Michael Mulgrew started by asking for a moment of silence for the Bronx fire victims.
Everything is stuck. NYS putting in a waiver for accountability for schools determined to be in trouble. State submitted waiver on December 22 and was denied on December 29. State Education Commissioner Betty Rosa was supportive. We don't want schools to be treated unfairly because students were taking standardized tests during a pandemic. We are appealing. Nothing moving in DC. Voting rights and Build Back Better are stuck.
First budget proposal yesterday from the governor. It is then negotiated with State Senate and State Assembly. It is no longer three men in a room; it is now two ladies and a male. We lobby off of the first process. Money is the best Mulgrew has seen since he has been president. 7% increase in funding. Foundation aid is all there for NYC. Charter schools received an increase in funding also. Change in funding formula in Buffalo, Rochester and Albany. Facilities money increased. We have to give space for charter schools in NYC. It is also in their basic formula. Mayoral control: we have not supported it for NYC. We do not want to go back to school boards. This form of mayoral control has not done best for the students of NYC. We will see where this goes. During the end of Bloomberg's first term. Bloomberg thought it was being given out to make parents happy. They decided to give a standardized test in kindergarten. With complete mayoral control, they moved it that way and NYC had the most segregated gifted and talented program. De Blasio tried to get rid of it to fit his politics. Sixteen years later gifted and talented has been a political football for two mayors. Children have suffered. Mayoral control in the budget now. We had scheduled in-person lobbying but the senate and assembly are doing it now remotely. Teacher centers funded for the first time since George Pataki. Our team is taking it apart with our friends at NYSUT. The process is starting. We prioritize education money getting to the classroom.
That was some first two weeks of this year. Two roughest weeks to be a chapter leader or delegate. COVID rates were very high when we got back. We closed a school this week. Mayor feels strongly schools should be opened. our doctor said we will go up rapidly. Hospitalizations needed to be watched. We plateaued and now we are going down. Scary stuff to see such high numbers. Then there was snow. We told Mayor Adams to go remote. Mayor figured out there aren't 24,000 substitutes. Student attendance on the snow day was very low. No snow days; we don't want to work during breaks. We didn't get a remote day. Last week, a significant drop in COVID numbers, this week a further drop. Safety issues: contact us, it gets fixed. That is what keeps the Union tight. Pre k and 3-k sites have rapid tests.
Hiccups: Official attendance policy was if you see a child, you can mark him present. Right now the new administration is putting out misinformation about things that were never done. No MOA from last Friday. At Tweed, they are blaming each other for misinformation. We are trying to iron things out. Communication was not great with the old administration. They must take down old guidance when there is new guidance. If a child has tested positive for COVID or is put in isolation, they go to pivot to remote learning. If a child fails the health screening, they are treated as if they are absent. We have to have a posting for per session for students who have failed the health screening. If a child is absent and goes into an asynchronous classroom, they can't be marked present. That violates state education law. Remote education: new chancellor says he always wanted remote and the UFT is holding it up. Parent leaders who meet with Mulgrew every 2 months say we need a remote option, not for 60% of the students, but for parents who are not sending their children into schools until the COVID pandemic is over. We are having conversations on this. We had high attendance in elementary and middle schools (over 90%) before December 1. High schools have had low attendance. We don't want to reprogram now and major shifting but we do want a remote option for the rest of this school year. Moving on the high schools as the term changes February 1. Middle schools next because so many students take Regents exams. There will be a parent survey. Going remote will not guarantee you keep your teacher. High schools will not be able to offer all of the courses high schools offer. We will not just drop a camera in a room as that is bad instruction. Chancellor spoke to elected officials about the survey. We need our children back in school. We need to increase enrollment and attendance. Skedula went down at a terrible time. Three teachers from Telecommunications High School started the system. When it was mandated, people didn't like it.
David Campbell, Director of Grievance Department, called up on Spring Break 2020 arbitration.
David Campbell: City ordered us to work and we lost spring break in 2020. We negotiated for 4 CAR days for religious observance which was in the middle there and we agreed we could file for full compensation. July 1, 2021 we filed grievance. DOE said we gave 4 CAR days and that should be enough. We argued for cash. We had two precedents to show we get paid if we work. The arbitrator made it clear that 5 unions involved (4 after us), was not going to make city write a check. We argued CAR does not equal a regular day. Cash them in at 1 days pay for 2 CAR days when you retire. We worked it out that it was 1 vacation day for each day worked during the spring break of 2020. Vacation days can be used for anything you want. Should ask for days well in advance of the minimum 10 days. If more than a reasonable number ask for a certain day, it will be decided by seniority. They must deny within 48 hours. We can take it to arbitration if denied. The vacation days last for your whole career. They can be cashed out 1 for 1 when you leave the Board. Come February, use the days as you like. Retirees get cash.
Mulgrew back: Anyone interested in negotiating committee got notice. We want the biggest negotiating committee ever. We want functionals across the negotiating table with the DOE. We have to figure something out if enrollments don't recover. Our contract expires in September. Arbitrations now dealing with the last round. A union could settle and go further on. A financial pattern may be set before we go into full-blown negotiations. Inflation is high now. Negotiations are private. Chapters help other chapters. So many chapters and they come in at different times. Negotiations is a real time allotment. Mulgrew thinks this negotiation is going to be a little more complicated.
