UFT Healthcare Changes, Teachers Choice, and the Conflict in Israel/Gaza – UFT Delegate Assembly Notes, 10-11-2023

At today’s DA, we learned a few things:
  • Our in-service health insurance is likely to change – and not for the better, since it’s meant to be changed to get cost savings (for the City/UFT, not us). GHI/CBP, notably, is no longer one of the choices. Choice one is Aetna. Choice two is GHI with United HealthCare (presumably for hospital care, as a replacement to Blue Cross). Mulgrew tried to soften the effect of this point, which he only enumerated in any detail after a question from Daniel Alicea, by pointing to a new law he’s behind to champion reining in hospital costs. However, the chances that we’ll meet ‘all cost savings’ (previously estimated at 10%) just from a single law specific to transparency with hospitals is unlikely. Meanwhile, in terms of a law that would put all of the anxiety that would come with this to rest, the New York Health Act (NYHA), Mulgrew reiterated that he doesn’t support it, even though officially the UFT has endorsed it twice. He also mentioned that part of the reason for this was because it would put our welfare fund at risk, supporting the contention believed by many in opposition that it’s really control and patronage jobs that are keeping Mulgrew from pursuing the NYHA – not money, as he claims despite tons of evidence that he’s wrong.
  • Teacher’s Choice is back, but with reduced allotments for teachers despite record inflation. On the other hand, paraprofessionals are getting their own version of teachers choice for the first time. That’s good news, though it would be better news if the City funded it without reducing the amount for teachers.
  • There are lots of issues with the new curriculum – missing materials, lack of training, etc. A delegate called asking why we didn’t fight it. Mulgrew reiterated that he supported the move because it came with training, something I am critical of in part because I think the support has to do with patronage jobs at the teacher center. The teacher noted that her school, previously successful, was in big trouble now because of rollout issues, and wondered why there wasn’t a carveout. There apparently is a carveout process, though it’s functionally not being used, and Mulgrew expressed only mild interest in pursuing why. This is affecting elementary schools the most right now, but middle and high schools are at risk as well, something we’ve already seen with the Algebra curriculum. Cookie cutter curriculum is what we get when UFT leadership accepts it without a fight.
  • MOSL came up in the question period. A school that used a growth model for the default option, and had always been rated effective, found every teacher now has a developing MOSL. Rather than critique the absurdities of this process, with teachers being rated as inferior based on test scores for students they don’t even teach, UFT leadership defended the system, talking more about how to make sure to ‘choose’ better in the yearly gamble we all make to figure out our MOSLs. This sounds like gambling to me – not good teacher evaluation.
  • Only one resolution came up today – about the conflict in Israel and Palestine. It was a Unity resolution, apparently coming from Rich Mantell. This resolution caused a hugely divisive debate, with sides very split, even across caucuses. In the end, it passed, but narrowly, and with many members visibly upset. No other resolutions were able to come to the floor.

Informal minutes follow.

Mulgrew: Welcome to first DA of the school year. A lot of stuff to do today.

There was a big press conference here today. In 2011 when there was a really algorithm and started messing with children and making a design about everyone’s life. Does anyone want anyone’s information sold? *No.* Looking at other states. Of course social media companies sue with all their money. Last law was 1998 with any safeguards for children. At the same time, I asked Julie Menin to be here, she’s writing the healthcare and social protection act. It says to the hospitals of NYC – we need all your books. Healthcare industry got away with this for decades. They were able to hide a lot. You can imagine pressure menin was put under, but she stayed on top of it.

Julie Menin: We have been working together since 2009, and we built 3 new public schools in this district.

Mulgrew: We were the ones who kept peace in Zuccoti Park.

Menin: Skyrocketing healthcare costs. Medical debt leading debt in NYC. Unconscionable what hospitals are charging. If you go to one hospital you may get one astronomical price in one place and a better price somewhere else. What we can we collectively do to bring down healthcare costs for Nyers? Number one cost is hospital costs.

