Friday, September 30, 2022

DC 37 BARGAINING IMPACTS UFTers

The city opened bargaining with DC 37 on their expired contract. These negotiations impact all government employees who work for NYC because of pattern bargaining. Once one union settles on a salary increase percentage, it sets a pattern. All other unions that follow receive basically the same raises that follow the pattern for the current round of bargaining.

The letter from DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido (see below) to DC 37 members makes it abundantly clear that healthcare givebacks are on the table for this round of collective bargaining. Even though the UFT Contract entitles UFTers to a choice of premium free healthcare plans, the umbrella group of municipal unions called the Municipal Labor Committee could give away a great deal in terms of our healthcare benefit choices for both active people and retirees. The UFT and DC 37 make up the bulk of the MLC's weighted votes.

Meanwhile, the UFT's 500 person Negotiation Committee met Wednesday to prepare for UFT contract negotiations with the City-Department of Education. I wonder if they had a discussion on possible healthcare givebacks or DC 37 setting a pattern the UFT will be stuck with. 



Tuesday, September 27, 2022

COVID NUMBERS

Latest USA COVID-19 numbers from the NY Times:


Is this a lull before the next variant hits or is this truly a positive trend? 

Before anyone says how bad a job Biden has done with COVID, it would be difficult to argue with you.


This is sobering.

This tweet kind of sums it up:



As for vaccines, I am no scientist by any means but the data below shows vaccines are holding up in keeping people alive and cases down but they were oversold as the be-all and end-all and vaccines ended up coming up short against the variants as there is waning immunity and too many people didn't take them. Again, I am not a scientist so my view is no more enlightened than anyone's but I can read numbers.
 

Update in Wednesday's Times on vaccines. Shots continue to keep people living and out of the hospital. (Full disclosure: I got a bivalent shot.)




Just my opinion but any mandatory mitigations would be useless now as so many people wouldn't follow them based on politics. The science is still evolving. 

Back to my area of some expertise: You should know you can get time off on the DOE's dime if you need a booster and have a reaction or if you have COVID.

Monday, September 26, 2022

NYC ECONOMY GROWING

 Gothamist reports on the state of New York City's economy. The city's economy is not in a recession.

New York City’s recovery has been sluggish and uneven. The city lags behind the country and other major cities when it comes to regaining jobs lost during the pandemic. The slowest recovery has been in sectors with lower wage jobs like hospitality and retail.

Nonetheless, jobs are steadily returning, according to James Parrott, the director of economic and fiscal policy at the New School’s Center for New York City Affairs.

In August, the city added 24,000 jobs, according to data from the city’s Office of Management and Budget. Parrott said the figure is in line with the average monthly growth so far this year.

The city’s unemployment rate rose last month. However, the uptick was driven by a rise in job seekers — a sign that people are feeling more encouraged by the job market.

City tax revenues have yet to decline, despite Wall Street’s lagging performance this year.

Data compiled by the city Independent Budget Office (IBO), a nonpartisan agency, shows that city tax revenues grew between 2019 and 2021.

The IBO is projecting that combined tax revenues will increase this year as well. Money collected from property taxes, however, is expected to fall.

Nobody is saying that there isn't a real risk of a recession but the city does not need to be that worried. One of the causes for optimism for the city is nobody is expecting municipal union raises to be anywhere near the inflation rate.

Some budget experts have cautioned against making sky-is-falling predictions about the city’s fiscal future, saying the recent shortfall projections represent worst-case scenarios and that the economic conditions are still fluid.

Two factors driving the multi-billion dollar deficits are inflation and the struggling stock market. Both could cause the city’s labor costs to skyrocket, via upcoming contract negotiations with unions and pension investments.

The state comptroller’s office has said increases in union wages would cost taxpayers an additional $3.6 billion in 2026 under the projected inflation rate. That’s in addition to the $10 billion shortfall.

