Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Waiting for Mikey

Guest Blogger: RBE

I've been a UFT member since 2001. I've seen a few contract negotiations in my time. And it's always the same, negotiation period after negotiation period. They put together a committee of UFT members who are allegedly on the contract negotiating team - and those people get Unity-approved dribs and drabs of what is happening to dole out to the masses. But the real negotiation is happening behind closed doors with Mulgrew (or in the old days, Weingarten.) We wait for Mikey to come down from the Mount with the tablets upon which are written the new contract terms - and we will be asked to vote on the new contract before actually seeing said new contract and understanding what, exactly, is in it.

Unity says this is the only way this can be done, that they will not "negotiate in public" because that would undermine the process and the outcome. I don't see it that way. To me, they limit this negotiation to those in the Unity braintrust (such as it is) just as they hold all other important union details and duties to themselves. It's about power, and perks, and privileges. Keep others out, keep others guessing, keep others in the dark about what is happening, keep members dependent on what leaders "do" for them and tell them.

Every time I see the UFT talk about the importance of voting, the importance of democracy, etc., I laugh. There are few entities as undemocratic as the Unity-controlled UFT. Mulgrew is the king, and it's good to be the king. He does what he wants, with impunity, shoves through what he wants, with impunity, and the rare time something happens to undercut what he wants, he just shoves said thing through with impunity again (see retiree health care sellout, for example.) There is nothing democratic, representative or admirable about this union leadership, nothing democratic, representative, or admirable about this union, frankly. I am not talking about people at the chapter leader level here. I have been fortunate to have good CL's (non-Unity) who try to represent members as best they can and work as hard as they can for them. No, I'm talking about the people above. The few times I have needed help for something from any UFT rep above the chapter leader level, they have always failed me. Always. One time, I needed to get my classroom checked for asbestos contamination after I found an "asbestos blanket" canister placed on my desk by some new custodian who has found the thing in the closet. My CL was right on it, getting us moved from the room until the air could be checked. The UFT DR, on the other hand, got belligerent and wanted to know what I was worried about, was I looking to sue over this in some bullshit lawsuit? Ah, the UFT Unity crew - always looking out for members. Fortunately we were able to get the air checked and all was well, but we had to fight the UFT as much as the DOE to do it. My CL, now long retired, got it done, no thanks to the Unity crew above him.

So, as we await Mikey's pilgrimage from the Mount with whatever sellout contract he is going to tell us "scrapes the skies" it's so good, I am reminded that it doesn't have to be this way, that this union could be more democratic, more representative, actually function as an entity in the business of protecting and representing the interests of members, not protecting and representing the interests of the leadership. Whatever comes from this contract (my last one - I will be gone by the time the next contract comes), let us remember the next election that we can and should do better than this.  

Wednesday, May 03, 2023


This email came earlier today, May 3, from the UFT telling me about an April 4 meeting. We trust our healthcare and union representation to these people who don't even know what month it is. Then again, maybe they purposely sent me the April 4 meeting notice on May 3.

This picture above shouldn't bother me but seeing UFT HS VP Janella Hinds take a picture from the Writers Guild strike picket line leaves me feeling a bit bittersweet. It is a positive that our leaders support the job acton as the strike is worthwhile. That is union solidarity. On the other hand, the UFT has done nothing to revise the part of the Taylor law that makes public employee strikes in NY, including by teachers, illegal. Evey worker should have the right to strike. I would like to see Janella work to repeal that portion of the Taylor law.

Saturday, April 29, 2023


Sue Edelman has a piece in the NY Post on the loopholes in the class size law that might be used. For those wondering, there are four major exemptions:

The exemptions cover: lack of space, “over-enrolled” programs, a shortage of licensed teachers, and schools in “severe economic distress.”

The class size limits for NYC:

The law, signed by Gov. Hochul last September, caps kindergarten through third-grade classes at 20 students, fourth through eighth grade at 23, and high school at 25.

The law is being phased in over the next five years. 

Under the law, the city must have 20% of classes meet the caps by 2023-24, and 40% by 2024-25.

“We are on track to be in compliance for years 1 and 2,” according to the DOE.

