What’s going on with the TRS Election? – UFT Executive Board Minutes – 5/6/2024

Summary/analysis: The meeting opened with Roberta giving an impassioned theatric performance about the flaws of commercialized healthcare and the need for the New York Health Act. There’s no way my minutes did her performance justice. Norm Scott (ednotes) followed Roberta about the problems with our welfare fund, both with respect to dental and prescriptions. He also discussed the importance of the NYHA and the flaws in Medicare Advantage.

Mulgrew then spoke about enforcement related questions around the class-size legislation and a DOH law about state staffing. The bonus was also discussed. Apparently there’s been a lot of ire about this, and some bad information was put out somewhere on social media. Mulgrew, as far as I know—erroneously—blamed that misinformation on the opposition (it definitely wasn’t NAC, and to my knowledge none of the other opposition caucuses either). The truth is, when teachers don’t get information from the DOE or UFT about critical information like missing financials, misinformation becomes rampant. It’s not political, it’s just desperation meets the internet. Blaming opposition, without evidence, might ramp up Unity members in the room, but examining the reasons regular rank-and-file members misinform and end up misinformed is more important. We need to do better about making sure teachers get paid what is promised and on time; then there won’t be any need for misinformation. I was glad to hear—though I hold my breath a bit—that the next payment date has been negotiated.

The trustee election, for which NAC’s own Ben Morgenroth is running a spirited campaign, is being formally contested by the UFT, as the DOE apparently is not following the letter of the election law. As far as I can tell, Ben’s campaign is more negatively affected by this than Unity’s candidate, since the UFT has directly emailed members with her name (but not Ben’s), whereas the DOE has NOT notified members the two are running – part of the law. (That means UFT members, as well as other TRS members, don’t know that Ben is running – at least UFT members know his opponent is). Edit: Check your DOE emails – while late, at least THAT problem has been addressed – again, not in the correct time frame though. There are some other questions—the election will be digital, something I support in theory, but it’s apparently an alleged violation of the law. I digress. Vote for Ben this week, as the election is apparently happening despite the contesting. It will likely be online, so check your DOE emails and let us know if you face problems voting.

Joe Usatch made a brief report, apparently correcting misinformation at the last DA, about the welfare fund. He was vague about who he was correcting, and vague with the information. Apparently a longer report is coming at the next meeting from Sorkin.

Most of the rest of the meeting was about special events. Some of you may be interested in those, but it’s not my focus. If you’re interested, see more below.

Unofficial Minutes

Open Mic:

Roberta Pikser:

[(Bell Laugh)  I am going to tell you a story

One day, you have a funny feeling in the skin near your ear.  You should go to your primary care doctor, but you don’t have the $499.99 copay.  You need to pay the rent.  So, though the strange feeling around the skin of your ear is getting stronger, you keep telling yourself that it is probably nothing. 

But a week later, your ear falls off.  You are a little disturbed.  But the urgent care near you will cost you $1,599.98.  Better spend the copay to see your doctor.  But she has no appointments for six months and twenty-seven days.  You have to wait.  By the time you can see her, she is no longer in network.  You spend another nine months and forty-two days to find a doctor in your network who is taking new patients.  Your other ear falls off. 

You finally see a doctor; but the insurance conglomerate he works for only allows him one minute and twelve seconds per patient.  You show him your ear.  (You only have one because the dog ate the other one.  And died.)  He glances at the ear and quickly writes a referral to an Ear Nose and Throat specialist. 

But the ENT in your network has no appointments for three years and twelve days.  You go on a fast to save for the copay.  But by the time you see the ENT, (wig off) your hair has come out, so he says that has nothing to do with him.

(Scratch face) On your way out the door, a physician’s assistant notices that the skin is peeling off your face and refers you to a dermatologist. 

After five years and 16 weeks, you can see the dermatologist in your network. She takes one look and says Oh, yeah.  You have leprosy.  She’ll write you a prescription for a couple of antibiotics.  It’s no big deal.  But, after you pay the $5,000.92 copay you still have to find the money for plastic surgery, which isn’t covered under your new, better than everyone else’s health insurance plan. 

Too bad we didn’t have the New York Health Act. 