However, George Sweeting, the acting director of the IBO, said union raises have not always matched the inflation rate.

“So the assumption that it would be the same as the inflation rate may not hold,” he said.

The projected $10 billion budget hole assumes that Wall Street’s recent slide will force the city to contribute billions of dollars into its pension funds to meet the level of payments promised to municipal retirees.

But the stock market could recover some of its losses, blunting the impact on the city coffers.

Parrott stressed that the state comptroller is obligated to take a cautious approach in its fiscal forecast, one that uses conservative revenue estimates and assumes conditions for the city will not improve.

“That’s the nature of the reports they do,” he said. “It’s a risk-assessment approach to financial management.”

We can count on the unions to settle for much less than what the State Comptroller is projecting. We have Michael Mulgrew leading us who as usual will look out for the city more than his members. Members need to stand up and fight for fair raises. 

Friday, September 23, 2022

CHAPTER LEADER WEEKLY UPDATE: CONTRACT NEGOTIATIONS START OCT 13; AVIATION HS SIXTH PERIOD PAY GRIEVANCE WIN; UFT TRYING TO PRESERVE HEALTHCARE CHOICE NOT PREMIUM FREE HEALTHCARE CHOICE

Three stories in this week's Chapter Leader Update caught my eye. The first was on contract negotiations.  The UFT Contract expired on September 13.

Contract Negotiations

The city has agreed to sit down with the UFT for the first negotiating session on Thursday, Oct. 13. Under state law governing public employees, the terms of an expired agreement remain in effect until a new one is reached. Salary steps and differentials remain in effect, but we need a new contract to secure the across-the-board pay increases we deserve. The current DOE-UFT contract expired on Sept. 13. The union’s 500-member negotiating committee is meeting on Sept. 28 to prepare for the start of bargaining. The results of our all-member survey will direct their discussions. 

Aviation HS Sixth Period Grievance Win

For over twenty years, shop teachers and other non-shortage area teachers at Aviation HS were teaching an extra class all term but were being ripped off by getting paid at a lower daily coverage rate instead of the higher special per session rate. The UFT did nothing to stop the cheating until 2021 when new Chapter Leader Ibeth Mejia did the research on why this practice was improper and then mobilized the shop teachers to fight back. One of those teachers won a precedent-setting grievance arbitration case this summer. 20 others grieved. The DOE is still fighting but soon the teachers et.al. case will go to arbitration and the teachers should be getting back pay.

The UFT has won an arbitration decision confirming that the Department of Education must pay the shortage rate — not the coverage rate — to any teacher asked to teach an extra period every day as part of their program. While the practice is not widespread, we now have a precedent-setting decision that providing coverage pay for teachers who teach a sixth-period class on a regular basis is a violation of the DOE-UFT contract. A principal may offer a sixth class to a teacher only if they get approval from the schools chancellor and pay the shortage rate. The arbitration began as a grievance filed by an Aviation HS teacher with an aviation mechanics license who taught a sixth-period class every day and received coverage pay. The DOE argued that since the aviation mechanics license is not on its list of shortage areas, the principal had the discretion to offer a sixth class to aviation mechanics teachers at the coverage rate. The arbitrator sustained the grievance, stating that the DOE-UFT contract is clear that the coverage rate is for covering a class on a day when the regular teacher of the class is not available and a substitute teacher could not be hired. The shortage rate is the only rate available in the contract for teaching a sixth class, regardless of whether the class is in a shortage area or not.

UFT says the practice of principals shortchanging teachers who teach an extra class is not widespread. Are they right?

Oppose any Healthcare Givebacks

The Municipal Labor Committee (an umbrella group of over 100 city government unions) is working with the city to try to get the City Council to change the Administrative Code (city law) on city employee healthcare benefits. 

