Wednesday, October 12, 2022


The meeting started around 4:15 p.m.

President's Report

Michael Mulgrew welcoming everyone to the first DA of the 2022-2023 school year.  He asks for new Chapter Leaders and Delegates. He advises CL's to go to the CL training. 

Two important UFT people passed away this weekend. Barry Speviogal, and Joyce Hobes (sorry if I misspelled names). Was here on Friday, was arranging for phone banks and buses to go to Pa. Arranging for Florida trips. She became ill Friday night and passed on Saturday morning. Moment of silence for both.

Someone might stop by today. Teacher Union Day is November 6. Shelvy Young Abrams getting the highest honor. Para day that day.


Closer we get to the midterms, we are looking to elect people who support public education. Candidates must meet that criteria. If that matters to you, we look out for people who look out for children and our profession. If you vote on other issues, you should think about your profession. Many retirees in Nevada and Carolinas helping us. Mid term elections will get crazier. Big election in NY is for governor. She has done more in a term than anyone else and did it just in one year. PA is a tough fight. Healthcare, we are putting together in-service healthcare committee. It is a national issue. City workers have a plan different from everyone else. Thanks people for wearing pink to DA. Wear blue tomorrow. Many schools have strides teams. We raise more money for breast cancer than anyone else. Agreement with Memorial Sloan Kettering saved thousands of lives. We will wear blue tomorrow on Thursday. Sign pledge that you  will be involved in the campaign to get this contract done.  

DC 37 negotiated for first time last week. We go tomorrow. Mayor says city is broke but they have billions in reserve. DOE has to sit across negotiating table from people who do the work. Our members do the negotiating with the City of New York. This is going to be a tough negotiation, very difficult. Two years ago the city thanking essential workers, nurses, teachers, etc. We were going to get nice raises. That has not happened anywhere. Nurses not loved in negotiations. Teachers not getting big raises. We deserve a damn good raise. We kept the school system going when DOE people didn't come to work for a year. We are seeing effects of the teacher shortage. We need to pay teachers and not have silly paperwork and get us a parking spot. Frustration building every year. Superintendents and District Reps at 52 Broadway yesterday. DOE people said they love us all and want to be collaborative. Mark Cannizaro from CSA was here. Chancellor was here. Make sure what we do is relevant. Solve problems while DOE drags out problems.

Governor Kathy Hochul stops by. Mulgrew enthusiastically says she has done more in one year than anyone previously for education. Mulgrew continues on CFE case for equality started in 1992. Mulgrew lived through 14 years of it as UFT President. There were always excuses. This governor came into office. Case was not about politics; it was about children according to Hochul. We would fight for 1-2% increase in education funding but Hochul fixed that by fulfilling Contracts for Excellence and we got an increase in 7% in education funding this year. Hochul did it better than anyone's else. Best friend to public education that this union has ever had in the governor's office.

Governor Kathy Hochul:

Public education doe not exist without teachers. Mulgrew has done such a great job advocating for teachers. Proud to work with Mulgrew and other teachers across the state. Many teachers in her family. She will continue to be a friend in Albany. Proud to put setting CFE behind us. During the pandemic, omicron showed up last November while working on first budget. We got test kits. We saw effect the pandemic had on kids. Many don't have nurturing home life that you give them in the classroom. 92 million test kits. Mulgrew pressuring for these test kits. When leaders work together, we can accomplish so much. Teachers take on so many roles. Schools need more money, we need mental health counselors. Committed to having resourses to lift kids up. You have a right to be safe. Supreme Court took away no conceal and carry law we had for over 100 years. Certain places need to be gun free.  Have to deal with insanity this Supreme Court put in place for NY. Focus on teacher and student safety. We need more teachers. Thanks Mulgrew for smaller class sizes law. We need more teachers. Must get that spark everywhere. We will incentivize getting new teachers. Career and Technical education must be reinvested in. Thanks Joe Biden for delivering money. Kids need tangible skills to step into the jobs we are creating every single day. Company called Micron will create 50,000 jobs. Help train them. More women and children of color need to show up for those jobs. Gives teachers a group hug and thanks them. 

Mulgrew back: Let's hear it for Kathy Hochul. Thanks everybody and calls for another round of applause for Hochul. It is a whole different world when you have partners that respect you. The previous governor in State of the State messages would bash teachers. We had to fight crazy policies. Micron needs thousands of high tech engineers. Nice to have those discussions with elected officials. Do the work if you really respect teachers. Hochul did the damn work.

