UFT Leadership to Members: CityMD Copays should be $400; we’re better off without the right to strike. Notes on the 3-15-2023 Delegate Assembly.

Quick Summary/Analysis: Big news tonight on healthcare. Mulgrew not only justified our new $100 copays to CityMD, but said if he had the power, he’d make it $400. Not sure teachers and paraprofessionals agree there, but hey, read the minutes and see what you think. Kate Connors had an extremely interesting exchange with Mulgrew over the NY Health Act, where he bizarrely hid behind the need for a reso to support it, despite the UFT DA already having passed such resos twice. No other news on retiree/in-service that you don’t already know if you read this blog. Retiree Advocate and New Action Literature, which was being passed out at the door, is frankly more informative.  Although, I’m sure that for weeks to come, opposition will be unpacking what Mulgrew meant when he said “If I’m not president anymore, it’s up to the next administration.”

On contract, we had an extremely interesting debate. James Cole offered an amendment to a UFT anniversary reso, which would acknowledge the role of ‘striking’ in forming the UFT and push us to seek reforms to the Taylor law. LeRoy Barr made an impassioned plea to keep the Taylor Law as is, because it protects us, drawing much applause from Unity Caucus attendees— misconstruing the proposed amendment in the process, which I’ll get to in a moment. Maggie Joyce, also of Unity, then made the argument that striking is for the privileged—that paraprofessionals, for instance, wouldn’t have the luxury of taking days off to strike. I pointed out that this amendment didn’t ask to repeal the good parts of the Taylor Law, just the draconian anti-strike clause. I also noted that the Taylor Law has hurt us before, such as when we were sent an email from UFT management back in March, 2020, that we shouldn’t take sick days during our final week in the building, because it might be seen as a sickout, losing us a ‘dues checkoff.’ We are hurt by the ‘no strike’ clause of the Taylor Law, without question. I concluded that this amendment doesn’t mean we’re signing off to strike, but that we’re getting very little without a no-strike clause right now, such as 3% raises – the types of things that don’t exactly fire up our members to organize. Why not fight for the right to use one more tactic? I thank Mike Mulgrew for explicitly giving someone the chance to speak out in favor of the amendment, but ultimately far more people were allowed to speak against it. The question was quickly called before others, such as Ed Calamia, could make pro-arguments, and we only got 38%. This is a sad day for our union, but I don’t blame membership, especially those on the phones who couldn’t see the amendment language, as Unity wrongly and fatally misconstrued it.

Otherwise, not too much other news. You can read the minutes for budget, safety, etc. I might add as an aside that some new curriculum initiatives are coming out of the DOE. They take away principal’s choice and give it to the Superintendent. Mulgrew seemed tentatively optimistic, but I’m wondering what this will mean for teacher choice in instructional materials, particularly for math teachers in middle and high schools. That’s all for now – the minutes follow.  

Informal Minutes

President’s Address:


Federal: Huge budget:  high need, SWDs, early childhood education. Preschool is not childcare. New spending on ELL. Budget of course probably won’t happen: two proposals: lower deficit by taxing billionaires and corps. You will see education enter political arena, as it’s being weaponized by the other side, while this president just wants it for communities. Especially being weaponized in FL.

State: Thanks everyone for participating in Lobby Day in Albany this Monday. Good time to be there, as budgets put together this week. Both houses rejected Gov.’s proposals on charter schools. They support fully on foundation aid – additional billion dollars in education aid. Teacher center, career and technical, etc got funding. End of pay and pursuit, more money for our healthcare. We didn’t lobby on it, but I’ve been lobbying on it, lunch in schools with certain students not being able to eat lunch. State union has worked with us for universal lunch. Now, until April 1, hopefully this gets done on budget.

City: In the meantime, Mayor is trying to cut funding. Administration keeps acting like maybe we’ll do the class size – maybe not. But this is a law. End of story. We’re going to comply (easy in first few years). Need to be planning on years 3+. It can be done, but requires willing partner. Not an unfunded mandate – it’s completely funded, possibly overfunded.

