Tuesday, November 30, 2021


City and State, a major mainstream publication, has published an article that includes the opposition to Michael Mulgrew's Unity Caucus coming together to run in the 2022 UFT election. The piece also focuses on the opposition winning victories at the November Delegate Assembly. Daniel Alicea, Norm Scott, and Bennett Fisher from United for Change are all quoted. The news media covering UFT politics and the Delegate Assembly is important news.

Some highlights:

With a union election around the corner, a pandemic-intensified fight over class size is developing among the rank and file of the United Federation of Teachers.

Earlier this month, a group of opposition caucuses within the UFT announced that they had banded together in a long-shot bid to seize control of the union’s leadership.The rebels have had some initial success.

The same day that the new coalition named United for Change (UFC) announced its policy goals, it notched a symbolic win at a meeting of the union’s delegate assembly. The coalition, which has highlighted reducing class size as a central part of its grievance with the union’s leadership,passed a resolution among the union’s delegates that contains language calling on the union to push the issue in the collective bargaining process and support related state legislation.

“We had a victory tonight,” said Daniel Alicea, the UFC delegate who introduced the amendment at the Nov. 17 meeting. “We saw an amendment that shows that they’re willing to have a full-court press for class size.”

Further down:

The left flanks of New York’s unions are increasingly calling to prioritize direct action and contract negotiation over legislative fixes to labor issues. The UFT’s most recent contract, which expires in 2022, contains negotiated limits on class size that have been in place in various forms for decades. Pre-K is capped at 18 students with a teacher and a paraprofessional, kindergarten at 25 students, grades 1-6 at 32 students, middle school at 30-33 students and high school academic classes at 34.

The UFC coalition wants the UFT to lower the class size limits further in addition to do more to enforce violations of the existing class size cap in its labor contract including an increase in litigation when necessary.

Alicea believes that one reason the leadership hasn’t lowered the class size caps under de Blasio is they believe asking smaller class sizes can only come as a trade off in salary negotiations. With billions of federal education dollars coming to the city through COVID-19 relief funding, Alicea argues that the time is now to fight over reducing the contractual caps and more.“We're looking for not just contractual caps, but also the contractual loopholes and exceptions and a grievance process that is further expedited,” said Alicea.

Norm Scott, a retired union activist and member of the UFC, cited the contract’s "half-class" loophole as a part of the contract the union should be fighting to amend or get rid of.

Under this exception to contractual class size limits, principals can exceed the size limit until there are enough additional students to make up half a class. So, in classes with 32-student limits, until a school reaches an extra 17 students in a grade level or subject area, the principal can load up other classes with kids past the limit.

“If we file a grievance, we lose,” he said, adding that the situation is much more challenging for smaller schools, with less classes to divy up the extra students.

On the 2022 election:

The history of the UFT is that of one-party rule. Since its founding in 1962, the Unity Caucus has commanded the union and held nearly all of its 12 union-wide leadership positions in spite of the emergence of an increasing number of opposition groups that go back to the ’1980s. The one deviation in Unity’s electoral grip on this administrative committee came in 1985 when an opposition caucus called New Action successfully ran a candidate for the union’s high school vice president role. After that defeat, the union changed the constitution and broadened which groups of members could vote for certain divisional positions — high school vice president included — which increased Unity’s chances of winning the high school seat back.

In recent electoral cycles, opposition groups, including Movement of Rank-and-File Educators (MORE), UFT Solidarity, New Action-UFT, the Independent Community of Educators, Educators of NYC, and Retiree Advocate-UFT, tried joining together in different combinations of alliances and fared better when they had a unified slate. That however, did not happen in the last election in 2019, and as a result the opposition groups lost seven positions their members had held on the 102-member Executive Board, which plays a policymaking role.

“One of the key factors in UFT elections has been the retiree vote, which generally has gone very high for Unity,” said Scott, who for decades has chronicled union politics on his blog, Ed Notes.

UFC is hoping to make in-roads with this demographic by protesting the union’s support for shifting health benefits for about 250,000 retired city workers to a new plan under Medicare Advantage. While a Supreme Court judge stopped the cost-cutting measure from going into effect in October, it resulted in swift backlash among many of the city’s retired employees. Hundreds reportedly marched against the new insurance package in July.

The UFT was founded in 1960, not 1962, and I don't believe there was a contested election in the first couple of years as a coalition from the founding organizations including the Guild and the High School Teachers Association led it. That said, it has been almost 60 years of one-party Unity rule since then. That is way too long. I am hopeful that the United for Change coalition that ICE is a part of can succeed.

Monday, November 29, 2021


The email below is from Professional Staff Congress President James Davis to PSC retirees. Although this email is to PSC retirees, UFT retirees are in the Munipal Labor Committee and subject to the retiree Medicare privatization that the MLC agreed to.

November 29, 2021 

Dear PSC retirees,  

We hope you and your families are well. This is an update on retiree health care. Pending litigation makes the outcome uncertain, but it is important that you are aware of the latest developments. As you may know, a group of retirees sued, challenging the City’s implementation of the Medicare Advantage Plus plan (MA+). The judge who is hearing the case challenging the implementation of the City’s agreement with the Alliance, the MA+ provider, has not yet ruled on the City’s plan to cure the defects in its implementation of the new plan. 

Some important decisions are still not final. The deadline for retirees to opt out of the MA+ plan has not been clarified. Nor is it clear whether the judge will allow the City to begin implementing the MA+ plan on January 1.  