You could have seen your primary care doctor immediately, without copays. 

There would have been no networks to exclude you.  And no copays.

The doctor you saw would not have been under pressure, and could have diagnosed you properly.

You would have seen the dermatologist in time to save both ears and your hair and your face and your money.

The New York Health Act could have saved you.  It can still save the rest of us.  But we all have to do something now to save the New York Health Act.  Call your state senator, many, times.  Call your state assembly member, many, many, times.  Call the Governor, many, many, many times.  Insist that we all need the New York Health Act.  They must bring it to a vote and they must pass it.  Now.

LeRoy Barr: Hope you aren’t taping this for distribution (to another person).

Norm Scott: Wife started taking a drug for osteoporosis, injection twice a year, say to pay a quarter. Knowing that we have a surplus, we know it can’t be a wait, but there is. LeRoy, this (points to teeth), this is an insert – cost me 4,000 – wasn’t in this room. We have some issues with the dental plan despite the surplus. Roberta I have bad news for you – NYHA is only second place plan, the best is the Aetna plan (sarcastically). We’ve been sold this plan – 5 year contract, but I have a lifetime contract with Medicare, all I have is 20 percent coverage, you want to move to that? What is it for Aetna, profit making company, to give us this wonderful plan? Gonna make money from denial of service and squeezing Medicare out of funds. Union seems happy about that. What if we’re helping kill Medicare? Know this union is trying to tell retired paras that we care about you – but if we got choice, you couldn’t afford the choice, because the pensions are too low. These are lies of omission in your presentations. Choice I hear all the time from Charter industry, drag out public funds for schools to us, this is the same thing.

Approval of the Minutes.

President’s Report:

Mulgrew: Thank NYSUT delegation, well done. Think they felt welcomed in NYC. Welcome to national teacher and nurse week, appreciation week.

DOH has failed miserably on safe staffing law – working with other healthcare unions. No good getting a law if it doesn’t get implemented. No point in law if not followed – now we have to arbitrate arbitration. Press taking notice of it. Lobby day. Speaking of laws…

Class size law – specific language, part of the law. Each individual school must be funded with additional funds in order for the school to come into compliance with the class size legislation. This is where our fight was heading, working with 2 years, committee with department of ed. Saw some of this. Very different week with the office of management and business – 2 years ago started making line item changes in DOE. Having OMB on top of DOE is difficult process. Training – whatever programs you’ve been running, you’ll get that plus more -the state increase – then on top of that, you’ll get an additional amount of number to hire staff needed for the class size law.What later kicks in is the waiver process, have to create additional seats, how the law rolls out. All about right amount of space, staff, to make that work. Have 850 schools who can do it right now. That’s more than half of our school district. City, goal isn’t to deny additional funding, agree law is in effect, next piece is where is the additional funding, NYC will fund, not with additional money from state/feds, because state is sick of arguing about it when they send billions of dollars. None of money last year was used for class size, now it has to be used for class size. This law for generations can change our school system. Many parents think we’re going to push kids out of neighborhood schools. Good part of law is if school is overcrowded, what process to get annex or new schools, now we have that spelled out. Citywide CAT team meeting coming up, about speaking with members and parents – gotta drive the law. For years didn’t do numbers because wanted to get around law.

DOE screws up the bonus, first blamed it on us, kept discussing, May 16. Incompetence. We do have in our possession the email that they’re promising next year’s check…

Trustee election – knew we were going to have problems. DOE and TRS run this election, not us. That means our objective is to make sure the process is followed correctly, don’t want bad precedent that could harm in the future. We don’t care if 40 years old. Started last week going between our lawyers and then, nominations, on Friday after, we filed. Biggest thing – election doesn’t allow for electronic elections, over there today, can’t just change the rules without going through the process of changing the rules. Going to try and speak to both candidates – we are filing election complaint, we are; they’re going to do it, going forward with it. Important for you all to understand – gotta follow the regs, sorry you didn’t read them til Thursday. Screwed up the whole thing – we don’t run this election.