But compliance must increase to 60% in the third year, 80% in the fourth year, and 100% by 2027-28.

That will require a massive effort to recruit a projected 7,000 new teachers at an estimated cost of $1 billion a year. 

This is my favorite part of the article:

Under the law, all exemptions must be approved by both the teachers’ union and the principals’ union. If the three entities can’t agree, an arbitrator will decide.

We can pay that $1,475 per hour to Arbitrator Martin Scheinman so he build a new swimming pool to entertain Strook UFT-MLC lawyer Alan Klinger.

Does anyone want to put their crystal ball to work? Will NYC be in compliance by 2027? We can check in 2027-28.

This blog not so boldly predict the answer will be no but I want to be wrong. Then again, if you put different UFT leadership in power, I might change my mind.

Thursday, April 27, 2023


From City and State:

In a surprise Thursday evening press conference, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced a “conceptual agreement” on the state budget nearly a month after the spending plan was due. She highlighted changes to the bail law, new charter schools and a free bus pilot program in New York City. The plan is expected to total $229 billion.

From the UFT:

Michael Mulgrew on Kathy Hochul last  October:

Hochul did it better than anyone's else. Best friend to public education that this union has ever had in the governor's office.

Our best friend let us down today.

Tuesday, April 25, 2023


We learn from Nick Bacon's Executive Board minutes that the UFT might be very close to finalizing an agreement on a new contract. 

The ICE blog predictions:

  • When will the contract be finalized?

The new contract should be settled by the end of May or beginning of June at the latest so members can vote on it before school ends. If it isn't settled by early June, this may last a while. 

The terms:

It looks like the Union is accepting the pattern set by D 37 as the basic framework for the UFT settlement but that maybe the UFT negotiators could, as Randi Weingarten used to say, eke out some more dollars out of the pattern for UFTers. For those who don't know, these are the DC 37 financial terms which are for a roughly 5 and a half year contract:

The salary increases:

May 26, 2021: 3.00%

May 26, 2022: 3.00%

May 26, 2023: 3.00%

May 26, 2024: 3.00%

May 26, 2025: 3.25%

May 26, 2026: 0%

The contract ends on November 5, 2026.

  • Healthcare givebacks 

On healthcare, UFTers will most likely be voting to accept whatever the Municipal Labor Committee agrees to on healthcare. For those who have forgotten, the MLC is an umbrella group of City unions that does weighted voting so the UFT and DC 37 control it as the largest two unions. We have a petition out so retirees and active UFTers can vote on any significant healthcare changes as per the UFT Constitution. This is the DC 37 language on healthcare from their Contract Summary Sheet:

continuation of premium-free health plans provided for by the MLC health agreement.

  • Non financial terms-Working conditions?

This is where it gets tricky. Read from Carl Cambria's update to the Executive Board:

Gone from teaching our own members to going out to the public and showing all the extra work we have to do. Today, began interacting with the community. We do not have time in the workday to get everything done that we have to get done. 

Further down:

The more difficult partner in all of this is the DOE—whatever they’re calling themselves now—getting them to focus/engage with us on topics on the table. 

Basically, my take is that the UFT has agreed on the basic financial terms of a contract with the City but the Department of Education is not budging on making any changes to the micromanagement UFTers have been enduring for two decades since Joel Klein took over as Chancellor under Mayor Bloomberg.

We learn from the leaflets the UFT is sending out to the public that the Union is focusing on teachers being overworked. Is the UFT attempting to improve the professional period and/or the extended time provisions of the contract? We shall see. If the DOE just says no to the UFT's demands, what is our answer? (Please don't say surrender.)  These are discussions that should be taking place in the schools. 

The complete minutes of the report on contract negotiations that was given at Monday's Executive Board:

Carl Cambria: Negotiation update. 

