UFT Leadership Squashes Motion to Improve Our Dental Care – DA Minutes 4-17-2024

Analysis: At last night’s DA, there was one moment of note, as far as I’m concerned. Peter Lamphere introduced a resolution in the new motions period. In that time, he successfully made the argument that our dental reimbursement rates are woefully inadequate when compared to those of other municipal unions like PSC. Mike Sill spoke against the resolution. In a bizarre speech, he suggested that it was wrong to compare ourselves to PSC, because ‘we don’t follow, we lead,’ and had a room full of non-unionized UFT staffers shout ‘who are we, UFT’ – to celebrate our own inadequate reimbursement rates. Those low reimbursement rates cause regular members to pay thousands out of pocket for routine dental services like crowns. They also cause us to frequently lose access to the dentists we know and trust, as more and more dentists decide to leave our network because we don’t pay them enough. Sill’s call and response was a moment out of 1984, one of the most bizarre experiences I’ve ever had at a DA.

Lamphere ended up losing the resolution by a handful of votes. What’s notable is that he won the count online but lost in the room. Make no mistake: the room is dominated, not just by Unity Caucus, but by Unity Caucus members in paid staff positions. They have access to the DA by way of their elected positions for which they are eligible because they are technically UFT members. However, because they are also non-unionized UFT staffers, they have to be seen voting the way UFT’s Unity leadership wants – or they risk losing their jobs.

Unity’s staffer patronage mill just voted for rank-and-file members, who make much less money than them, essentially to keep crappy dental care. Are you ok with that? I’m not.

Informal minutes follow – thanks to Ed Calamia for the first half.

President’s report:

National – election climate (nasty, etc.) For us, we’re starting our process. Work with colleges to rec. candidates to NYSUT. NYSUT does same to AFT.

State – budget late. Big problem in budget process. Bill drafting had cyber attack last night . State says no problem continuing budget process. Our stuff – maintenance of effort law, supplanting education money (prevent Mayor Adams from evading class-size law), how to get it to classrooms?, mayoral control.

We have to educate public about how DOE is trying to manipulate the money – schools keep what they have; class size money is class size money.

Tier 6 (all CIO)

Retention checks DOE struggling to make it a supplemental check.

Open Market / summer school/ 683 all about to be open.

CL election packets out – hold after May 1st.212-331-6310 – call if you didn’t get it

City council – budget

-early childhood (not reported by NYS), prek-3k, very popular but city wants to get rid of it, we need to baseline it as a permanent part of the budget, Adams supported as borough pres of BK, need city council to ensure money to get to schools.

Today, meeting HS DR and field reps met with HS superintendents to set up virtual learning parameters – 3rd rail, no credit recovery. It’s not a classroom, it’s a class in virtual classes. Big rules – no breaking class sizes; no one forced to do it.

Welfare fund – why did we do this? 800 M surplus – etc. We don’t deny drugs. By law, we have right to cut members off after certain amount, but we never did it. We keep resources in anticipation of new drugs and healthcare battles with city. Continue services for 1 year. Looking for new services/benefits. Dental national crisis – getting very expensive. Have to balance caution with high quality service.

5/11 – 9-4 pm AFT graphics comm arts campus . 10millionth book giveaway.

5/18  NY Hilton Spring conference

5/21 UFT MS 5k run/ walk coney island boardwalk

5/22 next DA

Question Period:

Caller 1: rumors of new evaluation system?

Mulgrew: NYC only district using test scores in teacher evaluation (don’t have to). Fast track 3020a no longer in the law….every year we overturn 100s of bad evals based on student learning (i.e. tests).‘When the observation process is done correctly, please really enjoy it’.

Caller 2: there are many schools with an influx of newcomers. Working to help team scramble for supplies, etc.  city plan for next year?

Mulgrew: we will have to have convo again. Mayor isn’t talking about migrant children because state gave money, but is it getting to schools? Consultation with chancellor next week.

Caller 3: influx of migrant students, charter in building, need smaller class sizes. How can that happen? Does charter school pay facility charges?