However, today the judge informed the parties that he will not be amending the injunction he issued on October 21 at this time. The City had asked the judge to lift his injunction to allow them to transfer the data for retirees who do not opt out by November 30 to the Center for Medicare Services, a federal agency, by December 1. Through this action, the City would have effectively enrolled into the MA+ plan those who have not yet opted out. Since the judge has declined to modify his October 21 injunction, the City is unlikely to transfer retiree data by December 1, as to do so would appear to be a clear violation of the judge’s order. However, if you wish to opt out by November 30, you can do so by completing this online form: https://nyc-ma-plus.empireblue.com/optout/  

 Details about litigation 
As you may recall, this past summer the City and the Municipal Labor Committee (MLC) agreed, over the objections of the PSC and health care unions, to implement a new, premium-free MA+ plan administered by an “Alliance” of Emblem and Anthem Health to replace the previous premium-free combination of traditional Medicare and Senior Care. As agreed to by the City and the MLC, retirees who wanted to keep their Senior Care would have had to affirmatively opt out of MA+ by October 31 and would have to pay a monthly premium starting January 1, 2022.  

However, on October 21, Judge Lyle Frank found that, while the decision to award the contract to administer the MA+ plan to the “Alliance” complied with the law, the City’s implementation of the MA+ plan had been arbitrary and capricious. He issued a temporary restraining order prohibiting the City from enforcing the October 31 opt-out deadline and ordering the City to maintain the status quo in plan enrollment until the City cures deficiencies in the MA+ implementation plan. Further, the judge ordered the City to send the attorney representing the retirees who brought the lawsuit the City’s plan for curing the implementation deficiencies, and to submit that plan to the court within seven days after that, at which point the court would review and make a determination.  

A timeline of events since then: 

  • November 5: the City sent its plan to cure deficiencies to counsel for the retirees. 
  • November 12: the City filed their plan with the court and, that evening, counsel for the retirees filed their objections to the plan. 
  • November 16 and 22: counsel for the retirees sent letters to the judge, accusing the city of violating the judge’s order. 
  • November 19 and 22: the City responded.  
  • November 23: the court held a status conference regarding the plan. The judge did not rule on the City’s plan to cure the deficiencies in the MA+ implementation, scheduled another status conference on December 8 and asked the parties to meet to resolve their differences in the meantime. That same evening, the City modified its proposed plan, asking the court to (a) dissolve the injunction by December 1 in order to allow the City to move forward with enrollment to be effective on January 1 and (b) adjourn the December 8 status conference. Counsel for the retirees responded the next day.  
  • November 29: the judge told the parties he does not plan to modify his October 21 order at this time.  

The City’s plan 
The City is anxious for the MA+ plan to go into effect by January 1, 2022. However, given the judge’s notification to the parties today that he does not plan to amend his order at this time, it is not clear that the MA+ plan will go into effect on that date. As noted, the City modified its plan in response to objections from retirees and from the judge at the November 23 status conference. As best as we can ascertain, this is what the City is currently offering:  

A.   Retirees who opt out by November 30 will remain enrolled in their current plan. All others will be automatically enrolled in MA+. (The November 30 date was established because December 1 is the last day for the City to submit participant data to the Center for Medicare Services – a federal agency – in time for January 1 implementation.)  

B.    However, throughout the month of December, any retiree who has not opted out may still do so and remain in their current plan effective January 1.  

C.    Although retires who do not opt out by November 30 will be enrolled automatically in MA+, they may still change their minds and opt out by April 30, 2022.   

D.   Throughout the month of December, retirees who opted out of MA+ by November 30 may still change their minds and elect MA+ effective January 1, but they will not receive their ID cards and welcome kits until January 31.  

E.    Between January 1 and April 30, 2022, retirees are permitted to make one change (in either direction) to their enrollment between MA+ and Senior Care, with an effective date of the first of the month following the date on which they notify the Alliance of the change.
F.    The Alliance will make a more concerted effort to reach out to providers to secure their participation in MA+.  

The City says it has stopped enrolling people in the MA+ plan, pursuant to the judge’s order. And, because the judge will not at this point modify his order, it appears that the City will not be able to enforce a November 30 opt out deadline and may not be able to implement the plan on January 1, 2022. So, it appears that the City’s proposal, as outlined in items A through F above, will not take effect, at least for the time being.   

Keep in mind that the foregoing is what the City has told the judge it would like to do, but this plan has not been approved by the judge. Moreover, given the many problems in the implementation of the MA+ plan to date, we have no certainty as to whether the City will actually be able to keep these commitments. 

The retirees’ objections   
The retirees suing the City object to the City’s plan, saying it does not cure the deficiencies in implementation. They say it provides no certainty about which providers will accept the MA+ plan and imposes a new, previously undisclosed list of required pre-authorizations. The City, they claim, has been violating the judge’s order by contacting retirees to encourage them to enroll in the new MA+ plan and saying the MA+ plan will take effect January 1.  

In short, the judge has not ruled on whether the City has cured the deficiencies in its MA+ implementation plan. Given that the judge has declined to amend his injunction order at this time, we believe it is highly unlikely the City will transfer retiree data to CMS on December 1, as to do so would likely violate the judge’s order. We still do not know what the new opt out deadline will be, or whether the City will be allowed to implement the MA+ plan on January 1, 2022.  

As always, please monitor the PSC retiree website, https://www.psc-cuny.org/whats-happening-retiree-healthcare, where we will post important developments as they occur.   
In solidarity,    
James Davis, President, PSC 
PSC/CUNY | 61 Broadway, 15th Floor, NEW YORK, NY 10006



This is in today's NY Post:

The de Blasio administration missed a glaring math error when choosing a new health care insurance provider for 275,000 retired city workers that could cost taxpayers “tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars” in lost revenue, according to a bombshell claim filed by rival bidder Aetna, the state’s largest Medicare provider.

Aetna has sued the city alleging the selection process was fixed to favor Alliance, a consortium that includes Emblem Health and Anthem/Blue Cross Blue Shield and has strong ties to union leaders, to operate the new Medicare Advantage Plus program.

A group of retirees has filed a separate lawsuit to block the implementation of the new $34 billion, 11-year Medicare supplemental plan — called Alliance Medicare Advantage — claiming they are being forced into a new plan that costs.