Those of you at DA heard Mulgrew talk about the governance meeting that happened that morning. Positive meeting in that City came ready to respond to each of our general demands. Not everything was a yes, some yes, maybe, no, there was a willingness to come out at a quicker pace to head into Spring. Internally, we started in June. In October, we had our big 500 meeting. Subcommittees have been meeting. Had teach in in Jan. In Feb, we passed demands across the table to the DOE (full gen). That’s also when we wore green with DC37. In March, we continued – did we? – yes, grade in. Today, leafletting has begun. There’s been an escalation of intensity. So now, we’ve created an intense negotiation schedule for May. Exact dates to come. May action as well, increasing intensity. Over course of month, going to try and whittle down as much as possible, so that we’re in a position to get this contract set for ratification ASAP. City is more ready to do that than DOE. They have their pattern and uniform pattern set. That part of the negotiation is now less intense. We’re having some debates on exact amount of value and how that applies to the UFT. That’s what we’re focused on in May. These leafletting campaigns will help get DOE to start to work with us on workplace stuff. Leafletting is at a crucial time, heals of that governance meeting, May intense – we’ll finish that to know if we’ll have an agreement for the summer or not.

Monday, April 24, 2023


 The latest UFT contract leaflet. Any thoughts?

Update: There is a piece in Gothamist on the UFT contract negotiations.

Some excerpts:

In addition to economic demands, teachers are also seeking educational policy changes as part of their collective bargaining. They are pushing back on what they say are overly burdensome requirements. Examples the union cited include: excessive testing and data collection, teacher training sessions unrelated to student needs, and having to administer repeated social-emotional assessments throughout the year.

“What we're being mandated to do has nothing to do with what we've been hired to do,” Michael Mulgrew, the president of the union, told Gothamist in an interview.

He said the policies had created a “massive morale problem” among teachers.

Further down:

Mulgrew said that talks with City Hall had picked up momentum in recent days, but declined to provide further details. He said the two parties last met on Wednesday.

And more:

Under Adams, the city’s labor negotiators have so far reached deals with two large unions: District Council 37, the largest municipal union that includes many lower-wage workers, and the Police Benevolent Association, the city’s largest police union.

Both received generous multi-year deals, worth $4 billion and $5.5 billion respectively. The city also agreed to pilot programs for remote work for some city workers and longer shifts that would allow police officers to work fewer days.

For the teachers’ union, the precedent of those two agreements takes some of the pressure off its talks: Under the process known as pattern bargaining, the city is expected to apply the same framework to other unions, depending on whether they are civilian or uniformed.

The expectation is that salary increases for teachers would fall in line with the roughly 3% annual raises received by the members of District Council 37.

Any comments?

Wednesday, April 19, 2023


I was on the call on time.

President's Report

We will have an update on contract actions. Moment of silence for Betty Gotfried who formed the Adult Ed Chapter. Mark gave a tribute. Visitor today Andy Pallotta who is retiring. Pallotta addresses the DA.    Calls going around the state a great experience. Thanks everyone.       


Gun violence in schools getting out of control. Watching Supreme Court. Overreaching on many different issues. Fox lawsuit. They had to pay $800 million for lying. There will be other cases.


Housing and bail reform still out there. Charter fight is not over. Zombie charters not in law. Turning charters from k-5 to k-8 to k- 12 not in the law. Charters in NYC are half empty. Charter Institute is basically Fox News. How can they have waiting lists when they are half empty? Cohorts in public schools measured from total cohort. If a charter starts with 25 students and 12 graduate, they boast a 98% graduation rate. Charters don't backfill. We have a class size reduction law in NYC, how we could we supply more space and have to pay for more charter schools. This is a complete fallacy. We will do more if we have to. Zombie charters won't work. Charters are half empty. If there is a real need, then go to those schools. Class size law is going to get implemented. Charter piece is not dead. Mulgrew spent day in Albany on Monday and went to Syracuse on Tuesday. Spent time with Pallotta.

Class size

We have a working document that has to be approved by the DOE, the UFT and CSA. 20% will have lower class sizes in September. First based on student need. We have to be in complete compliance in five years.

City Council and budget fight

Mayor calling for additional cuts. City Council digging it its heals. Progressive caucus with us. Albany sent NYC schools more money than ever before last two years. Schools still got cut. Does state get to tell City not to supplant money they  send? State sent more money but administrators telling us city schools got cut. City Council breakfast at UFT next Tuesday.

