Friday, September 30, 2022

DC 37 BARGAINING IMPACTS UFTers

The city opened bargaining with DC 37 on their expired contract. These negotiations impact all government employees who work for NYC because of pattern bargaining. Once one union settles on a salary increase percentage, it sets a pattern. All other unions that follow receive basically the same raises that follow the pattern for the current round of bargaining.

The letter from DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido (see below) to DC 37 members makes it abundantly clear that healthcare givebacks are on the table for this round of collective bargaining. Even though the UFT Contract entitles UFTers to a choice of premium free healthcare plans, the umbrella group of municipal unions called the Municipal Labor Committee could give away a great deal in terms of our healthcare benefit choices for both active people and retirees. The UFT and DC 37 make up the bulk of the MLC's weighted votes.

Meanwhile, the UFT's 500 person Negotiation Committee met Wednesday to prepare for UFT contract negotiations with the City-Department of Education. I wonder if they had a discussion on possible healthcare givebacks or DC 37 setting a pattern the UFT will be stuck with. 



Tuesday, September 27, 2022

COVID NUMBERS

Latest USA COVID-19 numbers from the NY Times:


Is this a lull before the next variant hits or is this truly a positive trend? 

Before anyone says how bad a job Biden has done with COVID, it would be difficult to argue with you.


This is sobering.

This tweet kind of sums it up:



As for vaccines, I am no scientist by any means but the data below shows vaccines are holding up in keeping people alive and cases down but they were oversold as the be-all and end-all and vaccines ended up coming up short against the variants as there is waning immunity and too many people didn't take them. Again, I am not a scientist so my view is no more enlightened than anyone's but I can read numbers.
 

Update in Wednesday's Times on vaccines. Shots continue to keep people living and out of the hospital. (Full disclosure: I got a bivalent shot.)




Just my opinion but any mandatory mitigations would be useless now as so many people wouldn't follow them based on politics. The science is still evolving. 

Back to my area of some expertise: You should know you can get time off on the DOE's dime if you need a booster and have a reaction or if you have COVID.

Monday, September 26, 2022

NYC ECONOMY GROWING

 Gothamist reports on the state of New York City's economy. The city's economy is not in a recession.

New York City’s recovery has been sluggish and uneven. The city lags behind the country and other major cities when it comes to regaining jobs lost during the pandemic. The slowest recovery has been in sectors with lower wage jobs like hospitality and retail.

Nonetheless, jobs are steadily returning, according to James Parrott, the director of economic and fiscal policy at the New School’s Center for New York City Affairs.

In August, the city added 24,000 jobs, according to data from the city’s Office of Management and Budget. Parrott said the figure is in line with the average monthly growth so far this year.

The city’s unemployment rate rose last month. However, the uptick was driven by a rise in job seekers — a sign that people are feeling more encouraged by the job market.

City tax revenues have yet to decline, despite Wall Street’s lagging performance this year.

Data compiled by the city Independent Budget Office (IBO), a nonpartisan agency, shows that city tax revenues grew between 2019 and 2021.

The IBO is projecting that combined tax revenues will increase this year as well. Money collected from property taxes, however, is expected to fall.

Nobody is saying that there isn't a real risk of a recession but the city does not need to be that worried. One of the causes for optimism for the city is nobody is expecting municipal union raises to be anywhere near the inflation rate.

Some budget experts have cautioned against making sky-is-falling predictions about the city’s fiscal future, saying the recent shortfall projections represent worst-case scenarios and that the economic conditions are still fluid.

Two factors driving the multi-billion dollar deficits are inflation and the struggling stock market. Both could cause the city’s labor costs to skyrocket, via upcoming contract negotiations with unions and pension investments.

The state comptroller’s office has said increases in union wages would cost taxpayers an additional $3.6 billion in 2026 under the projected inflation rate. That’s in addition to the $10 billion shortfall.

However, George Sweeting, the acting director of the IBO, said union raises have not always matched the inflation rate.

“So the assumption that it would be the same as the inflation rate may not hold,” he said.

The projected $10 billion budget hole assumes that Wall Street’s recent slide will force the city to contribute billions of dollars into its pension funds to meet the level of payments promised to municipal retirees.

But the stock market could recover some of its losses, blunting the impact on the city coffers.

Parrott stressed that the state comptroller is obligated to take a cautious approach in its fiscal forecast, one that uses conservative revenue estimates and assumes conditions for the city will not improve.

“That’s the nature of the reports they do,” he said. “It’s a risk-assessment approach to financial management.”

We can count on the unions to settle for much less than what the State Comptroller is projecting. We have Michael Mulgrew leading us who as usual will look out for the city more than his members. Members need to stand up and fight for fair raises. 

Friday, September 23, 2022

CHAPTER LEADER WEEKLY UPDATE: CONTRACT NEGOTIATIONS START OCT 13; AVIATION HS SIXTH PERIOD PAY GRIEVANCE WIN; UFT TRYING TO PRESERVE HEALTHCARE CHOICE NOT PREMIUM FREE HEALTHCARE CHOICE

Three stories in this week's Chapter Leader Update caught my eye. The first was on contract negotiations.  The UFT Contract expired on September 13.

Contract Negotiations

The city has agreed to sit down with the UFT for the first negotiating session on Thursday, Oct. 13. Under state law governing public employees, the terms of an expired agreement remain in effect until a new one is reached. Salary steps and differentials remain in effect, but we need a new contract to secure the across-the-board pay increases we deserve. The current DOE-UFT contract expired on Sept. 13. The union’s 500-member negotiating committee is meeting on Sept. 28 to prepare for the start of bargaining. The results of our all-member survey will direct their discussions. 

Aviation HS Sixth Period Grievance Win

For over twenty years, shop teachers and other non-shortage area teachers at Aviation HS were teaching an extra class all term but were being ripped off by getting paid at a lower daily coverage rate instead of the higher special per session rate. The UFT did nothing to stop the cheating until 2021 when new Chapter Leader Ibeth Mejia did the research on why this practice was improper and then mobilized the shop teachers to fight back. One of those teachers won a precedent-setting grievance arbitration case this summer. 20 others grieved. The DOE is still fighting but soon the teachers et.al. case will go to arbitration and the teachers should be getting back pay.

The UFT has won an arbitration decision confirming that the Department of Education must pay the shortage rate — not the coverage rate — to any teacher asked to teach an extra period every day as part of their program. While the practice is not widespread, we now have a precedent-setting decision that providing coverage pay for teachers who teach a sixth-period class on a regular basis is a violation of the DOE-UFT contract. A principal may offer a sixth class to a teacher only if they get approval from the schools chancellor and pay the shortage rate. The arbitration began as a grievance filed by an Aviation HS teacher with an aviation mechanics license who taught a sixth-period class every day and received coverage pay. The DOE argued that since the aviation mechanics license is not on its list of shortage areas, the principal had the discretion to offer a sixth class to aviation mechanics teachers at the coverage rate. The arbitrator sustained the grievance, stating that the DOE-UFT contract is clear that the coverage rate is for covering a class on a day when the regular teacher of the class is not available and a substitute teacher could not be hired. The shortage rate is the only rate available in the contract for teaching a sixth class, regardless of whether the class is in a shortage area or not.

UFT says the practice of principals shortchanging teachers who teach an extra class is not widespread. Are they right?

Oppose any Healthcare Givebacks

The Municipal Labor Committee (an umbrella group of over 100 city government unions) is working with the city to try to get the City Council to change the Administrative Code (city law) on city employee healthcare benefits. 

The UFT Contract entitles UFTers to a choice of premium free healthcare plans (see Article 3G1). The change in the law would make it only a choice of health plans. This is part of a checklist on what the UFT is currently doing that is part of the Chapter Leader Update:

Lobbying the New York City Council to amend the administrative code to state explicitly that the city must negotiate with the Municipal Labor Committee on all employee health care plans and must allow that city unions may negotiate for employees to have health care plan choices.