Staff Director's Report:
Election petitions are out for the UFT election. They are due back on February 18. Albert Shanker Scholarship deadline extended. High school people need to spread the word. High School town hall on Thursday, February 3. African Heritage Committee Award going to Sterling Roberson. Dinner at Antons. Black history month film series: films and conversations afterwards. Chapter leader training on February 12. Early childhood conference on March 9. Para chapter luncheon March 5.
Point of clarification: Peter Lamphere asks about staff working in the room but delegates are excluded. Staff working in DA but cap means people can't get in so delegates are outside who can't get in. How can people be registered and not get in since there are empty chairs?
Mulgrew: Staff working here are crucial to the meeting. If people want to get in, please register. We want to increase the cap if it is safe. If COVID numbers go down, we could have a hybrid chapter leader training.
Question: Most parents honest and working with us but some parents not doing the take-home test. How do we keep students safe?
Mulgrew Answer: Health screening is a legal attestation. If it is found that someone lied on that, DOE can discipline employees. Parents have sanctions too. We don't want to take a position that people are gaming the system. We don't want to have a lot of people challenged that they are lying on a health screening.
Question: New attendance policy, if student not present in class but is engaging so that we can mark them present. Is that correct?
Answer: It is not correct. That student is absent. We have talked to SED. We are waiting for clarification from DOE. Team not built out from new team at DOE.
Question: Will we have live streaming?
Answer: This is not something we want to do. Mulgrew would say no. Some members are okay with it. Teaching online when you are teaching to camera can be alright. Teaching to a class and to the camera won't work. Do I teach to the camera or the class? Is that good remote instruction? No. They just want to check a box saying they have a remote option.
Question: Thanks Mulgrew for work during the surge. Members tired and confused. Emailed Mulgrew chapter survey. Rapid tests should be done in the school. Test to get in and test in school. Is there a reason why we can't do it in nurse's office?
Answer: We should have testing in the school. There is never enough testing. DOH does not believe the school system should be giving tests to children. Some want mandated testing of students and some don't. Department of Health is not there for testing children inside of schools.
Question: Per session, with pivot to remote and 2 hours of per session, it is a win. Principals getting pushback as if it is their money, but is there a limit to how much per session we can do?
Answer: It is not coming out of the principal's pocket; we are doing extra work. It should be a COVID expense that comes out of federal dollars. Principals got money. Did they spend it properly? Union's position is more work can't be mandated. It has to be done per session or pro-rata but nothing mandated. The principal's budgets are rich. Principals who don't have money, we would be interested in seeing how they spent the money. Principal apologized for people doing 7 periods. We don't have to worry about that principal. Others, we have to worry about.
New motion period:
Mulgrew explains voting procedure.
Motion for this month to move resolution on member engagement during contract negotiations from 5 to 1 on this month's agenda. 769 yes-128 no online. In building, no numbers are given but Mulgrew says it passes and so it moves to number 1.
Motion for next month: Resolved that delegates regardless of political affiliation respect civil debate and respect each other. It's very contentious this year. Dedicate to working together.
Melissa Williams speaks against quoting MLK tweet. Civility counts but it isn't justice. Sometimes civility not an appropriate response in the face of injustice.
The vote is 716 Yes-148 No. Internally, it passes and will be put on the February agenda.
Move to suspend the rules to extend the motion period by 10 minutes and extend the meeting by half an hour. Online 312 yes-556 No. It does not pass.
Special Orders of Business:
Expand member engagement resolution. Someone from FDR Hs says he is dedicated to hearing as many voices as possible as we go into contract negotiations. Another person speaks in favor. Amendment to add a resolved clause that says that the results of member surveys will be released to the members of each bargaining unit. Last contract, members never saw the results of the contract survey. We don't know the priorities if we don't know results of survey.
Brooklyn Borough rep says we are publicly negotiating. These are private conversations. We are the strongest union in this country. We didn't get there by negotiating in public. A delegate speaks in favor of the amendment by saying how not transparent the DOE is so the UFT should work to increase transparency and fairness. Negotiating committee must be open, fair, and transparent.
Mike Sill argues against the amendment as we can't let enemies see what we want. The resolution already makes clear that we have a representative committee speak on behalf of the membership. Someone says we have a right to know and it could be after. Question is then called.
Vote to close debate is 674 yes- 152 no online. Debate is closed. Mulgrew does not announce a live vote.
Vote on amendment: 314 Yes- 529 No. Amendment fails.
Resolution on more member engagement vote online is 534 yes-199 no. No announcement of the live vote but resolution passes.
Resolution on NY Senate bill 728. Occupational therapist wants pharmacists to dispense medication that helps prevent HIV. Preemptive medication needs to be taken within 72 hours of exposure. Some in Black and Latina communities are reluctant to get medical help.
Beacon HS delegate moves to suspend rules to vote on all resolutions on agenda as one. Mulgrew clarifies that it would be without motivation or debate.
349 Yes-359 No. It doesn't get 2/3 vote.
Resolution on Senate bill 728 gets 614 Yes-85 No. It passes.
Meeting is adjourned. Mulgrew thanks members for work they have done.