Mulgrew: No. In this situation, what we’d do right now, look at the space right now, and even if you have the money, you can’t lower class sizes, so city has to make a choice, either create more space for you. In this case, my recc. would be move the charter school, because the CS does get facility funding, they just don’t have to spend it. City pays the rent in a private space, so that’s what would happen, and in mean time, that doesn’t mean your school wouldn’t receive the money to do what needs to be done. What we’re doing is we’re not throwing out anyone from your school. Plan set up so that you can be in compliance with class size law. Not ideal, but we built into the law because we  know we have these situations. Ideal situation is you have extra classrooms already and can bring in more staff. But we have contingencies.

Caller 4: Asking about tenure for sped teachers with other licenses.

Mulgrew: recommend that we do the same on SPED that we did on ENL. Have to have that conversation. City I think would agree, but need to talk to SED. Happy we could do this on ENL, but we’ve been having that conversation for 9 years with them. SED trying to abide by rules on certification and licensing from 1950. We have all these new things we teach from CTE. No certification for them at state level for advanced manufacturing, e.g. But I can get you certified in tanning! That’s what we’re dealing with, slow moving. Hoping we start to move.

New Motions Period:

Peter Lamphere: Motion for next month’s agenda. Resolution to raise the welfare fund reimbursement rate for dental. May have wonderful welfare fund, but can be removed. Raise your hand if you’ve been told dentist can no longer take your insurance because of reimbursement rate. I live in Jersey City and no one taking. All of things like crowns are very expensive. Reimbursement rates haven’t changed in 8 years. Compare to PSC, similar union similar employees, they have 341 dollar reimbursements, ours in 100 range. 2/3 of our survey showed that dentists said they can no longer take plan. Over half said they had to pay over 1k to pay for dental care. Very healthy reserve in welfare fund.

Mulgrew: you don’t understand the costs, not stagnant, going up.

Point of Order: have to recognize…

Peter Lamphere: president can’t interrupt the speaker when he has the floor. Can I continue speaking?

Mulgrew: Yes

Lamphere: welfare fund needs to be reserved. Making 100 million per year above expenses (welfare fund). 500 dollars per welfare beneficiary. We could afford a little more to pay for crowns and implants. Asking to put this on agenda to have full discussion and debate. Would be great to have more information, haven’t had detailed reports since 2019. Asking for your vote for next month’s agenda.

Mike Sill: Speaking against. This resolution doesn’t allow for a full discussion, conclusion already in here, don’t know where numbers came from, thin air, somewhere else? Doesn’t allow for a study. Why we can’t pass resolutions that don’t do the research. Sure not intentional that dental might increase because of prescriptions, research not done. We aren’t in the PSC. Where are we? UFT. We’re in the UFT. We don’t follow PSC, we lead. Applause from people in the room.  We don’t try to be like them. Who are we? UFT. Vote this down.

Mulgrew: Debate closed.

Yeses 432, 298; in room: 47, 184 ; 482 to 479, no–  not on next month’s agenda. No time for any other resos.

Resolutions: See appendix for full text.

Sill: class size working group reso. Motivated and passed.

Resolution for more speaking time for parents in forums passed.

Affirmative action reso motivated.

Speaker against: Might be unpopular. Should start talking about class, not race. Many people with lower socioeconomic background, need to be able to talk to that.

Boos from crowd

Mulgrew: aren’t republicans

Speaker against: come from traditional left, race plays into class conflict, but we should reevaluate the grounds where we see injustice and inequities.

Hinds: in favor of resolution, as educated people we should pay attention to all things that hold our students back, but need to be cognizant of wedges between people of color – model minority vs African americans and latinos. We need to say we’re against that, we should believe that those who are historically marginalized are granted those opportunities.

Question called by Crispino

Mulgrew: can’t wait for this vote. 509-71; 202-10 to close debate. Vote resolution: approved.

See in the southern states where I do a lot of work for the AFT, parent groups down there want to stop affirmative action, communities are resegregating.

Leo Gordon: Optimal room temperatures resolution.

 614-7 online. Passed.

Mulgrew: Laugh, but allows us to get our schools under osha in terms of room temperatures.

