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 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: 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.