Mulgrew: Julie not going to let this go. This union has bargained for premium free healthcare for decades, not going to give it up because a couple of hospitals got greedy. They spend a lot of money disparaging people, but we are going to work on this. Thank you to Julie Menin.

President’s Report

Focus for the next couple of months is to implement the contract we received. If you haven’t heard, election day will be remote.

National: The government did not shut down. Only bill that had been passed by Congress gutted things like Medicare, Title 1, and IDEA. That’s the kind of thing we’re dealing with. But government is open until the middle of November. Very constructive nuanced debate on both sides.

Congressman Santos has been charged.

What is going on in Israel right now is horrendous. That stuff affects our government, but also globally important.

Russia wants to interfere with our election.

There was a group—the Freedom Foundation—which attacked the union with millions trying to destabilize us. They didn’t win, so went out west, but they’re back in New York.

Union activists and retirees watch this news. People are getting letters like ‘drop out of the union, give yourself a raise.’ That’s the freedom foundation. They’re attacking both NYSUT and us.

State: Governor and talking about aid on the table. Yes, DOE is in compliance this year – 20% citywide, not necessarily your school. In fact 35%. That’s important for the foundation aid from the governor, which covers the cost of hiring additional teachers and lowering the class sizes.

The Mayor of NYC does not believe in this bill. They keep putting out crazy numbers that make no sense. There is a lookback in year 3. The Mayor has gutted the capital fund. The federal government and state gov have sent more money to NYC than ever before. Only one entity has cut us – the City of NY. There’s no financial reason to do that. We’ll be going to Albany. Some kind of rule has to be put in that the Mayor of NY can no longer supplant what’s put in by the state. We gotta go fight to make sure it stops.

The other thing for Albany legislative session is ramping up fix tier 6. School funding and Tier 6 everyone likes – very much tied together. Working with our state union for past 9 months. All about timing. We want to hit strategically at the right time. Legislative session starts January 2nd. State of the state resolution. That’s at the state level.

We’ve had the health act – it’s not adding up. We’re not gonna gut our own benefits. I’m not putting our welfare fund at risk. Not putting our actual salaries at risk (because puts education funding at risk). I know we supported the resolution, but we didn’t have numbers and have them now. We have analysts who dig this stuff apart.

City: Contract – no more than 3 in a row. Elementary CLs who filled out survey, think we got about 80% there. Still fixing things out there. Our position now with the Department of Ed is we have to reprogram for Feb 1st. CLs have keep talking to principals – principal can’t just say they tried and couldn’t, they have to prove they couldn’t possibly program the school at  4 in a row.

Bussing – more work to do. We meant that yes, kids must be on bus by end of the school day. More work to do on that. Elementary teachers fought really hard for this. Moving.

Committees – where the next big thing comes. CLs and delegates you like being on committees? *groans.* No! but easiest way to go about making sure things are fixed in buildings. One is the ILT, it’s like PD, SDC. Only one change, still have school based one, must be formed by November 1st. We need district committees ready to go – that’s for aligning all PD and SD to the literacy initiative, particularly in elementary schools. High Schools just switch to what you’re doing. 9th grade, Algebra. That’s on the one committee.

On the literacy piece, the DOE had this crazy tool with tons of checklists. Start with simple – do you have your supplies. *cries of No.* Yes, we will get into the instructional approaches, but we first need to know that you have your materials and supplies. We’ve found that some of you have supplies, but not all of you have everything that you’re supposed to have. If that is your situation, have that conversation quickly with your principal, because the DOE has the materials – they bought them all. Don’t know why principals only get 17 books for 30 kids – no idea. We’ll be doing more on that.

Special education: Fought very hard to get this new committee, about looking at the trends in a school. Not about specific information for a student, it’s about trends in a school. Training involved with this. All of you will probably attend this in a virtual manner, some in person. That’s what the actual rules are. This training will be for CLs and principals, virtually together, so no one can tell the other person that’s not what it is. This training is still being constructed, with DOE and UFT, so people can’t say ‘that’s not what legal told me.’ This is them signing off on it. On election day, it’s for the whole school. What you are discussing in your school, CLs can update in CL hub, SPED forms will be there soon. First thing with sped is get all the bad policies out. This will force the DOE to have a discussion about school funding. The minute you say you’re short three paras, principal tells you they don’t have the money – maybe they don’t have it or maybe spent it wrong. Also depends on how a student’s IEP works, why they have a para for instance. This will cause a conversation at the DOE. Paras, ICT are biggest widespread issues. Bilingual services also up there. So do your conversation with the principal.

