Wednesday, March 31, 2021

EARLY RETIREMENT INCENTIVE? Update 1: NYS Budget Officially Late; Update 2- Latest from NYSUT and College Unions

We are all waiting for news from Albany on whether the early retirement incentive will pass by tonight's state budget deadline (please see update below on late budget).

This is the latest from NYSUT President Andy Pallotta:

March 29, 2021

NYSUT statement on early retirement incentive legislation

Source:  NYSUT Media Relations

ALBANY, N.Y. March 29, 2021 — New York State United Teachers President Andy Pallotta issued the following statement today on negotiations on legislation to create an early retirement incentive for public school employees as part of the state budget:

“Educators have shown a heroic effort throughout the pandemic as they’ve delivered services to millions of public school students. Amid fiscal uncertainty and ongoing pandemic-related challenges, the Assembly and Senate both included in their one-house budgets earlier this month an early retirement incentive that would give longer-serving teachers and school employees an option to retire without fear of being penalized. This incentive also would help school districts to achieve workplace efficiencies and financial savings without negatively impacting the quality of education and allow the next generation of educators to enter the workforce.

“It’s critical that any ERI adopted in the final state budget offers a level playing field for all public school employees statewide. An ERI for all public school employees would be a win-win for school districts and workers alike.”

Update: We are going to have to be patient to see if an early retirement incentive will pass.

From Spectrum News:

The New York state budget is officially late.

There was a time in Albany when lawmakers would actually stop the clock a little before midnight on March 31, so the time stamp on the voting sheets would mark an “on-time budget.” But there was no attempt at stopping the clock this year and lawmakers reluctantly embraced the missed deadline.

“When people wake up tomorrow and we haven't completed the full budget, it's going to have no impact on their lives or their budgets, or whether their government is operating in the state of New York,” Senate Finance Chair Senator Liz Krueger said on the Senate floor Wednesday night. “So, we're not perfect. I believe we're going to get there just a few days late, and I don't think any real harm will be done.”

For those who can't wait for Albany news, try here.

Update 2:

We have a weekly Leader Briefing from NYSUT with nothing on the ERI:

Activists continue push for revenue as budget deadline passes  

Early this week, labor and faith activists made a powerful pitch for increasing state revenue through additional taxes on the wealthy while dispelling the myth that it would drive millionaires out of the state. With COVID-19 restrictions and many issues still on the table, this year’s state budget deadline passed quietly at midnight Wednesday. If an agreement is reached by the weekend, lawmakers could begin to pass budget bills next week.

While this was the word from NYSUT and I have heard nothing from the UFT, I just attended a joint Zoom rally with the Professional Staff Congress (CUNY) and the United University Professions (SUNY). Their leaders are urging members to call legislators to push for full funding for CUNY and SUNY in the state budget. There were plenty of elected officials on the Zoom.

Monday, March 29, 2021


A letter to the editor from three of UFT Solidarity's Councilmembers is in this week's Chief Leader Civil service newspaper. For the record, I played a part in helping out with this letter. 

An email, slightly different from this one but with the same general theme of restoring more democracy at UFT meetings, has been sent to the UFT, NYSUT, and now the AFT. I signed on to all three. 

We have now exhausted our internal union remedies. It could be the right time to go outside the union to attempt to get full democracy at UFT meetings.

To the Editor: 

The coronavirus pandemic has brought many challenges for educators in city schools. In addition to the infection reaching into our midst, there have been frequent changes including the abrupt switching between in-person and remote instruction.

The United Federation of Teachers has made an effort to keep members informed about decisions and policies affecting them. There have been frequent town-hall meetings and monthly delegate assemblies conducted by phone. During these sessions, Michael Mulgrew's reports have been followed with question-and-answer periods, sometimes extended for discussion of a large range of topics.

These remote meetings have been well-attended. The delegate assemblies have drawn a higher participation of school delegates and chapter leaders than came to Albert Shanker Hall at the UFT's Manhattan headquarters before the pandemic. More than 2,000 elected school reps joined the January meeting by phone, a 40-percent increase over participation last spring that undoubtedly reflects a craving for information in circumstances that remain so fluid. However, the UFT delegate assembly was meant to be more than an information session.

