Why ‘the UFT’ can threaten to sue its elected opposition representatives without a vote – and other notes from the 3/20/2023 UFT Executive Board Meeting

Quick Summary/Analysis:

There was a bunch of debate about why the UFT is using our dues/resources to threaten to sue its own members (members who happen to be in the opposition) without any known process of coming to that decision. Two members came in to plead to keep our healthcare (traditional Medicare and GHI). Another member came in to thank UFT staff for responding to gun violence around their school. We heard slightly more detail on the new curriculum news, and heard some reports from districts. Most other news mirrored what was said at the Delegate Assembly last Wednesday.

Informal minutes follow.

Open Mic:

Norm Scott: UFT member since 67. Wearing a UFT logo and hope no lawyers contact me. Healthcare: MAP isn’t Medicare. If I were to pay someone to go to the grocery store for me, that’s kind of like what Aetna is going to do with our healthcare. If you don’t understand that healthcare hasn’t increased in cost because of profits and denial of benefits…I hear some people say I don’t really care about it – it’s just politics. I’m really disturbed by the fact that I may not have access to my doctors. I’ve got doctors for every part of my body. I’m getting calls from all over the country by people saying they might not get access to doctors. 60% of people are now on MAP. But what happens when it’s 80 and 90%? I’m sorry to say but this union is acting like the Republicans – the Republicans will end up killing Medicare. Mulgrew talks about representational voting at MLC, but not in the UFT. Even though Retiree Advocate got about 1/3 of the vote in the retiree chapter election, we get no say at all – not a single delegate. We think there should be a vote on questions of healthcare. We are starting a petition campaign, where if we get 1/3 of this body, we can get a referendum to vote on any healthcare changes. You might win that vote  anyways – why not support it. Give members a choice to vote.

Name missed: Last Tuesday, there was a shooting at my school. There was a panic. We were telling parents to go the other direction. Chris Verdone has an appointment coming this Thursday. They found out shortly after us. Then there was a lockdown for 30-40 minutes while it was going. Just want you to know how responsive the UFT was and how unresponsive the DOE was. SSA only found out 50 minutes into the shooting.

S. Cohen: Teacher at Aviation on exec committee. Been teaching for 29 years. Concerned about proposed changes to our healthcare. Concerned about what’s happening with GHI. Are we going to be maintaining our GHI for free? Concerned with losing healthcare that everyone is happy with. We’re in solidarity with the retirees – we’re tomorrow’s retirees. Everything said before is very concerning tomorrow. Why is it incumbent on the UFT to get savings for the City when we were promised something similar?

Minutes: Approved.


Ilona Nanay: Following up on what a member asked around GHI. Just curious what the plan might look like for in-service members. What happens next?

Joe Usatch: RFP out there. Some bidders. Not sure who. Plan as good or better without a premium.

Nick Bacon: I have a question about process. I received a letter from a law firm, Stroock, asking me, on behalf of “the UFT” – I assume they meant on behalf of the officers –  to remove material from a blog I write.

I sit on this body and listen closely to the proceedings. I read and vote on minutes of AdCom. But I was completely unaware that either of those bodies engaged lawyers to write to me.

Who decided to have the lawyers send me, a UFT Executive Board member, this letter? Where was this decision taken? Who was involved? Why is there no record?

LeRoy Barr: Think about the election complaint. Tons of complaints there about using the UFT logo. The logo belongs to the UFT.

Nick Bacon: I remember the election complaint. We had records for that. We had debate. We came to a decision. There was none of that this time. Also, I’m an executive board member – elected by the members. I’m being threatened by the UFT for using the UFT logo? Am I not UFT? Who is?

LeRoy Barr: There’s a record now.

Nick Bacon: Yes, because I brought it up after the fact.

Alex Jallot: When is it appropriate to the use the UFT logo? A lot of those schools are modifying slides. When would it be appropriate for members who use dues to use the UFT logo?

Barr: If you’re using the UFT logo to denigrate it, that’s when it’s a problem.

Nick Bacon: Feel free to call me out of order, but I have to say it. Do we mean UFT or U-nity, because I haven’t seen anything about the caucus, Unity Caucus, using it in their logo.  I’ve seen opposition members get in trouble for using it. Sounds like it is about which UFT members use the logo?

LeRoy: We sent letters to everyone who used the logo in a denigrating way. Add that to your records.

Alex: When is it appropriate to modify? Because we were told to modify.

