Thursday, April 19, 2018

UFT Delegate Assembly April 18, 2014--We Have an App, and President May Talk as Long as He Wishes

by special guest Jonathan Halabi

We are welcomed by Mulgrew, who starts immediately talking about The App. Do not download the app during the DA, the WiFi would probably crash. (I did. It did not). There will be an instruction sheet handed out after the DA with exact instructions. Try it then.

The White House out of control, but Mulgrew won’t discuss today.

Because of states with strikes and walkouts, the “story” is now where we want it to be. In many of these states there were no teacher raises in the last ten years.

Mulgrew says to stop talking about education as an expense; it is an investment. We are glad this is happening. We are working with our colleagues in these states.  

In some of these states unions are barred from the political process. We see the results. This is the plot we are about to face with Janus.

The percentage of teachers in those states who file for bankruptcy is astounding. 

There is money flowing into NY to destabilize teachers’ unions here. People have been sneaking into UFT offices posing as members. There have been several fake Michael Mulgrew twitter feeds. Let them try!

New York
There is close to $1B in NYS for education funding. Mulgrew credits Lobby Day. We got Community Learning Schools funded. We go the Teachers Centers funded.

There are changes we wanted to the tax code (to undo the federal code removing the local tax deduction). We are waiting for a federal challenge.

The Independent Democratic Caucus (IDC) is now back with the Democrats, but the Democrats still do not have a majority. (Mulgrew seemed to purposefully not name Simcha Felder, the Democrat from Brooklyn who gives the Republicans control). There is a tight special election coming up in Westchester.

The state tests have started. “Untimed testing” has meant some kids are sitting forever. We are going to the Board of Regents with this one. Outside of the City there have been huge problems with computerized testing. We are having conversations with NYSUT – the State is doing it all wrong. We will ask for a statewide committee for guidelines before we start computerized testing (and the UFT delegation will propose this at the NYSUT Representative Assembly in Buffalo next week).

May 19 is the Spring Conference. 

Who’s met the Chancellor? (very few hands go up). Mulgrew told him that if he visits one school per day, he would get to 10% in a school year. Carranza has this mindset….  We are getting reports that Department of Education people want to convince the new Chancellor that they support teachers in schools and that they have a good relationship with the union. 

What would you do if you were appointed with three months left in the year? Go around. Meet people. Wait for the summer…

Tuesday at 7:30AM there will be a City Council press conference in support of paid parental leave and paid family leave.  The only city workers with paid parental leave are the city managers, and they got ripped off. The City can allow us to join the State plan (parental and family).

We are not officially negotiating yet. The last 400+ Negotiating Committee meeting was Monday. We are having discussions, not negotiations. 

Chapter Leader elections – please hold them early this year – May. The Election Chair must certify the election. And you cannot be the Election Chair if you are running.

Safety. Who got an e-mail saying their school has had zero safety incidents? (a good number of hands go up, maybe 5-10% of the room) You must have the safest schools! (with sarcasm). There are principals who don’t know what they are doing. Members must report. You are a school in NYC. We cannot fix the problem if we do not know there is a problem. And by the way, there is no such thing as “you may not suspend a special education child.” They just don’t want you filing the incident reports. 

Door knocking – there will be another class, the biggest yet, this weekend. We were ahead, now we are slightly behind [he didn’t say what we were ahead of or behind – UFT Central must have some target for how many members they reach each month].

Membership teams – “Who has them?” (about 40% of hands go up). Who doesn’t have them? (About 5% of hands go up). Should I believe this? (not much response, a little nervous laughter). Membership teams are not just a team of one. You can’t do it by yourself. 

We are not Oklahoma, in desperate straits, where everyone was ready to walk out.

We have 9000 members of our membership teams. We need to make sure the conversations are happening at all of our schools.

The App
Brian and Keith show off The App. Really Mulgrew spent the next few minutes clicking through it, with special attention devoted to the discounts page.

Editorial note:  It became clear through the responses, and by looking around, that the DA was full of people who don’t normally sit through this meeting, but were there for a meeting of RA Delegates after (with food in between). The level of interest in the discounts was not the first sign of this.

After showing off The App, Mulgrew returned to Albany. He briefly discussed the new state law. Apparently the DoE has to give us the names of new hires more quickly (within 30 days) – so we can talk to them.

And then Mulgrew summarized. We have 9000 membership team members. We need to have 100,000 conversations. Mulgrew thanks all of us for our hard work. Report ends at 5:18.