During the past few months, delegates have attempted to bring school issues arising from the pandemic to the floor for debate. They submitted resolutions for deliberation on the blended-learning agreements and the ongoing negotiations between the UFT and the city over evaluation of Teachers providing remote instruction.

Such resolutions have been crowded out in favor of what amounts to business as usual: matters of primarily symbolic significance, expressions of solidarity and various commemorations. At the two most-recent meetings, wholesale endorsements of dozens of candidates for the City Council were bundled into single resolutions of 20 or more and moved to the front of the resolutions period.

Neither the apparent preference for business that is less than directly related to our work in the schools nor the way time is spent during meetings can be easily challenged by rank-and-file members. Last May the UFT leadership brought a resolution to amend the procedural rules for delegate assemblies without debate. The new rules left delegates unable to raise points of order or offer amendments to resolutions. Meetings cannot be extended past the time for adjournment without a vote to suspend the rules. These changes have given the assemblies the air of a perfunctory proceeding rather than a meeting for serious deliberation.

We believe the phone-conferencing technology could provide the means for any participant to raise a point of order, offer an amendment or make a motion to extend the meeting. This would simply require having operators put members into the queue for the question period.

The UFT's elected delegates deserve a voice in matters that leadership has direct control over, including agreements with the city. The delegate assembly should have its two-way communication restored in a manner befitting the union's democratic aspirations. We urge UFT members to contact to help us bring more attention to these concerns.




UFT Solidarity Caucus Leadership Council


We have NY teachers who comment here who have argued repeatedly that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from Donald Trump despite the reality that Joe Biden won without fraud. The election was not stolen by the ghost of Hugo Chavez manipulating Dominion voting machines. 

Nevertheless, as recently as last Thursday, a regular commenter here asserted that Biden got less than 30 million votes, not the 81 million officially tallied. I am tired of having to waste time arguing here with ridiculous theories but maybe you will believe one of Donald Trump's main election lawyers.

This is from Forbes:

TOPLINE  Former Trump lawyer and conspiracy theorist Sidney Powell moved to dismiss a lawsuit filed against her by Dominion Voting Systems Monday, arguing her earlier claims that Dominion was involved in an orchestrated voter fraud effort were so outrageous that “reasonable people would not accept such statements as fact.”

We have more details from the actual court papers the defense filed.

Determining whether a statement is protected involves a two-step inquiry: Is the statement one which can be proved true or false? And would reasonable people conclude that the statement is one of fact, in light of its phrasing, context and the circumstances surrounding its publication.

Furthermore, it is clear that Powell’s statements were made as an attorney-advocate for her preferred candidate and in support of her legal and political positions.  

The highly charged and political nature of the statements likewise underscores their political and hence partisan nature. Powell alleged that “Democrats were trying to ‘steal the vote’ from Trump and that ‘they ha[d] developed a computer system to alter votes electronically.” 

She claimed that she had evidence that the election result was the “greatest crime of the century if not the life of the world.” Reasonable people understand that the “language of the political arena, like the language used in labor disputes … is often vituperative, abusive and inexact.” 

 Analyzed under these factors, and even assuming, arguendo, that each of the statements alleged in the Complaint could be proved true or false, no reasonable person would conclude that the statements were truly statements of fact.

We now move to some commentary. This is from The Daily Beast via Yahoo News.  Matt Lewis explains why we have a real problem in the United States. 

Let’s begin with the suggestion that “no reasonable person” would believe Powell’s assertions. This is (sadly) false. For example, a February poll from the University of Houston found that 83 percent of Texas Republicans believed there was widespread election fraud. Many average Americans (reasonable or not) seriously believed the kinds of lies Powell was intent on spreading. Could it be that the “no reasonable person” standard no longer achieves its intended goal in modern 21st century America, where surreal is the new normal and where shows like Saturday Night Live sometimes can’t compete with reality? I mean, excluding the “reasonable people” still leaves you with, what, 74 million Americans? Sarcasm aside, we are literally talking about a good third of the country. I am reminded of the woman who told Adlai Stevenson, “Governor, every thinking person would be voting for you.” Stevenson, the story goes, retorted, “Madam, that is not enough. I need a majority.”