Flooding: Thank the chancellor, who came out and said we can do better. It’s not just about flooding. Do we have to shut down the whole school system? No. But we can shut down the schools and go virtual. Once you get a couple of inches of rain, these schools will have a problem. Ridiculous stuff with the shelter in place in schools filling up with water and sewage. We had about 300 schools with problems on flood day. Having those conversations with the chancellor.

Negotiated acquisition for in-service healthcare:  In a position where we can save money without reducing any benefits. We want to see when this bill kicks in, because our biggest problem is the hospitals. They’re all over the place. High cost hospital not necessarily even giving you the best service. We’re moving that along, will get aggressive. Think we’ll meet goals.

Substitutes: We have an agreement in our contract. DOE has sent us the vacancy list. Want to get our substitutes to Q status as soon as possible. Official says you get Q status when the union grieves it. They thought that was actually right. One of our biggest challenges last year was fixing substitute issues. They sent us the funded vacancies, not all the vacancies. DOE will tell you they only know which vacancies are funded, not all of them. After we get subs their Q status, we’ll look at school funding on its own.

Remote work titles: have started negotiations with DOE. Will keep you updated as we go along. We did say in the contract ratification, we have to go through this process with the functional titles to get that work done. That’s what we and all other city workers are doing.

Retro and bonuses: We didn’t have as many problems as we thought we were going to have. In SI, the OTs. People looked at stubs and saw they didn’t have it. Turned out they said they were short staffed so didn’t do smallest borough. They did do D75. Why can’t the DOE see that their people don’t get paid when this comes up?

Big legislative session coming up.

Mayoral control sunsets this year. Feds gave us more money, state did too, only mayor did not.

Tier 6 – not going to be a one year fix. It is year 11 of Tier 6. Whole idea is we make sure that nobody gets to it. Years ago Tier 1 helped Tier 4; now Tier 4’s turn to help Tier 6. Not sure where all the crazy politics are gonna go.

God knows it’s going to be one hell of a circus. Gonna be in the middle of our school year. 1100 on the phone, fullest DA room since COVID. Know we have challenges, but together can be successful. People out there want to kill us, won’t stop. Everything we have we fought for and we have to fight to keep it. Saw what happened last year with all the action teams.

Leroy Barr:

Yesterday, national mental health day. Today national coming out day. Want our brothers and sisters to know we’re standing full support with them. Have the Bronx college tour at Lehman. UFT Manhattan college tour on nov 3 at BMCC. Future and Focus here Oct 17. CL training full this weekend. Walks for Breast cancer awareness. Middle school anti-bullying conference. Then we have Xgiving clothing drive. Teacher union day. Charles Cogen award going to Debra Penny.

Servia Silva comes up and thanks the room and everyone who wore pink. Thanks the team, because without a team you can’t do this.

Posting teacher’s choice. Teachers will receive 235 this year, but paras will receive 60 dollars for the first time ever.

Question Period:

Ken Acorn: When I walked in, I saw two empty spaces behind me, because we lost a brother. Would like a moment of silence for George Altomare.

Moment of Silence.

Sandy Wong: What can I do if members didn’t file a reorganization grievance within 4 days and they’re afraid. What can do?

Mulgrew: Let’s have some folks have a conversation with the principal.

James Van Nort: about advance score we got last week. For the first time, my whole school got a Developing on MOSL. We always had effective prior. When we get to the things about student levels, it says no data available, so we don’t even know why. Have always gone with default in the past. I filed an APPR and spoke to Sally Ann, but curious – what can we do about this?

