Tuesday, August 15, 2023

James Eterno Recovery Fund

In May of 2023, James Eterno, beloved retired educator and union activist, suffered a major stroke. James is recovering and currently needs 24-hour care. 

James has been a consummate fighter for his family, his union family and the City of New York. 

He will prevail in this latest fight! 

Please help the Eternos during this challenging time with various out-of-pocket medical-related expenses. Pray for us and donate. 

                                             DONATE NOW

Tuesday, June 13, 2023

Tentative Deal Announced on DOE-UFT Contract

 According to Harlem World Magazine:

Mayor Adams And UFT Reach Tentative Contract Agreement For NYC Educators

New York City Mayor Eric Adams today announced that the City of New York has reached a tentative five-plus-year contract agreement with the United Federation of Teachers (UFT).

This agreement will cover approximately 120,000 municipal employees, bringing the total workforce under contract to approximately 66 percent.

The tentative agreement is retroactive, beginning on September 14, 2022, and expires on November 28, 2027. It conforms to the economic pattern established by the agreement with District Council (DC) 37 earlier this year, and includes wage increases of three percent for each of the first three years of the contract, 3.25 percent in the fourth year, and 3.50 percent in the fifth year. The agreement also includes a $3,000 lump sum ratification bonus for all UFT members and a first-of-its-kind annual retention payment to be paid in May of each year, beginning with $400 in 2024, $700 in 2025, and $1,000 in 2026 and every year thereafter. These payments will help the city retain its valuable educators, especially those earning lower annual salaries.

The tentative agreement also establishes New York City public schools as the first major school system in the nation to offer an expansive voluntary virtual learning program, ultimately available to all high school students and at least some middle school students. This virtual learning program will give students access to a much broader set of course offerings across the city and the ability to take classes at non-traditional times, like evenings and weekends, and is not a substitute for in-person learning. Additionally, this groundbreaking initiative will allow New York City public schools to expand course offerings to students who don’t currently have access to the full range of accelerated courses, and to reach students for whom traditional in-person schedules don’t work, for example students with full-time jobs. Further, teachers leading virtual classes will have the option of teaching from locations that work best for their class. Virtual classes will be offered through a citywide program as well as through school-based programs.

“Our city’s educators work each and every day to provide a brighter future for our children and our city, and they deserve to be paid a fair wage,” said Mayor Adams. “Today’s agreement includes major victories, including wage increases and additional programs to retain our educators, along with groundbreaking new programs, like the option of a virtual learning program, to ensure our students receive a world-class education. I thank UFT President Michael Mulgrew, OLR Commissioner Renee Campion, and DOE Chancellor David Banks for reaching this historic agreement.”

“Thank you to UFT President Michael Mulgrew for working with the city on this contract that provide fair compensation to our teachers and other educators while delivering important programs to benefit our school children,” said New York City Office of Labor Relations Commissioner Renee Campion. “I also would like to thank Chancellor Banks and his team for their partnership in negotiating this contract.”

“Today marks a significant turning point in the history of public education in our city,” said New York City Department of Education (DOE) Chancellor David C. Banks. “The collaborative agreement between Mayor Adams and the UFT is a testament to the commitment and dedication we all share to uplift our students and enrich their lives. The wage increases and retention payments will strengthen our workforce by investing in our educators and their vital work. Equally exciting is our bold step into the future with the implementation of an expansive virtual-learning program. This program stands to provide equal opportunities for all our students, transcending traditional barriers and making education more accessible than ever before. The future of New York City public schools looks brighter today with this collaborative agreement, and I stand shoulder-to-shoulder with all of our educators as we set out on this transformative journey.”

“As our parents and community members know, the city’s public-school educators need to be respected, appropriately paid, and have more autonomy in how they do their jobs. This tentative contract accomplishes all these goals,” said Michael Mulgrew, president, UFT.

The tentative agreement must be ratified by UFT’s membership, and would apply to teachers, paraprofessionals, school secretaries, guidance counselors, psychologists, social workers, occupational therapists, physical therapists, staff nurses, and supervisors of school security.

The total cost of the tentative UFT agreement through Fiscal Year 2027 will be $6.4 billion, which is funded in the labor reserve in the proposed Fiscal Year 2024 Executive Budget.

In addition to wage increases planned over the next five-plus years, the tentative agreement includes:

  • Annual Retention Payments: UFT members will receive a retention payment of $400 in May of 2024, $700 in May of 2025, and $1,000 in May of 2026 and every May thereafter.
  • Virtual Learning Program: The DOE will offer an expansive voluntary virtual learning program to all high school students and some middle school students. This program will allow for flexible class scheduling, like weeknights and weekends, and the opportunity for educators to teach virtually.

UFT members will receive the following compounded wage increases:

  • September 14, 2022: 3.00%
  • January 18, 2024: 3.00%
  • January 18, 2025: 3.00%
  • September 14, 2025: 3.25%
  • September 14, 2026: 3.50%

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.