Wednesday, April 22, 2020

UFT Delegate Assembly April 22, 2020 (via telephone) Two Things--Safety and Continued Employment

4:18--UFT President Michal Mulgrew wishes us well with various challenges we may be having. Says they are be tough and unprecedented. Thanks us for representing members.

Asks for moment of silence for 53 in service and 29 retiree members.

President's Report--

Working on tech platform, hoping for voting and motions to be done virtually by May Delegate Assembly.

Last time we met was week we were trying to get schools closed. Schools were still open. DA was available by phone. Schools were supposed to close with positive cases, did not. We will deal with that when grievance process resumes.

That Friday we went public, worked weekend, many elected officials supported and thanked us. If not, we believe they'd have remained open at least another week. Bad when people think they're smarter than medical experts. Week of planning was another bad idea. Most training should've been done remotely. Schools should've been open only for equipment and supplies.

DOE had not planned at all. Unprepared for remote learning. Teachers had to figure it out immediately. Hundreds of schools tried to recreate school day despite chancellor's instructions otherwise. Success is now being recognized. NYC pulled it off solely due to UFT members. Important when it was time to stand, with no support or training, we did.

In DC they were working on first federal lifeline package, while we were in state budget.We were able to avoid 600 million cut to NYC. Was recognition there was money based on Title One. NYC lost 15 million from last to this year. Then, governor put out directions for remote instruction during break, said it was health crisis and schools were a lifeline, along with child care. We do not like being called a child care service and I've let pols know. They are now praising us.

Then the mayor made us work two of the holiest days of the year. We let the mayor know. Every family in NYC suffering fear, frustration and anger. Was great challenge, we stuck together, and got through it. We have to get to other side of crisis. Members speak of what they don't like, but understand their role is important.

Our own nurses at Northwell, NYU and elsewhere, school nurses in support centers doing phenomenal work. DOE tried to mandate people to support centers, then got 3400 volunteers. Uplifiting to see selfless work, and concurrently make school system run. At least now mayor and governor are showing appreciation. We wanted all to know. That's why we put commercial out, and thanks all who participated.

Main 2 focuses of union are making sure we remain safe, and making sure we keep our jobs. We need to know everyone has the ability to take care of families, and when we do open up we have rigid protocols and processes based on science. We also have internal union work to do. Chapter leaders have much to do now, and members don't realize.

We have to do all this remotely. We have suspended grievance system because there's no place to grieve. Hoping to open up arbitration. All are operational complaints now. Solving majority. All 40 complaints have been resolved. Principals have two days, then it goes to districts and chancellor. We will need that process.

Remember, school is in session, buildings are closed. NYC daily attendance is 80%. We now know remote learning is more time consuming. Easier to just go to school. We can make case we are fulfilling obligation.

We have preferences and SBOs. Very important you hold monthly consultations and submit notes. We have difference of opinion with DOE over preference sheets. Will go to my consultation with chancellor because we have other work to get done, this Friday.

SBOs are very big tool. Did over 4,000 last year, many involving time changes. Cannot be done without finalized calendar. When that happens, many SBOs will occur. We want you to do them but you need calendar first. Want to give you technology to do votes within your schools. Will be 43 agreed-upon templates in CL communities. Hopefully calendar by Friday, with answer on preference sheets.

Excessing--Haven't had major excessing in 12 years. Not sure how we can avoid it this year. City and State in major cash flow deficit. Business and revenue down dramatically. State in re 9 to 10 million, city 6 or 7. Will be issue. Goals are safety and saving jobs. Political action will be important.

Majority of our excessing appeals are won. Principals and HR people don't know the rules. These are black and white cases. We have to play by rules. Painful to see people being excessed. We will make sure DOE will train HR directors in rules and share them with principals. As a culture, educators are tied to classroom or building. Not personal, but some schools will lose lines. We will make sure you maintain your job.

City Hall has hiring freeze for all city agencnies. Makes no sense to hire at this time.

Since grievances are suspended they can't say your grievances aren't timely. Working for compensation for seven additional days we worked. Went to city, called DC37 and CSA, we negotiated, and have agreement that members, except those already working, will get four CAR days. those scheduled to work will get two. We agreed not to give up any of our rights to be fully comepensated for seven additional days. Also focusing on safety issues for last week.

Member Assistance Program, whole group of clinician volunteers, is inundated with calls. Happy to provide that service. Doing focus groups, on website, absolutely communicating all the time. Will extend question period. If you aren't called on, email us.