Aetna came in second place in the bidding process, and said it discovered the issue over profit sharing while reviewing the terms of the Alliance’s proposed contract with the city after filing its lawsuit.

The contract says the Alliance won’t have to share any profits in any year when the city is not required to pay a premium.

This means that, at most, the city could receive about $23 million from the Alliance contract because the Alliance has agreed to only charge the city premiums in its first year, according to Aetna’s calculations.

But it’s actually more likely the city – and taxpayers – will receive little or nothing in savings in the first year because profits don’t typically materialize until later, according to Aetna’s protest.

The Alliance contract included a “gain share” stipulation in its contract that guarantees it will keep the overwhelming majority of the profits it initially promised to share with the city – a “sleight of hand” that either went unnoticed by the city and the union leaders negotiating the health care changes, or was slipped in afterwards as a “bait and switch,” according to a Nov. 9 protest letter Aentna filed with the city’s Office of Labor Relations, a copy of which was obtained by The Post.

“A close reading of the proposed contract reveals that the public is being taken for a ride,” Aetna lawyer Claude Millman said in the protest letter to city Office of Labor Relations Director Renee Campion.

Millman said it’s clear now — if it wasn’t before — that Aetna submitted the superior bid.

Under Aetna’s proposal, zero premiums would have been charged for six contract years, but unlike the Alliance, Aetna’s proposal doesn’t “cap its gain sharing proposal to any dollar amount,” the protest letter says.

According to Aetna, the city likely would have netted “hundreds of millions of dollars in possible gain share payments from Aetna” over the course of the contract.

“A representative sample of Aetna’s large clients includes four public employers, one private employer, and one large labor union; within this sample, in the last year alone, Aetna has paid out over $320 million in gain share payments to these clients, with one private employer receiving approximately $98 million and one public employer receiving approximately $81 million in gain share settlements, despite these clients having member populations one quarter to one third the size of the City’s retiree population,” Aetna Vice President Richard Fonmeyer said in an affidavit.

“Multiplied over the course of the contract, the City stood to receive hundreds of millions of dollars in possible gain share payments from Aetna. From the Alliance, it will collect, at most, $23 million,” said Frommeyer.

The de Blasio administration is trying to paint Aetna as sore losers. I personally would like to see the whole privatization of retiree healthcare scrapped but right now the switch to Medicare Advantage is only temporarily on hold due to a judge's ruling in October.

From The City:

A state Supreme Court judge...indefinitely halted a proposed cost-cutting change in city government retirees’ health care after former municipal workers filed suit seeking to stop the move.

In a four-page order, Judge Lyle Frank called the rollout of the switch “irrational, and thus arbitrary and capricious” — and ordered the city to maintain the retirees’ current health care plans.

He didn't stop the switch but he delayed it. We have an update on this case from a retiree who sent this out just before Thanksgiving:

The City sent the judge their letter last night.  Those idiots never addressed what the judge asked them to do!!   They didn't even fight for the personal data (luckily, I found my Athem letter yesterday, but now it's a moot issue).  Instead, they are offering a 6-month trial period.  Really!! Fish and Hook!!!  

No way!!!  Emblem's been sneaky from the very beginning.    They can take their Silver Sneakers and shove it!!!

So now our lawyer is responding. Our lawyer is very happy because he knows the judge will not be happy that once again the City disregards everything he has told them to do.  

Sunday, November 28, 2021


The NY Post has an article comparing construction costs of a NYC public school with a NJ charter school. Guess which cost way more to build?

It doesn’t take a math whiz to see these numbers don’t add up.

Two new schools in New York and Jersey City are alike in almost every way — except price.

In the Bronx, a 46,000-square-foot expansion of PS 33, which will add 388 seats, costs a reported $70 million. In Jersey City, a new 53,000-square-foot school that will serve 480 students, BelovED Charter High School, reportedly costs just $12.5 million.

The Big Apple construction bill is more than $1,500 per square foot — a price that would be too high for a “crazy-fancy private hospital,” let alone a school, one industry source told The Post.

The tab in the Garden State comes to less than $250 per square foot.

They then cite some of the causes of the higher NYC building cost. Here is the one I think most NYC teachers would find most compelling. This is after they write about higher labor costs in NYC accounting for some of the difference:

Another reason NYC prices are sky-high: corruption. A federal jury in October returned a guilty verdict against SCA contractor Navillus Construction, over embezzlement of more than $1 million from union benefits funds, according to the justice department and reports.

Keep looking reporters.

Saturday, November 27, 2021


This is from ABC 7:

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Governor Kathy Hochul has issued a State of Emergency in New York State to help boost hospital capacity and address staffing shortages ahead of potential spikes in COVID cases this winter.

Hochul announced the plan on Friday, which will allow the Department of Health to limit non-essential, non-urgent procedures for in-hospitals or systems with limited capacity (below ten percent staffed bed capacity.)

The new protocols are set to begin on Friday, December 3, and will be re-assessed based on the latest COVID numbers on January 15.

"We've taken extraordinary action to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and combat this pandemic. However, we continue to see warning signs of spikes this upcoming winter, and while the new Omicron variant has yet to be detected in New York State, it's coming," Governor Hochul said.

We don't yet know if  Omicron variant will be like Delta.

The World Health Organization Friday designated the strain, now named Omicron, as a variant of concern and said multiple studies are underway as advisers continue to monitor the variant.

While scientists say there is reason to be concerned over the variant, they stress there is still a lot we don't know -- including whether the variant is indeed more contagious, whether it causes more severe disease or what its effects on vaccine efficacy may be.

"While this is concerning, as the WHO has indicated, I do think that we have to step back and wait for the science on this," epidemiologist Dr. Abdul El-Sayed told CNN.

If we acknowledge we are unsure of the Omicron variant's impact, why not be proactive in the schools? 

