What does ‘Unity’ look like? – Executive Board Minutes, 5/23/2022

LeRoy Barr: We will begin with an open mic. There are two speakers, so you each only get 5 minutes. This is not a debate portion. We will ultimately have a conversation about the online policy. We have to make sure people can be allowed in, but also have to verify that they are UFT. Christina is responding, I believe, to allegations at the last executive board meeting RE election complaints. We are one union, elections are over. We want people to be here, but are having difficulty verifying everyone, so bear with us.

Christina Gavin: Can you pause, because we are waiting for a few people to get in (Ronnie Almonte and Daniel Leviatin).

LeRoy Barr: We have tech on this, but we can’t let people in if it says ‘iphone,’ for instance. We need to know who folks are. We got 20+ emails.

Christina Gavin: I’m here to discuss 2 false allegations presented here in front of the executive board. First had to do with a Google Group that I made in 2020 following a request I made in January in 2019 to you (LeRoy Barr) for a UFT group that librarians could communicate on. So I made the Google Group, and we sent that information to you. Beth Norton claimed that because the word UFT is in it, it’s the UFT’s. The process to join is to email me on personal email, and I join you. There must not have a been a thorough investigation, because this is not a UFT listserv.

Second claim has to do with Bill Woodruff. He knows I was recording, and continued to talk for over 40 minutes. He said I’ve messed up using an expletive, among other similar statements, and indicated that wounds need to heal at our union. He apologized sincerely and said Christina did nothing wrong. Later, she found that a false allegation was made by Bill against her. It appears that Ms. Lopez also spoke with him and filed another complaint against Christina. The bar was public, no part of the bar was set aside for a UFT function, and I had express permission from the bar to distribute. I did not take or use any of the UFT resources on that date. In addition to verbally assaulting me, Bill Woodruff prevented me, Peter Zucker, and even Unity members from handing out election complaints. I would like to invite you to visit the website I put up to see Bill Woodruff’s comments, which are transcribed.

Mary Perez: I am a CL from the Bronx, D79. Speaking about the same event as Christina. Had 10-12 teachers go to this bar at 3:00, and William was greeting. Conversations were great, there were no flyers anywhere. I saw William in the front the whole time I was there. He wasn’t drinking or eating anything, just waiting. I saw a lot of people later giving out UFC flyers, but I wasn’t there for that. I was there socially. Christina came in when I was at the bar at a stool. We were getting ready to leave, I saw her flyers and I saw her on the phone, and I don’t know what the conversation was, perhaps about joining UFC, but I made her know I wasn’t interested in anything. But, I felt she just continued behind me. I felt uncomfortable and harassed by her. My friend asked her to leave me alone. I felt she was there for an agenda.

LeRoy Barr: These comments are in response to an election complaint made here. So you heard from both sides, and I wanted to make sure that you all heard that. There’s no back and forth. It’s just a chance for us to hear, and we usually don’t respond. With respect to the [email protected] (did I get that right), this election was a little different. We got complaints about members who just happened to work for UFT using their own personal accounts that had UFT embedded in it and we told them that they could not use their own personal accounts because it had UFT embedded. In the context of the election, we ruled that way. The UFT librarian account falls into that ruling. This meeting should not be recorded. I will drop everyone and make this an executive session. If you can’t adhere to that, it will affect whether we do this in the future. This is recorded for minutes, but we are not recording outside of that.

With respect to the district 7 account, we heard different accounts. We ruled everyone should be respectful. The election is over, and this is one union.

Official minutes all approved.

Michael Mulgrew: Nice to see so many people here. Right now we are in Albany, a lot going on. Today the assembly conference over Mayoral Control, and also talking about class sizes. Spring conference went great. June 2nd is the end of the legislative session, early because of primaries. Lots of lines redrawn, elected officials are freaking out. For us, we’re focused on the legislative session and getting finished. We’ve already received funding, but there are major policy issues.

Calendar: the sacred calendar that never comes out. Was just on the phone, DOE has finally sent up the calendar for approval to the state education department. Hope to be finished shortly. Once out, we’ll send it out, and SBOs will kick right in. Ridiculous that bureaucracy gets in the way of calendars getting out.

June 9th guidance, it will be treated the same way as election day. In consultation, DOE agreed that it would be a virtual day unless it’s actually necessary to bring people in.

32,400 people filled out contract survey, those results will go negotiating committee. Gonna bring people in again for that June 15th.

Questions Period

Mike Schirtzer: 3 questions, and please also address at DA.

(1) Can we move forward SBOs on scheduling.

(2) Are we included on the new state guidance on appealing regents scores.

(3) APPR, is our district included.

Michael Mulgrew: Chapter leaders like to do SBOs all at one time. Debra P. says we’re ready to go once the pilot workday is out. As for questions 2 and 3, we haven’t heard from DOE yet, but hopefully will hear on Wednesday. I did sign for the waiver for APPR, and we just need to see where they are. We both have to agree; we both have veto power. It’s up to the school districts, not the teachers union.

Michael Friedman: Superintendent, who I’ve known for 30 years, who is very good. I haven’t always agree with him, but he cares about kids, is knowledgeable, is humane. He was put in a position not to be a finalist, though now is after all the politics. But, he was clearly the best candidate at that town hall. And I’m worried. We have many issues in this district, e.g. special education. We need this person to be in charge, and it’s disconcerting what’s happening.

Michael Mulgrew: That superintendent is a good man. There’s a lot of politics in some of these districts. You have people running campaigns, which has made it very interesting. What I’ve gathered is that they’re backing away from the original position that they’re going to take the recommendations of those involved in the process. They’re saying that they’re the final determiners. As far as I’m concerned, if people feel strongly, we’ll support them in making sure that our voices are being heard.

