UFT Members – Why is UFT Leadership Misleading us on Contract? – Executive Board Minutes, 5-22-2023

Quick summary/analysis:

Tonight, UFT leadership disappointed many rank-and-file attendees when it came to contract. UFT leadership has been misleading us about something big, effectively lying (at least organizationally), and making us ask ‘why?’ and ‘what else isn’t being shared accurately with members?’

Specifically, during a report tonight, Carl Cambria claimed that only the UFT wants to get a contract before summer; that the DOE could care less. Cambria’s claim contradicts directly what the UFT has been telling us in official communications. In a Chapter Leader Update as recent as May 18, we were told “Negotiation meetings are taking place daily as the UFT, the DOE and the city try to reach a contract agreement by the end of the school year.” Notice, here it isn’t just the UFT who wants to reach a contract by summer – it’s also our employer. And at the May 17 Delegate Assembly, Michael Mulgrew told us directly that ‘We are trying, both us and the City, to get this done before the end of the school year.’ That’s two places now – two – where UFT leadership has told us directly that the City also wants the contract done soon. So why is Cambria now telling us the opposite? I can think of a few reasons: (1) it’s a good rallying cry to get a yes vote – now the timeliness of the contract becomes what we’re fighting for; it will seem like a win when we get it in June if members believe that we had to fight for a contract before summer. (2) It helps UFT leadership justify rushing out the ratification process. Indeed, while I had initially thought we’d get the ball rolling as early as this week, I’m now starting to think the UFT might actually wait until June to even start. (3) Alternatively, maybe the nontruth was earlier, when the UFT signaled that the City wanted the same things as UFT leadership (a contract before summer). Maybe our top negotiators misread things so badly that they put into print something that wasn’t true. And (4) Maybe UFT leadership is lying organizationally but not personally. Maybe Mulgrew is saying one thing he believes (and including it at the DA and in the CL update), while Carl is saying what he believes (and including it in the executive board update). If that’s the case, that means the top layers of our negotiation team aren’t in sync, and both are conveying opposite positions in official UFT forums mere days apart. That possibility means our organization is broken. It makes me equally pessimistic on our contract future.

I’m beyond disappointed. At some point, someone in leadership misled us. And that makes me extremely skeptical about the contract process. To add insult to injury, Unity voted down a basic common sense resolution on giving delegates time to read the contract before voting. Some of their arguments were frankly ridiculous. Liz Perez, for instance, noted that a no vote campaign already exists (it doesn’t – she’s likely thinking of UFC’s vote no if we don’t meet five basic demands campaign). And she suggested that one reason 2 weeks would be a problem was because then people might publicize negative things about the contract. But that’s precisely the point – if there are negative things in the contract, delegates deserve to know about them before we vote on them, no?

Again, I’m beyond disappointed – even more than usual – with Unity. For more information on contract, curriculum, class sizes, and other items, see below.

Open Mic:

Michael DeShields (PS30): Speaking on pride month. Currently on the exec board of the UFT pride committee and member of pride at work. Patty Crispino president. Looking for members. $5 per month membership fee. Pride night at Yankee stadium, June 31st. Stonewall organization presenting scholarship that night. $45 range for tickets, go to scholarship. Advisor for my elementary school’s GSA (Gay Straight Alliance). Opportunity for students at school to have a safe space. Students have a chance to express themselves and share on LGBTQ issues. Since Trump was in office, started tutu Tuesdays, wear tutu to school religiously. Women will wear shirts and ties. This is our opportunity to show solidarity with the transgender community. Would love to push out to rest of DOE. Many states trying to ban things for trans community and take away rights. Working closely with Rashad, chair of pride committee. This all comes from more support from above. Would love personally if everyone started using pronouns now. If we start using them as the leadership, then other people will start following suit.

Ben M: Pronouns he/him. Talk about the contract negotiations, critical moment with the rally on Wednesday. Expresses gratitude for everyone working on contract negotiations – on the negotiating team and on the CATs. I think salary mostly speaks for itself. What I want to talk about is the job survey from last year – workplace flexibility. Our work has low levels of workplace flexibility comparable to other jobs. We’ve all missed family events, have had trouble getting time to get errands done, etc. There are ways to give work flexibility that doesn’t hurt students. I think we should fight for discretionary vacation days. DOE created this as part of the spring break arbitration decision. Now that this type of day exists, we could add to that flexibility. It’s important. Help prevent teacher burnout. Help keep people in teachers. Want to also give credit that UFT has done to improve working conditions for C6/extended days – it’s something that’s very important to teachers, time. This is an opportunity that we have right now – this could make a big difference.