Safety: Yesterday, not a good day. Crazy shootings outside of schools. Thanks Jeff and other school safety people. Constant what city is going through. A lot of youth gangs across the city, and is becoming an aggressive issue. Our goal is everyone goes to and leaves school without safety issues. Not good if administration tries to hide issues. Will give credit that City is doing drop bys, looking at safety plans, asking if safety meetings are happening, checking in on procedures in case of events like shootings. Please make sure you’re doing your monthly safety meetings. We need to know about safety issues.

Curriculums: Latest update on plan that keeps changing. This union has advocated that every teacher gets a real appropriate curriculum with PD aligned to it, with all necessary supplies ‘supplied.’ That’s how the rest of the country works, was once in NYC too, not now. Chancellor is focusing on K-8 literacy and algebra 7-12. K-12: Superintendents will now decide for district (not principals). 15 districts this year will choose between 3 curriculums: expeditionary, words and wisdom, (name missed). Foundations, Wilson are add-ons that can also be used. We’ve told DOE we’re more than happy to work with them as long as there is actually a calendar of PD created to go with curriculum, along with supplies given. Waiting for their answer. Maybe through teacher centers? Not doing unless we have discretion to make sure it works for our members. Districts in question are diverse – some have challenges, some don’t, some in middle. Will only be one curriculum offered for algebra, but I don’t know what it is. This will be the first time since I became president that the DOE has told principals they must do something. Principal’s choice is half the problem in our arbitration events. Again, if it meets our criteria… For instance, everyone always gets upset with Teacher’s College – doesn’t meet the definition of a curriculum per our contract. Of course, many people in city are invested in Teacher’s College expanding…maybe for non-educational reasons.

Contract: DC37 in Ratification process. PBA is deeper in negotiations than UFT. There is more value in DC37 pattern than 3%. There’s an equity fund inside of it, for instance. (They have a lot more titles than we do). We’ll wait to see what happens with PBA. In New York, we have a ‘uniform allowance,’ which means uniformed workers get a little more. I don’t want to debate it right now, but I know how I feel about it.

Retiree Healthcare: MLC has voted in Aetna (CONEY). Relationship with our retirees is different. We watch after them; them after us. No program like this exists, but we need to make sure we police it and make sure the implementation goes right. We are completely in the middle of this and on top of it. Daily communications with the company. They do a presentation, we tell them what’s right, wrong, comprehensible, etc. We’ve told retirees not to ask doctor yet, because since it isn’t a plan yet officially, of course none of them are saying they’re in the plan. They will be in the plan. I’m in daily conversations on this. Majority of folks just want to know ‘is my doctor in my plan.’ So yes, they’ll be in the plan or have a billing agreement with Aetna. We’re quite confident we’ll get them all. Our folks in different parts of the country now have much greater access. UFT retirees have more information than anyone else. There’s a lot of information out there I disagree with, it isn’t true. If I’m not president anymore, it’s up to the next administration. We have legal authority over how the plan is implemented and run. Aetna is now saying they have best MAP in country, and we’re saying no – run with us, then yes.

In-Service Healthcare: Some of what we wanted in retiree gave us information for in-service. We want legal authority to make sure plan is correctly implemented in an expedited arbitration with financial penalties if the change isn’t made. We’ve had to change because one company reneged. On in-service, CityMD. We are now increasing the copayment to $100. I would have increased the copay to $400, but we work with the MLC. These hedge fund people reneged on reigning in costs. Average doctor visit is half of what CityMD costs just going in the door. We’re talking $280 and $400 for covid test ($680). Healthcare isn’t free. It’s part of our compensation package and we need to protect it. We’re doing that differently.