Notice they don't say choice of free healthcare plans.  A judge threw out the city-MLC's attempt to move Medicare-eligible retirees into a Medicare Advantage Plan (privatized healthcare or what we termed Mulgrewcare) or pay premiums for what they have now. 

The city is trying to change the law so they can easily end choices for premium-free coverage and impose the inferior Mulgrewcare. They could then charge around $400 a month for couples to keep traditional Medicare-Seniorcare that today costs $0 in premiums. Unions like the Professional Staff Congress are opposing the change. The city and MLC will be able to end premium-free healthcare choices for active UFTers and non Medicare retirees if the change passes in the City Council.

Go to the Professional Staff Congress (CUNY union) page for more information and to get involved in the fight to oppose healthcare givebacks. 

United for Change (opposition group in the UFT) had a resolution for the UFT to draw a line in the sand and oppose healthcare givebacks for UFTers. It had 49% support at the Delegate Assembly last year. Let's bring it up again and move it over to majority status to make it UFT policy.

Monday, September 19, 2022

EXECUTIVE BOARD REPORT (Unedited)

I got in during Mulgrew's Report. For a full report on the open mic, go to New Action for Nick Bacon's report. Michael Mulgrew reported that most unions are without a contract and the general feeling among the Municipal Labor Committee is that the state of relations between the unions and the city is not very good. Negotiating Committee will soon be meeting. 

MOSL people have to make the right choices. There are schools made choices that were not in their interest. CL's have to be involved. 

Funding: Fair Student Funding is not really fair. We don't do hiring in the Department of Sanitation based on salaries. They hire the people they need. We are back to talking to Bloomberg people. Will testify before the City Council on this. FSF has led to much more special ed non-compliance. We are back to the standardized test crowd. Chancellor says the formula is not right.

Questions on Mulgrew Report:

Mike Schirtzer asks if we will address children and bussing. Are we going to jump in because of DOE incompetence?

Leroy Barr: We will address issue.

Mulgrew: DOE trying to put their hands on everything. Quite concerned on fixation on a management system as opposed to reality.

Question on APPR and MOSL. MOSL opens on October 7. Will members have enough time to make those decisions?

Mulgrew Answer: We have to push the DOE on this. There were schools where every teacher was Highly Effective or Effective on MOTP but are getting Developing because of MOSLS. Citywide chapter Leader forum on MOSL. CL's who want to bring MOSL committee people with them is fine.

Alex from high school asks who makes fair student funding decisions.

Mulgrew Anwer: It is the mayor. It is not a subject of collective bargaining. Bloomberg wanted to treat every school as a separate store like a franchise. DOE should pay out of their budget for basic things a school needs and school budgets should only be about extras. We had a committee under de Blasio. They had recommendations. New administration has a new committee. We will take action against it if it is going the wrong way. Other city agencies don't measure experience factor when figuring out local budgets.

Nick Bacon-APPR consequences from last year law was passed that we could waive APPR. We signed off but city said no. Last year, we hadn't had testing for so long. Kids not ready when they came back. What can we do about teachers who were rated unfairly? Teachers with TIPs can get micromanaged. What is the UFT going to do with teachers who have consequences?

Mulgrew Anwer: We already have a system set up and we are going back at them. State gave right to waive APPR for two years but NYC wouldn't do it. Percent of people rated low is around .5%. System is set up. Members reaching out to us. 

Approval of Minutes:

Lydia Howrilka asks about election complaints. Why was the last meeting adjourned without a vote on the complaints? We ruled on that previously and they were voted on them. If you disagree, move to the American Federation of Teachers. Lawyer Beth Norton says those complaints have already been moved onto the AFT.

Minutes approved.

Staff Director's Report

Leroy Barr reports on Making Strides walk, negotiating committee, next Exec Bd and DA.

Question Period

Question: ENL coordinator, how is ENL testing going citywide? Uvalde, principal wants to know rooms where locks aren't working. Is there anything on that?

Leroy Barr answer: Jeff P will reach out to you. We will get back to you on ESL testing.

Mike Schirtzer: With storm situation in Puerto Rico and DR, is disaster relief already helping?

Barr Answer: AFT is having conversations on that. Power is out but Puerto Rico is near and dear to the AFT's heart. We will keep you posted on that. 

Karen Aford adds that we have gotten communication but we are already in conversations about helping out.

Question: In one of the 50 schools with messed up MOSLS, people getting formal and two informals. Why are we getting 3 or two observations?

Mary Vaccaro nswer: Put in a complaint. 168 have come in so far. Email we will get specifics about your school.

Ilona: Substitute teachers, can long term subs get on contract negotiating committee?

Answer: Yes

New teacher week rate of just over 51 dollars. How did we agree on that?

Mike Sill answer: This is is the training rate which has been in the contract for many years.  Negotiating committee can look at that for the next round of bargaining. 

Question: Early childcare workers, can they get a letter about covering transportation?

Mike Sill answer: Met with early childcare workers after the meeting and then we met with supervisors who gave their vision. We got a draft of a new proposal. We can't stop DOE from reshuffling central offices. DOE wants people to reapply for new positions. Responsibilities are similar to old positions. DOE looking like they are just trying to reduce people in these positions but the need is the same. DOE giving additional postings. People will either end up in similar position or in other opportunities. We are waiting to find out what other opportunities are. People are not in excess right now. They are still employed in that office. They could become excessed. We are looking over posting. Email campaign going. DOE, can we rescind letter? They are not being excessed right now. If they don't want to reapply, they can go back to old DOE positions in districts.

Ibeth Mejia: Grievance for sixth class. Thanks David Campbell and his team and Janella Hinds for testifying. When will UFT publicizes this so others schools can get involved? When will et al people who filed get paid? How will other teachers know?

Leroy Barr: We put it in Chapter Leader Update

David Campbell. You did a good job getting other people to grieve. DOE being who they are, we are going to have to put other people on grievance calendar as this will come up in October. Shortage rate for shortage area and non-shortage area needs to get special per session pay. This was a strong decision so going forward nobody should have this problem of getting coverage pay instead of shortage area. Principal doesn't have discretion to offer the class, they have to give the special per session rate.

Ibeth: What about schools that have non-traditional schedules?

Campbell: It is pro rated pay.

Edward Calamia: With all the federal money coming in, programs for latch key kids to come in early? What does Union object to in administrative code 121266?

Leroy Barr: It is important for latch key kids to have something.

Jeff Sorkin: Judge overstepped his bounds by ruling we couldn't get Medicare Advantage.  We want to preserve choices.

Lydia Howrilka: How can we fight to get our members in the budget fight?

Leroy Barr: We have been involved throughout the summer.

Mary Vaccaro: Fair Student Funding meetings have not gone well. You can see it on the Info Hub. We have spoken; meetings only exactly 1.5 hours. We will have borough meetings and we will figure out how to get our voices heard. 

Ronnie Almonte: What is in place to organize new members? Some hired on Bard line while others are on DOE line? Some schools have a long tradition of ora=ganizing. What can we do to organize unorganized?

District 30 Rep answer: Says we have organzing work done in her district. Can be for 1,2  or three year people. 

Janella Hinds: Agreement in Bard and other early colleges. Some CUNY PSC; some UFT. Particular realities at schools with different structures. UFT and PSC members have different realities. 

Alex: Smaller class sizes, committee formed last year. What are we doing to pressure Adams to honor that agreement?

Leroy Barr Answer: Pressure is the law. Thanks everyone who did the actions to get us where we are. We must make sure the city follows the law. Making sure 20% that get served first are for black and brown people.

