UFT Town Hall Minutes 5/17/24

Minutes taken by an anonymous NAC member today. Thank you to that member. I’m too busy with the TRS election–which strangely wasn’t discussed tonight, despite many in opposition assuming that was the reason for the townhall’s timing today in the first place–to write my usual summary/analysis, but the full minutes are below. Make sure to vote for Ben Morgenroth in that TRS election, which takes place tomorrow, 5/8/2024. Check your DOE email for the ballot information. More info on Ben here.

Acknowledges Teacher/Nurse appreciation week. Talks about the work we’re doing saving. Talks about how teachers lead the fight on the budget. Talks about remote work and the contract. Contract got many new rights, they didn’t think everyone could have remote work, but now everybody does. New training on Special Education, admins were citing “myths” about special education law. So we did a city wide training. We put out all these documents so we are all working from the same place. Remote work, heavy climb. Until six weeks ago we had a title that wasn’t getting done, but we fixed that. This new system is strategically set up on how we began. Making sure everyone got their payment, the one thing that should have been the easiest to do, the City screwed it up. Yeah we’re angry, and if you ever had to deal with HRConnect, if you know.That check it here forever. We’re pretty sure you’ll get it on the 16th. The negotiating team was clear, we want a separate check for tax purposes. “Hey teachers of NYC, we know we are management, but we couldn’t get your check.” I’m not holding my breath, but this chancellor gets angry when people don’t get their check. Next year will be May 2. Maybe if we made a rule that HR cannot get aid until they meet their obligations, we’ll get it. That’s part of what we do here, what we all deal with. It’s the City of New York, it makes us crazy. Negotiating committee has been pushing more and more issues into the Chapters. Half  the administration says, let me check with DOE legal, sometimes they don’t even check. We’re putting this issue in our consultation notes and sending it to the union. I’m really proud, we ask all our chapter leaders to upload those consultation notes into the hub. Then we can do a quick analysis and see if the issue is at a few schools, or a geographic location. I cite them with the meeting with the Chancellor. We are at 100% compliance. Thank you chapter leaders and your consultation committee members. Example: Bulletin Boards. Chancellor: “I haven’t told anyone about bulletin boards.” Your superintendents are rating schools based on bulletin boards. They don’t care about instruction. They have been doing this forever. We have new rules about bulletin boards. 

Today was a testing day. We have concerns, we know what happened with snow day. We heard of hiccups but nothing major. The night before the snow day, we had a conversation with DOE, they said they were ready, then boom the thing blew up. We’re not going to leave kids out there. 

Stopped to ask this questions: When can we expect to hear updates about the Request For Proposals from new healthcare providers and when would any changes go into effect. This is something I’m very concerned about, especially if we’re trying to find savings for the city. (Question not taken).

Talks about training and literacy programs. Teacher to teacher is great. Consultants are bad. 

Big fight for pre-k and 3k, they are baselining the funding. It’s a good thing, we’re saying these programs are staying. They’re not going anywhere. Want to thank the people with 40,000 letters to the mayor on 3k/pre-k. More and more parents reached out to us, we kept more and more pressure on the mayor. We’re helping communities, people are liking their public schools. It’s not just about saving it, we want to grow it. We have to be able to move the seats. What are these guys smoking? The seats are empty… Well there are no 3 year olds in that community. You have to move the seats. 

I want to talk about Albany. Thanks to the people on the buses. We need raises to funding, no cuts. We’re doing work, we’re moving things to the school, we need to retain teachers. Its the tier 6 thing. People criticize online, we didn’t negotiate this. It happened in the middle of the night. Different things were on the table, but with the budget where it is we went for something with a big price tag and it was Final Average Salary. People in labor didn’t think that was possible. Governor has been good. Put more money into education. FAS is now the law, same as FAS as tier 4. Big deal, makes a difference in what your pension check will be when you retire. We’re not done, we’re not settling. We have to get it down. A lot of unions are saying 57, we’re saying 55. Saying you cannot retire until 63 is not acceptable. Cannot negotiate this stuff, has to be a legislative act. We want everyone to have access to 55. 