There's no need to panic but encouraging boosters (see this large study from Israel on how well boosters do) would seem to help. Mandatory vaccinations for students as well as staff in NYC would seem like a good idea as long as there are reasonable exemptions.  I do not understand why there are mandatory vaccinations for staff but not for students 12 years old and over like Los Angeles has with a remote option available for those who don't wish to be vaccinated.

Can my student still attend school if they do not get the COVID-19 vaccine?

Beginning Monday, January 10, 2022, eligible students who do not have proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 will be offered the District's independent study program at City of Angels, unless the student has a qualified exemption or conditional admission. 

At the very least, massive COVID testing would seem like a reasonable policy. I have heard that teachers were turned down in NYC for testing when the testers were in their school this past week. 

Again, we can look to LAUSD as a model on how to do this properly:

Los Angeles Unified is providing COVID testing for all students and staff.

All students and employees, both vaccinated and unvaccinated, returning for in-person instruction must participate in ongoing weekly COVID testing. This is in accordance with the most recent guidance from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. 

Tests are free, quick, easy, and your personal information will remain confidential!

Thursday, November 25, 2021


Happy Thanksgiving to all!

I am thankful to all of the readers who made the last two years our biggest years for page views by far.

Time to give thanks that so many people want to hear what we have to say here. I am grateful that thousands come by here daily for union, education, and political information and commentary.  

Of course, I am also very thankful for my wife, daughter, and son for putting up with me as I try to change  the UFT for the better.

Enjoy the holiday weekend.

Tuesday, November 23, 2021


This is in this week's Chief Leader civil service newspaper.

UFT Dissident Caucuses Unite In Bid To Defeat Mulgrew

The dissident slates of the United Federation of Teachers announced Nov. 17 that they have joined forces as one caucus, United For Change, in order to defeat the union’s longtime President Michael Mulgrew in the spring election.

In a press release, the group charged that throughout the pandemic, the UFT “failed to keep unsafe schools closed, failed to listen to its members, and failed to secure fair pay, benefits, and protections...United for Change is composed of school workers who want to see a fundamental shift at the top of their union after entrenched, increasingly undemocratic and unaccountable, single-party control.”

A 6-Decade Dynasty

The Unity Caucus has held leadership of the UFT since the early 1960s.

 Further on:

Six of the opposition slates—the Movement of Rank-and-File Educators (MORE), UFT Solidarity, New Action-UFT, the Independent Community of Educators (ICE-UFT), Educators of NYC (EONYC) and Retiree Advocate-UFT—formed United For Change to pose a greater challenge to the current leadership, which has maintained the union's standing as arguably the city's most-powerful labor group. 

The new faction unites the goals of moderate and progressive caucuses: reducing class sizes, improving pay for Paraprofessionals and therapists, and fostering a more-democratic union. 

There's more and Unity is clearly shaken by our alliance of opposition groups. Check out the District Rep for District 25 making up a story online and on Facebook wrongfully charging longtime dissident leader Norm Scott with being a scab. 

  1. Read the report. Seemed a little childish. Just tell the story. Keep the snide comments to yourself. You don’t hear anyone coming up with nicknames for Norm Scott after he crossed the picket line in 1968.‬

    ‪Oh, y’all didn’t know?? Norm Scott crossed the picket line in 1968.‬

  2. Poor ruff ruff. Feelings hurt? By the way. I was on strike on picket lines in 67, 68 and 75. You were in diapers.

    1. You were on the picket line in ‘68…until you crossed it.

      No need to explain. We already know.

    2. what a load of horseshit -- I was totally unconscious at the time and went to play basketball every day.
      My school was closed down by the principal and we didn't even need a picket line.

If a Unity District Rep who is an employee of the UFT is making up nonsense about opposition leaders right after United for Change just announced a joint slate, you know they will do and say anything to keep their power, their jobs that pay close to and over $200,000 per year, and their double pensions. It's not about supporting members; it's about their perks. The lies will probably get worse as election season gets closer. 

Monday, November 22, 2021


 Here is today's NYC DOE Situation Room COVID-19 map.

Am I missing something or is COVID-19 spreading all over the place again in the schools? 

I hear nothing from the UFT about this but here is the not very comforting email I received from my daughter's school today.

Dear 7th Grade Parent, 

Please see the attached letter regarding a Confirmed COVID case in your child's classroom.  Student will only be required to quarantine if they are considered a close contact.  Close contacts were sent additional an additional notification letter.  

Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns, 

Assistant Principal

That attached letter isn't very parent-friendly. If we decide to quarantine out of caution, no remote instruction. The relevant part:

● Students and staff who are considered close contacts of the individual who tested positive have bee notified of the need to quarantine for 10 days from their last contact with the person who tested positive. These students and staff will transition to fully remote teaching and learning for this period. If you have not been notified that your child is a close contact, they may continue to attend school as usual. Students who are not close contacts are not permitted to quarantine. Students who self-quarantine will be marked absent and will not be provided with remote instruction.

The near future doesn't look very bright nationally in terms of COVID. This is from Politico:

Stubborn Covid Surge Signals Bleak Winter

Coronavirus cases are rising once again, disrupting classrooms, overwhelming hospitals and alarming public health officials — even in areas with high vaccination rates — who warn the country is headed for a holiday surge that could leave thousands dead.

Though nearly 70 percent of the country has had at least one shot and hospitalizations have fallen from their September highs, the news in many states remains grim and the trend lines portend a fresh wave in the coming weeks.

Further down:

There was hope that this year would be different. In addition to vaccines, there are effective treatments, such as monoclonal antibodies, that can significantly reduce the chance of hospitalization and death.

Yet, as of Sunday evening, the country is averaging more than 1,100 deaths a day — almost the same tally as last year at this time before the vaccines had been authorized. That’s partly because millions of Americans remain unvaccinated and because the Delta variant is so much more transmissible than the version of the virus circulating back then.