Reports from Districts

Tom Murphy, tough week for retirees. We lost several people in the last week. Florence Fidell, original para organizer. Moved to Florida and organized ther. We lost Mona Davidson who organized Florida office. Town Hall with retirees will touch on issue of retirees' healthcare. Involved with Campaign 2022 on Senate. In touch with Amazon workers who won the union election on Staten Island. Trying to help. Inflation Reduction Act, monumental piece of legislation: drug companies can't raise rates beyond inflation rate; $2,000 annual cap for drugs, negotiations for highest price drugs, adult vaccines free and Affordable Care Act expanded.

Not sure the district: South Brooklyn school will be renamed after a principal.

Italian American Heritage person: Bocci tournament raised $1,400 for UFT Disaster Relief Fund.

Exec Bd At Large Person. Mural for K295 and 443 is now entrance.

D21: Schools raised thousands of dollars for Making Strides.

Servia Silva: D4 will be doing something for Hispanic Heritage Month. Flyers should be up.UFT members will be shaking it.

Mike Sill: DOE mishandled medical accommodation process. We brought this up last week. DOE moving on this. Getting accommodations.

Rashad Brown: LGBTQ history month, happy hour at place where movement began Stonewall inn.

David KL Retiree workshops coming up.

Lamar Hughes: Good start in D25. In PS 244 story. Pre k teacher made puppets out of people in the school community to teach children various tasks. d25 and D26 new members meet.

Janella Hinds: Care in time  for people with dimentia. March Oct 23.

Special Orders of Business

Mary Vaccaro on teacher center courses. Workshops on learning apple. Gooogle giving workshops too. CTLE courses going. Teacher Center sites can help for things like lamenating.

Resolution on Mobilzing for a Contract fight:

Nick Bacon asks for an Action Committee. Mulgrew said it's not looking good. We are without a contract. In the past, we've had Action Committees like in 2004. When we haven't had a contract in the past, we have had these committees.

Amy Arundell: Speaks against resolution and says we have an action committee called the negotiating committee. Action is part of their responsibility. Not against in theory, it isn't necessary.

Mike Sill follows Amy and says we have a negotiating committee. Why take authority of negotiating committee and give it to us. We are smaller in number. Mobilization is going to be needed as part of contract fight. 

Rashaad Brown: It excludes people. 

Carl Cambira: Things have changed since 2004. 

Mike Schirtzer: Can do both. Negotatiating Committee and Action Committee can also do actions to get things started.

Alex: This isn't an either or thing. Good for us to have an action committee that works in tandem with the negotiating committee. It can happen here and in the negotiating committee.

Ilona: This is not an either or but an and. More folks involved, better chance for us to get a contract. Negotiating committee off to a slow start. We need people to meet here to talk about things that aren't fleshed out at the negotiating committee.

Elementary school person: people not involved flocking to get to negotiating committee. It needs the chance to do what it was put in place to do. It indirectly undercuts what negotiating committee does.

\Question is called. 

Point of information on debate not being balanced.  Leroy said Robert's Rules doesn't call for one speaker for and one speaker against but does call for one other speaker for.

Ed Calamia: Action committee could keep members activated even when there is a contract settled. It is an independent committee needed.

Melanie: Point of order on speech not being in keeping with resolution. Leroy says it's not in order.

Nick Bacon: We could amend.

Vote to call question passes easily.

Vote on resolution: A few yes,overwhelming majority- No to forming action committee.



Sunday, September 18, 2022

CROSS-UNION RETIREES ORGANIZING COMMITTEE PROVIDES CONTACT INFO FOR CITY COUNCIL MEMBERS

On Facebook CROC put a link to contact your City Council Member to protect our healthcare. 

Click on the link for each member and you can find their phone number.

When you find your Council Member's contact information, plesase take the time to make a phone call and/or email to urge your local Council Member to oppose the change to Administrative Code 12-126 that will give the city and Municipal Labor Committee leeway to weaken city government employee and retiree healthcare. This includes UFTers. If you reside outside of NYC, use your school's address to locate your Council Member. 

Retirees don't want privatized Medicare Advantage (Mulgrewcare). Active workers and retirees must oppose any healthcare givebacks. Right now UFTers are contractually entitled to a choice of premium free healthcare plans. Let's keep it that way.


Everyone has an assignment to contact their Council Member. We need to get active.

Friday, September 16, 2022

PSC PRESIDENT DAVIS CALLS FOR ACTION TO SAVE CITY WORKER AND RETIREE (INCLUDING UFTers) HIGH QUALITY HEALTHCARE

James Davis is the President of the Professional Staff Congress (CUNY union). They are one of the hundred plus NYC government worker unions that make up the Municipal Labor Committee. The UFT and DC 37 are the two biggest unions in the MLC.

The UFT and DC 37 are leading the charge to change city law so the city can charge higher costs and/or limit healthcare quality. For retirees who don't want to pay monthly premiums, the city and MLC were going to force them into an inferior privatized Medicare Advantage plan (Mulgrewcare) until a judge stopped them. If the MLC and mayor can convince the City Council to change the law, active workers and retirees can expect healthcare givebacks.

The PSC is leading the opposition to the changes in the law on healthcare. Ten other MLC unions voted no. President Davis in his latest email explains what's at stake. Here is an excerpt; you can read the full email below.

The proposed change to the Administrative Code section 12-126 means that the only premium-free retiree plan would be Medicare Advantage, and the current Medicare/SeniorCare plan will cost individuals at least $200/month. But it would also allow the City to renegotiate the “benchmark” reimbursement rate for active employees too. 

PSC says this on their website:

The City has an obligation to cover retirees' health insurance costs, and SeniorCare has done it well, without premiums, co-pays, or prior authorizations. The Council will vote on a proposed Administrative Code change that breaks this compact. The code change also opens a door to future changes to the quality or cost of active employee health insurance.

We have t take a stand: No healthcare givebacks! Please take action.

The full email from President Davis:

Dear PSC members and retirees,

This is an urgent follow-up on my September 9 email about the City’s attempt to weaken protections for municipal retiree health insurance. This is not just a CUNY retiree issue, it’s also an active employee issue. The proposed change to the Administrative Code section 12-126 means that the only premium-free retiree plan would be Medicare Advantage, and the current Medicare/SeniorCare plan will cost individuals at least $200/month. But it would also allow the City to renegotiate the “benchmark” reimbursement rate for active employees too. 

Here’s what you can do right now: Notify your City Council representative and Council Speaker Adrienne Adams that the quality of retiree health care is at stake now, and active employees could be next, if the City regulation changes as proposed. 

There is no time to lose. The City Council will soon be asked to conduct public hearings and reach a decision on the matter. 

There are alternative approaches to managing the City’s rising health care costs that should be considered. Instead of amending the Administrative Code - opening the door to reduced quality and/or increased costs to retirees and active members - savings could be achieved through measures such as going after the hospitals for exorbitant charges, addressing the skyrocketing costs of prescription drugs, and auditing current insurance providers. The burden should not fall on workers, retirees, and their dependents.

The PSC was among the 11 unions that voted against this proposal because: 

  • We do not support the privatization of Medicare, and retirees who opt to remain in traditional Medicare should not have to pay monthly premiums.

  • The proposed Administrative Code change gives the City leverage to compel active employees to pay more for health insurance benefits in future negotiations or reduce their quality. 

We urge PSC members and retirees to send this Act Now letter to your City Council representatives and Speaker Adams. If you reside outside New York City or are retired from a CUNY college, please use the address of the campus where you work and adapt the Act Now letter to indicate your college affiliation. 

In solidarity,

James Davis, President

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

LIVE BLOGGING FROM CHAPTER LEADER MEETING

Michael Mulgrew started by calling for a moment of silence for three UFT activists who recently passed on.