Lewis concludes that courts might be our last hope to stop the lies. 

I admit that many publications have a bias that often gets in the way of telling the whole truth. It isn't just Trump supporters. It is all sides of the political spectrum, however most are not as outrageous as Sidney Powell or some of our commenters. We certainly have a pro-teacher viewpoint here but we do try to be fair and accurate. Can you folks who disagree attempt to do the same? 

Sunday, March 28, 2021


There is a good summary of all the Cuomo scandals written by Zach Williams. I am amazed that Cuomo hangs on. To me, it shows how morally bankrupt our state government is. The UFT still says nothing.

Here is the headline and opening paragraph of the City & State article:

Cuomo’s woes keep piling on

Sexual misconduct, undercounted nursing home deaths, COVID-19 vaccines and tests -- and a certain bridge he built.


MARCH 26, 2021

There is the outstanding matter of his administration’s handling of the coronavirus in nursing homes. A litany of sexual misconduct allegations from multiple women have led to calls for his resignation and impeachment. Other scandals concern possible political meddling in distributing vaccines, safety concerns at the Gov. Mario M. Cuomo Bridge and special treatment arranged by the governor for family members who needed COVID-19 tests.

All of this scandal while the pandemic has not been brought under control. We desperately need new and improved leadership at the state level.

Saturday, March 27, 2021


This blog first reported on a Sue Edelman piece on low attendance for in-person schooling in NYC in October. Her report and information we received from teachers inspired us to write a post on how pigeons and squirrels were taking over the schools that families do not want their kids to attend in-person. We called for the best possible solution to be to improve remote learning but nobody listened.  

Unfortunately, after five months, little has changed in the schools except for the name of the Chancellor. The pandemic is still with us and God willing we will be able to vaccinate our way out of it. The case numbers in NYC are still higher than when the system went temporarily full remote in November.

Fortunately for us, Sue is at it again with a front page piece cowritten by Melissa Klein exposing the Department of Education's in-person attendance figures which the DOE won't release to the public.

While Mayor de Blasio trumpets his school reopening as a major triumph, the number of students showing up in buildings each day still totals less than 15 percent of all kids in the system, attendance data obtained by The Post show.

Last week, 488 high schools joined elementary and middle schools now open for students in “blended learning” schedules, a mix of in-person and online classes.  

But only 14,312 high-school kids came into buildings on Tuesday — 5 percent of the 282,000 enrolled. Another 3,040 who were supposed to be in school skipped classes that day — an absentee rate of 17.5 percent, according to internal Department of Education records.

Overall, daily attendance in 1,619 open schools hit a weekly high of 129,982 students on Tuesday. Another 12,309 were no-shows Tuesday, according to DOE data posted internally that evening.

What lies half-truths or other misinformation will the city come up with next to hide the reality that in-person learning is non-existent in many schools? In my humble opinion, what is keeping schools safer than they otherwise would be is the reality that parents don't feel they are safe and the vast majority won't send their kids into them. That may change with de Blasio's latest open enrollment but I wouldn't bet the house on that happening.

Another alarming statistic from the article is that total school enrollment in NYC is now down to under 900,000. We will keep an eye on that number. 

Friday, March 26, 2021


From the NYSUT Leader Briefing on the state budget due next week.

It’s go-time for the state budget

As state budget negotiations shift into high gear, we need new revenue streams to provide sustainable and recurring funding for public education, higher ed and health care. Both the state Senate and Assembly included common-sense revenue enhancers in their one-house budget proposals, asking the richest New Yorkers to finally start paying their fair share. Go to the Member Action Center to urge legislators to #FundOurFutureNY and ensure these proposals are in the final enacted budget! Check out this graphic blowing up the myth of the moving millionaires.

Don’t penalize teachers for COVID-19

To ensure that educators are not penalized for circumstances well beyond their control, take action now to ask lawmakers to suspend this year’s APPR teacher evaluation process. We need to make sure that those on track to become tenured are not derailed due to the ongoing pandemic.