And more:

The increasing Covid-related hospitalizations and deaths are still primarily among the unvaccinated but even places with the highest immunization rates are seeing spikes in cases.

Europe isn't looking too good either. This is from the Guardian:

Most Germans will be “vaccinated, cured or dead” from Covid-19 in a few months, the country’s health minister has warned, as Germany’s southern neighbour Austria put its population of 8.9 million back under a nationwide lockdown.

As intensive care units near capacity and hospitals contend with a shortage of staff and respiratory apparatus, doctors have said they are ready to apply a triage system that would prioritise care for patients judged to have the best chance of survival.

“Probably by the end of the winter, more or less everyone in Germany will be vaccinated, cured or dead,” the health minister, Jens Spahn, said. “That sounds cynical, but that is the reality.”

Spahn said the highly contagious Delta variant made his prediction very probable and that was why the government was so urgently recommending vaccination.

We're getting our boosters tomorrow. My doctor recommended getting it as soon as possible to me.

Sunday, November 21, 2021


 ICEUFT directions for the 2022 UFT election: Bear right!

Please get in touch with us at ICEUFT@gmail.com if you want to be involved in the campaign. We need all of you to be with us if we are going to build a better union. 

Friday, November 19, 2021


I have been going to or listening to Delegate Assembly meetings since 1994. I have been a student of UFT history from the present back to when the Union started in 1960. The last time the UFT leadership was rebuffed by a major Delegate Assembly vote was probably in 1990 when the DA voted down a member loan to the city. A few months later, a loan with better repayment terms was approved by the DA and ratified by the membership. The DA even approved the 1995 Contract with two years of 0% salary increases that the membership later rejected. You probably have to go back to the 1960s to see the Union's leadership lose other important votes at the DA.

It happened this past Wednesday twice and almost a third time at the November 2021 Delegate Assembly. The significance of rank and file UFT Delegates voting against leadership positions cannot be ignored as it hasn't happened in modern memory.

Many of the Delegates are from the majority Unity Caucus (Michael Mulgrew's faction of the UFT). Unity has controlled the Union since the early 1960s. As has been widely documented, Unity requires its members to sign an obligation stating that they will "support the decisions of the caucus/ Union leadership in public or Union forums."  Critics call it the Unity loyalty oath.  Unity members vote the way the leadership tells them to, period full stop! This is real caucus discipline. If a Unity member votes against the Caucus, they can kiss goodbye  most UFT job opportunities. Some of those jobs pay close to or well over $200,000 per annum and they come with a UFT pension as well as a DOE pension. Dissenters can also say goodbye to free all-expense-paid trips to AFT Conventions and NYSUT Representative Assemblies.*

However, this year the Delegates can participate remotely in the hybrid setting. Therefore, nobody, such as their UFT District Representative, can see how each Delegate voted. Unity Delegates are now free to vote as they see fit. We saw on Wednesday that many Unity members freed of their loyalty oath obligations will vote for opposition caucus proposals that they believe are in their interest even if it goes against Unity leaders. Three times during debate at Wednesday's DA UFT Vice Presidents spoke out on one side of an issue but then twice the Delegates rejected what the VP wanted and a third time they came very close to overturning what the VP argued for.

Let's deal with the close call first. From the floor, independent, former Unity Chapter Leader Nick Bacon raised a resolution on healthcare calling for much more transparency in the process if we are going to make changes to healthcare for active employees. Retirees are being pushed onto Medicare (dis)Advantage. Here is what we wrote in our notes of what Bacon stated and the Unity response:

Nick Bacon has a motion for next month for healthcare plan changes. UFT has a large weighted vote on MLC. There have been changes to retiree healthcare and putting new members on HIP. This should come to the DA and we should vote here at the DA before we vote at the MLC on healthcare changes.

Janella Hinds, VP Academic High Schools says having a healthcare committee will allow us to discuss healthcare so when the MLC has to make decisions, we can make informed decisions. We have never had healthcare votes as a right so we should vote against this motion.

An independent Chapter Leader from the Bronx vs the UFT Academic High School Vice President? This is normally a 90% vote or 80% vote against the independent. But no, the vote was 49% in favor of the motion and 51% opposed on the phone. Remember it is a hybrid DA so some are live in the hall and more are on the phone. The live people were not tallied but just raised their voting cards. Someone demanded to know the exact results. Mulgrew didn't allow a count in-person even though it was close. This is in violation of Robert's Rules but I digress. Some opposition Delegates began chanting, "Hands off our Healthcare! They soon thereafter settled down.

Next up was a resolution on lower class sizes through a City Council bill on health code occupancy limits in schools being updated. The resolution was motivated by Elementary School Vice President Karen Alford. She quite cleverly launched a preemptive strike against an amendment that might be raised. VP Alford noted very clearly that we shouldn't negotiate lower class sizes into the Contract because the money would have to come from somewhere else (like salary increases). The amendment is then brought to the floor saying among other objectives that lower class size should be a priority contract negotiating item and then there is an actual debate on making lower class size a contract demand. I thought for sure after the signal from VP Alford and others that the Unity faithful would dutifully vote no on the amendment to make lower class size a priority in contract negotiations. Then, it starts to get crazy when DR William Woodruff calls the question to get a vote on ending the debate. Independent Delegate Daniel Alicea shouts for a point of order on whether the person calling for the end of debate on this fundamental issue is on the UFT payroll. Woodruff is on the payroll and makes close to $200,000 per annum as a District Rep so it is a valid question if he represents his employer (the UFT) or the members in the school where he works one period a day. Woodruff takes a point of personal privilege on how he is insulted but the point that UFT paychecks can influence judgment has been made. I figured the amendment to make lowering class size a contractual demand would easily be defeated.