Chancellor stated we need citywide standard grading policy for HS, MS, Elementary. Every grade level has to be standardized. We support it, parent focus groups supportive of teachers and impressed with how much we do. Parents are our partners in these times.Parents recognize policies vary school to school, some tougher than others. Concerned about no standardized assessments, and want equity across school system.

HS has varied grading policies, and parents want one standard. Two thirds of school year were done before we went remote. However that child was performing at that time is important. We have to recognize how they've performed to that point. If performing well all the way to that point, teachers will always look to find out why that changes. Many teachers going out of their way to mail packages, contact students.

How can we standardize the end of the year? Do we want to say children have failed this year? Teachers say yes, if they've failed all year to this point. But some things can't be done as well remotely. If we can come up with a way to condsider both then and now. Many myths and rumors out there. When it's done we will have clear guidance. Only for end of school year, not for now.

Some people saying we should freeze all teacher pay, Manhattan Institute, and how awful we are. Some parents say all must pass no matter what. School districts who've passed that have attendance below 30%. If we automatically move kids who aren't prepared, we're doing disservice for all. Perhaps we can do major intervention in summer, rather than pass everyone.

Summer School--no idea if it will be face to face, remote, six weeks, or additional programs; Probably not face to face. Should we use summer school as pilot for safety? Maybe. Everything is fluid, but being discussed. Mayor has authority. Understands he needs to coordinate.

Even states "reopening" are keeping schools closed.

Safety--State budget shouldn't cause layoffs. City was doing well, school year and raise budgeted for. Will get raise in May. Had surplus going into budget year, but taking faster losses. City Council is important. In 08 our political action and working with City Council and parents kept us from layoffs. Didn't have great budgets but at least we did that piece. That's our challenge, and that's why political activity is so important.

This is key to our main goals, safety and preserving jobs. You will be on front line, getting phone calls. This is tough, but we all have to play by the rules. Feds poised to do second lifeline package. We need a testing package, and we need feds to help. Up until yesterday they said it wasn't their job, but now are recognizing.

Must push for fed package. It is a lifeline to stop businesses, hospitals, bankruptcy. Must contain big piece for city and state governments. Will be big lift because many Republicans don't like it, but now Republican governors need help too. We have to push through that package, work with city council, will ask you to reach out.

Safety--It just didn't work last time, and people need to know that. People want to know what schools will look like. Forget about inside of school. What can we do outside to make sure when they go inside they're safe? Could be testing, or testing for antibodies. New things all the time, but we must decide, with medical experts, on an evidence package that shows people entering school wont have virus. You need temperatures taken to enter hospitals.

Inside, without vaccine or cure, we can't go to school as it was. Imagine elementary with 800 kids, larger schools, Imagine simply passing in hallways, inside classroom. How could we do social distancing? We have to get this right. Will we split school day? At any point, how many kids can you have and maintain distancing? Do we have PPE? What happens when people get sick?

Do we stagger schedules? Do MWF/ T-Th? Without vaccine or cure we can't simply say school's on.

We will have petition to say we're calling on feds to have a testing/ evidence gathering process in place so schools can open. Wants AFT to bring this nationwide. Parents and teachers will be in lockstep. We need assurance of safety.

Always have to look around corner. What we've accomplished since last DA, with no training or strategy, every challenge in front of us--Not many people would've bet on us. We pulled it off. It's your work. Even as we switched from Zoom to Google.

These new tools are great, but enemies will say everyone can home school. You all know this will happen. My judgement is we've won the debate on how vital teachers and schools are for child. Joel Klein wanted one teacher to teach a thousand kids. We now know remote learning is more time intensive than it was to work in buildings.

These tools won't go away. We'll have to figure them out on our own and drive the discussion. NYC has largest number of experts on remote learning. We are the experts. People with platforms are peddling crap. We know, we will have discussions, and teachers will decide. Teachers are now saying they will continue with Google Classrooms now that they've tried it.

I'm honored and privileged to be part of this group. Thought Bloomberg, Sandy, recession were our best moments, but this is our best challenge and no one will argue but that UFT stood up, did what they had to do, without support materials or anything, driven because we care.


Q--Excess paperwork--AP asking for questions about what we've done all week.

A--File, through DR, excessive paperwork complaint. Your tool to use. CSA has asked many principals to knock it off, should be our partners. Some don't get it. We will get it to principal to rectify by Friday.

Q--How much work can principals mandate, now being told to record voice over PowerPoint. Pushing us to be onscreen as much as possible. In Kindergarten.

A--If theyre mandating you be live, go to operational complaint form. Chancellor not requiring it. Why are they changing things all of a sudden? Perhaps being directed. I will check what's going on in your district. If this goes to my consultation with chancellor, will be inconvenient for AP

Q--Many members have died, safety meetings on hold, how will UFT share info on Covid exposures with members?

