10/12/21 UFT Delegate Assembly Notes
October’s UFT Delegate Assembly was kicked off with a “Rally for Our Lives'' of more than a hundred active and retired UFT members outside the UFT headquarters. Led by Retiree-Advocate UFT and each of the opposition groups within the UFT, including MORE, New Action, Solidarity, ICEUFT, and Educators of NY, members protested against our union’s involvement in the Municipal Labor Council’s backroom deal to privatize retiree’s healthcare with the Medicare Advantage program without consultation from the membership.
Inside the assembly hall, Mulgrew occupied the time of Chapter Leaders and Delegates with his signature combo of minutia and bluster — detailed in the notes below for those interested.
Things started to get interesting during the Question and Answer period of the agenda, when MORE-UFT member Martina Meijer was called on and asked why the UFT had aligned itself with insurance companies as one of the main opponents to the New York Health act, in defiance of a vote at a previous Delegate Assembly in favor of the same bill. Mulgrew, visibly agitated, responded that the UFT would not support the bill. He chastised the questioner and, for some reason, social media, as not engaging with facts. However, he neglected to support his own claim with facts or evidence that the bill would somehow “take thousands of dollars out of members' pockets.”
Even if Mulgrew provided some evidence for this claim, wouldn’t it make more sense for our union to work with the majority of New York state lawmakers who are in support of this bill to ensure that it works for UFT members, instead of opposing it and setting our union against the very communities that we serve?
During the brief time allocated for the motion period, multiple MORE Chapter Leader’s and Delegates on the floor attempted to raise a motion to add to next month’s agenda a resolution calling for any changes to member’s healthcare to be voted on by the union’s membership. Predictably, Mulgrew called on two known Unity Caucus members who raised resolutions in support of the City Council electing a woman as speaker and for a moment of silence to be observed the first weekday after when 9/11 falls on a weekend which was read out loud in full. As the brief period for raising resolutions came to an end, MORE member Peter Allen-Lamphere raised two points of order, the first calling for impartiality in which members are called on to raise resolutions, and the second calling for an extension to the period so that our resolution could be called on.
After Mulgrew ruled both out of order, 30 Chapter Leaders and Delegates began chanting “Hands off our Healthcare!” and walked out of the assembly hall to join the rally in front of the UFT headquarters. People attending the Delegate Assembly virtually reported that the chanting was all they were able to hear.
After the walk out, Mulgrew did his best to redirect the Delegates who remained toward his primary matter of business: granting the UFT’s endorsement to Eric Adams in his candidacy for mayor. Of course, this is after the UFT called on members not to list Adams for mayor in the Democratic Party primary, rightfully citing Adam’s close relationships with charter schools and his calls to fill virtual classrooms with hundreds of students to each teacher. One Unity Caucus member after the next tried to outdo the other in their attempts to recast Adams as an ally to teachers and public schools. Only one person rose to speak against — MORE member Ilan Desai-Geller who was calling in from the rally outside. Outrageously, in an about-face from its previous position, the Delegate Assembly heeded Mulgrew's call and voted to endorse Eric Adams for mayor.
Summary of Meeting Notes:
- moment of silence for a former Chapter Leader
- Recognizes the District Reps (assembly gives them a round of applause)
- We need stability to do our job, but we just don’t have it. This year is going to be very stressful and difficult again. Unlikely that anything will be settled soon and we’ll continue to have disruptive changes in policy and then negotiation.
- In negotiations with the city, the tension between the perspective of the system level vs school level & classroom level is even more extreme this year. UFT is arguing that anything not about instruction is less important.
- Reflecting on last year: 2200 operational complaints last year; 2070 resolved; 130 still pending.
- Many things we’ve been doing due to the pandemic are not covered by collective bargain agreement; UFT wants compensation for everything outside of the agreement;
- Main focus this year for delegates and Chapter Leaders: how to relieve as much as stress as we can for the membership and people doing the direct service in our schools.