Staff Director, LeRoy Barr
The High School Awards Ceremony was last Friday. The Association of Teachers of Social Studies luncheon is this Saturday at 52 Broadway – we need a full house – Letitia James is being honored, and you get CTLE credit. He mentioned the prom boutique, and the 5K run/walk (and please participate). The next DA is May 16. And go Yankees. (And Mets).

5:20, back to Mulgrew
I stopped going to Yankees games.
We are having major fights with the DoE – he praises school communities for fighting closures, and reiterates that DoE officials don’t’ “get it.”

May 1 is coming up.  It is May Day. There is something coming up on the agenda. 

Question Period
Giraldo Maldonado, Chapter Leader Manhattan Comprehensive Day and Night
Caranza’s visiting schools. Our AP says he wants to extend the school day. 
MM: Extended Day usually refers to after-school activities. There will be no extra work without extra pay. I believe that’s what the new chancellor is talking about. (then a long tangent on snow days)

Yonah Dika, OT/PT functional chapter
Letters are being written that sound disciplinary, but are not, and are being filed somewhere. What can we do?
MM: gotta be more specific (then quick back and forth). You mean letters that look official but do not say “for file”?  Crumple them and throw them in the garbage. It’s just meant to intimidate. Please share any letters like those with Mulgrew or LeRoy Barr.

Spencer One, Pathways to Graduation D79
Have not seen additional funding in our schools. Where is the money? Will we get it? With interest?
MM: There was a funding transparency bill (to see where ed dollars were going) but it was for NYC only, which makes us nervous. We explained that. Then they proposed the same bill, but for all of NY State, and it passed easily. Funding is not getting to the schools. When Bloomberg left, they lost 5 deputy superintendents, but added a new layer of bureaucracy. We think there should be a 50% cut in all out-of-school funding, and that money should be sent into the schools.

Peter Burkeheart, Queens Vocational
Any update on Janus?
MM: We think it has no merit, and trying to get it dismissed. Try to appeal, or go forward.

Thomas, International HS at Union Square
What are the specifics of the new state law? Even my membership team members may not want to pay dues.
MM: We are currently reviewing the services, to see what will the effect will be. We are not ready yet. (Pension consult – no. Representation inside of the contract – yes. Representation beyond the contract – no.) Every local around the state is reviewing it. By the way, Cuomo signed the law here (motioning to the stage). 

Sean Ahern, East River Academy (D79)
Trump and DeVos did not get the cuts they wanted. And we have a supposedly progressive mayor. Do we need a blue state revolt? We went through years with Bloomberg and Giuliani. What do we have to do?
MM: NYS is still bleeding money, but does that mean we should never negotiate because something bad might happen? No, but if something bad does happen, we will help. (I wrote down words, but they don’t make much sense. The flow was sort of – the state might be in financial trouble down the road, but that’s not a reason for us not to push for the money we need now. Later, if we need to pitch in, we will)

Barry Smith – Retired Teachers Chapter
The App seems wonderful – but what about hacking? Concerned.
MM: No private personal info is on the system (that stuff is kept on the old system, with a ridiculously good firewall). This was our biggest concern as well.

As Mulgrew called on the next questioner, time was called. Motion to extend (Jonathan Halabi). I should have said “five minutes” but I didn’t, and the chair interpreted that as “motion to extend for the last speaker”. Passes. Tellingly, there were scattered hands against. Were the RA delegates getting hungry?

Alicia Morel? – missed the school – District 25
Our custodial budget is being cut. We have one custodian for 1100 students.
MM: We are trying to convince the city council

Motion Period
Anthony Harmon asked to put motion on supporting 2018 May Day Rally for workers’ and immigrants’ rights. Approved.

Specials orders of business.
Brian Cohen, Brooklyn Collaborative HS motivates resolution to reserve 50% of the meeting time for questions, discussion, and resolutions. (I’m sending his notes as a separate file – you can quote his motivation at length if you want to).

Geena Bozman, PS239 D24 opposes. I come here for two reasons 1) learn stuff for members, and 2) business of the union. We do not have to hear every voice. If you have questions, you can e-mail.

Marty Plotkin, Retired Teachers Chapter. Calls the question.

Mulgrew made some comments about the body getting to decide what they listen to, and the question was called, and the sea of Unity members and RA delegates called the questions, and then defeated the motion (by I’d guess 75% - 25%)

Anthony Harmon motivated support for the May Day rally. Approved. 

Adjourned. Time was 5:40.
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