Negotiations-Mayor says he is broke. Negotiating Committee designing plans to engage the membership. Don't know how it gets done without members. Most of the 150 unions in NYC don't have a contract. Last week was the first negotiating session with anyone. The last Mayor (de Blasio) had nothing in reserves left to him from Mayor Bloomberg. We figured it out. The city has lots of reserves now. This will be a real political fight. Thanks negotiating team.

DOE policies:

Screens are back. Screens got twisted and perverted into things they were not designed to be. Screens are not just for high end academic programs. Screens turned into just a way to use test scores and attendance. That segregated school system. Told the Chancellor screens aren't the problem. Schools that only accept 4 students with 100% attendance don't look at everything. We have challenges. Reviews No Child Left Behind where Houston got a 93% graduation rate by only testing kids who could pass. We are helping migrant children. We need boatloads of psychologists and social workers in the schools they are being sent to. Meeting yesterday, we all love and respect each other. Everyone needs due process. The Chancellor said the superintendents are in charge of making things work. If there is a problem, they should fix problems. We are getting troubling reports that don't match with what the Chancellor is saying. The Principals were informed yesterday on Election Day as the Chancellor wants people to meet. We don't want them meeting on the computer. On budget, the Chancellor wants all schools held harmless. Safety, let's make sure all the front doors are locked. NYC can't get doors locked like every other state can do around the country. Tell people to lock doors. 


Medicare Advantage is one small piece. The USA is in a complete crisis on healthcare and its cost. We can't find another group of workers outside of the city of New York municipal workers who have premium free healthcare. Healthcare is not free. We negotiate it. Nine years ago we saw healthcare costs were going up by a lot but there are no innocent players in healthcare. Doctors, nurses, and technologists not the problem. Hospitals, insurance companies and medical plans looking for profit and almost all are not for profit. We came together with the city to fight this costs out of control system. Unions getting contracts but losing money because of healthcare costs. People getting screwed because of rising healthcare costs. New administration wants to keep fighting the rising costs. Copays rise because we want to deter people from doing things like overusing the emergency room. We kept saying not to go to ER. They start by taking a temperature and charging $800. We talked to the AFT. Healthcare costs are all over the place rising. 13% increases not uncommon and kills a 3% raise. Things in Inflation Reduction Act that were taken out would help us. We have done analysis on New York Health Act would destroy the NY budget.  US spends almost double on healthcare than any other country and we do not have the best outcomes. It doesn't even come close. Enough is enough on this. We can't move forward with this hanging on us. Hospitals fought us in Albany. We at least are covered. 

(At this point, the feed broke and I could hear nothing. I am still on call but hear nothing. I am back on a few minutes later.)

Geoff Sorkin from Welfare Fund gives a presentation on healthcare. Premiums on healthcare are deductions from paychecks for healthcare. The average worker pays $7,000 a year for healthcare. The change must come from DC. Share stats. Hospital stays went up 73% in the last few years. One injection cost $600 several years ago now PICA costs over $6,000 from Humira. Two shots a month for a year costs $70,000 a year. Medicine is cheaper in Europe. Battle is to maintain premium free healthcare coverage. MLC leveraging our size with 1.5 million is a huge group. UFT Welfare Fund funded by our contract. Pharmacy benefit went for a Request for Proposal (RFP). Two big pharmacy companies wanted our business. We projected 55 million dollar savings by going to RFP. 90 day prescriptions at Walgreens. We are part of the MLC, an umbrella group of city unions. 106 unions bargain healthcare together. UFT is the only voice in the MLC. We have to talk and work things out. Stabilization fund created in the 80's. It funds healthcare costs with the exception of the Welfare Fund. Offsets the cost of optional riders. It makes sure widows of officers get benefits for life. Joe Ustach's wife had a new baby. Small copayment, rest comes out of stabilization. MLC has benefited from using the Stablization Fund. Medicare Advantage, we created a unique plan that was wonderful that allowed us to tap into government subsidies which would have allowed us to save $600 million for five years. That plan was stopped in court, the original company pulled out but we are trying to negotiate with the company that finished second. Judge said the city only has to offer one premium-free plan. We want to give you choice. That is why we are talking about revising the administrative code. We want to preserve choice. Four largest municipatities (LA, Chicago, Houston, and Phoenix) all paying premiums and getting coverage that is not as good as GHI or HIP. Line in the sand to preserve premium free coverage. RFP to see what insurance companies could do to replicate GHI CBP plan for non eligible retirees and active people. We will keep fighting. Thanks us for giving him their time.

Mulgrew returns and asks for big hand for Jeff. 

(I got cut off again at this time. Back on for Leroy Barr but I missed Staff Director's Report.)