Mulgrew Report

It isn't a DA. Class size legislation passed on the day the Queen passed so it was nowhere on the news. Class size bill has been a goal of the UFT for over 50 years. Paid Parental Leave was something we wanted for decades also. 25 years ago a court ruled the children of NYC were not receiving a sound basic education and class size was one of the reasons. That court case took 17 years. Legislature had to do it. Governor Pataki didn't want to do it. He didn't want to send more money to NYC. Legislature wanted to include other needy districts. Governor who settled this was Elliot Spitzer. He didn't last much longer after settling it with Legislature. Money was supposed to be phased in. Governor David Patterson said there was no way there was no money for Contracts for Excellence in 2009. Legislature finally funded Contracts for Excellence now called Foundation Aid that Governor Hochul signed. She said it was an obligation to the children. City said no to smaller class sizes from this state aid. Bloomberg never put money in. He wanted classes of fifty which he had so he has social-emotional issues. DOE doesn't want to take this work on. They want to put schools on their own. If class sizes are maximized, it increases central DOE budget. We had a big fight last year with City Council on class size but when state finally fulfilled its financial obligation, we went back to what the court said about how class size was part of a sound basic education. Bill on class size passed overwhelmingly in both houses. City said it can't be done. Governor looked at it. We gave her the information. We have the funding, we need the lower clas size to force the DOE to do it. Governor added an extra year onto the implementation. It is now the law of New York State to reduce NYC class sizes starting next year. Planning starts now. 20% of classrooms must meet the 20 K-3, 23 4-8 and 25 in high schools. It is not about moving children out, it's about building more seats, not forcing people to move. Used parents to say they would limit specialized high schools. Either build more schools or make specialized schools bigger. It is political to build schools. Parents and teacher make noise and new schools are built. Francis Lewis High School got an annex built. They should have had this done 15 years ago. Class size legislation will be a long process. There are waivers. For example, if a schools only has one physics teacher, they will get a waiver. They need to recruit more physics teachers. HR Connect telling people after waiting on hold to call the union. This will change the face of the Union forever. Ten years from now these lower class sizes will be the norm. Thanks for what people did to make this happen. This is historic legislation.

Contract

Notice that the contract expired yesterday. 98% of workers who work for NYC are without a contract. Legal department sent notification to the city. Process of scheduling first official negotiating session is going on. First negotiation will be in October. Probably in the afternoon. Trying to get over 500 people from negotiating committee to attend the first session so the city sees all of you. 

New hires

City made new hires wait outside in heat before entering new hires meeting. Chapter leaders need to make new UFTers feel welcome. Make them feel at home. They have phenomenal energy.

Safety

Borough response teams will be conduits. Protocols are changed. Everyone has a citywide radio. Not all have an NYPD radio. City has challenges. We want problems to be outside of schools. Jeff will send out more information. We need to do basics with a locked front door and a buzzer in every building. They have them around the country but not NYC.

Healthcare

Many unions getting raises but increased health premiums are eating away at increases. Teachers and other essential workers are in short supply. Paychecks not going up because of increases in healthcare costs. We are looking to keep a premium-free system for retirees and in service members. 13% increase in healthcare not sustainable. Record profits for insurance companies, pharmaceutical and others. We will have an in-service committee. $600 to take a temperature is real. Too many going to emergency rooms so we put a $500 copay on emergency room visits by setting up urgent care centers. Now they are raising rates for urgent care centers. That is a fight we are in. We need federal intervention.

Teacher's Choice

It is the same amout as last year. 

Accommodations

It is a mess. Those who have immune suppression issues still can get COVID accommodations. DOE on Friday before school left it to principals. Principals relying on DOE legal asked if people can do jobs. We are trying to get this rectified. 

All should get paid to set up digital classrooms. That has been negotiated.

DOE restructuring

It was supposed to be done in May, June and July. It didn't get done. It got done a little in August. They still haven't gotten it fully done. DOE still moving people around. Some palace intrigue still going on. Many still think the school is at the bottom of the food chain. We are pushing to make sure the school is at the top. Superintendents are in charge. They should fully support schools. They will fix special ed compliance issues. Consultations with principals is important. Are they trying to solve problems or cover their butts? 

It is tough to live out there. Members deserve a real raise. Nurses applauded two years ago; we were applauded. Now it is back to normal. We have to reach out to members to connect with them. We are more than an insurance policy. Between District Reps and Borough Reps and Field Reps working on ideas. Contract will be a big fight. Record reserves but mayor says we are going to fall off a financial cliff next week. City doesn't work without its employees like sanitation, us and the rest.

Making Strides

Wear pink to support this. Large crowd on Labor day. Mulgrew will scream and get arrested but we need to harness member passion. Parents and members like their schools. Problems are from the DOE. We have been there for children of NYC. Classrooms, guidance offices, nurse's offices are where work is going on. We have to go forward. 

Questions

Question on Class size: What are prek and 3K numbers?

Mulgrew answer: 15 for 3K and 18 for prek is already covered under state law.

Question: I Ready has lesson plans. Can I tell principal that is my lesson plan?

Answer: As long as it is applicable to what you are doing, what is the problem? Administration should be concerned with what you are actually doing. If you are teaching from the book they gave you, it should be alright.

Question: District 75 class sizes, are they covered by legislation?

Answer: They are already covered on class sizes. D75 should not be displaced to lower general ed classes. Law prioritizes greatest needs first. First 20% must be neediest kids.  60% could have met it by last year. We are not hurting students. 

Question: Principal removed last year who didn't do all of the observations for teachers. Was told teachers who didn't get observed would get S or U. Veteran teachers who didn't get observed, how many observations will they have to do this year? What about untenured people?

Answer: Many schools didn't do MOSLS. Small number, greater this year, who didn't do observations. Email Leroy Barr. Teachers did their job. If administrators didn't do their job, Contractual and policy issues. Tenure question is on law. For veterans, it is contractual question. We will get back to you after we do consultation with Chancellor on Monday.

Question: Senior members who got lump sum payments from last contract worried about getting big tax bill for retro checks?

Answer: Taylor Law takes away our ability to strike. A strike voids our contract. We don't like that and want the 2 days penalty for every day out on strike. Taylor law also keeps expired contract in place after it expires. We like that. Step and longevity increases stay in place. We knew under Bloomberg we would not have a contract for five years because Bloomberg wanted to make everyone an at-will employee. I do not believe it will take five years now. De Blasio came in when there were no reserves. This administration has largest reserve. We worked with de Blasio to figure it out. I don't expect it will be five years. Hopefully, everyone will get their retro money without an undue tax burden.

Question: Testing coordinator got a great deal of testing material. Is there a push to assign testing for MOSL's? Screens.

Answer: Baseline screenings are being done everywhere. We told DOE they are not part of the MOSL If they are trying to figure out where a student is, then it shouldn't be part of an accountability framework. We need to get together on MOSL. Many new people. The opening was quiet. We will get out different MOSLs to find out what is best for your school. We are fine with them baselining but it shouldn't be part of accountability system because it skews numbers like with special ed compliance.

Question: What is going on  with GAMA (grading, messaging attendance system) that does not work and will not work for a couple of years?

Answer: They have been building this for five years. Remember Schedula which was created by a group of teachers from South Brooklyn which people didn't like when it was sent out. Nothing should take five years to develop. They are creating stuff with ancient computer system that doesn't work. VP Hinds and VP Gordon should collect information on this.

Question: Trying to build a union in school with Professional Development Committee, we need PD for Gama. Principal said it is student engagement and nothing else and he wouldn't listen to us.

Answer: We know your school and ding dong company is coming. Did they propose PD on student achievement? Answer is no and Mulgrew responds that there will be multiple visits. Janella Hinds is informed to get in touch with this CL to talk about relevance. Teachers want to teach and have paperwork and PD that are relevant. This is across the country. CL says we will work to rule if we don't get PD. Mulgrew says we need relevant PD. You will be getting visitors before Friday.