Moment of silence

Vince Gaglione: Passing of founding member of UFT. Rise to ask respect in moment of silence in memory of someone whose name is probably unknown to most people in this room. Bob Miller was one of the founding members of UFT, teacher at George Washington HS, first rep in D6, serving until 1990s. Mentor/friend to me. When I worked in district 6, he encouraged my unionism. He had a big presence in d6. Honor to serve as his successor, but no one could ever fill his shoes, including me. Memory is a blessing. Moment of silence.

Minutes approved.


Michael Sill: DOE put out ‘plan’ on compliance for class-size legislation. DOE’s plan reflects their attitude towards this work – they did the least possible. Criticism needs to come from us. Principals have reached out to tell us DOE is telling them not to worry about things, because ‘nothing is changing. ‘ Approximately 39% of classes are in compliance here technically, but DOE shouldn’t be lowering class sizes because it’s their legal responsibility – they should be lowering class sizes because it’s their ethical responsibility. We’re going to be asking folks to get out to public meetings, including CEC meetings, to speak out. There will be fiscal conservatives there who say the City can’t do it. We need to show them that they’re wrong.

Mary Vacarro: Rollout of curriculum meetings. Final agreement, this summer we will have P credit/A+ on curriculum. Excited about that. Also, the three types of curriculum, books are starting to arrive. Some issues with digital portion of grades 3-5. Last thing, postings are up for district positions, for elementary or middle school, for people who want to work at the teacher center, teacher center for one year, then you return.

Carl Cambria: Rally on Wednesday the 24th. Start with where we are in terms of the negotiations. Meeting every day, all day. Members of 500 member negotiating committee have put a lot of time into negotiations, both internally and with DOE. We are trying our best to get a contract to ratify before the end of the school year. We want to bring the best possible contract that we can bring. The problem is that management/DOE does not share that same goal. They don’t work towards that goal. They are meeting us, having conversations with us, don’t have the same desire to get contract to our members. In terms of pace, they’d be fine with the contract taking 5 more years. They don’t have a desire to show they have some sort of vision for September. So we’re always the ones who need to drive this car. In this case, it’s that much more difficult. You’ve all had situations where you know how frustrating it can be at a school-level consultation. We are going back to them almost daily reminding them what we’re doing. Constantly. Don’t know if there’s going to be an agreement. As we stand at this moment, there is no agreement. Is there a path to an agreement? Path, yes, but we have to prepare it ourselves. Make no mistake, there is no agreement. We have a number of tentative agreements. That means that the rally is extremely important. I know it’s been said over and over again. It’s important not just for us to feel good, but to show the DOE and the City that we want a contract now. That’s been our slogan: fair contract now. Wednesday is about letting that be heard. They need to know it’s not just us at the negotiating table who care, but that all of us care. So continue emphasizing that to our members. Because they are not going to give that to us. The pattern is there – I’ve said that before. But it’s not in our pocket. The time is there for that to happen. Only have a few weeks until the end of the school year. If we get to an agreement in the next couple of weeks, we need a fast turnaround in terms of getting the information out. We have a lot of work to do. But we won’t have any work to do unless we get out in the street on Wednesday and force the City to an agreement.

Reports from Districts:

Rashad Brown: For first time in a while, UFT participated in AIDS walk, raised over $6k, which surpassed our goal. We had a good time. Thanks a few people. This is an annual event. Let’s have 50 out there next time.

Melody A.: Thank you to those who came out on May 13th for teacher leader action workcase. Good turnout, but also want it doubled. It’s important, I’m passionate about it. It deserves the attention it got and then some. Always around the same time.

Dave Walter: Update on school in d26 that won a union animus arbitration, 40 pages of a principal abusing an entire chapter. Thanks many. That principal went on leave and got a taste of what it means to have a collaborative environment. Took that to the streets to suggest what a positive environment they’re in. Got community behind them, in front of superintendent. Did not want the ‘abuser’ returned to their family; that principal is now no longer at that school.

Seung Lee: Sunday after spring conference, AAPI heritage parade was excellent. Families at event. Shouts out many. Teacher center will be releasing an AAPI curriculum that they’re field testing.

Daniel Rodriguez: Attended with some of my members at Bronx Health Sciences High School at Truman, rolling out AAPI curriculum. Well received. June 2nd, Bronx High Schools having celebration event. Everyone here is welcome.

Janella Hinds: Secretary soirée on Friday June 2nd in this room. Transform this room to celebrate secretaries from all schools. Hope you’ll join us if secretary from your school is being honored.