I read an opinion piece at Gotham Gazette and think this scientist has a real plan to get coronavirus completely under control. Can the UFT consider making Dr Yaneer Bar-Yam one of our scientce advisors? His op-ed is copied in full below. 

We also have German Chancellor Angela Merkel concerned about the B117 British variant impacting younger people. From Reuters:

"The British mutant, and this is the difference with the spring, is proven to be more dangerous in children and young people so we need to put the protection of schools more front and centre than with the original virus," she told lawmakers.

CNN has a comprehensive article that RBE sent our way showing we are not out of the pandemic yet.

Some highlights:

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said on the "Today" show Thursday that the US is "still seeing about 1,000 deaths a day," which she noted was way too many.

As for the number of daily infections, Walensky said, "What worries me is the steady flow of 50,000, 60,000 -- and we continue to see that even today."

Further down:

While there is optimism about inoculations nationwide, with the Biden administration setting a goal for 200 million doses to be distributed in the coming weeks, there is an additional concern that because the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are given in two delayed doses. It means that in the best-case scenarios more time is needed before a return to normalcy can be achieved.

"In order for us to get to herd immunity even at this rate, it's still probably going to take about five months, assuming we can convince fully 70% of the population to take the shot," CNN medical analyst Dr. Jonathan Reiner told CNN's Erin Burnett on Thursday.

The Bar-Yam piece:

Is Cuomo Letting Scandals Get the Best of his Pandemic Judgement? What the Governor Must Do to End Covid Pandemic in New York

Governor Cuomo seems to be letting his political scandals get the best of his judgement. Last Thursday, he announced sports stadiums and outdoor concerts can resume on a limited basis in April, even as New York State books more than 6,700 new cases each day. That is 6,000 more cases per day than we were registering at our lowest point last summer. Combined with his decision to increase indoor dining capacity, the governor’s move simply invites the virus and all its variants to infect more New Yorkers before the vaccine reaches enough people. 

Despite all the talk of optimism, the situation remains serious and concerning. With new more-contagious variants spreading, the risk of another wave of infections exponentially rises each time we allow more people to gather. Even if people are vaccinated and tested at the door of stadiums and concerts, the virus can still spread, especially if new variants emerge that are less detectable or resistant to the vaccine. Our likely long-term endgame in that scenario – the one we need to avoid – is an endemic virus that mutates chased by vaccines that statistically reduce but do not eliminate the pandemic. 

Governor Cuomo’s decisions, taken together with disastrous moves by Governors Desantis in Florida and Abbott in Texas, underscore why the United States always seems to be one step behind COVID-19 - cycling through a Groundhog Day-like pattern of opening, closing, and reopening again. Lawmakers impose restrictions when hospitalizations and infections rise. They lift those restrictions when metrics fall. Then - having allowed another crisis to mount - they’re forced to put those same restrictions back in place. This is unacceptable, and it doesn’t have to be this way. 

By contrast, places like Australia, New Zealand, Vietnam, and Atlantic Canada have all returned to a sense of normalcy, mostly because they began taking aggressive steps before infections and hospitalizations got so far out of control.

Australia, for instance, has confined outbreaks by restricting inter-state travel among its eight states. In some cases, such as Melbourne in September and Sydney in December, travel restrictions were imposed within a city. This has at times been difficult for the 25 million Australians. But today, as the United States infection rate remains stubbornly high, Australia’s daily new case count is miniscule, averaging less than 11 new cases in the last week.

For the U.S. to change course for the better, we need to reset and choose to resemble Australia’s approach. That means doubling down on actions that stop community spread for a short period of time, providing space for vaccines to take hold and then re-opening in a targeted fashion. 

The concept is simple: endure five weeks of stay-at-home orders now to save lives and put us in a position to reopen our economy as soon as possible. It means allowing only minimal essential services and mandating transmission prevention protocols like delivery, curbside pickup, mask wearing, air purification, and disinfection. It also means rigorous travel restrictions and 14-day traveler quarantines to prevent COVID-19 from crossing borders. The smaller the area, the faster the process of getting to zero. Testing, vaccinations, and mask-wearing remain critical, but they should not be the sole emphasis.