Question: September Parent Conference tomorrow, it is the first full week of school. Some staffers don't have access to DOE accounts. Can we let DOE know it is a little early to have Parent Teacher Conferences?

Answer: We need to have those things in place to have meaningful interactions with parents. We will advocate on your behalf.

Question: New CL having a baby when Mulgrew came to school last year (Mulgrew congratulates her and family), morale low. Principal denied personal business day and said take a vacation day. Can he do this?

Answer: No and contact Mike Sill.

Question on negotiations

Answer: We deal with city Office of Management and Budget. They always say there is no money. One other union is about to start negotiations. Parents still like teachers. We will go from there.


(Sorry folks, I have another appointment and have to leave for the last ten minutes. Please help me get updated information.)

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

UFT CONTRACT EXPIRES AT MIDNIGHT

Did you know that the UFT up until the 1990s the UFT had a "No Contract=No Work" policy. It made the end date of a contract mean something. Strikes by public employees were illegal back then just as they are now in NYS but the UFT was an actual labor union. Obviously, that expiration date meaning something is as obsolete as my cassettes from those days. era.

Today as the current UFT Contract expires, we get an email from President Michael Mulgrew (see below) and a collective yawn.

I am trying to think of a fitting slogan;

"No Contract = we'll beg Adams to pretty please negotiate."

"No Contract, so could we please sell out the retirees on Mulgrewcare so DC 37 can set a lousy wage pattern we can give to UFTers?"

They both don't have a ring to them so can readers kindly help me out.

Your slogan in comments. We'll find a prize for the best. Thanks.

Mulgrew's email

Dear _____________,

As of midnight tonight, we will be working under an expired contract for the first time since April 2014.

The UFT is ready and willing to sit down at the bargaining table with the city to negotiate the next DOE-UFT contract. Our 500-member negotiating committee has been meeting since March. The responses from 32,000 UFT members to our bargaining survey last spring will direct our negotiating strategy once talks begin.

The Adams administration, however, has yet to begin bargaining with any municipal union and is crying poverty despite having deep financial reserves.

Under state law governing public employees, the terms of an expired agreement remain in effect until a new one is reached. The list of important reasons for securing a new contract is long. At the forefront, however, is our need for a new contract in order to secure across-the-board pay increases. Salary steps and differentials still remain in effect as we work under the expired contract, but they are nowhere near enough.

We plan to move as aggressively as possible to reach a deal given how inflation has raised the cost of living over the past year. The mayor’s reluctance to bargain is a slap in the face to all the city workers who helped our city get through the pandemic.

And at a time when New York City has unprecedented financial reserves, the mayor has called upon his agencies to slash their budgets. New York City will never rebound from the pandemic if we don't have a better plan for the future.

During the Bloomberg administration, we were denied a contract for more than four years. The labor strategy at that time was to stall negotiations to make workers desperate and willing to settle for less. It is no coincidence that Mayor Adams appointed many Bloomberg-era people to many city agencies including the DOE, and the same delay tactics by the same players are possibly being used again.

As the working people of New York, we are calling for the mayor to meet us at the bargaining table. The city must prioritize reaching fair contracts that recognize educators and other city workers for the important work that they do.

We will keep you updated on any and all developments.

Sincerely,

Michael Mulgrew

UFT President



Monday, September 12, 2022

UFT EXECUTIVE BOARD REPORT SEPTEMBER 12, 2022

 Secretary Leroy Barr welcomed the Executive Board. Leroy Barr opened with tributes to two UFT activists who passed away. Tributes were given and there was a moment of silence.

Welcome for three year term. Leroy describes what Executive Board does. Says Executive Board makes recommendations to Delegate Assembly. Open mic after someone goes through Chapter Leaders, District Reps, and Borough Reps as well as officers. Someone can come to the Exec Bd. Ten minutes total open mic period.

Several people wanted to speak at open mic. Three agreed.

1- Instructional Coordinator from early childhood program reassigned. Excessed to superintendent's office on September 6. Couldn't get on Excess Staff Selection System. Letter to Mulgrew, no response. We should be reinstated. Expect and demand that our union should rescind excessing and include them in decision making.

2-Other two people agreed with what first person said. Leroy said someone would respond in the Reports from Districts. Rest of the meeting is for Executive Board members only. Others are exclusively observers.

Leroy then brings up minutes.

Lydia Howrilka questions who is invited to conferences that cost a great deal of money. Are they open to rank and file members or just people who work for UFT? Leroy answers that members from schools do attend meetings. Ask her to get to someone if they want to go. Minute are all approved.

President Michael Mulgrew is stuck on tarmac and won't be there. Two parts of report Mulgrew wanted to give. First is on Medicare:

Vince Gaglione reported. Lawsuit by some retirees against Medicare Advantage Plus based on Administrative Law Code. The judge ruled for the plaintiffs because there is no choice of health plans. Very high costs for healthcare. The ciity doesn't have to provide multiple health plans. City and MLC want to go to City Council to provide a choice of health plans and have them negotiated with MLC

Cassie Prugh reports on Governor Hochul signing class size reduction bill. Reduce class size 20% a year for five years from September 2023 through 2028. There is a FAQ. Search UFT class size and the FAQ will come up. Class sizes are 20 K-3, 23 4-8, and academic high school classes 25. 40 for phys ed and performance classes. Negotiations if they want to go over for overenrolled special classes. We can't thank the governor for signing the bill and thank Senator John Liu for his work. 

Minute are fine, no recording of meetings.

Question Period:

Alex Jallot-Will there be money to hire more teachers? 

Leroy Barr Answer: There is money that's been funded the last year going back to Senator Robert Jackson and the  Campaign for Fiscal Equity suit. It is our duty to see to it that the money the DOE gets goes into the classroom.

Cassie Prugh adds that the UFT is involved in all of the phases and there are negotiations.

Question on MOSLs

Mary Vaccaro answers that 51 schools couldn't get an MOTP rating. Anyone who had an S who had an Effective the year before gets a minimum of two informal observations this year. We will share something in writing. If you want us to come to your school, we will

Mulgrew calls in from the tarmac on a plane:

Thanks all for Labor day parade. We are involved in negotiations on class size. On healthcare, we are moving from what the judge said as he took away some of our negotiating powers. Bumps at the start of the school year; members handling it. Contract expires tomorrow. We are going to ask to start negotiations. Negotiating Committee coming in.

Ibeth Mejia: School DOE radios no longer compatible with police radios. An incident last week. Hard to react and two groups in the same building not being on the same system could slow response times and create a danger. What is the UFT's position?

Answer: Jeff Povolitus says there is only one agent per school on DOE frequency; the remainder are on NYPD frequency. Agents can still communicate with one another. One agent per school on DOE frequency. Fight in lunchroom, principal can communicate with Level 3 and then move with it. I am not in agreement to a certain extent. All agents have been given cell phones. Chief not budging on his stance. Lincoln HS had a student shot outside. We are having further conversations on this.

Nick Bacon: Question on healthcare. DA resolution last November asking that we vote on MLC decisions. We were supposed to have a committee on this. Will it be set up?

Answer: Committee is going to be set up. Members will be there. Difference in interpretation on what judge ruled. We will keep you informed on when that is up and running.

Question: Lost her DOE access. Need to get it back. Can UFT escalate this?

Answer from Janella Hinds: There have been quite a few issues with new system being rolled out by DOE. DOE asked to get them issues. Things not yet worked out. We told them that they told us this would be ready before the the year started. We are working on it.

Mike Schirtzer: Commented on new DOE tech not working and DOE falling apart. Are we getting new safety systems like buzzers installed? Should we get that information that only one School Safety Agent is on the DOE system and the rest are on NYPD which is a different frequency to chapter leaders?