George Geist: Shout out to Jeff P. for talking about all the safety stuff to his school.

Michael Mulgrew: Jeff and his team have been doing a great job during this pandemic. They visited every school in a 2 week period and came up with a report RE ventilation etc before anyone went back to the buildings. We have multiple schools on lockdown every single day. So thanks for the shoutout to Jeff.

Reports from Districts

DeShanna Barker: Two fridays ago, Queens high schools had our annual bowling event. It was successful. The spirit of solidarity was there and we felt the sense of normalcy. Hopefully next year we’ll make it a COPE event.

Seung Lee: Great turnout at the AAPI Parade.

Melody: Plea for paid leave. How can patients manage after surgeries and cancer treatments with all the time we have to take off for ourselves or our loved ones? We have great healthcare, but it’s only good if you can do it without the detriment to their family. I was one of the people who was negative in my CAR after spring break. We need to make our benefits at least equal to that in the private sector. We need to attack paid leave head on, or we are failing women.

Janella Hinds: Great abortion rally on May 15th. Proud that UFT was marching, because abortion rights are workers rights.

George Altomare was acknowledged for his 60+ years of service to the labor movement. George is just one of many founders who has been fighting for workers rights for decades. So the ALC gave him an award last Tuesday.

Tammy Miller: Provider appreciation ceremony went well. Shelly Abrams was awarded.

Rashad Brown: Annual scholarship from pride committee. It only takes for a UFT member to nominate, then the committee decides. We have at least one recipient per borough. We’re going to go to the schools and allow their schools to celebrate them. We will also be doing some fundraising.

Second, PSLF loan forgiveness. October, the limited waiver ends. Right now, we have a lot of rules that can be overlooked. So we’re going to send out a video to district reps.

Mary Atkinson: Some of our superintendent town hall forums have happened. I encourage you to join if yours hasn’t happen yet. We are going to hear from the candidates and to listen to feedback from community members. Everyone has a chance to speak at the end, when candidates are dismissed. There is a chat, you can give feedback.

Mike Sill: We are all UFT members. Compelled to say something – 250 years ago, James Madison wrote that: “A zeal for different opinions concerning religion, concerning government, and many other points, as well of speculation as of practice; an attachment to different leaders ambitiously contending for pre-eminence and power; or to persons of other descriptions whose fortunes have been interesting to the human passions, have, in turn, divided mankind into parties, inflamed them with mutual animosity, and rendered them much more disposed to vex and oppress each other than to co-operate for their common good.” Our debate aught to strengthen us, not weaken us. That talk at our meeting about what happened at the bar, but to assume the worst about motivations – that does not strengthen us, it weakens us. We should have debate post-election, but we should not cast dispersions on our members or assume negative motivations. We are one union , so let’s act like it.

LeRoy Barr: Willing to work with any activist willing to take on the work. Only way to get through this is together. Every conversation strengthens us, so co-endorse what Mike Sill said.


LeRoy Barr: AFT resolutions going up very shortly. Two resolutions

Seung Lee: (1) condemning hate crimes against Asian Americans. We should take a leadership roll here.

*Passes unanimously.

Rashad Brown: (2) Resolution to pardon Marcus Garvey. National situation that needs to be handled now. Marcus Garvey was wrongly convicted of mail fraud. He is a civil rights hero. J. Edgar Hoover hired an African American in the FBI just to infiltrate his organization and wrongly convict him. We need to push federal legislators to pardon Marcus Garvey.

LeRoy Barr: J. Edgar Hoover cut his teeth on Marcus Garvey – that was the FBI’s original counter-intelligence program. We need to come to terms with our history.

*Passes unanimously.


  • Avatar
    Dru Paulson

    “we should not cast dispersions on our members or assume negative motivations. We are one union , so let’s act like it. ” Is that the same Mike Sill that denigrated Camile Eterno at one of our DAs??? that is classic

  • Avatar
    Christina Gavin

    At the end of the meeting, Mr. Rashad Brown says that the late Marcus Garvey was ‘wrongly convicted’ so ‘we need to push to pardon’ him.

    Mr. LeRoy Barr adds, ‘We need to come to terms with our history.’

    Mr. Garvey was never a member of the UFT, and the false allegations against him were made more than 100 years ago.

    Conversely, I have been a UFT member since I started teaching, and the false allegations against me were made much more recently, but Mr. Barr has not demonstrated the same interest in ‘coming to terms’ with this contemporary history.

    In his capacity as not only Secretary but also UFT Director of Staff, it’s concerning that Mr. Barr is allowing a union employee to verbally abuse, slander, file false charges against union members, and collude with chapter leaders he represents to do the same, while simply ignoring the evidence and saying ‘this is one union.’

    Mr. Mike Sill, UFT Assistant Secretary added, ‘We are one union, so let’s act like it,’ but doesn’t seem to think that a union employee should act like they’re in the same union as a member who belongs to a different caucus.

    For members belonging to a caucus that calls itself “unity,” it does not seem that the individuals, behaving so wildly inappropriately at Bar 47 and later lying about it, have a strong understanding of what that word means. If they claim to hold “unity” as a value, they certainly do not demonstrate it to all union members alike.

    According to the UFT website, the union’s mission includes ‘strengthening … the lives of our members;’ however, I can assure you that the recent actions of several UFT employees who are also part of the Unity caucus have absolutely not ‘strengthened my life.’

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