After one month of these measures, some areas will have eliminated community transmission. Those can be labeled green zones and begin reopening their economies. All other areas are labeled red. Travel between red and green zones should be limited. Week after week, more green zones will emerge, and travel can begin across a green zone travel network. Our model predicts that after six weeks, participating states could end community transmission of COVID-19.  

I know there is a political desire to start making people feel good about gathering in large numbers again. But neither politics nor wishful thinking should drive our pandemic decisions. It is this mentality that has dug us into a hell of our own creation. The only way we beat the virus is by using vaccinating and simultaneously imposing stay-at-home orders and travel restrictions to end transmission and stop variants from emerging. This is the fastest route back to normal. If New York does it, the rest of the world will follow.

Dr. Yaneer Bar-Yam is the founding president of the New England Complex Systems Institute, where he is an expert on pandemics and other complex systems. He is spearheading the effort of over 3,000 volunteers working to stop the outbreak at On Twitter at @yaneerbaryam.

Thursday, March 25, 2021


Bayside High School is where I graduated from back in the Stone Age. It is comforting to know they currently have a principal who is willing to be honest with parents. I printed his entire March letter to the parents below. I hope you can read it as it was not that clear but here are just a few highlights. 

It starts off with an attention grabber:

Dear Parent/Caregiver:

You made a good decision when you chose remote Learning for your child. Please stay with it.

No Department of Education or NYC Mayor's Office bullshit there, just straight to the point. He goes on to explain how the school never really closed as it went fully remote and he gives details of what is going on. On page 4, he hits all the right notes in his Q & A.

Q: Is Bayside aware of increased numbers of teenagers being diagnosed with Covid-19?

 A: Yes

Q: Is Bayside aware of scientific articles citing effects of teenagers experiencing Covid-19 (heart, lungs, and kidneys) and possible later-in-life effects?

A: Yes

Q: If your daughter (meaning my daughter) was school age, would you send her to school for "blended"?

A: No

Q: Does Bayside have adequate resources & staff for a large influx of "Blended/In-Person students?

A: No

Q: Will a large influx of "Blended" students affect Bayside's remote learning, tutoring, etc.?

A: Yes

Q: Have there been confirmed cases of COVID-19 infections of Bayside staff or students?

A: Yes. Forty reported and confirmed resulting in three hospitalizations and one death. Our colleague is one of the almost 540,000 Americans and over 2,600,000 worldwide who have succumbed to this horrible plague. 

The ICEUFTblog is left almost without words. Michael Athy receives a huge ICEUFTblog GLOW for his truthfulness in the letter and for not being afraid to put it in writing.  

Compare Principal Athy to Michael Mulgrew talking about the reopening of NYC schools. 

From our notes of the President's Report at yesterday's DA:

High schools: Great reopening Monday. Elementary schools open smooth as silk. D75 working. Middle schools moved ahead when they reopened on a cold day. High schools reopened. One school had balloons. We make sure kids are treated the way they should be. Thanks to everyone. Two reopenings for every division of this union. We made every educator who works in NYC proud. No dramas, no problems. Where there were issues, you dealt with them quickly. 

No problems, everything is wonderful in the schools in the pandemic.

Wouldn't a little openness and honesty from our Union's President be refreshing?

Wednesday, March 24, 2021


 Mulgrew Report

Moment of silence for Chapter Leader of school safety supervisors'  son who passed away tragically.

Two days until spring break. We are getting the week this year. We will be going to arbitration soon over compensation for last year.


No need to quarantine if traveling domestically. Contact Mike Sill if you are being asked if vaccinated. It is personal information. Administrators should not be asking you if vaccinated. Personal choice to come forward with whether you are vaccinated or not. The daily health screening we fill out is erased. HIPAA protects health information. We listen to doctors. 