Answer from Jeff P: DOE has narrowed it down to one or two vendors as they would have to drill into walls would lead to asbestos. This is a large job. We want to train all teachers on active shooters but we want it to be meaningful training. He doesn't agree fully with chief on new radio frequencies.

Question: Another person complains they were knocked off of DOE email and have to use personal email or cellphone. Nobody is paying for their personal cell phone or to have an email account. Why do people have to use their own phones to get back on?

Answer: Janella Hinds says two-step authentication is necessary. Can use cell phone or email. Conversations ongoing on the rollout. Two-step authentication may continue because of security concerns.

Question from Ronnie Almonte high schools: Ronnie questions the mayor's approach versus UFT approach. Defacto pay cut in last contract with inflation. Adams saying according to a press report that the city will lowball with a 1.25% raise that only will be done after Medicare Advantage is in place. Is this true? Should we publicly dismiss what Adams' approach is?

Leroy Barr answer: We don't know what Adams approach is. Other unions have expired contracts. Adams is likely to go to other unions before us and they may set a pattern. We will deal with this in the 500-person negotiating committee. No pay cut in the last contract.

Ilona Nana Question on how people could be excessed after June 15. That is not contractual. What is the plan to reinstate them? What is the long term strategy to deal with a mayor who is trying to play divide and conquer and use austerity?

Leroy Barr: Excessing doesn't happen until the beginning of the school year. Power of union stopped DOE from laying off secretaries. We said no layoffs of anyone. 

Mike Sill adds we have dealt before with many mayors who have used austerity. Division of Early Childhood, conversations going on. Some information not true or miscommunicated. DOE came to us to downsize Division of Early Childhood. We said they can't do it but they can excess people. People can apply to a new position with a different role. We make sure people excessed have first chance to get new positions including social workers. We want to know what plan is. This is incompetence not evil but result is the same. Meeting with DOE Friday. Job sounded an awful lot like job that already exists. We are looking at workload but Sill will stick around and talk to anyone who came here tonight. A larger meeting is coming. 

Reports from Districts:

Staten Island Borough Rep reports on backpack giveaway. Supplies and food went fast. New Staten Island office is open.

Another rep reports on student debt being reduced thanks to UFT and AFT.

David Kazinsky: Pension rep reports on credit card companies will flag when excessive gun and ammo purchases are made and it will be flagged and these things will hopefully stop mass shootings. 

Karen Alford: DOE hiring as many 3,000 new educators. We have to make them feel welcome. Thanks to volunteers who made sure they are UFT members, not just DOE employees. 1,700 members signed at one event. Shout out to Leo Gordon for getting CTE people to sign up for UFT. Go back to schools to help new people.

Janella Hinds: Labor Day parade was great. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh was the Grand Marshall.

Two more reports were given. 

Legislative Report: 

Cassie Prugh reports on primaries in June and August and thanks those who worked so hard on primaries.

1-Special Orders of Business
Smallheiser Awards: Leroy says people have to nominate for award.

2-Election complaint.

75 pages of election complaints. UFT responded to repeat challenges. The process is to bring them to the AFT. There was no vote and Leroy added that he would report at the next meeting on the rest of the 75 pages worth of protests. There was no vote on the challenges and the meeting was adjourned. 


Saturday, September 10, 2022

PROFESSIONAL STAFF CONGRESS VOTES NO AT MLC ON NEW ATTEMPT TO WEAKEN ALL CITY WORKER (INCLUDING UFTers) HEALTH BENEFITS

James Davis is the President of the Professional Staff Congress (CUNY union). The PSC is one of around 100 municipal unions in New York City that comprise the Municipal Labor Committee. 

The UFT is also part of the MLC whose votes are weighted based on the size of the union so the UFT and DC 37 dominate the MLC. The PSC for well over a year has resisted privatizing Medicare with a Medicare Advantage plan (Mulgrewcare) for city worker retirees. We have copied below the latest from the PSC that includes a simple primer explaining the situation and a detailed letter from President Davis that asks for us to take action.

As a member of both the PSC and the UFT, I don't think you have to guess which president I will be listening to. Hint, it isn't Mulgrew.

Now is the time to draw a line in the sand and tell the city that we will only take improvements to our healthcare plans for retirees and active members. We will not accept the inferior Mulgrewcare (Medicare Advantage Plus) or paying to keep regular Medicare (GHI Senior Care). We oppose any givebacks on healthcare for active members in contract negotiations as well. 

Breaking: PSC opposes weakening NYC health insurance protections.

Proposed changes in NYC administrative code threaten retiree healthcare and, in the longer term, potentially in-service members.  Read James Davis’ 9/9/22 message to PSC members about these proposed changes.

You may also find this primer, written by a Retiree Chapter Executive Committee member, useful in breaking down the legal complexities of the proposed administrative code — and its implications for all union members.

The primer:

Some have indicated they don’t entirely understand what the MLC and the City have agreed to regarding health insurance for both active and retiree public employees. Here’s an attempt to make it plain:

The City and the MLC want to change the city law (known as the “administrative code”) that says the city must provide free health insurance to active and retired employees and their dependents. The change would allow the City, with the approval of the MLC, to create different classes (or tiers) of workers for the purposes of giving them health insurance, and the City could then give different free health insurance plans to each class.

Right now the city law does not allow different free plans. Once the change goes into effect, the City will change the free plan for retirees to a Medicare Advantage plan from the current traditional Medicare plan. The City will be allowed to offer the traditional Medicare plan and charge a premium. The City tried to institute such a change over the last year, but was blocked by a judge’s ruling. The City has appealed, and the case will be heard in October. But the change in the law would make the court case moot.

The MLC voted to approve this change on Thursday, September 8. The change in the law must now come before the City Council, which must first hold two hearings about it before it votes. The City wants the hearings and the vote to be in September so that the law case will be moot when it is heard.

Right now the class the City is aiming at is its retirees. But this change in the law allows the City and the MLC in the future to designate other groups of workers as classes that would get different “free” health insurance.

But this change in the law allows the City and the MLC in the future to designate other groups of workers as classes that would get different “free” health insurance plans that would certainly be inferior.

Divide and conquer.


The letter from PSC President Davis:

Dear PSC members and retirees,

I am writing with an update and a request. The update concerns an impending change to the regulations governing health insurance for New York City employees, retirees, and their dependents - a change that the PSC opposes. The request is that you consider the information in this note, review the media reports that emerge in the next few days, and contact your City Council member to express your objection. The Council and the Mayor must approve this proposed change for it to take effect. We will follow up early next week with an Act Now letter to send to your Council member with one click. 

Yesterday, the Municipal Labor Committee (MLC), which negotiates health insurance on behalf of the City’s public employee unions, including the PSC, agreed to propose a change to the Administrative Code of the City of New York. This agreement, sought by the City’s Office of Labor Relations, would alter an existing requirement about the City’s minimum obligation to cover the cost of health insurance premiums, as explained below. If approved by the Mayor and the City Council, the change to the Administrative Code will clear the path for implementation of a Medicare Advantage program for City retirees, a plan that the MLC and the City had agreed to last year but was successfully challenged in court. However, the implications of the proposed Administrative Code change are not confined to retiree health insurance and the current Medicare Advantage legal impasse. As PSC’s representatives, Barbara Bowen and I spoke strongly against the proposed change at the MLC Steering Committee meeting and MLC General Membership meeting, respectively, and cast a No vote in each forum, guided by consultation with the PSC Executive Council. Ten other union representatives joined the PSC in opposition, and a handful of others abstained, but the overwhelming majority voted Yes.