Contract: Some technical issues yesterday. Flyer with different things for March, e.g. CAT teams. Yes, there is one day where we want one action, but you also have freedom to other actions. Don’t have to do everything. But, it’s gonna get worse before it gets better. Mayor keeps saying the City is broke. Now it’s, see the banks failed, I was right. We want our Mayor to be successful, but if you play games, we’re going to call you out. A lot of guidance out now for the Grade Ins on the 30th. No healthcare savings whatsoever, we blew that up. We can work together the right way to do these savings – if we can continue to save money, and we get a 5 year contract, which is a really good contract, we increase the benefits and lower the copays like we did for retirees. If we can get all this done and focus healthcare issues on the national level, that would be good.

Banks: Our pensions are fine. We have a very small liability, but our pensions are fine. They’re doing phenomenally well.

Secretary’s Report:

LeRoy Barr: Happy birthday to UFT tomorrow, 3/16. On March 25th, we have the paraprofessional luncheon. Please come in to support that – at Hilton. Reach out to the paras at your schools, make sure they sign up. Early Childhood Conference, April 1st from 8:30 to 3:00 PM right here at UFT headquarters. Social workers appreciation week was last week. CTE conference last week, appreciate what they do. Guidance counselors had a luncheon on Saturday – thank you. College fair on Monday at Bronx UFT (3/20).


Jennifer Brown (CL at Brownsville Academy HS): January, 28th, Emergency SLT meeting for merger with us and another, due to declining enrollment. Been here before. Real estate issues. Often no plans for older students. Able with the Union’s help, became a successful school. Never been on the state list. Over the last two months, we’ve mobilized at PEP. So it will become a co-location not a merger. Thanks President Mulgrew and leadership for always helping transfer schools. Fight not over. If enrollment doesn’t rise, we are still at risk. Amount of space also not equitable. So question is: can the allocation be changed if the population continues to grow and can we challenge their building plan?

Mulgrew: Allocation can certainly be changed. Your school should be looked at by state.

Lina D.: Curriculum. You say the schools are supposed to give the training with the curriculum. But after COVID, admin is sending a DOE link, ‘teach Hub.’

Mulgrew: Teachhub is not a curriculum – it’s a resource guide. Curriculum is a resource guide. Covers material, has pacing, has standards that must be met. Should be working with district consultation now. Make this a part of your district leadership teams. Teachhub is not curriculum.

Kate Connors (D25, delegate): Last week on Brian Lehrer show, New York Health Act discussion. Discussed how good it was economically, and how it could be good for labor. Hasn’t had the chance to meet with UFT. Will you commit to reaching out to Sen. Rivera?

Mulgrew: When he makes the amendments. We supported him greatly. But we have disagreed that it is cost neutral. The only people who say it is cost neutral are the people who want it. If it was cost neutral, of course we’d go with it.

Kate Connors: Link on website is from a hedge fund, pro privatization. So you aren’t committing?

Mulgrew: Here we go. Not committing until amendments are made.  We will not move forward on legislation unless DA says the homework is done.

Connors: We did, twice.

Mulgrew: Not until the DA passes another reso…

Name Missed: Can teachers be disciplined for not putting up student work on bulletin board? It goes against privacy training.

Mulgrew: We’d LOVE for them to bring that to arbitration.

Name Missed: Question about the Regents. Told by principal that a student with a failing Regents grade can get them to graduate but it can go against your MOSL.

Mulgrew: We’ll be in touch. Love when administrators make this up.

Motion Period:

Ryan Bruckenthal: Motion for this month’s agenda. ‘Mobilizing UFT Members for Action During Week of Earth Day.’ Drastic improvements are long overdue. Climate change is urgent. Educators are ripe for doing this work. Union has already supported a carbon free and healthy schools campaign. Therefore, be it resolved that the UFT will promote the National Week of Action for Green Schools, April 16-22. A lot of what we can do on this is similar to our CAT work. Resolved that we’ll establish an Environmental Justice Committee. Be it resolved that we’ll coordinate with other unions, and that we want to be fully carbon neutral schools. Seek out funding to make that happen.