CDC put out convoluted school guidelines last Friday. They are not mandates. States have to decide whether to follow them or not. We have two issues with what came out on Friday. NEA and AFT looked at studies that were all done in rural areas. We did a summit with the white house. Said that we get safety from medical people. We talked with Betty Rosa, the State Commissioner but Mayor de Blasio came out prematurely on 3 feet guidelines. Impossible to keep students that are 3 feet apart in the classroom 6 feet apart out of the classroom. Vaccines will change science. Drop in NY positivity rate. NJ is up. More students testing positive for COVID in schools. It is still at a low level. It is probably from the variants. This opt-in period was in the original plan we had last summer. 30% of the parents in NYC are comfortable with their children going into school buildings. 70% want remote. We need information on what parents currently will be comfortable with in terms of coming to school buildings. City will share numbers on who is coming in on a daily basis. 

(I lost the feed at this point. Sorry. I picked it up a couple of minutes later.)

Because of the recovery act, we don't have to worry about layoffs. Elections matter. Coalition forming around carbon-free green initiatives for school buildings. Ventilation now front and center in school buildings. Spanish flu changed building codes for decades. That's why old schools have big windows. MLK building on west side of Manhattan had nonexistent ventilation. We got that updated. We need that for every school building. NYS got about $9 billion for 3-k-12. City got billions for city expenses. State got $12.4 billion. Money is helping to move school systems forward. Money will go away; it is not permanent. Mayor is expanding 3-k. We want long term plans beyond this mayor's term. 

State Budget

State budget is moving along. Assembly and Senate have budgets taxing the rich. Struggle in Albany on this but no cuts. Budget may come quickly because of all the other political stuff going in Albany.


45 races. Andrew Yang is walking around like the reincarnation of Bloomberg attacking us. Still going through endorsement process. Some races have 2-4 friends. Big vote tomorrow on city police plan. School safety is a big issue. We are not comfortable with it going back to DOE because they will hide all incidents like they did when they had control. New chancellor Meisha has been working with us. We already had a meeting planning for summer and fall. We don't want preference sheets filled out now. People who did it early last year did it for nothing. We are not sure now how we will be able to program our schools. The calendar should be coming out shortly. We are on a tight calendar for next year with all of the holidays. We want to know. Science and medical advice could change. We don't know. Waiting for recommendations. Waiting for findings from trials on vaccines for 10-15-year-old children. UFT membership has been great. Look what we've done. We don't like hybrid, remote, or being in schools with masks. There will be learning loss and emotional trauma. We understand that without our work, problems would have been so much worse. It's been over a year but we have to keep pushing through this. We've done it better than anywhere else. We've been open and we kept people safe. We are trying to lock down some dates so we can make the program and SBO decisions in a timely manner. We will be flexible in things that are in our control. Chancellor doing quite well with us. No longer 39 DOE people showing up to meet with us. 

Operational issues: Over 2000 filed. Over 1700 completely rectified. A lot of compensation. We rectify things or people get compensation. Grievance department has done a great job. When there is compensation, it takes time. None of this has been fair. People at home doing things they haven't had to do and people in buildings traveling to work.

Reorganization grievances: Only 38 reached the central level. 24 resolved and 14 still in process. 42 reached the district level. 309 at the school level. Most resolved. Strategy of trying to rectify them at the local level is working for us. 

PSAL: Clear guidelines coming out. Some people like to jump the gun and make their own rules. These guidelines will be coming out shortly.

High schools: Great reopening Monday. Elementary schools open smooth as silk. D75 working. Middle schools moved ahead when they reopened on a cold day. High schools reopened. One school had balloons. We make sure kids are treated the way they should be. Thanks to everyone. Two reopenings for every division of this union. We made every educator who works in NYC proud. No dramas, no problems. Where there were issues, you dealt with them quickly. 

Relax on the break. It's been a long, difficult year. Take time and be safe. We are seeing results of vaccines being out there. 

Staff Director's Report
Leroy Barr said happy birthday to UFT. We are 61 years old as of March 16. We know our history. Chapter election process is underway. Make sure you have an election team with a chairperson whose name and contact information is forwarded to the UFT. April 7 town hall. Next DA is April 14.

Question Period:

Question: In-person opt-in period, for kids stable in their programs, is it possible for kids to be sent back to blended learning?