School cuts- What are your priority, we don’t want NYC to be able to do what it’s been  doing 3 years in surplanting. We don’t want the City telling people they don’t have to do class size law. We also need checks and balances on Mayoral control. We didn’t want to negotiate it, it’s up to the city and Albany. We don’t want to go back to school boards, we want checks and balances, that’s our official position. We have 20 years to show it doesn’t work. Bloomberg set up schools as franchise restaurants competing with each other, and the Charters. DiBlabsio was good on pre-k and 3K. Adams, right off the back and is cutting funding and surplanting the school system, The he is talking about the Science of Reading, the biggest push in the country, then he wants to cut 15% a few weeks later. How do we stop what this administration has done, and frankly what Bloomberg did. So we want NYC to have to fund the school system up to the year before with inflation factored in, except in a financial crises. Not a fake financial crisis. A real one. We finally got that in a law, and we were able to withdraw our lawsuit. No cuts, except the initial ones. That law is there forever. There is nothing in the law that saws get rid of your art program. This law says you will lower the class sizes (we have specific numbers) but essential to what the rest of the state has. “New York City will fund each individual school the additional funding necessary to be in compliance with the New York State class size law.” City and union arguing back and forth about meeting. Union feels it is clear. You cannot take funding away first, you must add funding. This isn’t a short process, 5 years for implementation. A lot of construction goes on for this. They need more capital for building. We said fine, you took 3 billion away, put it back. They said we’ll put back 2.5 billion. We’re going to do more training with CAT teams. Does every school have to be in compliance at the same time? NO! 850 schools can come into compliance now, that’s way more than half. We have to be a team, don’t let people mislead us. We’ve had parent groups say crazy things. It doesn’t say move kids, it says create more schools or build a building next to it. We always have to be striving to be 100% in compliance, though we probably never will be. We have shifting populations. We have popular schools that will always be overcrowded because so many people want to go to them. For years DOE has been trying to sabotage the law. They need to be 40% in compliance by next year. It’s going to have to start with you being better employers, not just union contracts fixing paperwork issues. It’s easier when teachers say “this is a nice school to work in.” They now understand that it’s additional money that needs to be sent to the school to lower class size. Thai would have never gotten done with union working together. Busses of people, phone calls and letters, social media folks. All working to get our school to a better place. The Chancellor is going to DC tomorrow to testify about antisemitism in our schools. Look at the horrors going on in the Middle East, we all have our opinions, we’re the educators we have to make tomorrow better. We’ve done a great job implementing the contract. Is it perfect, not always some idiot. Are there elementary teachers still teaching 4 in a row, we’ll get that done. 

Remote days, we’ll still have issues. We told them to do a stress test, they don’t really know what that is. Tier 6, big win, still more to go. Literacy, stop using consultants. 

Class size, I remember being in the classroom with petitions. We tried to use the COVID rules to get it done. Then we got it done in the strongest way possible. That was all because we’re planning. We keep going because we’re teachers, paras, secretaries, ets. We all help each other. We’re never going to be satisfied, we’re teachers, that’s our training. 

Question: Bulletin Board- What is the result? 

Formatting the bulletin board, principles were telling them it had to be done in specific ways. Nearly every district. DOE said stop. Only happened because of Chapter leader notes. 

Q: Work in D75 6:1: They are not receiving specialized  instruction, just general curriculum and the teacher must adapt it and use learning standards for 5 graders. Students aren’t making progress. Principals telling you must use : I do, we do, you do. They require assistance. Not working, getting frustrated, everyone wants to leave D75. 

I hear your frustration as a special ed teacher. First time I went to DC for special education, I was blown away by how little they knew. They will tell you with IEP, they can perform the same as the grade level. That’s not the case. SPED, the first word must always be appropriate. If it’s frustrating the students, it’s not going to work. We base it off the needs of our children, sounds like it’s your administrators. We’ll take you information, we’ve heard this before. 

Q: Congestion pricing: exemption or reimbursement? 

Yes, part of our lawsuit. Township in Long Island just sued because it’s an additional tax for people who have to go there. We’re a very environmentally focused union, a big part of our life, and tolling, city workers should be except. Main point of our lawsuit, 70s 80s 90s, when someone would clean up one area they would go to another. They would go away from rich people to economically challenged. MTA environmental impact, it moves it to the Bronx, Staten Island, South Shore of Long Island. Air quality in south manhattan is not great, but okay. Right now it’s worse in SI and the South Bronx. We don’t trust the MTA, to take this money use it correctly. Taking pollution from wealthiest moving it elsewhere, also the tolling. We are the first to sue on environmental justice. No air cleaning. And we must raise a billion dollars. England has problems, but no dollar amount is tied to it. You’ll hear more about it going into next week, you’ll hear about it. 

Q: Outside doors of school. We were told last year these doors will be put in this spring. Has it started and can we find out where our school is on a list? 

If we can get it, we’ll put it in the Chapter hub. We’ve been waiting for it for years. Another student was shot and killed in Manhattan today. 

Q: Virtual learning teacher: We don’t have a chapter leader (unofficial one) we don’t have a chapter, no vote at DA, no minutes, what can we do to get a chapter? 