Murphy: advocate for increased staffing of sped teachers, social workers, counselors. Workload. Students should receive. Friendly amendment? Add OT/PT and speech after nurses (from OTPT CL).

Yona Adika: rise in support of amendment. Long been shortage areas. Support we give to students in this room are valuable – work with some of the most fragile/vulnerable students in NY, so I rise in support.

Stefanie Shift: hearing teachers are constantly neglected, not included as we should be.

Amendment vote: yeses, 480, nos 28 on phone; 193-6  in room. Passed.

Resolution as amended:

Standing to amend with paraprofessionals.

Mulgrew: anyone online, perhaps someone named stephanine?

Stephanie: not sure I can do this on the phone.

Mulgrew: you’re right, just listen to next speaker.

Maggie Joyce: motion to amend to add hearing teachers and all other teachers who service students with disabilities.

Bill woodruff: can you clarify what we’re debating?

Mulgrew: yes, resolution number 5. But have now amended.

Matthew Brown: are all these titles going to be added?

Mulgrew: yes, all these students will be in the resolution. Reminder online it’s speak for or against.

Murrow CL: calls question.

Mulgrew: question called for all questions before the house.

473-23, 178-3 – debate closed

Amendment – 475-16 online, 189-1, passed

Resolution as amended: 471-11; 186-1

Mulgrew: almost through April, in 2 days you go on, happy Passover, nice break please enjoy it hopefully doesn’t rain; please move quickly in room because we have to have a meeting in here.

Meeting ends at 6:07

Appendix: Resolution Text

AGENDA ITEM #1 – RESOLUTION FOR UFT TO URGE DOE TO ADOPT THE PROPOSALS OF THE CLASS SIZE WORKING GROUP AND TO COMPLY WITH THE NEW CLASS SIZE LAW Whereas, in 2003, the New York Court of Appeals determined that NYC public school class sizes were too large to provide students with their constitutional right to a sound basic education; Whereas, following that decision, class sizes in NYC schools increased, and to this day, remain far larger than in the rest of the state; Whereas, in June 2022, the NY Legislature overwhelmingly passed Education Law 211-D by a vote of 59- 4 in the State Senate and 147-2 in the Assembly, requiring that NYC implement a five-year class size reduction plan beginning in the fall of 2022. Whereas, on Sept. 8, 2022, Gov. Kathy Hochul signed the bill into law, based upon an amendment that the phase in would begin instead in Sept. 2023; Whereas, the law calls for class size caps to be achieved over this period of no more than 20 students per class in grades K-3, no more than 23 students per class in grades 4th -8th, and no more than 25 students per class in high school, with physical education and performing art classes capped at forty students per class; Whereas, instead of taking any steps to start lowering class size, average class sizes increased citywide this fall and, in most districts, and in elementary and middle school grades this was the second year in a row of increases; Whereas, since coming into office, Mayor Adams has repeatedly cut school budgets; Whereas, these budget cuts have occurred despite more than $1.3 billion in additional annual state aid provided to NYC schools as a result of the settlement of the CFE decision; Whereas, the Mayor has proposed more than $2 billion also to be cut from the new proposed five-year capital plan for school construction, that would likely make it impossible for schools in the most overcrowded communities to lower class sizes; Whereas, given current trends, it is increasingly unlikely that the DOE will make the mandate in the class size law next year that 40% of classes in compliance with the new caps, and even less likely that they will achieve the mandates in years three to five; Whereas, a Class Size Working Group was created by the DOE and tasked with proposing a variety of actionable and effective policies that would enable the DOE to lower class sizes to the mandated levels starting next year and beyond, therefore be it: Resolved, that the United Federation of Teachers calls on the Mayor and the Chancellor to refrain from cutting school budgets or the capital plan, but instead to increase their funding, and be it further: Resolved, that the capital plan should specify where new schools are needed to create the space to lower class size, and should fully fund all those schools, and be it further: Resolved, that the UFT urges the Mayor and the Chancellor to adopt the Class Size Working Group’s proposals as soon as possible, to ensure that schools are able lower class sizes to the levels required by the law.