The UFT Contract entitles UFTers to a choice of premium free healthcare plans (see Article 3G1). The change in the law would make it only a choice of health plans. This is part of a checklist on what the UFT is currently doing that is part of the Chapter Leader Update:

Lobbying the New York City Council to amend the administrative code to state explicitly that the city must negotiate with the Municipal Labor Committee on all employee health care plans and must allow that city unions may negotiate for employees to have health care plan choices.

Notice they don't say choice of free healthcare plans.  A judge threw out the city-MLC's attempt to move Medicare-eligible retirees into a Medicare Advantage Plan (privatized healthcare or what we termed Mulgrewcare) or pay premiums for what they have now. 

The city is trying to change the law so they can easily end choices for premium-free coverage and impose the inferior Mulgrewcare. They could then charge around $400 a month for couples to keep traditional Medicare-Seniorcare that today costs $0 in premiums. Unions like the Professional Staff Congress are opposing the change. The city and MLC will be able to end premium-free healthcare choices for active UFTers and non Medicare retirees if the change passes in the City Council.

Go to the Professional Staff Congress (CUNY union) page for more information and to get involved in the fight to oppose healthcare givebacks. 

United for Change (opposition group in the UFT) had a resolution for the UFT to draw a line in the sand and oppose healthcare givebacks for UFTers. It had 49% support at the Delegate Assembly last year. Let's bring it up again and move it over to majority status to make it UFT policy.

Monday, September 19, 2022

EXECUTIVE BOARD REPORT (Unedited)

I got in during Mulgrew's Report. For a full report on the open mic, go to New Action for Nick Bacon's report. Michael Mulgrew reported that most unions are without a contract and the general feeling among the Municipal Labor Committee is that the state of relations between the unions and the city is not very good. Negotiating Committee will soon be meeting. 

MOSL people have to make the right choices. There are schools made choices that were not in their interest. CL's have to be involved. 

Funding: Fair Student Funding is not really fair. We don't do hiring in the Department of Sanitation based on salaries. They hire the people they need. We are back to talking to Bloomberg people. Will testify before the City Council on this. FSF has led to much more special ed non-compliance. We are back to the standardized test crowd. Chancellor says the formula is not right.

Questions on Mulgrew Report:

Mike Schirtzer asks if we will address children and bussing. Are we going to jump in because of DOE incompetence?

Leroy Barr: We will address issue.

Mulgrew: DOE trying to put their hands on everything. Quite concerned on fixation on a management system as opposed to reality.

Question on APPR and MOSL. MOSL opens on October 7. Will members have enough time to make those decisions?

Mulgrew Answer: We have to push the DOE on this. There were schools where every teacher was Highly Effective or Effective on MOTP but are getting Developing because of MOSLS. Citywide chapter Leader forum on MOSL. CL's who want to bring MOSL committee people with them is fine.

Alex from high school asks who makes fair student funding decisions.

Mulgrew Anwer: It is the mayor. It is not a subject of collective bargaining. Bloomberg wanted to treat every school as a separate store like a franchise. DOE should pay out of their budget for basic things a school needs and school budgets should only be about extras. We had a committee under de Blasio. They had recommendations. New administration has a new committee. We will take action against it if it is going the wrong way. Other city agencies don't measure experience factor when figuring out local budgets.

Nick Bacon-APPR consequences from last year law was passed that we could waive APPR. We signed off but city said no. Last year, we hadn't had testing for so long. Kids not ready when they came back. What can we do about teachers who were rated unfairly? Teachers with TIPs can get micromanaged. What is the UFT going to do with teachers who have consequences?

Mulgrew Anwer: We already have a system set up and we are going back at them. State gave right to waive APPR for two years but NYC wouldn't do it. Percent of people rated low is around .5%. System is set up. Members reaching out to us. 

Approval of Minutes:

Lydia Howrilka asks about election complaints. Why was the last meeting adjourned without a vote on the complaints? We ruled on that previously and they were voted on them. If you disagree, move to the American Federation of Teachers. Lawyer Beth Norton says those complaints have already been moved onto the AFT.