- We are waiting for January - the end of mayoral administration is never a good time. Some pros under BDB: Happy about preK throughout the city & 3K. Cons: administration still doesn’t get how schools work and needs accountability.
- Hopeful we will be through the pandemic turmoil this school year, but not sure. This is what he also felt last year. (ends around 4:30)
President’s Report: (4:30ish to 5:20)
Classroom Closure Rules:
- In conversation with DOE right now re: elementary schools. Will be tough to have complete classroom closure, will have many partial closings. Right now, principals and superintendents are reinterpreting the meaning of partial closures.
- With partial closures, still negotiating about per session
Covid protocols/COVID Data
- Only DOH can change protocols. They have decided that the principal is responsible for determining who had close contact, not the Situation Room. Some principals are using discretion to fully close classrooms; others are not; UFT is saying that it shouldn’t be this way.
- Can only close the school if there is an investigation that determines COVID spread is happening at schools. DOH admitted they’re no longer doing investigations, so now there is no evidence of spread within schools to initiate full school closure.
- 3 ft is 3 ft everywhere beside NYC school buildings. Thanks teachers for sending pictures of their crowded classrooms. Why was this changed when we had the strongest covid protocols in the country? Theorizes that parents were polled and wanted children back in the classroom - politically motivated by de Blasio who might run for governor. Questions if parents wanted children back and not to know if there are cases.
- Overall, COVID numbers are down a lot city-wide. Acknowledges some cases in schools, but cases rates & positivity rate are declining.
- All staff are vaccinated, but still teachers take great pride in keeping students safe. The city will need to deal with city council hearings and the union pushing back
- DOE - lord of the flies over there - who is the next chancellor, mayor? Emergency agreement because of the vaccine mandate. We don’t want schools to put 5-6 classes in an auditorium because of staff shortages.
- UFT renegotiating redeployment of central DOE staff as subs
Politics: “Everyone loves politics, right?”
- Federal: Infrastructure Bill - said UFT has been meeting with unions all around the country to ensure all new infrastructure built is ‘green’ as part of the budget reconciliation bill. Note: he doesn’t say that he is endorsing the Green New Deal for Public Schools
- Pandemic caused ventilation fixes and installed air purifiers, which is why NYC needs an infrastructure package to invest in rebuilding schools.
- State: Albany - Primary for next governor’s election is June 2022. Candidates will be chosen in February 2022. All the candidates will start coming out.
- “I had dinner with Hochul. She was very good.” We are happy with her. But there will be many other candidates. “Some of them will be quite amusing.”
- City: Supportive of City Council proposal to lower class sizes. We’re never really going to start lowering class sizes unless there’s a plan in place.
- Another issue is adding more class seats with new real estate development. City has a major housing crisis. Gives example of Hudson Yards, 6K housing units, but only 240 classroom seats added.
- When Mulgrew was CL, I gave principals “open arms” - we have an agenda at the UFT - we want school systems “moving forward.” We know we need a partner at Tweed for decision making. Lots of other council seats and city wide seats that are now up for election.
- In-service health plan will be in the new contract. We have a healthcare crisis in this union, need to fight to expand healthcare benefits. “If your relatives say you get free healthcare, I want you to kick them. Nothing is free!” Fighting alongside other MLC (municipal labor committee).
Retiree Medicare Advantage issue. Acknowledges most private Medicare healthcare plans are ‘horrendous.’
- Within 3 years, the MLC knew we’d be looking at major premiums on retiree’s health care, trying to avoid premiums because they use it against you at all times at the negotiating table. Rising healthcare premiums make it difficult to negotiate wages. Blames “hospitals are ripping us off!”
- UFT worked on and achieved Surprise Medical billing legislation passed last year.
- He discussed how MLC made a custom Medicare Advantage Plan “of our own” so that retirees can keep their premium-free benefits. No further details
- More flexibility this year, given the circumstances. Cut off for SBOs is October 15 this year - do you want me to extend it again? “1 person absolutely does”
Formal/Informal Evaluation issue:
- Never be afraid of evaluations, but this isn’t the year to make them a good process.