Then, a shocking event occured: 61% of the Delegates on the phone supported the amendment that among other things makes lower class size a contract negotiations priority. The leadership clearly lost. Mulgrew reversed course from earlier and now wanted a standing count of the live Delegates as he is on the losing side and more of his people are in the hall than on the phone. Live, they can be watched. The amendment still passes after the live votes are tallied. I don't ever recall the leadership losing like this on a DA vote in my time since 1994.

The drama did not end. The next resolution was introduced by Daniel Alicea that Mulgrew let sit there for 11 months since it was originally raised. It was on ending mayoral control of the NYC schools. Daniel made a thorough speech talking about how mayoral control is undemocratic, discriminatory, and more. This was too much for Mulgrew. Suddenly, he interrupted the speaker in midsentence to complain that someone in the room was broadcasting the proceedings to people outside. (Retiree Advocate had people supporting the healthcare resolution and a person from another opposition caucus was outside the building too.) Mulgrew said shame on the person who was transmitting the meeting. 

Well, I guess he is calling shame on himself as the UFT was broadcasting this meeting through phones to thousands of Delegates and other UFTers can call in to listen too. Any one of them could have sent it through to the people outside. Mulgrew sounded completely unhinged during this tirade. He sent out his "goons" to shut the broadcast off as it supposedly violated UFT rules but he is the one violating the rules by transmitting the meeting through the air through phones. He then ranted about how our enemies would love to hear our deliberations. I got news for you, Mike: they have heard us deliberate for decades. Click here as part of this piece is a Daily News account of the DA and membership meetings before the 1962 strike. Mulgrew finally calmed down and continued the meeting. Daniel very politely took Mulgrew off the hook by withdrawing his motion as it mentioned the mayor's election which is now passed. Daniel asked for there to be a multipartisan new motion on ending mayoral control which sunsets in Albany in June of 2022 before giving up the floor.  

One more resolution followed. It was on school safety. It was introduced and motivated by Alexandera Haridopolos from the opposition MORE Caucus. This motion had been sitting around for months just like the previous one. Supporters of the motion and an amendment to make it timely made clear that they don't want principals taking over school safety as they have too much power. Who could be against reforming school safety by hiring more social workers and guidance counselors but keeping school safety agents out of the hands of principals? This time Unity put up Middle School VP Rich Mantell who gave the Unity line that the amendments on reforming school safety were too confusing. 68% voted for the amendment and 75% voted for the resolution as amended on reforming school safety. The MORE rep's motion carried.

All in all, not a bad day for the new United for Change coalition.  Mulgrew's response will probably be the return of his filibuster next month.

*Update:  I was reminded tonight that this past April in the remote format DA, Unity lost a vote on a comptroller endorsement but they quickly recovered by the next DA. The Unity Caucus Delegate who led the charge against the Corey Johnson for comptroller endorsement, he wanted David Weprin instead, was banished from the Unity retiree Delegate slate. By the next month, Johnson was easily endorsed. The Unity faithful were put back in line. 

Thursday, November 18, 2021


 Selim Algar at the NY Post has a piece on United for Change uniting factions in the UFT to challenge President Michael Mulgrew and his Unity Caucus in the 2022 UFT election.

A new city teachers’ faction has had it with union boss Michael Mulgrew.

Arguing that he operates without properly engaging members, a coalition of politically disparate blocs has united against Mulgrew.

The groups are setting aside their sometimes contentious histories to remake the leadership of the United Federation of Teachers.

Calling itself “United for Change,” the coalition includes left-leaning progressive groups like the Movement for Rank and File Educators along with more centrist blocs like UFT Solidarity.

United for Change has produced a video. Please watch and spread far and wide.

Wednesday, November 17, 2021


President's Report

When I got on the call, President Michael Mulgrew began was talking about the coat drive for kids in temporary housing. He thanked Rich Mantell, VP Middle Schools.

Class size

UFT over 30 years ago traded money for lower class size but after we decided that it is the city's responsibility. Negotiating committees have decided not to make it a contract demand for lower class sizes. We tried going through the courts and to have a referendum but the mayor threw it off the ballot so we are going through the health code. It is an occupancy issue. City says it will cost $30 billion to build the new schools needed but we have done the research as 84% of the schools have the space available if the City Council bill passes to lower occupancy levels. We will do more to push this bill along with the current City Council or the new one in January.


Billions of dollars are coming to the city from the federal infrastructure bill. It is good to be negotiating a contract when the economy is growing. Department of Ed couldn't argue with members of chapters in 2018 who were talking to them about what goes on at their worksite. Committee has to be large but manageable. 


Governor Murphy thanked UFT retirees for helping get to his reelection in New Jersey. State Democratic party meets in February. State has to finish redistricting before the primary which is scheduled for June. Governor Cathy Hochul from Western New York is a supporter of career and technical education. We have a new VP for Career and Technical schools who is Leo Gordon.Healthcare for city workers negotiated through the Municipal Labor Committee. City workers and federal workers are basically the only ones who have premium-free healthcare. Retirees have healthcare committee. We kept everything we had and added more. In service city workers have to be educated on this. Politicians say we have free healthcare. We pay a lot for that. Contracts for healthcare are up next year. I see the bill at the table at the MLC so I now don't go to certain places. We need committees.


Only nine people didn't get the pay for setting up digital classrooms. Too many tests being given in too short a time. City Hall wanted it done before they leave in January for political reasons. Note that mayoral control of the schools sunsets in Albany next year. We don't want more paperwork. File paperwork-operational complaints. We will probably have special ed complaints. Paras under new law will automatically be enrolled in the pension system. Some died and never enrolled in pension system. 1,800 to 3,000 paras not enrolled. They will automatically be enrolled. We were short 2,700 paras after the mandate and shortages. We have got the list of who wants to be para and we have helped to hire over 4,000 paras. 

New mayor coming in. We had 330-350 last year on negotiating committee. We want a bigger one this year. We want members of each chapter itself to be figuring out what they want. We have to train them. There are rules. We have to decide what priorities will be. Chapters should represent the needs of their chapter.