The proposed change eliminates the HIP-HMO rate as the single standard for determining the City’s obligation to pay for health insurance for City employees, retirees, and their dependents. Under current law, the City is required to “pay the entire cost of health insurance coverage for city employees, city retirees, and their dependents, not to exceed one hundred percent of the full cost of HIP-HMO….” (NYC Administrative Code, Section 12-126). Currently, the HIP-HMO cost is over $700/month. In practice, when the cost of the GHI/Emblem plan exceeds the HIP-HMO cost in a given year, the NYC Health Insurance Stabilization Fund reimburses the City the difference. Less than 10 percent of municipal employees are enrolled in health insurance plans other than GHI/Emblem, which charge premiums in excess of the HIP-HMO cost, and they pay the difference themselves.

The amended provision will add an alternative method for determining the City’s financial obligation for health insurance. Under the modified language the City and the MLC could agree jointly on a different plan as the standard for either retirees and their dependents or active employees and their dependents, and provide only the cost of that plan. The modified language does not specify what if any elements of health insurance coverage a new “benchmark” plan must include.

A side letter signed by the Office of Labor Relations and the MLC chairman affirms the requirement that any new health insurance plan would have to be jointly approved as the “benchmark.” The letter also specifies that the City would not unilaterally impose a new benchmark plan on the unions as part of mandatory impasse resolution. However, negotiations between the City and the MLC are seldom conducted on an even playing field, and we are concerned that MLC unions will not only lose a critical “floor” currently regulating the minimum reimbursement rate but also lose bargaining leverage in future negotiations with the City over health insurance plans, whether for retirees and their dependents or in-service members and theirs.

Please stay tuned here for a follow-up message early next week that (a) includes an Act Now letter to send your City Council representative and (b) indicates the schedule of the two City Council public hearings that must be held prior to conducting a Council vote on the proposed change to the City’s Administrative Code.

In solidarity,

James Davis, President, PSC-CUNY

I will be getting in touch with my City Council member as should all of you. If you live outside of the city, contact your school's Council member.

We can stop Mulgrewcare again for good this time.

Friday, September 09, 2022

UNIONS-ADAMS AGREE TO ASK CITY COUNCIL TO LET THEM RESURRECT MULGREWCARE (PRIVATIZED MEDICARE ADVANTAGE)

This was in NY Focus:

Adams and Unions Strike Deal on Shift to Cost-Cutting Medicare Plan

The mayor and major city unions plan to press the City Council to clear a path for a privatized Medicare plan for retired city workers.

At a meeting Thursday morning, the administration of Mayor Eric Adams and major unions representing municipal employees agreed on a proposal to clear the way for their long-held goal of switching retired city workers to cost-saving private Medicare Advantage plans.

The insurance shift, first reported by New York Focus more than a year ago, would likely save the city hundreds of millions of dollars a year and help pay for current workers’ benefits — but many retirees fear that it could decrease their access to health care.

At the meeting, union leaders agreed to a proposal from the administration to make a joint request to the City Council, asking it to amend city law to allow the city to charge retirees for their current health care plans. That would remove a legal roadblock that has held the switch up in court and led the insurer that had won the contract to administer the plan to back out in July.

“It wasn’t all wildly enthusiastic votes, and people were expressing qualms. But the difficulty is we’re not quite sure what else to do, because there is a financial problem here,” said Robert Croghan, chair of the executive board of the Organization of Staff Analysts, a union representing city office workers across numerous agencies. Croghan estimated that 85% of the dozens of union representatives present voted in favor of the proposal.

Oren Barzilay, president of Local 2507, a union representing fire department employees, told New York Focus that he voted against the proposal. “The law gives us protection in terms of having our current health benefits,” he said. “Why would you open up that Pandora’s box not knowing what could happen?”

Anyone like to take a guess which way Mulgrew voted? Privatized Medicare ain't called Mulgrewcare for nothing?

The battle goes to the City Council.

Thursday, September 08, 2022

HOCHUL SIGNS CLASS SIZE REDUCTION BILL; POSTPONES IMPLEMENTATION FOR A YEAR

Lower class sizes for NYC has been signed into law by Governor Kathy Hochul but implementation will not begin until 2023. It will be fully phased in by 2028. 

Class size legal limits for NYC:

K-3: 20

4-8: 23

Most HS: 25 (phys Ed, music: 40)

For the skeptics (most of us), we will believe these numbers when we see them. However, we have to acknowledge this is a giant step forward.

Thank you Leonie Haimson of Class Size Matters for never giving up, Senators Robert Jackson and John Liu  for their legislative push, as well as everyone who has advocated for lower class sizes for NYC students.

The cynic in me does wonder if a recent poll showing the Governor's race tightening helped push this along. 

As for timing, the passing of Queen Elizabeth II today may have just moved the class size story down a bit on the public radar. We are sorry for the loss of the Queen though I would not call myself a major royalist. My wife is more of a royalist. She met the Queen and thought well of her.



Tuesday, September 06, 2022

UFT BLOWS OFF MOST UNITED FOR CHANGE ELECTION COMPLAINTS THAT WERE FILED JUNE 6

You might recall that on June 6, 2022, United for Change filed 32 complaints with the UFT about violations of federal labor law and regulations in the recent UFT officer election by Unity Caucus-UFT. We reported on it here on June 10. We didn't say Hugo Chavez was hacking into election machines or that dead people were voting en masse. 

You can look and see there are very legitimate legal issues that were raised such as UFT President Michael Mulgrew and his Unity faithful campaigning on union time and union dime at the Delegate Assembly, Unity members personally attacking Mulgrew's opponent while not letting her respond at the DA (that's my wife Camille in case you have forgotten), the Union price gouging UFC to send multiple emails to the membership, the UFT only allowing attachments and not direct emails to go to members, not permitting sufficient observers to watch the vote count up close, and so much more.

The federal Department of Labor gives a union and the parent union (the UFT and AFT in this instance) three months to try to resolve election complaints internally. The UFT ignored us for June, July, and August. There was no investigation, no answers, nothing. That sent me up the wall. I started informing a UFC Election Committee person (he would probably say screaming and yelling at) in July from my vacation in Jamaica that we have to prepare to take this to the next level because the UFT isn't even dignifying us with a response. Finally, on August 26th, the United for Change Election Committee ran out of patience with the UFT and sent a complaint letter to the AFT which asked them to investigate the complaints and also find out why we received no answer from the UFT.

On September 1, we finally heard from the UFT. Secretary Leroy Barr answered 11 of the 32 complaints and said they were repeats of an individual's complaints that were already handled so we had to go right to the AFT with those 11. Why couldn't he have stated that in June?  He added that he would get back to us on the other 21. 88 days and this is the best the UFT could do. His excuse was the UFT business is slow in the summer because schools are on vacation. That is a very lame excuse.

Here it is right from the UFT Constitution. This is from Article V-EXECUTIVE BOARD

SECTION 8. The Executive Board shall supervise all elections in the manner provided for by the Constitution and shall decide all disputes arising out of such elections.

Is the Executive Board precluded from meeting in July and August?

SECTION 12. The Executive Board shall meet at least twice a month, except during July and August, at a time and place publicly announced. Its meetings, except for executive sessions, shall be open to all members of this organization.

SECTION 13. At the President’s discretion or at the request of a majority of the entire membership of the Executive Board, a special meeting of the Executive Board shall be called.

The UFT Executive Board doesn't have to meet in July and August but it certainly can and should in order to decide on complaints that they ran an unfair election. Those are serious charges that are time sensitive as I would think Leroy knows or should know. It looks like the UFT tried to just stall to run out the clock on us.

In reading over the 70+ pages of complaints and supporting arguments, I am only surprised that we didn't take this issue up years ago. Did you know the UFT has no bylaws on file with the Department of Labor? The UFT basically make the rules up as they go along.  UFT elections are fought on an extremely tilted playing field. 

