Code 12-126, and urges the MLC to follow suit, and be it further

Resolved, that the UFT in collaboration with NYSUT will look for fair funding sources to help the City meet its health care obligations to its employees and retired employees without reducing the quality or quantity of medical service, and

Be it further resolved that the UFT consider sources including, but not limited to: a progressive income tax for those with incomes over $5 million, or restoration of the Stock Transfer Tax which could gain over $12 billion of income to the State, or tax on the wealth of billionaires, or closing the carried interest loophole, or a pied-à-terre tax on luxury second homes in New York City, or implementing an inheritance tax on the highest 1% of inheritances, or repealing the corporate profit tax breaks implemented by President Trump within New York State and restoring pre-2017 percentages, or eliminating rebates for taxes on stock buybacks, or repealing tax exemptions on luxury goods such as private planes and yachts, or eliminate city property tax breaks for real estate billionaires and

Be it further resolved that the UFT will take the lead urging the MLC to wage a full-scale campaign, by organizing rallies, protests, and buses to Albany to push the City and State to institute or restore these revenue sources, which could be used to secure the continued stability of our members’ and retiree’s health care.

Signed by: Ronnie Almonte, Nick Bacon, Ed Calamia, Lydia Howrilka, Alex Jallot, Ibeth Mejia, Ilona Nanay

Ed Calamia: Supports. I asked earlier what plan B was if the code isn’t amended. This reso is a good plan B. There are actual solutions to funding our healthcare in this reso. Could also encourage people who are currently opposed to the NY Health Care Act to endorse it, which could lead to other interesting funding opportunities.

Ibeth Mehia: Supports. I support the UFT changing course to come out in opposition to amending Administrative Code 12-126.  Most retirees do not want to be forced into a privatized Medicare Advantage plan where some health insurance company can get even richer on our backs. Strong unions like the UFT should be taking on these insurance giants. 12-126 gives us a nice benchmark plan with the HIP-HMO rate. Leave it alone and find savings elsewhere. The Taylor Law protects healthcare collective bargaining rights. It is a mandatory subject of bargaining.The moratorium clause is part of a state law that protects school district retirees in NY. I am not a lawyer but I like our chances if the City or Arbitrator Sheinman try to impose something unpopular on our retirees or active people. Privatized Medicare is unpopular. This is from Workbites.

Council Member Joann Ariola (R-Queens) told Work-Bites she had fielded thousands of queries from constituents on the Medicare Advantage controversy and that it was running 10 to 1 against making the change in the Administrative Code sought by Mayor Adams and the MLC leadership.

Brooklyn Council Member Charles Barron, (D-Brooklyn) said he was “100 percent with the retirees…because I think they have to keep the commitment they have because it’s beneficial for those who paid their dues and I think the Medicare Advantage approach is privatizing.”

“Healthcare costs are out of control,” said Council Member Gale Brewer (D-Manhattan). “I have been lobbied by both sides but at this point, I am supportive of the retirees.”

That is a Republican, a left wing Democrat and a more  moderate Democrat I just cited.

Now I would like to cite a past UFT President: the legendary AL Shanker. He said the Union should avoid splitter issues. By seeing what the Council Members are saying, this is clearly a splitter issue. It is the MLC leaderships and their supporters against the rank and file retirees.

Change course. Let’s play this out. If the MLC leadership gets a bill in front of the Council, there have to be public hearings. I can pretty much guarantee the MLC leadership will be standing against 9-11 survivors and heroes who will be at the Council en masse to oppose this change to 12-126 that will force them into privatized Medicare. Please don’t do it. There is no MLC consensus on revising 12-126 Most of the uniform unions who are quite popular oppose changing 12-126 and they blame the UFT for leading this battle. Don’t split the labor movement and don’t try to balance the City books on the backs of retirees by privatizing their healthcare. We need to buy time until we can work for a national single payer system like every developed nation on earth has except for the USA. 

I suggest putting together a blue ribbon panel as has been proposed. Find otherb ways to save money with new audits and other savings but please leave the 12-126 as it is and support this resolution.

Nick Bacon: We voted on a contract not knowing that an appendix dedicated to our healthcare savings. We wouldn’t have voted that way if we knew we were funding our raises with crappier healthcare. We were lied to, as many recent articles showcase. This reso would enshrine the protections of 12-126 so that we don’t end up with healthcare that’s worse than HIP (our current benchmark). It would also make sure we had money to come from OUTSIDE to fund our healthcare, rather than funding it with our raises, or funding our raises with our healthcare.  

Vince Gaglione: Judge has stolen years and years of precedent for our union’s collective bargaining rights, so this resolution should fail, though there is good stuff about funding.

Ilona Nanay: Judge did not say that. Let’s just vote yes on this so the DA can vote on it. It’s a more representative body, let’s put this resolution before the DA.

Joe Usatch: Of the Medicare-eligible plans, we have many Medicare Advantage plans and they are chosen. When you don’t get creative on funding, you get in trouble. We’re the only municipality with premium free benefits. Let MLC continue their work.

Question called. Unity votes down.


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