 AGENDA ITEM #2 – PARENT, COMMUNITY AND STAFF ENGAGEMENT AT PANEL FOR EDUCATIONAL POLICY MEETINGS WHEREAS during the pandemic, the Panel for Educational Policy (PEP) conducted their meetings online and permitted people viewing online to sign up and speak during the public comment period; and, WHEREAS the PEP, at its September 27, 2023 meeting, indicated that only people who had signed up to speak and were in person at the meeting would be able to speak during the public comment period; and, WHEREAS the PEP scheduled the September 27th meeting on the same evening as parent-teacher conferences for high schools, K-12 schools and 6-12 schools, essentially excluding those parents and staff from participating in the meeting; and, WHEREAS, during the meeting, the Mayoral appointee chairing the meeting limited the PEP members from speaking more than 2 ½ minutes, making it impossible for them to have time to respond to the issues that had been raised by the public; and WHEREAS, the fourth pillar of the Chancellor’s Four Pillars for Building Trust in NYC Public Schools is “engaging families to be our true partners;” be it therefore RESOLVED that the UFT continues to support parents and community in their desire to advocate for their young people’s fair and just education in New York City’s public schools; and RESOLVED, that the UFT will call on Mayor Adams and Chancellor Banks to reinstate the ability for people to speak during the PEP’s public comment whether they are participating in the meeting online or in person; and RESOLVED that the UFT will call on the Mayor and Chancellor to ensure that PEP meeting dates are not scheduled at the same time as parent teacher conferences, and be it further RESOLVED that the UFT will call on the Mayor and Chancellor to allow the voices of the parent leaders on the PEP without restricting members of the PEP with time limits.

AGENDA ITEM #3 – RESOLUTION IN SUPPORT OF AFFIRMATIVE ACTION AND EQUAL OPPORTUNITY IN RESPONSE TO THE JUNE 2023 SUPREME COURT BAN ON THE USE OF AFFIRMATIVE ACTION IN COLLEGE ADMISSIONS Whereas, Affirmative Action was established in 1961 to promote equal treatment regardless of race, color, religion, and national origin, later expanded to include gender in 1971; and Whereas, Affirmative Action addresses systemic discrimination by ensuring opportunities for marginalized groups and admitting qualified individuals traditionally excluded based on gender, race, ethnicity, and disabilities; and Whereas, Affirmative Action has significantly impacted employment patterns and diversity in educational institutions; and Whereas, in 1978, the Supreme Court allowed race as a factor in college admissions but prohibited quotas; and Whereas, the Supreme Court upheld diversity benefits in education but struck down quota- like admissions policies in 2003; and Whereas, in June 2023 the Supreme Court banned the use of Affirmative Action in college admissions presenting Asian American applicants as victims of Affirmative Action and unfair admission policies disregarding their decades-long fight for equity; Therefore, be it resolved, the UFT continues its support of Affirmative Action and seeks federal legislation to uphold its original intent and be it further Resolved, the UFT reaffirms the need for affirmative action to ensure representation and promote diversity and opportunity for all marginalized groups in all sectors; finally, be it Resolved, the UFT asserts that affirmative action should continue until discrimination no longer exists in America and will address misconceptions and challenges to affirmative action policies.

