Vacation Days Lost from Sandy

November 19, 2012 — 1 Comment

The DOE and UFT announced this afternoon that school will be in session during Feb 20-22.

Authur Goldstein, CL at Francis Lewis HS, wrote to Mulgrew before the deal was made.  With permission, we republish it below.

Note that the UFT has negotiated the city to allow members who already have vacation reservations to take those days as sick days without additional penalty.

Dear Mr. Mulgrew:
I was somewhat dismayed by your letter stating we must make up days in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. I’m a little shocked the union would conclude this without having even consulted rank and file.

This, however, is not at all my only concern. First of all, there has been very public talk of relaxing the minimum attendance requirement statewide. We certainly ought to be open to that, and examine our options before simply agreeing to Chancellor Walcott’s very public pronouncements. As you pointed out in your letter, we have worked up to 196 days a year and there was never extra compensation for our efforts.

My primary concern is for my members, many of whom, like me, have not been able to stay in their homes for over two weeks. We have not, in fact, spent our time off watching Oprah and eating popcorn. Most of my time has been spent frantically calling electricians and plumbers to replace walls, floors and appliances destroyed when six feet of saltwater rampaged through my home. Despite being essentially homeless, like many of my members, I’ve yet to miss a day this year.

Many of my members have already made plans for breaks and are set to lose considerable sums of money if these plans are abruptly altered by mayoral fiat or otherwise. At the last Queens Chapter Leader meeting, I was reminded that article 6C of our Contract lays out the days we are required to report.

I certainly hope I did not make an error sharing that information with my members.  Further financial strains on those affected by the storm will not be welcome. As you know, all city employees but educators received raises in excess of 8% between 2008-2010. My members, who have gone four years without a raise, are ill-prepared to take such a hit at this time.

In fact, last year we took no snow days at all, and Walcott, in a bizarre but typical DOE aberration from logic, gave us a choice in June of having kids attend or running an SBO for a PD day. My members were quite confused at the prospect of making up a snow day we did not actually use, and have reminded me of this frequently, most recently last Friday.

Personally, I’m incredulous the UFT seems to have capitulated to Walcott’s demands for more days without any discussion, let alone demands. If Walcott wishes for us to be reasonable, the very least he can offer in return is a contract, with the 8% raise Mayor Bloomberg unconditionally granted all other city employees.

Thank you for your attention in this matter.

Very truly yours,

Arthur Goldstein, UFT Chapter Leader
Francis Lewis High School


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One response to Vacation Days Lost from Sandy


    Thank you for this wonderful letter. Like you, I wasn’t watching Oprah and eating popcorn the days after Hurricane Sandy. I was without electricity, heat and running water myself. Additionally, I WORKED to make sure my 90+ grandparents, who can’t feed, dress or wash themselves, were safe in their pitch-black apartment building without their home aids for one week. I even attended the useless Friday teacher’s work day in the midst of the chaos for which my principal pleaded not to blame him.

    Now that life was returning to normal, I was excited for the upcoming breaks, especially the February break because that’s when I planned my wedding. I was trying to be professional so I planned the event within the confines of the school calendar. I technically don’t have a vacation booked so will the days of preparation I need before my wedding be honored? What about UFT members who planned vacations that don’t involve flying or hotels, but include visiting relatives? Only plans with monetary value count?

    I don’t think it’s fair to take members’ CAR days for missing part of February break. Mulgew’s tone in his letter is unsettling; his word choice of “the DOE agreed to allow any UFT member…to go on the purchased vacation…” sounds like we’re servants to the DOE. There should be an alternative if we have to make these days up due to the “law”, as Mulgrew stated at the conclusion of his letter. For example, why can’t the teachers AND STUDENTS who need to follow the original school calendar be offered an alternative?

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