- Evaluations should not be used for harassment.
- UFT’s position is that it shouldn’t be mandated for tenured folks to have 1 informal, 1 formal. Wants to push for 2 informal. Will get that information out to “you guys” tomorrow or Friday. “Idk. They end when they end, folks!”
- New hires: over 5,000 new members. UFT is working getting everyone signed up for all benefits; issues with new hire lists, but being worked on at District Rep level.
- Instructional lunch - students having lunch during typical class period. High schools have grab and gos and eat during lessons in the classroom.
- New MOAs do not have codes for the payroll secretaries, so keep your own records and check in with them “Payroll secretaries should be the person who is on a perch in your school. I’m telling you that for your own advice” You need to make sure as a school that you’re keeping track of these things, like being paid for coverages.
- Delegates and CL should be in touch with payroll secretaries as well.
- Asynchronous work will be uploaded for students by the schools; selected Ts will be paid per session in order to create these lessons; postings are going up.
- Consultation with DOE - to discuss working from home or in schools. UFT sent out language to members saying that people can work from home - but now the DOE says maybe not!
- Principal must inform you by October 15 if you need to come into the building. If they do not inform you by then, then you must work from home.
- set a record for lowest ever oversized classes. How do we have an oversized class in a pandemic? Only 41 schools, usually it’s 400 - 600 schools. Not asking for more people to go into classrooms to support teachers with oversized classes.
Academic Screenings/Social Emotional Screening
CL and admin should be working together with AIS teams to administer screenings. Academic screens need to be completed by 10/22 (Mulgrew here was confused about the dates).
- All of that screening will produce a lot of information for your school! (he was yelling at this point.)
- There will be compensation packages tied to action items from data.
- Do you want me to send out that language re: screenings agreement again?
- SEL/DESSA screenings were to be done in November - but might need to wait until January. “They told us to wait.”
Special Education Recovery Services
- How many people have had conversations about academic recovery plans? Says he will send out the information again
- We supported and helped the DOE put in a grant proposal to help undo the harm of the pandemic on students with IEPs. NYC received a grant with money.
- Then we had to negotiate with the DOE. All the work will be done by teachers, counselors, social workers, and therapists, so this academic recovery agreement will need to be sent out again on Friday. Compensation will be attached to it.
- No more than 30 students on caseload
- There’s supposedly prepopulated reports and pre-filled in fields.
- “Where’s MaryJo! Can we get this agreement out in English!” Says he will send it out in bullet points.
Student Debt Relief
- 2 years ago UFT started debt clinic
- Student loans continue to be a problem for our membership
- People would retire after 25 years and still have to pay off loans; “big national scandal”
- Started student loan debt relief program and “hired a law firm.”
- We gathered so much information re: egregious behavior from loan companies - one company stopped issuing loans (applause)
- That lawsuit that was settled today!
- Any teacher whose name was on that law suit - their student debt was completely erased (applause)
- Anyone who was denied access to any programs that would have lessened student debt - will have the ability to have their entire case reevaluated.
Breast Cancer Awareness/Wearing pink
- A huge issue! For years, we knew the rate of breast cancer in our membership was higher - worked with STRIDES Walk; Servia and her team has raised over 10 million dollars
- We want this eradicated!
- When folks are facing a health crisis, we are there to help them.
- Set up MSK direct and breast cancer hotline so that UFT members can have automatic access into Memorial Sloan Kettering (MSK).
- Says that the UFT members now have access to 3-D mammograms at Lenox Hill
- 50% of membership does not have a baseline mammogram on record - “I want that number at 100%!” for members who are 50 and above.
Staff Director’s Report (5:20 - 5:23)
- Making STRIDES Walk is coming up, 10/17
- CL training has been rescheduled, so you can join the Strides Walk
- New Teachers training Tuesday, 10/26,
- Election Day - lots of political resolutions today. Election day is November 2. Make sure to remember to come out and vote on November 2.
- Teacher Union Day - November 7. Used to be on the first Sunday in November to commemorate the first teachers’ strike in 1960. We should take a moment to remember history.