Minutes approved.

Staff Director's Report

Leroy Barr reports on Making Strides walk, negotiating committee, next Exec Bd and DA.

Question Period

Question: ENL coordinator, how is ENL testing going citywide? Uvalde, principal wants to know rooms where locks aren't working. Is there anything on that?

Leroy Barr answer: Jeff P will reach out to you. We will get back to you on ESL testing.

Mike Schirtzer: With storm situation in Puerto Rico and DR, is disaster relief already helping?

Barr Answer: AFT is having conversations on that. Power is out but Puerto Rico is near and dear to the AFT's heart. We will keep you posted on that. 

Karen Aford adds that we have gotten communication but we are already in conversations about helping out.

Question: In one of the 50 schools with messed up MOSLS, people getting formal and two informals. Why are we getting 3 or two observations?

Mary Vaccaro nswer: Put in a complaint. 168 have come in so far. Email we will get specifics about your school.

Ilona: Substitute teachers, can long term subs get on contract negotiating committee?

Answer: Yes

New teacher week rate of just over 51 dollars. How did we agree on that?

Mike Sill answer: This is is the training rate which has been in the contract for many years.  Negotiating committee can look at that for the next round of bargaining. 

Question: Early childcare workers, can they get a letter about covering transportation?

Mike Sill answer: Met with early childcare workers after the meeting and then we met with supervisors who gave their vision. We got a draft of a new proposal. We can't stop DOE from reshuffling central offices. DOE wants people to reapply for new positions. Responsibilities are similar to old positions. DOE looking like they are just trying to reduce people in these positions but the need is the same. DOE giving additional postings. People will either end up in similar position or in other opportunities. We are waiting to find out what other opportunities are. People are not in excess right now. They are still employed in that office. They could become excessed. We are looking over posting. Email campaign going. DOE, can we rescind letter? They are not being excessed right now. If they don't want to reapply, they can go back to old DOE positions in districts.

Ibeth Mejia: Grievance for sixth class. Thanks David Campbell and his team and Janella Hinds for testifying. When will UFT publicizes this so others schools can get involved? When will et al people who filed get paid? How will other teachers know?

Leroy Barr: We put it in Chapter Leader Update

David Campbell. You did a good job getting other people to grieve. DOE being who they are, we are going to have to put other people on grievance calendar as this will come up in October. Shortage rate for shortage area and non-shortage area needs to get special per session pay. This was a strong decision so going forward nobody should have this problem of getting coverage pay instead of shortage area. Principal doesn't have discretion to offer the class, they have to give the special per session rate.

Ibeth: What about schools that have non-traditional schedules?

Campbell: It is pro rated pay.

Edward Calamia: With all the federal money coming in, programs for latch key kids to come in early? What does Union object to in administrative code 121266?

Leroy Barr: It is important for latch key kids to have something.

Jeff Sorkin: Judge overstepped his bounds by ruling we couldn't get Medicare Advantage.  We want to preserve choices.

Lydia Howrilka: How can we fight to get our members in the budget fight?

Leroy Barr: We have been involved throughout the summer.

Mary Vaccaro: Fair Student Funding meetings have not gone well. You can see it on the Info Hub. We have spoken; meetings only exactly 1.5 hours. We will have borough meetings and we will figure out how to get our voices heard. 

Ronnie Almonte: What is in place to organize new members? Some hired on Bard line while others are on DOE line? Some schools have a long tradition of ora=ganizing. What can we do to organize unorganized?

District 30 Rep answer: Says we have organzing work done in her district. Can be for 1,2  or three year people. 

Janella Hinds: Agreement in Bard and other early colleges. Some CUNY PSC; some UFT. Particular realities at schools with different structures. UFT and PSC members have different realities. 

Alex: Smaller class sizes, committee formed last year. What are we doing to pressure Adams to honor that agreement?