Mulgrew Answer: Mayor stopped opt-ins. Mayor wants to gauge parental interest. We have lots of schools with 20% in-person. Personally, don't want hybrid. We will fight over 3 feet rule. Most schools now eat in the classroom 6 feet apart. Asked in DC about this. Answer was to skip every other child. Every other kid eats. We got angry with that.

Question: Housecleaning questions changed, why? If I'm vaccinated, am I still able to spread Covid?

Answer: City trying to be receptive to what was being asked from contact tracers. Vaccinated, clear to go into schools. Our own doctors have told us that. Saw that question and didn't answer it. If you had a close contact with someone with COVID but you've been vaccinated, you can go into a building. Information is not saved anywhere. 

Question: Thanks Mulgrew, medical accommodations are they good through June or can the mayor change his mind?

Answer: Few accommodations to work from home before this year. We won with underlying conditions but there is nothing about primary care accommodations in law. Medical accommodations will change sooner or later. When they change is the question. Nothing has been decided for this year. As vaccine gets us closer to herd immunity, we want to get students and staff back in the buildings. Small percentage of population cannot take vaccine. There will be a lot of discussions. We will be clear and transparent. As long as some crazy variant that is immune from vaccine doesn't take over, then we would have a whole new problem.

Question: Can the school AP call parents and encourage their kids to come back to in-person learning? Is there a budget incentive for kids to be in-person?

Answer: No rule that says they can't do it. Parents will bring kids back if they are comfortable schools are safe. Adults have access to vaccine. We know that a large number of our members have been vaccinated. Parents we are in contact with wanting a guarantee their kids won't get COVID if they come into school. Kids do not have access to vaccines. That should be a big part of the conversation. We can't give parents a guarantee. No financial incentive for kids to be in-person. School budgets will be held harmless and all debts will be wiped out for next year. 

Question: Elections of functional chapter and how much paid UFT time does each functional chapter get? When will functional chapter elections take place?

Answer: We are transparent. Nothing to hide. Each functional chapter makes decisions that are all different. It has to do with their history. People need to have all of the information. Leroy Barr says it is fine to give out information.

Question: Members asking about Early Retirement Incentive?

Answer: The ERI is in both the Assembly and Senate's one-house budget bills. If it is in the budget, we will have to get the city to agree. City says with federal money, layoffs not an issue. In the past, ERI not always to stave off layoffs. City must abide by agreement we made to delay half of the lump sum payments. We're not talking too much about ERI to not jinx it. 

Question: Do new CDC guidelines change capacity in each classroom?

Answer: They are guidelines and capacity would increase but state and city have to work it out. 3 feet distance in the classroom but 6 everywhere else including eating. Pod's purity is questionable at times. Pods do interact with other children. Long way still to go.

Question Open Market Transfer period?

Answer: Expect full funding from the city and state. There should be a lot of positions. We are working on this.

Question: Observations, admin not counting walkthroughs from fall. Do I have to persuade them or are they violating agreement?

Answer: Yes, it is a matter of persuasion. They can't use anything negative. Trying to get APPR waived through budget process at state level. Many districts in the state having trouble doing APPR. We might get another waiver for APPR. We will see where that goes. We will know by March 30 when the budget is due.

Question: Positive tests, if classroom shuts down but teacher is fully vaccinated, can teacher come in?

Answer: The situation room will tell everyone to quarantine. Administrators asking people if they are vaccinated. If a classroom is closed, elementary school will be remote anyway. CDC and our medical people say if you had close contact and you are vaccinated, you do not have to quarantine. 

New motion period

Motion for this month (needs a 2/3 vote to get on agenda) to urge City Council to vote no on transferring School Safety Agents to the DOE and urging more hiring of counselors and social workers and support personnel.

85% Yes and 15% No. It's on the agenda.

Motion for this month to support union organizers in Alabama at Amazon to form a union.

92% Yes and 8% No. It's on the agenda.

Motion for this month is time-sensitive. Resolution to support Columbia University graduate workers on their fight for a fair contract.

91% Yes and 9% No.