Curriculum project

Project not going well. Conversations with Chancellor going well but not the implementation. We are hearing about third party vendors and we say no.

Contract negotiations

Very good meeting with governance committee this morning moving things. Happy that LA got a 21% increase over three years. They got the top salary up to $121,000 to recruit teachers. We have an issue recruiting teachers here. Chapters upset with being disrespected and having no autonomy and no voice. This is a national problem. We need to have this fight and have it now. Half of the time is wasted. We got a big problem. Political landscape around education: we are used to being attacked by privateers. Other stuff being driven by educators. Data driven instruction is to drive us and the children nuts. Assessing the assessments. This is not a joke. People are disconnected from work going on in the schools. Chapters want toner so they can print shit. Salary division said they couldn't do it. Why are we still submitting per session sheets? Can we have an app that fits into the system? Ridiculous crap. Contract Action Team met yesterday. People are fed up with everything. Next week, informational leafleting. We will push it from Tuesday through Friday. DOE making us waste time instead of working with the children. Large survey with numbers on our side. Mulgrew will start this on Monday. Money issue one, issue two is autonomy and listening to us. Are we ready to engage in this? (Mulgrew asks each section in the hall.) There is traction to go right now. City is not in love with the DOE. Chancellor is trying. People want to know what the hell is going on. Focus needs to be educating children. Everything else is just crap. Some at DOE need therapy; we hope they can get it. We deserve a good contract, a damn good contract.

Staff Director's Report

Academic high school awards May 5. UFT pedal pushers first ride on April 25. Spring Conference May 20 at NY Hilton. AIDS walk May 21. 5K run June 10 at 9:30 a.m.

\Question Period

Question: Curriculum: When will we know what curriculum we will use? When will we be trained?

Mulgrew answer: It will be 15 school districts using HMH. We are trying to work it out with the DOE. This is the tough part of being a union because it is frustrating. Something that works out at Central on paper might not work in the schools. We are adamant on a couple of things but this is not a subject of collective bargaining. We want teachers doing this. In 10 minutes, can cut $30 million in contracts. Literacy part is solid. Must be responsive to 200 cultures. DOE doesn't get that. If we don't get this done by the end of May, it's probably not going to work. I love when they say we don't work summers. We relax and then we plan for the next year. More optimistic than last month. We are grinding to get there as it will be better for students.

Question: JHS CL. Remote work on clerical days. Virtual training for math and science in building. Are there discussions on doing virtual training from home?

Answer: Traveling to schools to turn on computer is a waste of time. NYC has an official position that there is no virtual work. We know that isn't true. Go to the DOE on a Friday. Most are virtual.

Followup: We have to register and go online from school. Systems crash.

Answer: We are in discussions to try to clear this up. It is ridiculous to travel to school to open a laptop or iPad. I am not talking about content of webinar. I completely agree. We will keep advocating for this.

Question: D3 CL. Teachers looking to go on open market. Are principals able to see when staff go on open market?

Answer: They can't see it but nothing stops one principal from calling another. Principals not yet seeing budgets so the Albany difficulty in getting a budget is impacting us. Chill out on the open market. If you see something you like, go for it.

Question: Delegate from D25: What is happening with the 2023-24 calendar? When will it come out?

Answer: We have sent back what we feel the calendar should be for next year. Plan is to have it out by the end of the week but don't hold your breath. We were told it would be done before the break. It was not. It is a tight calendar. We are the most diverse city so this isn't easy. Next year Passover and Easter are nowhere near each other. We have a proposal. 

Question: Retiree. Many of us were locked out by a glitch. We received a letter thanking us for attending. Has another meeting been scheduled for those locked out?

Answer: Another meeting has been scheduled. We have fixed the glitch. We want to focus on specifics of finding your doctor. We want clear, precise information.

New Motion Period

 Matt Driscoll: For next month to tell Supreme Court to keep hands off the right to strike. Big business unrelenting drive to limit the strike. 2018 Janus Supreme Court decision limited public sector unions. 2017, members signed pledge to stay in union and our membership went up. 1959 decision protected unions from damage caused to company by unions. Glacier Northwest case is to limit the right to strike. This is a national movement to defend the right to strike. Call on UFT to defend union rights. Support Teamsters Local 174.