Update. You can now read the entire complaint that United for Change sent to the UFT and AFT by going here.

The question now is since three months from when UFC filed the complaint is up today,  should United for Change go right to the Department of Labor as is our legal right for the next month, or do we give the UFT and AFT more time to answer us, or do we just let it go?

Sunday, September 04, 2022

U.S. LIFE EXPECTANCY FALLS TO LOWEST LEVEL SINCE 1996

This is from the BBC:

US life expectancy has fallen to the lowest level seen since 1996, continuing a steep decline largely driven by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Government data showed life expectancy at birth now stands at 76.1 compared to 79 in 2019. That is the steepest two-year decline in a century.

Covid-19 was the main contributing factor, according to US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention data.

Life expectancy of Native Americans and Alaska Natives fell by two years.

According to the provisional data, life expectancy fell by 2.7 years between 2019 and 2021.

The statistics show that Covid-19 accounted for 50% of the decline between 2020 and 2021. Between 2019 and 2020, the pandemic contributed to 74% of the decline.

COVID is the main cause but some of the declines in life expectancy in the United States could very well be attributed to the U.S. being the only wealthy country without universal healthcare. We had been kind of stagnant on life expectancy for a few years and then the pandemic led to the dramatic fall.



Norm over at Ed Notes specifically blames no Medicare for All for part of the cause of the decline. He also does a deep dive into how Medicare Advantage (privatized Medicare for seniors) is enriching insurance companies while shortchanging patients. 

City municipal worker retirees successfully fought off privatizing Medicare for New York City retired municipal workers. We said no to Mulgrewcare (Medicare Advantage Plus) but the battle is not nearly over.

We must resist any healthcare givebacks in this round of collective bargaining for active workers and retirees. 

Friday, September 02, 2022

UNION APPROVAL AT 71% ACCORDING TO GALLUP SURVEY

Unions are very popular with the public in 2022.

This is from Gallup:

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Seventy-one percent of Americans now approve of labor unions. Although statistically similar to last year's 68%, it is up from 64% before the pandemic and is the highest Gallup has recorded on this measure since 1965.



New York City is a union town.

This was in The City:

New York City workers are joining labor unions at a rate far higher than their counterparts in other cities — and at 10 times the national average.

The annual State of the Unions report from the CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies finds nearly half of the 17,000 workers who’ve joined a labor union in the five boroughs since the start of 2021 are employed by Amazon, where workers at a massive Staten Island fulfillment center became the first in the nation to unionize.

New York City private-sector workers are joining unions at nearly twice the rate as in the next most active city, Seattle, and at five times the rate as in San Francisco or Los Angeles, the study finds.

If unions are on offense in NYC, why are the UFT and many other Municipal Labor Committee unions still playing defense?

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

CHALKBEAT LOOKING FOR INFORMATION ON AIR CONDITIONING IN NYC CLASSROOMS; SCHOOL FUNDING LAWSUIT APPEAL DELAYED UNTIL SEPTEMBER 29

This Alex Zimmerman piece in Chalkbeat is rather interesting.

Five years ago, former Mayor Bill de Blasio vowed that every New York City public school classroom would be air conditioned by 2022.

Now, after early setbacks and changing deadlines, city officials say they have followed through on that goal, with roughly 19,000 instructional spaces out of nearly 60,000 total receiving air conditioning since 2017.

Did the Department of Education Division of School Facilities people actually get this right?

“This initiative has since completed, and our Division of School Facilities continues to work on upkeep of units to ensure safe and comfortable learning environments for our students and staff,” education department spokesperson Jenna Lyle said in a statement.

Further down:

Still, some educators said they are unsure of how reliable the cooling will be, as some have experienced outages or temperatures that vary wildly with little control. The initiative also does not cover every school space where students spend time or even receive instruction. Gyms and other public assembly spaces were not required to be air conditioned under the expansion. About 40% of spaces used for physical education don’t have air conditioning, Lyle said.

And some rooms used for academic instruction will continue to lack air conditioning. Officials said spaces that were not initially designed to be classrooms — but have been “repurposed” as instructional spaces — were not included in the expansion. Lyle did not provide additional details about which specific rooms are not covered by the program. She also did not respond to a question about why 19,000 rooms were outfitted with air conditioning when the city originally claimed that 11,500 classrooms needed it.

Let's be fair: I don't think the former mayor said working air conditioning if you want to be technical.

He also didn't say all of the buildings would be fully air-conditioned. Fully air-conditioned buildings would make sense as it is 2022. There I go nitpicking again.

Please take the Chalkbeat survey for yourself to report on the state of air conditioning in your NYC school. Sorry, it isn't anonymous so the cowards here can crawl right back under their rocks. 

NYC SCHOOL FUNDING LAWSUIT APPEAL WILL NOT BE HEARD UNTIL SEPTEMBER 29

In a not so wonderful development last week, the appeal for the lawsuit from parents and teachers trying to get a do-over vote from the City Council on the New York City public school budgets to restore funding to schools will not be heard until September 29. School begins September 8. This is from Gothamist:

“The mayor is completely responsible for this case dragging on through the courts rather than heeding the demand by City Council to negotiate a budget modification,” said Laura Barbieri, the attorney representing the teachers and parents who sued the city over the cuts. “There is more than enough money in the budget to provide for the children of this city. The mayor’s refusal speaks volumes about how little he cares.”

It looks like the city is running out the clock with the court which is what a City Council source told Gothamist. This looks like a big victory for the DOE bureaucracy that the UFT should be exposing at every opportunity. Even if the teachers-parents win on September 29, it is doubtful that the DOE would reprogram schools in October. If the plaintiffs win, there will probably be enough per session for many of you to need waivers for going over the maximum hours limits. 

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

COLUMBUS, OHIO TEACHERS MAKE REAL GAINS BY STRIKING

I salute the Columbus, Ohio teachers for going on strike. 94% of the teachers voted to go on strike but only 71% voted to accept the agreement negotiated to end it so not everyone was happy with the settlement. I like how they fought for and won better ventilation in their schools and much more.

Here are some of the details of the settlement as reported by WBNS10:

  • A contractual guarantee that all student learning areas will be climate controlled no later than the start of the 2025-2026 school year, including installation of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning in buildings currently without HVAC, and in buildings that currently only have partial HVAC
  • Reductions in class size caps in all grade bands, lowering the number of students in every classroom by two over the course of the contract;
  • The first-ever limitations on the number of buildings assigned to each elementary art, music and P.E. teacher, with scheduling intended for one specialist per subject area per building;
  • The first-ever contractual limitation on the number of CEA positions that can be outsourced to out-of-town corporations, thereby ensuring that our students are educated by experienced professionals from our local community; and
  • A ground-breaking paid parental leave program for our teachers, as well as salary increases for each of the next three years which will help attract and retain the high-quality educators that our students deserve.

You can read the full agreement here.

Thanks to whoever put it out. It is informative. I saw in the Agreement, in addition to what is mentioned above, they won an improved disciplinary process for teachers that includes the ability for teachers to grieve any formal reprimand, some pretty decent wording on academic freedom, not only reduced class size but also a reduction in the number of classes teachers can teach as a maximum load in middle and high schools.

As for salary increases, this is from NBC 4:

The contract gives CEA members a 4% annual raise for the duration of the three-year deal. Reports state that the union was initially seeking an 8% annual raise.

Maybe we should use some of the language from Columbus to give some ideas on gains New York City UFTers can make that won't cost the city much money but are absolutely essential if we are going to get our schools back to some kind of sanity.

The Columbus disciplinary process (see below) won't be totally applicable to us because terminations of tenured pedagogues are covered under NYS law here but what is below certainly would apply to us as a model for bringing back grievances for letters in the file like we had up until 2005 and for a fair disciplinary process for non-tenured people. Take a look.