Special Orders of Business (ten resolutions on the agenda)

City Council endorsements. Motivated by someone. A second speaker supported the endorsements saying how the endorsements were interviewed by our colleagues. We ranked them and then political experts decided viability and rank order. The process is phenomenal. Daniel Alicea was to speak against but he was disconnected. 

85% Yes on endorsements and 15% No.

The next resolution was to nominate David Kazansky for reelection toTRS pension board. Fellow trustee Tom Brown spoke in favor of endorsing David who has 6 years of experience on the board. Two speakers supported the nomination. Nobody wanted to speak against.

97% Yes and 3% No

Janella Hinds motivated the resolution to cancel the NYSESLAT. State lengthening it and only allowing people in-person to take the test. Another speaker thanked Mulgrew and our wonderful union. She supports it and hopes everyone will vote yes. Then, Arthur Goldstein spoke in favor. It's particularly ridiculous this year. Worst exam on earth. Thanks Janella for helping him write it and for motivating it. Person said that they can't get the floor to move an important motion up. One speaker says there has to be something to test kids new to the country. Wants to amend to allow kids to get out of ENL.

87% Yes and 13% No.

Time ran out before more motions could be acted upon. Mulgrew wishes all a good vacation. Be safe if you travel. Travel domestically, no need to quarantine. Thank you for what you do. Happy Passover and Happy Easter.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021


Andrew Cuomo has been under fire with NY politicians calling for his resignation. The embattled governor is facing an impeachment inquiry after being accused multiple times of sexual harassment and being deeply involved in a nursing home COVID-19 scandal.

It has been somewhat quiet on the "Cuomo must go" front the last few days but calls for him to resign continue and the Assembly impeachment inquiry has begun. Noticeably absent on the calls for Cuomo to quit are the public employee unions in New York. One notable exception is the TWU, a union that previously was a robust supporter of the governor. They have at least spoken out.

From the Chief Leader:

In March 2019, Transport Workers Union of America President John Samuelsen called Andrew Cuomo 'the best Governor for the trade-union movement ever.' A few months later, though, their relationship derailed after Mr. Cuomo implied that a huge jump in overtime at New York City Transit was the result of worker fraud, prompting anger from transit workers and their union leadership. That's why it wasn't surprising when Mr. Samuelsen, musing on the sexual-harassment probe ordered by the State Attorney General, said 'if the investigation by Tish James reveals that the Governor has engaged in wrongdoing, then the Governor should pay the price.'  

UFT head Michael Mulgrew and AFT President Randi Weingarten have an opinion on just about everything but not much on Cuomo's scandals. This is part of an AFT September 2019 statement on former President Donald Trump's impeachment before he was impeached for the first time. Note Randi doesn't hold back:

Donald Trump has undermined the rule of law, threatened our national security, and held in contempt the very institutions on which our republic was built, most notably in his use of presidential power to pressure a foreign government to investigate a potential political opponent. He must be held accountable. No one is above the law.

Here is part of yet another statement from Randi on the day the House of Representatives voted to impeach Trump the first time:

Today will go down in history. Congress has defended American democracy against a president who knows no bounds. 

Yet, there is a strange Union quiet concerning New York's governor who knows no bounds from a union of mostly females. The Union's lack of public empathy for the women who accused the governor is coming from the national, state, and city unions. 

I have one question: Why the deafening silence from our union leaders on Cuomo?

When it comes to the UFT, we have to wonder if the fact that our political director Cassie Prugh used to work for Cuomo is playing a role in advising our President to hush up. The last two UFT political directors, Paul Egan and Tom Murphy, were teachers who moved up the Unity Caucus ranks. Cassie has a very different background. 

From her LinkedIn page:



Her ties to Cuomo go back over a decade. Could her background possibly have something to do with the Union's almost complete silence on Cuomo? 

It would be greatly appreciated if one of our readers who is a UFT delegate or chapter leader could ask at Wednesday's Delegate Assembly about the UFT silence on Cuomo and lack of support for the women who are accusing him of sexual harassment.  It might be the right call but we have a right to know why the UFT, NYSUT, and AFT are not commenting on a governor who is no friend of teachers or women who work for him.