 AGENDA ITEM #4 – ENSURING OPTIMAL ROOM TEMPERATURES FOR ALL STUDENTS AND EDUCATORS IN NYC PUBLIC SCHOOLS WHEREAS New York City’s Public Schools and the students we serve faced an unprecedented heatwave to begin the 2023-2024 school year; and, WHEREAS extended heatwaves and rising temperatures are expected to increase; and, WHEREAS it is understood that the best teaching and learning must take place in suitable, welcoming, and comfortable environments; and, WHEREAS, neither students nor UFT members should be expected to educate or learn in buildings that are under 68° For over 76° F (conditions which can be particularly dangerous for pregnant, and more senior members as well as for students and educators with certain medical conditions); and, WHEREAS some of our larger, older buildings which have completely exposed eastern and southern facades without any shade; which in addition to increased air conditioning, require the installation of window shades and other measures to ensure acceptable temperatures and environments; and, WHEREAS this year, the UFT surveyed all Chapter Leaders during the first week of school in September, 2023 and found over 2,400 rooms with inoperable air conditioning and over 800 rooms that are not equipped with air conditioning; and, WHEREAS the UFT, NYSUT and the AFT have passed resolutions and fought for established safe maximum temperature mandates for all classrooms and offices; and, WHEREAS the UFT has lobbied and advocated for New York City Council to adopt city legislation that provides funding and the commitment to ensure working spaces of UFT members are continually regulated between 68-76° F; and, WHEREAS the UFT and NYSUT have worked with the New York State Legislature numerous times to ensure minimum and maximum temperatures in school buildings and indoor workspaces; and, WHEREAS many UFT Chapters have engaged in budget consultation, filed safety complaints, and organized to secure increased air conditioning in many of our working spaces; therefore, be it RESOLVED, the UFT continue its fight to ensure adequate working conditions and temperatures for all and continue to demand that the City of New York, Department of Education install air conditioning and/or fix inoperable air conditioning units so every room in every building occupied by students and/or UFT members has a regulated and acceptable temperatures between 68-76° Fat all times during the workday; and, be it further, RESOLVED, the UFT will continue to advocate the State Legislature and NYC City Council to pass legislation guaranteeing adequate working temperatures in all rooms, in addition to remediation, including but not limited to: relocation or closure until acceptable temperatures are restored; and, be it further, RESOLVED, the UFT will continue to advocate for the School Construction Authority (SCA} to increase and improve efforts in repairing, upgrading, and retrofitting HVAC systems and individual air conditioning units; and be it further, RESOLVED the UFT will advocate and work to identify means by which individual communities can purchase, install and/or repair air conditioning unitsfrom central funds dedicated for the sole purpose of installing and repairing air conditioning; and be it further, RESOLVED that the UFT will work with coalition partners on new legislation whose goal is to monitor, standardize, and ensure safe and acceptable air quality, including acceptable temperatures in all UFT working spaces.

AGENDA ITEM #5 – RESOLUTION ADVOCATING FOR INCREASED STAFFING OF SPECIAL EDUCATION TEACHERS, SCHOOL COUNSELORS, SCHOOL PSYCHOLOGISTS, NURSES, AND SOCIAL WORKERS Whereas, in New York City Schools, we work to meet the educational, health and social needs of our students; and Whereas, the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) recognizes the crucial role special education teachers, counselors, nurses and social workers play in addressing the diverse needs of the student population; adequate staffing levels of these positions are essential for fostering an inclusive and supportive learning environment that meets the needs of all students; and Whereas, the existing shortage of special education teachers, school counselors, school psychologists, nurses, and social workers has led to increased workload and challenges in providing individualized attention and support to students with unique learning requirements; and Whereas, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the social-emotional and mental health needs of students, causing an urgency to expand the support staff to address these challenges effectively; therefore be it Resolved, the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) advocates for the hiring of more special education teachers to address the growing demand and ensure that students with unique learning requirements receive the appropriate resources necessary for their academic success; and be it further Resolved, the UFT urges the DOE to implement an expansion of counseling services in schools, by hiring additional social workers, school counselors and school psychologists to provide students with comprehensive social-emotional support; and be it further Resolved, the UFT urges the hiring of additional nurses in schools to enhance the health and well-being of students, ensuring timely and effective responses to medical needs within the school community; and be it further Resolved, the UFT calls on the New York City Department of Education to work collaboratively with us to develop and implement strategies for recruiting, hiring, and retaining qualified special education teachers, counselors, nurses, and social workers to meet the evolving needs of the student population and create a supportive learning environment for all.

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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    When Sill “argued” against exploring expanding the welfare fund benefits for dental care by turning the room into some odd kind of pep rally instead of having an actual point, it showed just how weak Unity as at actually making arguments. They’re all bluster and show. It’s a shame more people don’t realize what a poor job they’re doing with our benefit maintenance.

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