- Thursday, November 11 - Veterans Day Parade
- November 17, Next DA
15 Minute Question Period (5:25 - 5:43)
CL, PS 130? - MOSL deadline on 10/22 Any guidance to share with our UFT members?
M: will be sending out guidance
CL Manhattan D6 - Global teacher; pandemic students received waivers for Regents; Global is a 2 year scope, are students still taking tests in June?
M: conversations happening at SED; Betty Rosa, Commissioner of NYSED; conversations in the works; likes her as an advocate for NYS children and feels she understands education.
Queens D25 - Asked about change in number of evaluations for the upcoming year for tenured teachers - shouldn’t a new contract be approved if we’re going to change the number of observations?
M: Minimum 2 should be informal; tells a confusing anecdote about asking for more observations in his past.
Manhattan D5 - What happened to all the substitutes that De Blasio promised?
M: 6500 substitutes, not 11,000. We had a TRO for a while, (vaccination deadline?) Central staff were redeployed but should not have been redeployed.
- Principals told substitutes not to come because they could cover positions with central staff, but they have the money
- 2000 removed from payroll for vax status, & 900 received some sort of exemption. Need long-term substitutes for these positions.
- There are “enough” substitutes for an emergency? Hopefully this will be updated by next Monday?
Bronx D12 - Last year we had lead para position, is that happening this year because some are now covering lunch?
M: “rolled that one over;” paraprofessionals are in low supply due to vax policy, yes, they should be able to have this position again this year.
Martina Mejier, Delegate - MORE Member, Brooklyn D22 - In past sessions, the DA passed a resolution in support of the New York Health Act. This year, when the NY Legislature debated the NY Health Act (single payer proposal), The UFT paid to run a TV ad against it, even though we supported it in the DA. Why are you defying the DA’s resolution?
M: We will not support the act. The reso doesn’t say we have to support something that will “take thousands of dollars” out of UFT members pockets. NY Health Act will not give us free healthcare.
some verbal disagreement from floor of DA
“You can yell out all you want - I will call you out on it. And I will call you ‘out of order’ if you do it again! I know social media, and the facts on social media are what everyone wants to go off of. We have lawyers - if the DA passes a resolution that says we want to take dollars out of every members’ pockets, then I will pursue that. Facts not rhetoric, people!”
CL Bronx D9 - I have a few new teachers who still can’t get paid. Have contacted various offices, including Borough PayRoll
Mr. Sill will handle this
M: “We will contact you; saying a check not in the mail is not appropriate”
Queens D24 - are we getting the 20% back for weekly testing and getting staff to be part of that testing?
M: Things are falling apart at city hall - new person in charge at test and trace - not where we were last year. Last year, we were a model for the entire country. Will it be fixed before de blasio leaves? Probably not. We have a daily meeting on this issue - the only promising thing is that numbers have gone down the past few weeks. Prepared for all different avenues of ‘action’ if things start to go awry in our school system.
Manhattan D5 - School Nurse
Concerned about the state of affairs for school nurses; school nurses are being pulled/split to other schools that are uncovered (400 school vacancies for school nurses); ads running to pay nurses more money than the nurses in the school. What can we do as a coalition to support this egregious activity to make sure we have permanent school nurses inside these buildings? Concerned that it will take the death of a student before we take this issue seriously.
M: Agree. Nurses are so important. Thought we passed this hurdle last year; took a big hit with nurses due to the mandate. City should have understood that they need to have had a plan in place of this. We are in a pandemic, need a nurse in every building. We need a compensation package.
Eric Adams has actually been a big supporter in our efforts to get more school nurses in every school building. DOE says that we can’t do that because some school nurses are under UFT contract, others are under DC37, and there needs to be a balance - there is no motivation to make having a school nurse in every school building a reality. Part of city council negotiations - now, we have many more children in the building than last year - some schools have one nurse and over 1,000 children. This administration is crumbling toward the end. We need to hire more school nurses going into this year - the mandate was going to cause another drop in that position, we needed 1,500 safety agents - took a big hit with the mandate. Now, there is private security that has been hired and stationed outside of the schools to make sure students are getting to school safely, which isn’t really what school safety is about.