Phone: Yes: 567; No: 102 ; Room: yes: 158; no: 25. 85% Yes. Passes (to be on this month’s agenda).

Mulgrew: Our colleagues and Florida can’t even teach about global warming.

Seth Gillman: Next month’s agenda. Substitute Teacher/Paraprofessional Resolutions. We’ve all had issues hiring subs. DOE has told schools they’re unable to nominate if they haven’t used sub-central. But DOEs don’t mandate use of subcentral. Pandemic has given lots of reasons for absences. Inability of schools leads to too many coverages/burnout. Inability to track substitutes leads to illegally taking educators out of their classrooms for subbing. Reso resolves for reforms to hiring process for subs including a hard to staff differential.

Phone: Yes: 569, No : 52; Room: Yes: 182, no: 7 – 93% yes. Passes (next month’s agenda).


Dave Kazansky rises for Tom Brown to be re-elected to TRS board. Victoria Lee also endorses: mentions 92 Tier 4 improvements, and some new changes to Tier 6. Peter Goodman adds on the phone. 99% approve.

Michael Sill: Honored to support the resolution speaking in favor of UFT’s anniversary. Asks founders of union to stand for a round of applause (standing ovation). 60 years ago, we faced off with the DOE on contract. That had never happened before. 1960 may seem like an abstract concept. Many teachers we meet elsewhere don’t have collective bargaining rights. They might have consultation rights, but can’t do anything on salary/vacation days. Teacher I spoke to makes 30k; at end she’ll make 35k. She pays a premium for healthcare. That’s life without collective bargaining. Our founders looked around them and saw tons of groups, divided by subject, age, ethnic background, vision. They wanted to bring these groups together. They built a whole wing onto the house of labor. Without them, maybe the Florida teacher might have seen my salary and thought I had it bad. These aren’t mythical creatures. Standing ovation.

James Cole: Rise to make an amendment. Adds one whereas about the key role of the strike, without which we couldn’t have formed. Also resolved to fight for right to strike, now illegal. 1960 wasn’t just a vote that brought us together – there was a strike. And in doing so, we were able to win collective bargaining rights. Over the years, those have been codified in law, but with draconian anti-strike clauses. Strikes brought us real raises – not 3%. Currently there are legislators who are working to amend the constitution. We improve our collective bargaining but winning the right to strike.

LeRoy Barr: Rises in opposition. Acknowledges who were here. With respect to amendment, if case where contract was going to go away, would you go on strike? Gives some other examples. There are reasons we would go on strike, break the Taylor Law. This union was built on the strike we had in 1960. If we didn’t ask to get rid of Taylor Law. Without the Taylor Law, we would have lost the contract. Can romanticize going on strike. Understand what you’re asking for – people will go on strike.

Maggie Joyce: Taylor Law protects our contract. Other districts HAVE to go on strike. Chicago went on strike to get what we have. Remember when we were about to go on strike? My husband can support me, but I have paras who support their entire families. A lot of people here live paycheck to paycheck.

Tracy I.?: Do not agree with the amendment. This shows we won’t get the numbers. It makes us look divided. Most of staff is not on board with strike.

Nick Bacon: speaks in favor. This amendment DOESN’T ask to repeal the entire part of the Taylor Law, just the anti-strike clause. We’ve been affected by this clause. We got an email during the beginning of COVID that we had to go in – not take sick days – or we might lose the automatic payment of dues. That’s the Taylor Law. This reso doesn’t mean we’re going to strike – it just asks the UFT to push for our right to be able to do so if we need to. Others have said that we’d strike if issues were big enough, but right now we have the opposite issue – we’re getting so little (from collective bargaining), such as 3% raises, that our members feel the opposite of mobilized to take actions. Let’s join many other unions in this country in simply having one more tool in our union toolkit – the right to strike.

Question called on amendment. Yeses: 271; Nos: 363; Room: yeses: 37; nos: 148. 38% yes, 62% no. Failed.

Reso itself: 87% yes. Passed.


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