Nobody wished to speak against.

The vote:

On the phone: 576 Yes to 69 No

In the room: 189 Yes to 38 No

Total is 88% Yes so it is on next month's agenda.

Lamar Hughes: For this month: to move resolution 2 to resolution one.

The vote:

On the phone: 435 Yes to   156 No

In the room: No figures announced.

Total 78% voted yes so it is moved up.

Special Orders of Business

Resolution to endorse Queens, Bronx and Staten Island District Attorneys for reelection:

Melinda Katz in Queens as Borough President got money for Queens schools.

Bronx is Darcel Clark in Bronx has been a strong supporter of principles we believe in.

In Staten Island it is Michael McMahon is a supporter in various jobs.

Nobody wishes to speak.

The vote

On the phone: 488 Yes to 84 No

In the room: 205 Yes to 16 No

Total 86% Yes so they are endorsed. 

Melinda Katz and Darcel Clark are in the room and wish to address the Delegates. 

Clark speaks up for teachers. Says teachers shape lives every day. Wants schools to be a safe haven for kids. We will ensure those kids have a safe environment. Introduce kids to criminal justice system in a positive way. 

Melinda Katz speaks next. Only three female District Attorneys in NYC history. Elizabeth Holtzman, Darcel and now Melinda. Melinda worked hard to keep schools open. Mentions Jamaica HS. Fights about principals that we won. Job is to keep Queens safe. Teachers care. Amazed at what teachers do. Partnership with the UFT. Appreciates UFT.  Both DAs are NYC school graduates.

Resolution 2 to endorse City Council members: 

Elizabeth Perez Brooklyn Borough Rep says all 51 council seats are up for reelection. Adrienne Adams and a bunch of others are mentioned. All have demonstrated to UFT political action people that they will be the best candidates to support our school communities. 

Ryan Brickenwall amendment to add Tiffany Caban for D22. He says she is a progressive ally. She got questionnaire yesterday. 

Mulgrew: We have a process.

Political action person speaks on process. Tiffany will be in next round as we are emphasizing for round 1 people who had a serious primary. We will endorse many more candidates.

Ryan speaks again and asks that Tiffany Caban's endorsement stay on the floor.

Bronx High School of Science Delegate speaks against endorsements. Some of these Council members voted for budget cuts for schools and so it seems wrong to give a blanket endorsement for all of them.

Leroy Barr speaks against amendment for Tiffany because they didn't go through the process. This would disenfranchise people. There is a process. Don't short circuit the process. Not speaking against Tiffany Caban. Vote against short circuiting the process. Don't want to disenfranchise our folks in her district. 

Anthony Harmon speaks against the amendment a there is no proper vetting. Vote on the original motion. This will open up a Pandora's box if we circumvent the process.

Martina a Delegate speaks in opposition to Council members who support budget cuts and support charter schools. 

Anthony Harmon says comments should be on amendment. 

Someone calls the question on all matters before the body. Amendment is then pulled by the maker.

On the phone: 465 Yes to 61 No

In the room: 170 Yes to 25No

89% vote to close debate.

The vote on the endorsements

On the phone: 299 Yes to 202 No

In the room: 167 Yes to 42 No

Total is 66% Yes so the resolution carries.

Mulgrew mentions that last year we had many new Council members. They had to learn and they advocated after the vote to cut budgets

Resolution on Earth Day for a national week of action around green schools, transitioning to a green economy.

Ryan B again speaks in favor. Calls for a standing environmental justice committee in the union. Plugs green schools not charter schools event. 

Nobody wishes to debate.

The vote

On the phone: 426 Yes to 47 No

In the room 201 Yes to 4 No

Total 92% vote yes and resolution passes.

Resolution opposing eGovernor Hochul's proposal to expand chharter schools. 

Janella Hinds motivates it and Ilona Nanay supports her. Nobody wants to debate.

The vote

On the phone: 488 Yes to 14 No

In the room: 202 Yes to 3 No

98% vote for it. 

(The meeting is adjourned as the UFT has to tell members how to vote at NYSUT meeting.)