Motion Period (5:43 - 5:55ish)
Mulgrew reviews the rules for new delegates
Carmen Romero, PS 89 District 2: Making motion for this month’s agenda. Urging city council to elect a woman as city council speaker. Whereas:
- All city council speakers have all been men
- Women for the first time make up a majority of seats on the city council; should make up leadership
- City council will empower women to be city council speakers
- Select a woman for city council speaker when the council resumes in Jan 2022
- Advocate for women to serve in city government moving forward
Remote percentages - 87% yes, Way over 87% in person - Congrats, it’s passed. Mulgrew is over the moon about it passing. Note: this is just passing to put the resolution to a vote later in the meeting.
Peter Allen-Lamphere CL, MORE Member, Gregorio Luperio, Manhattan D6 -
Calls a Point of Order
Impartiality reminder - Robert’s Rules of Order - Mulgrew admits that he clapped for the previous motion and was out of order.
Allen-Lamphere: Mulgrew has called on 2 members of Unity caucus to present motions. Please let others be called on for motions.
Mulgrew called Peter out of order and would not let him continue speaking.
“It’s not about a caucus, it's about the people in here and to take part in the democratic process here. That is out of order.”
Manhattan D3 CL -
Presenting a resolution for next month - “Observance of a moment of silence for Heroes/Victims for September 11th”
- This year and next year, 9/11 is not on a school day.
- No mention in the law about how to observe moment of silence on a day AFTER
- Wants to highlight Greg Monte/Scherer - FDR HS doing lessons
- we should urge all admin to understand that 9/11 is developmentally appropriate to teach for all ages as a teacher at a K-8 School.
- Wants to add onto existing law to observe following Monday after 9/11 as a moment of silence.
- All principals must observe moment of silence on 9/12/2022, Monday
- All teachers at all levels to present lessons about what happened on 9/11/01, events leading up to 9/11 and what occurred thereafter
- And that 9/11 should never be forgotten
Vote total: 85% for remote, majority in person - Placed on next month’s agenda
Peter Allen-Lamphere CL, MORE Member, Gregorio Luperio, Manhattan D6 -
Calls a Point of Order
Because the chair was not impartial, called for extension to the motion period so that all the motions can be heard today. “There are hundreds of UFT members who rallied today outside this building --”
Mulgrew cut off Peter again, ruled Peter out of order again - “If you do not like the Delegate Assembly…”
[multiple people chanting: “Hands off our healthcare”]
“Very nice” → walkout happened here.
Resolutions (ones already on the agenda) (5:55 - 6:25)
Resolution 1: City Council Endorsements
Liz: resolution for UFT endorsement for City Council offices (does not identify herself)
Asking everyone to endorse the 48 candidates picked by UFT, because they did interviews and due diligence. Calls for unity, and for the DA to pass this endorsement.
Donna ??, Rise in favor of resolution → proud of Staten Island Screening Committee
Staten Island D31 - Speaks in favor - member of political action committee. Could not believe how much work went into this election alone - in order to choose the candidate we are vetting now. Lots of time went into preparing for town halls and candidate screenings. We spent hours developing questions and discussing each candidate.
Remote 86% for the resolution; Resolution passes
Mulgrew - we are now out of time. If they would have said, motion to extend, not point of order, we could have had the motion period extended. (Although this was exactly the second point of order that Peter Allen-Lamphere raised)
Queens D27, CL -
point of information - can they be measured in time or by agenda items
Rashad Brown, Exec Bd, extend to 2 more resolutions -
M: 2 and the new 3.
Vote to extend motion period?
Remote: 62% yays, passed in person as well. We are extended
Resolution 2: City Wide Endorsements
Mulgrew: Liz is the Borough rep for BK; political maven in charge of BK politics.