We have to see where we are going with this. I’m one of the biggest virtual pushers. We have to be clear it’s not for credit recovery. Students who want to catch up, accelerate, etc. We have to have a discussion as a union. We’re a union, we have laws, we have to figure it out. We have to talk about virtual teachers. We’ll have a new contract. Next year, we’ll go to DA and find out how to give them appropriate representation. Some teachers are associated with schools, others are not. If we do everything right, it will be a major part of our school system for a long time, hopefully forever. It’s something that our students need. Next big step is going to a large number of students and teachers. 

Caller: We’ve been pushing for a year. 

MM: I know It’s about to grow dramatically. But people will say they are different from us. And every group is different. 

Q: Concerned about retention bonus and paras during summer rising. How will we know paras will get paid on time? We waited over a month last summer. 

I’m not a DOE apologist. They frustrate me as much as you. We actually have a Chancellor who this gets him infuriated. I tell him unless you do something they will keep infuriating you. They have a lot of turnover at HR. The days are locked in, we will be on top of them. We are micromanaging them. They should be better because of how bad things were last year. You talk to them and they say poor us. I’m sure their checks are there. Michael Sill and a bunch of people are on top of it. If it’s new they screw it up. They are batting 1000 on new stuff. We’ll make sure everyone gets every dollar they earned. 

Q: Controversy over clerical day, whether or not that is remote or principal’s discretion. 

Get Michael Sill… June 6 (Brooklyn/Queens day) is remote. June 7, which is the clerical day, is not remote. Anniversary day is remote for the rest of the contract. 

M: If we can do the work at home, why do we have to come in? Earlier this year they gave us one when we didn’t need it. Now we have remote days in our calendar, we can maybe add onto them. They told us “morning of clerical day may have things that need to be done in-person.” June 6th is remote. 

Q: Division of teacher and learning collagoing at end of year, how will that affect teacher assigned position and school itself. 

We are in contact with the teacher assigned, they should continue to work with schools. DOE wants to hire consultants, and the division of teaching and learning is being disbanded because of that. People are moving around, greater responsibility for folks in teaching and learning to be working with teachers and support. The Teachers assigned have done their work and shouldn’t be hurt. 

Q: Repeat the tier 6 changes… 

Mulgrew repeats FAS stuff from before “400 million dollars a year occurring every year” “big ticket item” Age is biggest ticket item. Contributions are there. Other unions didn’t think we could get the “big ticket item”but we stuck to our guns and we did. We’re not going to get it done in 2 years, for pension reform this is considered fast. It’s affecting our ability to attract and retain members. 

Q: Para who cannot finish her test but has initial certification. Another teacher in the same position was denied in the open market. Hard for paras to become teachers, even when we have shortages. 

Thank you for doing that and becoming a teacher. Schools don’t have their budgets right now, so you’re not going to get offers unless it’s a principal who’s really good at that. (She is elementary 1-6). That’s not an area we have a shortage in, just so we know. 

Mike Sill: Not many vacancies because schools don’t have their budget. Ask to speak to a UFT licensing expert. 

MM: There will be a bunch or hiring at the end of June and September and august. Open market is more for transfers. 

Wrap up: How come we don’t do as many town halls as we used to do? I’ll try to do more. During the pandemic, information was being misconstructed. People need real info, they were getting political or just the telephone not working. If you had asked us how much of the contract would be implemented this year, we would have guessed 60%. We’ve never had a system for information sharing. We are getting everything because more power went into the hands of the Chapter Leader and consultation committee. Thank the contract committee, sometimes we get things but it takes years to get in place. Now if you have a bad administrator stuff gets outside the building. Nother a bad admin hates more than stuff leading the building. We will stay focused on what is in the best interest of our education system, our union, union workers. 

Nick Bacon is a co-chairperson at New Action Caucus. He is also an elected member of the UFT executive board


  • Avatar
    Bronx Public Teacher

    Mulgrew let the cat out of the bag by saying that we will never have 100% compliance with the class size law. I am predicting two classroom teachers with classes that go over the class size limit as a gimmick to get around the law. Also, there is a hardship clause in the class size law that states that schools do not have to comply with the law if it is impossible. It’s gonna be a shit show in two years when the law goes fully into effect.

    • Nick Bacon
      Nick Bacon

      I would have liked to see class sizes dealt with a bit more creatively in our contract. I know, I know – it’s a cost, so if we’re following pattern bargaining it isn’t that simple. But we’ve made negotiations far too simple. The latest news is we might see virtual instruction used to deal with the class size law – and that, in my opinion, is not the way to do it. It’s also, ironically, something we made possible THROUGH our contract, meaning rather than address class sizes reasonably in our contract, we gave a way–arguably–to get around it.

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