Special order of business – resolution on contract full disclosure

Ed Calamia: Common sense resolution that affirms our values, transparency, etc – gives generous amount of time to debate/discuss contracts that will determine their future. You want to read every line of a contract. Everyone in the union is busy, especially volunteers who do extra stuff. We need time to study these types of documents. You want to parse text, get together with others, bounce it back and forth. At the end of the day, it’s the members – rank and file. We want them to be able to understand the contract as if doing itself.

Mike Sill: Rise in opposition to motion. Understand where it’s coming from. Don’t think we should signal to DOE that we won’t ratify without 2 weeks. Don’t know what the intent is here, but don’t think we should signal anything to our opponents in this negotiation. As carl said, DOE is not anxious to come to a conclusion in these negotiations. If they wanted to put off a ratification vote until September, of course they’d use it.

Alex Jallot: In support. Think the spirit speaks to our union. Hear what the speaker was saying before about showing DOE how we’re operating. But this is an important resolution. This will dictate our lives.

Rashad Brown: I stand on a few negotiation committees form the last few years, and what I can say is that when we come back to the union hall we go through the contract language and how to bring that to our members. I don’t think there needs to be a reason to extend that time period. We are on the brink of a recession, this could stall the process. I think we should move forward with the Executive Body to bring that contract to our chapter leaders so that it can be brought to a vote.

Nick Bacon: I stand in support of this resolution in part because I’ve been through contract ratifications before. I remember the 2018 contract and that delegates didn’t have enough time. People didn’t know what they were voting on, especially around health care. Certain items were not understood such as first year teachers could not get plus 30 in the same easy way that most us were able to. Stuff like this leads to discontent. Teacher unionists work full days and can’t just read through a TA with 24 hours notice. If we’re going to vote on a contract that’s going to dictate so much of our lives, we need to be able to read it. At the DA when we voted to release the contract so our members could vote, a lot of us were saying that we didn’t know what we were voting on. We were told that we were not voting on it, we were giving members the ability to vote on it. But everyday members hear that we voted yes to let a contract go for a membership vote – they hear that Chapter leaders and delegates actually approved of the contract. For these reasons, we can’t give 24 hours notice to chapter leaders and delegates to vote.

Patty Crispino: There was not one time that I voted on a contract that I wasn’t aware what my union pointed out to me and what I chose to read. I don’t think any of our members need two weeks to look at what is important to our members. I think this resolution is somewhat insulting, that it would take anyone two weeks to read what is important. I trust our union leadership, and I trust our union.

Seung Lee: Two reasons I have issues on this resolution. Paragraph 4 talks about feelings, harmony, and think there’s an inherent contradiction in the writing. But aside, the last paragraph talks about the need for 2 weeks at every step. Perhaps lack of clarity? Misunderstanding intent? But this causes unnecessary delay – logistical nightmare. Unless I understood more of what was written here, I’d never vote for it.

Liz Perez: How many people presenting this have actually read the contract and the 2018 MOA? How could you possibly have harmony? How could we have that whenever we have exec boards and DAs things are reported out negatively? Imagine the negativity that will come out if 2 weeks notice are given. Right now we have a vote no campaign – you haven’t even seen the contract.

Question called.

Motion defeated.


  • Avatar
    Mike D.

    Here are two possible reasons why this happening: 1) Mulgrew wants to get a contract done asap so he will not have to work on it over the summer or into the next school year. He is getting tired of dealing with all of this work even though he gets paid big bucks to do it. 2) The DOE is not agreeing with whatever deal Mulgrew is putting on the table. Could be that the DOE does not want to budge with extended day time usage. (The DOE might want the extended time to be used exclusively for more instruction) I have mentioned before that the City/DOE does not give a crap about how long the contract process takes because they have no incentive to make it happen quickly. Sill said at the meeting last night that the City does not care if it takes 5 years to get a deal done. This proves my point. Please let us know if the 500 Member Committee meeting all day today or just after school?

    • BaconUFT

      It’s just after school. You make good points. My points today are more in the blatant stating of contradictions in the first place. But one caveat to your point: an opposition seizing power is bad for the DOE and City. They actually do have an incentive to play ball with Mulgrew. Part of that is making sure Unity looks good on contract. Part of that is a yes vote.

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    Mike D.

    I don’t think the City or DOE really cares about getting along with making Unity look good on paper. The City/DOE wants what they want and they will push that regardless of who is in charge. Maybe I’m wrong.

    • BaconUFT

      The City has been clear that they prefer non striking unions. UFC would change course in a way that would not make the City happy. Unity is non striking, and thus per documents NYC submitted to the Supreme Court during Janus, the version of unionism they prefer.

  • Avatar

    The city sees Chicago and LA — I had it straight from one of Joel Klein’s top people a decade ago- they will back Unity to keep a progressive aggressive opposition out of power/

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