Resolution for endorsements for mayor. Borough-wide and city-wide offices. Asking for endorsement for Eric Adams, Br (you know he won the primary) and Brad Lander - Comptroller, Jumanne Williams, Public Advocate, Mark Levine, and SI Boro president.
Floor open for debate and questions -
Remote: CL, couldn’t hear the name of the CL favor of resolution - had a long lengthy process - I want to speak to 14% of people who keep voting no on everything. The people who have been chapter leaders in the past know how long this process has been. For the people who are new, know that these candidates have been vetted. The danger of not endorsing Eric Adams and only letting charter schools endorse Eric Adams would concern me. If you’re going to represent your school, please follow along with all your members and vote in favor of this resolution.
Ilan Desai-Geller, MORE Member, Delegate, on the phone
Against: with all due respect, for all those who have created the endorsement list - we did not endorse Eric Adams, his policies are not in support of public education, UFT sent out mailers saying not to vote for Eric Adams, there is another candidate, not Curtis Sliwa, who is running whose views aligned with those in public education.
M: Let them speak! there’s someone else running, I don’t know. (mocking tone)
Marvin Reiskin (sp?), retired teachers chapter, one time CL,DR, director of political action, rising to support Eric Adams: current boro president, has supported nurses, provided funding, “union person” not a union buster. Became a transit policeman, moved to the regular police department and became captain. In his neighborhood, there was an opening for the state senate. Eric ran and when he was there, he supported all the education measures that NYSUT and the UFT asked him to support. He was re-elected to the senate in brooklyn. After Moskowitz term ended, Adams became borough president, he understands communities, he knows public education and supports public education, he was re-elected a second time for borough president. He respects teachers, but not the DOE. The “only responsible person” who can become mayor and be of help to us. We may not agree with him on everything, but there’s no one better suited.
Kenneth Akaron - retired teachers chapter, former CL for 32 years, continues to work for UFT. Rise in support of Eric Adams. Cannot stomach his opponent. Or the person he is aligned with who is clearly charter schools. I want a winner. And I don’t believe that a third candidate will do anything close to what will go on in this race. While as my brother Marvin said, we may not agree with everything but he has certainly proved that he respects the positions we have, even if we don’t agree. If we don’t support Eric Adams, we leave the door open for a very poor choice. We went through that when Giuliani came in because we put up people that our people would not support. We cannot do that again. We must get behind someone we know can win. We must be strong in supporting that candidate. Especially when the other side is involved so deeply with charter schools.
Next: Called a question, couldn’t hear the name of the in-person delegate who called for it. Remote: 75% yes, asks for the in-person delegates to vote on the question.
Some confusion about what we are voting on.
76% for the resolution; in person passes. Resolution passes.
Someone attempts to change the order of the special order - Mulgrew said that’s not possible but “interesting”
Manhattan D2, CL - recapping her Resolution to urge City Council to Elect a Female Speaker
Spoke again about her resolution to have the UFT to encourage city council to elect a female city council speaker. Quotes Sheryl Sandberg and encourages women to lean in.
Debate: Mulgrew, chooses to identify himself as from Grady HS, thanks the speaker for bringing it, this is why we ran a complete slate of candidates, worked with Emily’s List, all the 4 major positions are held by men. We worked hard to support female candidates. I’m concerned that the convo about the City Council Speaker doesn’t say it should be a woman and we should be the first to argue for it. Fully supports resolution.
Rashad clarifies - When the chair chooses to enter the debate - they relinquish being the chair for the voting on this resolution.
One speaker remote for this debate:
Brooklyn D21, CL - I would like to know why we are spending so much time on political special interests, rather than addressing serious issues that our members are raising and their motions -- Ruled out of order - not permitted to continue.
Queens D28 -
Spoke in favor of resolution. Thinks that this resolution recognizes that women need to have a seat at the table.
Rashad Brown: Second call to question for the resolution (preliminary stage before actual vote), 80% remote, majority
Actual Vote: remote - 87% yes, higher than that here, motion passes.
Motion to adjourn: 6:26