Leroy Barr Answer: Pressure is the law. Thanks everyone who did the actions to get us where we are. We must make sure the city follows the law. Making sure 20% that get served first are for black and brown people.

Reports from Districts

Tom Murphy, tough week for retirees. We lost several people in the last week. Florence Fidell, original para organizer. Moved to Florida and organized ther. We lost Mona Davidson who organized Florida office. Town Hall with retirees will touch on issue of retirees' healthcare. Involved with Campaign 2022 on Senate. In touch with Amazon workers who won the union election on Staten Island. Trying to help. Inflation Reduction Act, monumental piece of legislation: drug companies can't raise rates beyond inflation rate; $2,000 annual cap for drugs, negotiations for highest price drugs, adult vaccines free and Affordable Care Act expanded.

Not sure the district: South Brooklyn school will be renamed after a principal.

Italian American Heritage person: Bocci tournament raised $1,400 for UFT Disaster Relief Fund.

Exec Bd At Large Person. Mural for K295 and 443 is now entrance.

D21: Schools raised thousands of dollars for Making Strides.

Servia Silva: D4 will be doing something for Hispanic Heritage Month. Flyers should be up.UFT members will be shaking it.

Mike Sill: DOE mishandled medical accommodation process. We brought this up last week. DOE moving on this. Getting accommodations.

Rashad Brown: LGBTQ history month, happy hour at place where movement began Stonewall inn.

David KL Retiree workshops coming up.

Lamar Hughes: Good start in D25. In PS 244 story. Pre k teacher made puppets out of people in the school community to teach children various tasks. d25 and D26 new members meet.

Janella Hinds: Care in time  for people with dimentia. March Oct 23.

Special Orders of Business

Mary Vaccaro on teacher center courses. Workshops on learning apple. Gooogle giving workshops too. CTLE courses going. Teacher Center sites can help for things like lamenating.

Resolution on Mobilzing for a Contract fight:

Nick Bacon asks for an Action Committee. Mulgrew said it's not looking good. We are without a contract. In the past, we've had Action Committees like in 2004. When we haven't had a contract in the past, we have had these committees.

Amy Arundell: Speaks against resolution and says we have an action committee called the negotiating committee. Action is part of their responsibility. Not against in theory, it isn't necessary.

Mike Sill follows Amy and says we have a negotiating committee. Why take authority of negotiating committee and give it to us. We are smaller in number. Mobilization is going to be needed as part of contract fight. 

Rashaad Brown: It excludes people. 

Carl Cambira: Things have changed since 2004. 

Mike Schirtzer: Can do both. Negotatiating Committee and Action Committee can also do actions to get things started.

Alex: This isn't an either or thing. Good for us to have an action committee that works in tandem with the negotiating committee. It can happen here and in the negotiating committee.

Ilona: This is not an either or but an and. More folks involved, better chance for us to get a contract. Negotiating committee off to a slow start. We need people to meet here to talk about things that aren't fleshed out at the negotiating committee.

Elementary school person: people not involved flocking to get to negotiating committee. It needs the chance to do what it was put in place to do. It indirectly undercuts what negotiating committee does.

\Question is called. 

Point of information on debate not being balanced.  Leroy said Robert's Rules doesn't call for one speaker for and one speaker against but does call for one other speaker for.

Ed Calamia: Action committee could keep members activated even when there is a contract settled. It is an independent committee needed.

Melanie: Point of order on speech not being in keeping with resolution. Leroy says it's not in order.

Nick Bacon: We could amend.

Vote to call question passes easily.

Vote on resolution: A few yes,overwhelming majority- No to forming action committee.



Sunday, September 18, 2022

CROSS-UNION RETIREES ORGANIZING COMMITTEE PROVIDES CONTACT INFO FOR CITY COUNCIL MEMBERS

On Facebook CROC put a link to contact your City Council Member to protect our healthcare. 

Click on the link for each member and you can find their phone number.