Amy Arundell: Part of team of people who created the teach-in slide show. Saw the slideshow created with the UFT logo. There was a slide that said givebacks. That was not part of the slideshow we created. That’s an opinion – a political one. By putting the UFT logo on a slide on a slide that says givebacks – there’s an implication that the UFT agrees with that. So to clarify, I did say to people to use this slideshow. But to put in a slide with a political viewpoint over whether or not the UFT has successfully bargained over the last 50 years. UFT obviously doesn’t agree that we’ve had givebacks. Yeah, we said modify – you might take out a slide, take a different kind of action.

LeRoy Barr: Don’t use the UFT logo to make a political point.

President’s Report:

Mulgrew: We can keep having these debates. We can play politics, but is it moving our agenda or are we just trying to play games. I hope people are not trying to do things for the wrong reasons. But game playing is a part of our society now I guess.

State: Budgets are out. Major primary season in June. Some will be unopposed, but others will have 5 or 6. So we’ll have to work on that.

City Council: Mayor still claiming that NYC is gonna fall off a cliff. That will be fight number one.

Contract committee, when doing at a level when we’re doing what we need to do. Need to wait for DC37 full vote, then see PBA piece, then is there retribution for UFT blowing up Mayor’s plans to do healthcare in this round of bargaining?

LeRoy Barr: Contract action survey coming out.

Brad Alter: Thinking strategically, this will come out to membership. Leading into March 30th action. For instance, what percentage of your day is spent doing tasks that don’t contribute to helping students?…

LeRoy Barr: Lobby day – several things like fight against charter schools. A lot of what we fought for has ended up in the budgets put out. (Missed some, but see DA minutes for more specifics). Mayor is proposing cuts to the City budget. Going to fight school cuts, especially as DOE now has to comply with class size law.

Special Order of Business:

Mary Vacarro: There will be curriculum, not saying we’ll like it. 3 choices in elementary: wit and wisdom, h and h (inter reading), expeditionary learning. Algebra – there will be 165 schools that are a part of it. Under Karen’s realm, there will be an early childhood curriculum.

DOE is telling us that DOE engaged their community. With that happening 15 districts will be doing new curriculum. Other 17 will be the following year.

We’re going to work with DOE to help do PD across the City. So we want to make sure that every para/teacher who works in ELA gets support in their classrooms before the curriculum is actually sent out. Hopefully we’ll get started in next month and a half. By June, we’ll be pushing into schools to provide some PD. In July, we have the citywide training at the teacher center. Anyone will be able to come in and work on the curriculum. We have put in a request that every teacher in these schools gets everything before they leave for the summer. It doesn’t mean you’re planning all summer long. Algebra, 165 schools. We’ll work with Janella to see how you are going to get supported.

Ibeth Mejia: How do we know who will be participating in high schools?

Mary Vacarro: We don’t know yet. We’ve been told it’s a diverse setting – low, medium, and high.

Melody A.: Schools were asked to choose other curriculum. Can they keep it?

Mary Vacarro: Yes and no. Only if it was the one chosen by the Superintendent. Some other curriculums will still be supplementary.

Luli Rodriguez: Will it be differentiated?

Mary: Yes. Will also include self-contained.

Reports from Districts:

Janella Hinds: Two events. Last Saturday, Queens UFT had an annual herstory event. Had students including jazz band welcoming into space. Had cosmetology services from students. Did gallery walk. Thanks many UFT officers and staffers.  

Gratitude to Nick Cruz, Bronx division of UFT in support of 2500 students in the house. Thanks others. Many came to talk about scholarships and college life.

Karen Alford: Early childhood conference is coming. We give out awards. Honoring ICs and social workers this year.

Camile E.: Happy to report we opened a teacher center in district 16. Teacher centers are a missed opportunity. Especially good for colocations.

Name missed: District 23/school. Had a wonderful time celebrating the UFT birthday. Appreciate your duty free lunch.

Name Missed: meeting on Saturday at Gateway school. 20 teachers and paras. Good info.

Melody A.: May 13th is the AFT/UFT teacher leaders action showcase. Randi’s favorite program. She will be in attendance. Program expected to get attention it deserves. Small but mighty cohort.

Seung Lee: March 1st Manhattan borough office had sabbatical workshop. Lunar new year banquet was lovely.

Rashad Brown: Daniel Dromm scholarship deadline is May 1st. A lot of help given to members for student debt – lots of debt forgiveness.

Amy Arundell: Queens has March madness too. These aren’t reports about bragging, they’re reports about muscle building. You can’t just wake up and fight. So sitting down during lunch builds a muscle, so when we do an informational picket the muscle built.


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