Happy birthday to Leroy Barr. They sign happy birthday.

Staff Director's Report 

Leroy Barr talks about class size campaign to get everyone to sign petition, including parents. Show the collective force we have to show class size is a health issue. We will have informational picketing on this citywide effort to get this once in a generation opportunity to get this done. Middle school division still collecting coats. Helping to fight HIV which we can hopefully conquer.  Toy drive for elementary school division. Thanks everyone for birthday wishes. 

Question period

Question on getting support for instance social workers getting hired and testing

Mulgrew Answer: It was not timed right. Money is still there but the social workers have not all been hired and the tests haven't been done right.

Question: Thanks Mulgrew, chapter leader in district 13 asks about literacy numeracy and SEL tests at the same time.

Answer: Use the operational complaint procedure. DOE keeps moving the deadline back quietly. Mayor announced the date that nobody thought should be announced. Tell administration to slow down and do an operational complaint if you have to.

Question: Can we send a survey to the membership rather than do operationa complaint as members have had it?

Mulgrew: File operational complaints right now. 

Follow up: How can we teach if we are doing these assessments all day?

Answer: File operational complaints and then don't do it if it is extra work.

Question: Can a principal say standards and objectives must be in your lesson plan?

Answer: NO. Move it to the District Rep. Our consultations are going a little weird with people who don't know if they will have a job in a month. Bring it to the DA.

Question: Occupational/physical therapist told they can't visit chapter leader even while she is on the chapter's executive board while other people can go right in.

Answer: People have appointments and Mulgrew will take care of it.

Question: Kids in D75 not wearing masks and COVID cases are ticking up, what can we do? School isn't clean.

Answer: Tell Leroy Barr if school isn't clean. As far as masks, we will work with D75 administration as we want kids wearing masks. Some of our people had to wear gowns, shields, masks and gloves. We had a big fight to close those two schools in Queens last week. One of the schools it was absolutely spread throughout the building. Outside community had no spread. It was all kids. Slight uptick the last week. We want more children vaccinated. Mayor elect Adams at this point believes in a mandate. Adams said we already mandate 7 vaccines so make it 8. Send Leroy Barr information about your school site.

Question Bronx Science Delegate says doctors provide fees for services. Insurance companies are okay with it as long as they get their cut. Market is broken. New York Health Act is in the legislature. UFT has a resolution supporting single payer. Are we going to do this in public?

Answer: We are forming a committee. New York Health Act needs to be passed at a federal level. New York Health Act would cost $4.5 billion. We tax the rich more than anyone else. Money for education would be reduced. Healthcare system should have been designed nationally so everyone can have free healthcare. People have their own agendas and beliefs. We support that but people have to know the ramifications of what happens. We are frustrated with what we have to deal with. That's why we are forming a committee. We will tell hospitals. Knee replacement could cost 476,000 and one could cost $36,000. The $36,000 is a better hospital. If people want to use a union to push their political agenda, there are ramifications. We have a committee.

New Motion Period

Motion to support School Related Professionals. This is for this month so it needs 2/3 vote in favor to go on agenda. 94% Yes, 6% No. Mulgrew says it was 100% live in favor.

Nick Bacon has motion for next month for healthcare plan changes. UFT has a large weighted vote on MLC. Changes to retiree healthcare and putting new members on HIP. This should come to the DA and we should vote here at the DA before we vote at the MLC.

Janella Hinds, VP Academic High Schools says having a healthcare committee will allow us to discuss healthcare so when the MLC has to make decisions, we can make informed decisions. We have never had healthcare votes as a right so we should vote against this motion.

Point of Information: Is there anything in the resolution that stops the committee from being formed?

Answer: No

On the phone, 49% yes and 51% No. More than that inside.

Someone raises a point of order that there should be a count. Mulgrew does not recognize the point of order but asks people to stand but doesn't count votes.(James here: Robert's Rules gives Delegates the right to ask for a count. Just call for a division of the house.)

Many chant hands off healthcare.

Special Orders of Business.

Karen Alford (VP elementary schools) motivates a resolution on lower class sizes. Now is the right time. If we put it in negotiations in the contract, it would cost us money from somewhere else.

A Delegate asks for an amendment to add more including putting it in negotiations for the contract in law and for legal actions. He talks about future actions.

A Delegate argues that the contract is not the right place for lower class sizes. We have a committee to negotiate. Class size should not be there in contract negotiations. 

A Delegate on the phone says teachers are overworked and overextended just like our class size. We don't want this to be a mandatory item. We want it now. 

A chapter leader speaks in favor of the amendment because it allows chapter leaders to enforce class sizes through the grievance process.

A Delegate on the phone opposes the amendment. Says we have a health crisis to lower class sizes. We also have a social emotional crisis. We need lower class sizes. By putting it into the legislative process. it removes pressure at the bargaining table. Members have a voice in the legislative process. 

A Delegate supports the amendment. The amendment is not in conflict with the rest of the resolution. We can get lower class size through legislation or through contract negotiations

A Delegate on the phone says lower class sizes are important contractually or through other means.

A Delegate calls the question on all matters before the house.

Point of Order: This is an important issue asking if the person who spoke previously was on the union payroll. Delegate responds that he is elected and insulted that someone asked this.

82% vote to close debate.

Vote on the amendment to make lower class size into contract negotiations 1was 61% Yes and 39% No.

Mulgrew then does a standup count for those who are live. First the yes vote is counted. Then the no vote by standing up.

The amendment passes!

Vote on the resolution as amended:

Someone asks for a point of information on what the numbers are in the vote. Answer is it will be in minutes (James here: Delegates can ask for a count at the meeting according to Robert's Rules.)

82% vote for the class size resolution as amended.