 Don’t like when stuff = someone told us that DOE, learned getting that union paying check, floating all over social media. Nobody says are you nuts? Read all this on the UFT Faq. We’re getting into … crazy politics world, as we have elections and stuff here, don’t do this crap inside of our union. No issues with freedom of speech, protect people charged with due process, but motivation, intent, does count. If your intent is to weaken the union, then you are not a friend of this union even though you are not. Half the stuff is out there – the DOE, what a shock, most of that was done by the schools. Michael, what’s average length of service for someone in DOE HR, HR Connect is now 18 months. Working on antiquated systems from the 1980s. Costs more to run those than to put in a new one.

Teacher appreciation.


Joe Usatch: incorrect info at last DA by some folks, wanna make sure we have all the right information. Very short fund report:

Dental second biggest expense – 85-90 million on that benefit. Unregulated market. Should we tweak benefits – expenses add up quickly. Exploring enhancements for 2 years now, little moves – big increases. Some little ideas planned, looking to implement. Prescription drug is always a priority, second to none. Retirees without access to funds, many thousands of dollars thresholds – but it’s dropped 75 percent by 2025. Everyone should be proud of that. Important to look at a fund’s entire benefit package before judging it. Sorkin out sick. He will be going into a deeper dive at the next eboard.

Janella Hinds: May 31st – first academic high schools prom. Theme is a night to remember, celebrating schools, activists, and educators. Want you to either redo your prom if it was trash or to relive your time as the prom royalty that you were. Want you to be celebrated – previous winners of high school awards, don’t be shy, more winners this year, celebrating, hope you’ll join.

Rich Mantell: On next day, come to our 5k, run off the liquor, you’ll sweat it out.

Karen Alford: prek, 3k.Adams announced pulling funds out – DeBlasio, didn’t love all about admin, but liked that agreed in early childhood, the excuse that there aren’t students in those seats – just wrong. Asking for restoration of budget, be nimble with seats, move to where needed. Changes, communities change. More advertisement of deadlines and how to get into seats. 40,000 letters sent for campaign. 10 millionth book givewaway for first book. Aids walk – flyer coming shortly. Sunday after spring conference. UFT African Heritage committee going to Weeksville.

Mary Vacarro: After you dance give books, walk. 6 free classes, 6 credits to 30+. July 8th , rest will be asynchronous. Some more in August. Excited about this, it’s k-12. Also apple education, how to make imovies. Class will be free, only to accept 1500. Flyer next week, this body first.

LeRoy Barr: NYSUT RA. Some awards given to members of this body. Spring conference, May 18th. Providers dinner on May 17th. AAPI Heritage Month. Jewish Heritage Month also. CL elections, constitution calls for them in May or June, certification. Retirees going on May 10, other functionals May 9. Encourage others to vote.


Alex Jallot: Question bonus checks – a couple members have asked, has DOE given reason for delay, will there be interest put on?

Mike Sill: Did not give a reason. That’s why Michael wanted to set a date. No interest, no. We could look to see if there’s an argument to be made on interest.

Alex Jallot: Checks in the mail – that email, nothing in it is true, anyone who has direct deposit, it will be deposited. Banks post those at different times.

Teresa Bellow: Recent times, digital breaches of personal information. Is it possible to educate on digital safety, have a workshop?

Leo Gordon: Easy answer is yes, have to roll out some things about technology. Some of our members getting into different situations.

Reports from Districts:

Rashad Brown: Aids walk already mentioned, didn’t mention. Only selling 100, but have commemorative shirts – 10 dollars each.

Servia Silva: district 4 hiring fair. Friday May 17th, 4/21, asking people to wear green, because May is also mental health awareness month. 620 vacancies compared to – where we’d have 100+, want 0.

Danny Rodriguez: May 29, 2 different events, spring soiree. Part of this for latino scholarship. Saturday, May 29th, gala is Wednesday, off broadway play, UFT high school teacher, wrote play years ago, 2 people in cast, including Janella Hinds. Theatre background became teacher – I’m directing.

DeShana Barker: eboard member at large. Second UFT family day, for everyone, including retirees, registration begins Monday, sold out in 4 days last time, if you intend on coming out, please sign up immediately when you see email.

Legislative Report

City Council legislative priorities are on our website. Will have elected officials to speak to all this stuff. ..


Next meeting May 20th.

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

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