Sally Ann: In your case, you don’t see MOSL data because you have a school-level MOSL. Then, the DOE doesn’t put the data in place because of privacy issues. Reason you have developing this year is because you used a growth model with similar students, so went down to a developing. Would work on making a wider net for next year. Also, if your populations changed in any way, we could review those numbers.  

Mulgrew: We did a zoom for CLs for picking out MOSL. Important thing. Will dig deeper on your school especially those in harms way because of it when combined with MOTP. But want to make sure you’re picking right for next year. We can help you look at the data and see the way to go. When you have changes in school population, though, look out to us, because we do a lot of analysis on that. You need to be reaching out to us. Most of the times the change in population is what causes the problem. Sally can reach out to help make a decision that works better.

Olivia Swisher: Question about part of our new contract that has PD component with CTLE. Timeline for that? We had staff committee meeting and are curious because want it in our school.

Mulgrew: Mary Vacarro: She is in charge of that CTLE.

Name missed: What do you do when you have a shelter in and the police comes and it turns out that we could have seriously been in trouble but no one heard the announcement over the PA because it hasn’t been working, and we’ve been requesting that be addressed.

Mulgrew: If Jeff is here – that requires an emergency fix.

Jordan L: Talking earlier about new law on class sizes – wanted to ask about requirements for DOE. Is it 20 percent of classes across the DOE?

Mulgrew: Yes – of all classes citywide, not school-based.

Daniel Alicea: Can we get a status on the RFP for our city-wide active healthcare?

Mulgrew: Down to 2 bidders – Aetna by itself or GHI with United Healthcare. Because it’s a negotiated acquisition, we get to go back and forth. That will continue for a little bit. Mediator will pick one of them, then team will move in to negotiate what we’re trying to get done. As you’ve heard over and over today, we know we have to go to hospitals. In New York City, hospital costs are up 75 percent.

Bernadette A. : Several schools, principals have been removing all teachers desks. Is this allowed and can it be stopped?

Mulgrew: I was around when we got rid of the desk and put in the rocking chair. Then, remember the rug? They said they had to remove the desks so more room for the kids? First desk to remove is the principal’s.

Marnie Geltman: We were just having an instructional cabinet meeting today – had question why can’t principals get waivers? School in complete chaos because of new curriculum. But we were doing well. New curriculum on such short notice causing lots of problems. Why are we being forced to one size fits all? No one asked us if this was a good idea last year.

Mulgrew: Chancellor did put in a waiver process. From what I understand, not a lot of people received a waiver. We could go check this out, but the whole idea is the chancellor wanted everyone in line with curriculum so in line with teaching the science of reading. Chancellor does get to make some decisions, we said OK as long as training.

Marnie Geltman: But why did we agree to this so quickly? At one DA you said not changing curriculum, next one we were changing.

Mulgrew: What I said is I don’t want curriculum put in place unless training there in both DOE and UFT. DOE has met all of that criteria. We have trained people at our teacher center. Pacing calendars at school. Understand some principals don’t like it, but their bosses are saying they met criteria of union.

New Motions:

Rich Mantell: This month. Resolution to support tan end to the cycle of violence in the middle east.

  • Resolved that the UFT condemns the attack;
  • Resolved, that we encourage open dialogue and respect for differing perspectives while emphasizing the importance of peaceful negotiations, mutual understanding and the protection of human rights for all parties involved; and be it further:
  • Resolved that the UFT stands in support of all those working toward peace in the region, because everyone deserves to live in safety and with dignity and security; and be it further
  • Resolved that the UFT works with those willing to make any and all efforts to end the cycle of violence and to bring peace to the region for Palestinians and Israelis.

Person asks if they can move this up to number one before the vote.

83% Yes.

Nicole Keaster: Can we move to number one on the agenda?

It is moved to number 1.

Resolution in support of affirmative action and equal opportunity in responses to the June 2023 Supreme Court Ban on the use of Affirmative Action in College Admissions

Affirmative action established in 1961, updated in 1971 on gender, intended to admit marginalized groups. 78 allowed race as factors but no quotas. In 2023, ruled unconstitutional. UFT should affirm use of affirmative action.