Question Period

Question: Fear on healthcare on changing the administrative code.  Goes back to the constitutional convention that opening this up could make things worse for us?

Mulgrew Answer: We are constantly in contact with City Hall and City Council. This is not about Medicare Advantage. Judge said we as a union doesn't have a right to negotiate. Appeal could take us into next year. Retirees have HIP gold and GHI senior care. Something that diminishes collective bargaining has to be taken seriously. We are talking about putting a phrase in that makes it clear. Have to look at the healthcare where you live. Need flexibility, particularly for retirees who are in Georgia, Florida, etc. If we feel something is wrong, we will stop it. The judge changed our negotiating ability. We need options on healthcare.  

Question from Ilona from Exec Bd. Why wouldn't a change in the healthcare make it easier to have premiums?

Mulgrew answer: We are not going near that on premiums. We are looking at the part that says we can't negotiate. Judge ruled we only have to offer one plan and one plan only. We believe in Medicare Advantage Plus. We are not comfortable with Aetna yet. When people get information from social media, it tends not to be correct. We want our options. City has to only offer one plan if what judge said makes us only have one plan. There is much misinformation out there. 

Question: DC solution for universal healthcare from DC. UFT passed a resolution to support New York Healthcare Act. What is our position now?

Answer: New York Healthcare Act would blow a huge hole in the NYS budget. We can't lobby for something that would hurt every UFT member. We modeled it out and would look at changes. We are not lobbying for it. 

Question: PS 36-Conflicting information on visitor protocol. Do visitors still need to show vaccination proof to enter building?

Answer: Technically, yes, but nobody's checking for this anywhere. We will check with safety person Jeff Povelitus and check it. 

Question: New Utrecht HS CL asks about safety. In schools with more than one safety agent, only level 3 has access to school walkie-talkies so Level 3 texts agents after deans tell Level 3. CSA hates this. 

Answer: This administration's concern is over an imminent threat, an active shooter. The administration put safety agents except one on the citywide system. We think we can deal with both issues.

Followup: PTAs not aware of this. 

Answer: Set a policy for one issue, it will cause a bunch of other issues. We believe there will be more issues getting a response for other issues. 

New motion period

Support for migrant families with children in NYC public schools for next month.  Migrants bussed here from Florida and Texas. NYC greatest melting pot, we need to support these migrants in any way we can. We were refugees. Asylum seekers looking for peace, opportunity, and justice. We must repay the debt. Nobody speaks against. 

469 yes 78 no on the phone; I could not hear the vote in the hall but it easily carried.

Resolution to stand in support of Iranian protesters after woman Mahsa Amini was killed in police custody. The resolution is for next month.

Edward Calamia speaks against saying we shouldn't intervene in the internal affairs of Iran.

On the phone 224 in favor with 38 opposed in the hall; 348 Yes to 149 No on the phone. 

Time ran out before any special orders of business could be discussed. 


Sha said...

We all know that everywhere in the country, healthcare costs are out of control. The greed of insurance and pharmaceutical companies should be considered crimes but their lobbyists have too strong a hold on politicians. I am sure their profits have skyrocketed! As for our situation in NYC right now our unions are rolling over. In the past, Mulgrew professed to not care what was happening in other cities and that we had the best union. Now all of a sudden he cares about what other cities are doing regarding healthcare for their public workers. The MLC examined how healthcare is handled in Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago, and Houston. Why? To see how their workers got screwed over so we can follow their examples?
Retirees and in-service people absolutely cannot afford higher costs or to pay premiums. I think the UFT and other unions are not considering other impacts of passing on healthcare costs to workers. One possible consequence could be that people stop paying union dues in order to afford their healthcare increases. Second, more people will put off retiring if they have to pay higher costs when they do. This would mean the city has to pay the older, more expensive, workers for a longer period of time instead of having them retire and replacing them with workers that will be less costly for longer. Lastly, many workers might have to reduce, stop, or not even begin to contribute to their TDA accounts. This can have devastating effects on their future financial security when they will need it most. This is a very dire situation for us all.

JP said...

So, the main points are...

The strongest union in the country, again, doesn't get an on time contract. They follow that up by saying they can't get a raise even with tons in reserve.

The student grades are the lowest in decades. See the 3rd 8th grade scores and the new ACT results...

Follow that up by hosting the governor who has let the city go to shit.

Also, we now know the inflation numbers from 8:30 AM today, they are still going up, up over 8%, against our 0% raise now and the last 11 years at 1.4% per year.

Nice job everyone.

Cynthia W said...

Sha great points made about the possible consequences if NYC's MLC continues to "roll over".