Next motion is on mayoral control. Daniel Alicea  talks about mayoral control as a crucial issue. He says we have learned that mayoral control is not just another meal but it is mayoral control that has led to major corruption. Anti-democratic system has to be limited with checks and balances or eliminated outright. Mayoral control has stripped authentic engagement from stakeholders.

Mulgrew interrupts to accuse someone of broadcasting the DA to people outside. Says shame on that person. (James again: Anyone on the phone call can broadcast it.) Mulgrew goes on a tirade about how we can't be divided. He says broadcasting has been stopped. Meeting can continue. 

Daniel Alicea continues that Yang and Adams were funded by Wall Street and probably Bloomberg. Man who said 300 in a class now is ok is now mayor. We have to push against mayoral control. We need a new resolution as this one talks about the mayor's race so he withdraws the motion and asks for a new one. Mulgrew accepts the withdrawal.

Next motion on School Safety Agents. The Delegate who made the motion amends it Rich Mantell VP Middle Schools says he is confused and opposes resolution as is. A Delegate from Cardozo says we shouldn't have  safety budget given to the DOE. 

A point of information on what the amendment is. First part is to vote no on transferring control of safety agents to DOE. Second part is for more social workers and guidance counselors to be hired. Mulgrew points out that the UFT is against moving school safety from NYPD to DOE. Maker of the motion says the bill should be amended to not transfer safety agents from NYPD to DOE but wants changes in how SSA's operate and are trained.

A Delegate says principals don't need more control. Keep SSA's with NYPD.

Another Delegate says DOE should not control school safety but even under NYPD, SSA roles need to be reformed.

A social worker speaks in favor of the amendement. Says we need to reform the SSA role but Union should be on right side of justice. 

Mulgrew asks the body if it is okay to continue debate. Mulgrew says we are past automatic adjournment time. If we want to finish the resolution, we have to move on. Someone makes a motion to extend the debate. 

45% yes to extend the debate and 55% No. Debate is closed. 

Mulgrew then asks to call the question on ending debate again. 83% vote to end the debate.

68% vote for the amendment while 32% vote No on the phone. Mulgrew asks for numbers in the building. He calls for another count. Amendment passes.

75% vote for the resolution as amended.

Mulgrew wishes everyone a Happy Thanksgiving.


These are some priorities from United for Change, the new coalition formed to run a gains Unity-Mulgrew in the 2022 UFT election.


We are United for Change! We need a better union!

Many comments have called for us to come together to beat Unity-Mulgrew and we have. Now, we need all of you to join us!

Here is this morning's press advisory:


November 17, 2021:

United For Change: info@unitedforchange.vote

Annie Tan, teacher: 

Bennett Fischer, retired teacher: 


New York, New York: Throughout 2020 and 2021, UFT members have watched as their union failed to keep unsafe schools closed, failed to listen to its members, and failed to secure fair pay, benefits, and protections. Late night emails from UFT President Michael Mulgrew with empty rhetoric are commonplace, but classrooms are overcrowded and poorly ventilated, counseling departments are grossly understaffed, schools reopened with the same poor infrastructure, and the healthcare of retirees and new members has been sold to the highest bidder. The COVID-19 pandemic and shutdown has shown that educators need a responsive union leadership that is willing to mobili]e members to improve working and learning conditions.

United for Change, a group of opposition caucuses, activist groups, and individual educators in the United Federation of Teachers is proud to announce a joint-slate coalition to challenge the 60-year reign of the UFT's Unity Caucus in the upcoming 2022 UFT elections. United for Change is composed of school workers who want to see a fundamental shift at the top of their union after entrenched, increasingly undemocratic and unaccountable, single-party control. Coalition organizations include the Movement of Rank-and-File Educators (MORE), UFT Solidarity, New Action-UFT, the Independent Community of Educators (ICE-UFT), Educators of NYC (EONYC), Retiree Advocate-UFT, and a broad swath of new and veteran union activists. The coalition's platform includes calls for:

  • Smaller class sizes with enforceable caps negotiated in the UFT contract
  •  More student support staff, including counselors, social workers, librarians, nurses & secretaries
  •  Fair pay and professional respect for all, including paraprofessionals, therapists, & untenured staff
  •  Safe working conditions & safe learning conditions
  • More democrac\ within their union and more organi]ing support in chapters & districts
  •  A halt to the privatization of public education & healthcare
  •  Better healthcare for union members & their families

The joint slate will be announced at the UFT's Delegate Assembly at 52 Broadway on November 17th at 4:30 PM.

Coalition activists at the delegate hall will speak about the new coalition.

Movement of Rank and File member Annie Tan said, "I am inspired by the examples of Chicago and Los Angeles that won many more protections than New York because they have unions that listen to their teachers and members. I'm fighting for a union that will actually listen to us and won't back-door negotiate. As a former Chicago Teachers Union member, I know that we have power in numbers and that our voices matter. We are united for change for a better union that mobilizes our membership. ́

Eric Severson, a member of the Solidarity Caucus said, "UFT Solidarity's logo is 'we have your back.' We believe this new coalition does just this. We believe the union should spend more time listening to member concerns on contracts, working conditions, and job-related concerns, and less time lecturing the members that they serve by defending backroom deals. ́

Bennett Fischer of Retiree Advocate: We spoke about the UFT's role in switching city retirees to a privately administered Medicare Advantage Plan: "As a UFT retiree, I want a union that supports public education, public healthcare, and keeps retiree's Medicare public. I want a better union."

Micheal Shulman of the New Action Caucus added that "Our union has failed us in the fight against COVID, failed to reduce class size, failed to fight to improve our unequal pensions, and failed against abusive administrators. We need a proactive union that fights to improve our working conditions and end our segregated school system. ́

The Independent Community of Educators looks forward to working in the upcoming union election with all of our coalition partners: "We have been aiming for a united opposition to Unity's mismanagement of our union since our founding in 2003. ́