76% goes on this month’s agenda.


Cycle of Violence in the Middle East

Patricia M (retired): As teachers always trying to show difference between right and wrong. We think of the kids in Israel watching all this violence, I don’t know how we stand up to make this a teachable moment – never violence as answer. Stand behind children and families.

Jeff A. Amendment to remove second and 8th paragaraph, because starts with blame, not reconciliation. (mentioned Hamas).

Israel Soto: Which side are we condemning Hamas or Israel? Which one?

Mantell: Hamas.

Mantell: We’re talking a particular moment in time and what took place Saturday. It was an attack by a terrorist organization. That’s what we’re speaking about. That’s the point that brought us here today. To take out those paragraphs, this resolution becomes meaningless. I know there’s a history here – not naïve. Talking about Saturday and Saturday alone.

Daniel Alicea: Point of order. Can we find out who the authors are, so we can find out if as many people were included as possible?

Mulgrew: Maker is Mantell, which is why.

Alicea: Motion to table the resolution. *boos in crowd*

Mulgrew: You can’t make a motion.

Alicea: Asking us to recognize.

Mulgrew: Current motion is motion to amend, you made a point of order.

Kathleen Morgo: Support the amendment. With political history of Palestine and Israel I don’t think we can support just one organization.  Woman in support of resolution when she said we support peace, no violence.

Mike Sill: Rise to speak against the amendment. Most intractable issue of human rights on planet earth. Nothing we can say in this particular moment to talk about that larger problem. What we were talking about as Rich pointed out is what happened on Saturday. We aren’t supporting supporting one side or another, talking about that event. It’s the act of violence that this resolution is meant to speak against.

Amender: asks if he can speak.

Mulgrew says no.

Ryan Bruckenthal: favor of the amendment. Been a hard week, having tough conversations at this school. Amendment that places in context of the occupation is important. By removing Hamas, recognizes what’s going on there, bombing of Gaza. So much death on both sides.

Sarah Evans: In shock listening this. Terrorist attack. This happened in our country. Don’t know why anyone would support Hamas. Israel is defending itself; children were massacred. Hearts ripped out of their bodies while alive. How can we condone that behavior. So I’m against this amendment. My grandfather marched and struck. Shanker would be shocked by this.

Julia Cochan: Speak against amendment. Distressed to hear people say that comparing to Israel to Hamas…Hamas is a recognized terrorist organization. Our president of the US has spoken about what happened on Saturday. Like Rich, like Mike said, we aren’t here to discuss the politics of the middle east. To say that anything done by Israel to cause Hamas to act in this way is a travesty – like saying US had something to do with 9/11. 45,000 people died, not just a building coming down. Babies getting decapitated, women stripped, murdered. If you’re ok to see your wife and mother going through this, please come speak to this? Don’t think anyone here has stood up here and debated 9/11. Shame that we’re doing that here. Not about being Jewish or Israeli, if you could look at those images and not be horrified, then I think we have to question our own humanity. Just as a note, Israel has always been an incredible effort, sacrificing soldiers to protect civilian lives.

Audible verbal fighting from across the room.

Mulgrew: Heated topic, but people can react to what people say, but has to be with civil discourse – otherwise get nothing done.

Joe B: I would like to call the question on all matters before the house.

Amendment fails, though with many votes yes on the phone, only 6 no in the room. 439-332 total (I think).

Original resolution:

Yes – 376, no 201. Passes. In room: 177-46.  

Mulgrew: Not easy stuff.


  • Avatar

    How ironic that every proposed health insurance that Mulgrew is associated with somehow always includes Aetna.
    Could a cushy job be awaiting Mr Mulgrew at Aetna?
    He certainly does like Aetna.

  • Avatar

    It is amazing that this very important issue of healthcare takes up so little time on the Delegate Assembly agenda.

  • Avatar
    Christopher Leach

    In other words, “Your current healthcare is about to be gutted, but hey, you’re getting a remote Election Day!”

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