When you find your Council Member's contact information, plesase take the time to make a phone call and/or email to urge your local Council Member to oppose the change to Administrative Code 12-126 that will give the city and Municipal Labor Committee leeway to weaken city government employee and retiree healthcare. This includes UFTers. If you reside outside of NYC, use your school's address to locate your Council Member. 

Retirees don't want privatized Medicare Advantage (Mulgrewcare). Active workers and retirees must oppose any healthcare givebacks. Right now UFTers are contractually entitled to a choice of premium free healthcare plans. Let's keep it that way.


Everyone has an assignment to contact their Council Member. We need to get active.

Friday, September 16, 2022

PSC PRESIDENT DAVIS CALLS FOR ACTION TO SAVE CITY WORKER AND RETIREE (INCLUDING UFTers) HIGH QUALITY HEALTHCARE

James Davis is the President of the Professional Staff Congress (CUNY union). They are one of the hundred plus NYC government worker unions that make up the Municipal Labor Committee. The UFT and DC 37 are the two biggest unions in the MLC.

The UFT and DC 37 are leading the charge to change city law so the city can charge higher costs and/or limit healthcare quality. For retirees who don't want to pay monthly premiums, the city and MLC were going to force them into an inferior privatized Medicare Advantage plan (Mulgrewcare) until a judge stopped them. If the MLC and mayor can convince the City Council to change the law, active workers and retirees can expect healthcare givebacks.

The PSC is leading the opposition to the changes in the law on healthcare. Ten other MLC unions voted no. President Davis in his latest email explains what's at stake. Here is an excerpt; you can read the full email below.

The proposed change to the Administrative Code section 12-126 means that the only premium-free retiree plan would be Medicare Advantage, and the current Medicare/SeniorCare plan will cost individuals at least $200/month. But it would also allow the City to renegotiate the “benchmark” reimbursement rate for active employees too. 

PSC says this on their website:

The City has an obligation to cover retirees' health insurance costs, and SeniorCare has done it well, without premiums, co-pays, or prior authorizations. The Council will vote on a proposed Administrative Code change that breaks this compact. The code change also opens a door to future changes to the quality or cost of active employee health insurance.

We have t take a stand: No healthcare givebacks! Please take action.

The full email from President Davis:

Dear PSC members and retirees,

This is an urgent follow-up on my September 9 email about the City’s attempt to weaken protections for municipal retiree health insurance. This is not just a CUNY retiree issue, it’s also an active employee issue. The proposed change to the Administrative Code section 12-126 means that the only premium-free retiree plan would be Medicare Advantage, and the current Medicare/SeniorCare plan will cost individuals at least $200/month. But it would also allow the City to renegotiate the “benchmark” reimbursement rate for active employees too. 

Here’s what you can do right now: Notify your City Council representative and Council Speaker Adrienne Adams that the quality of retiree health care is at stake now, and active employees could be next, if the City regulation changes as proposed. 

There is no time to lose. The City Council will soon be asked to conduct public hearings and reach a decision on the matter. 

There are alternative approaches to managing the City’s rising health care costs that should be considered. Instead of amending the Administrative Code - opening the door to reduced quality and/or increased costs to retirees and active members - savings could be achieved through measures such as going after the hospitals for exorbitant charges, addressing the skyrocketing costs of prescription drugs, and auditing current insurance providers. The burden should not fall on workers, retirees, and their dependents.

The PSC was among the 11 unions that voted against this proposal because: 

  • We do not support the privatization of Medicare, and retirees who opt to remain in traditional Medicare should not have to pay monthly premiums.

  • The proposed Administrative Code change gives the City leverage to compel active employees to pay more for health insurance benefits in future negotiations or reduce their quality. 

We urge PSC members and retirees to send this Act Now letter to your City Council representatives and Speaker Adams. If you reside outside New York City or are retired from a CUNY college, please use the address of the campus where you work and adapt the Act Now letter to indicate your college affiliation. 

In solidarity,

James Davis, President