A--Safety meetings are important. Working up a process for teachers to get access to a building for supplies to continue instruction. Must come up with process. Few teachers closed rooms for summer. By next week, we will have a process if teacher needs to get back, we wil open it up. Recommend we put out guidelines so principal can contact custodian. Will be staggered schedule, should be with safety committee.

Everyone should do consultations and report them as well. We need schoool leadership teams to work with you to control where budget cuts go. Between these, in May, we can discuss how we'll go back. Techically we shouldn't have refrigerators, but they will all be emptied and unplugged.

No one knows all the people until we have antibody tests.

Q--Please ask governor to stop calling us babysitters.

A--He says child care providers. Getting a little better.

Q--Preference sheets went out today. Was issue with no negotiation.

A--Sheets we recommended, or DOE recommended? Make sure district rep knows what's going on before talking to principal.

Q--Going forward, should expectations change since guidelines are very vague? Will there be a new expectation?

A--We are learning as we go. Want to form group to discuss these things. DOE doesn't understand what you're doing because they aren't doing it. I have chancellor in focus group. DOE looking through old lens, don't understand what's going on. Telling OT/PT what to do, despite fighting to be out of compliance so long. Difficult to deal with disabled students remotely. Why is DOE telling them how to do things they don't know how to do themselves? They don't know how to keep kids with attention issues in front of a screen.

Still having issues with student and teacher attendance because principals don't listen. We'll keep doing more, but trying to find a little breathing room, trying to have us decide what best practices are. There will always be brick and mortar school. We know it's better to be face to face. We are being proactive.

Q--Thanks for Covid not coming out of CAR. Grateful for that. Is there a plan to discuss with DOE to upgrade tech? I have a Chromebook, inefficient for what we're being asked to do. Have to use my own computer and cell phone.

A--DOE finally realizing they weren't being very helpful, especially with clinical sessions. What is right platform for each provider? They always want to hire consultants rather than do work themselves. Looking at what we should recommend. DOE now knows they made a mistake. Don't want to wait for them to hire company, want to recommend what works. They have no clue. Working on it now.

Q--State certification--Still have to take tests, updates not helpful, at end of school year if people can't complete them are being threatened with termination.

A--UFT got an extension for everyone. Evelyn de Jesus did that early. Was granted. Will send out info again.

Q--Do excessed teachers become ATRs?

A--We have schools that had vacancies day we closed. Low number of ATRs, but with hiring freeze, retirements. Will there be an incentive? No answers yet. Will push for answer, but wouldn't bank on it. Fear we won't have as many, because much per session people can't do. Hoping for no increase in ATR, but people will move buildings.

Q--HS usually ends June 15 for Regents. Will we do remote learning to 26th?

A--Having discussions now. Students will get Regents credit without tests.  Will try to use that time to help students who need credits. Will negotiate with chancellor.

Q--Observations--Will they still do them, or will they be exempt?

A--We support Executive Order to waive APPR. School boards, superintendents, SED and supervisors support that. If it is waived, we don't have to do them. Don't want to use up time to figure out how to do remote observations. Much else going on. Hoping for SED to give us word about Executive Order. I think, with 85% attendance, everyone is highly effective, doing jobs for which none of us were trained.

Q--Members worried about retro. Will we get it?

A--As far as I'm concerned, we've waited ten years and should get it. Governor suspended state workers raises, but it's against state law unless it's part of a paybill in the budget. He cannot get rid of their raise, but he can suspend it and make them whole somehow. In 1970s, was discussion of taking away raises, though there were layoffs, didn't happen. Was only successful once, in Nassau, when they laid off, cut services, and proved chaos was imminent. We aren't remotely near that. We earned and negotiated those raises. City standing by contract.

Q--Zoom--our school did a great job getting people proficient in it. Kids on it and working. Slow walking mandate, and worried we'll get pushed off. Any guidance behind that?

A--If you can slow walk it, they may not tell you to get off. City still negotiating with Zoom. Zoom forced it. City didn't want to do that. Other companies worked with us. They have not been cooperative. Safety concerns are real. Memo horrible because it came from DOE legal, and everything they do is horrible. Part of our discussions. Don't believe you'll get to end of year unless Zoom does what they need to do.

Q--Concern for paraprofessionals. Don't know what will happen with social distancing. UFT and DOE have allowed us to become grouped. Looks good on paper, but doesn't work. Also unsafe, and we should go back to one on one.

A--Not to early to put that on the table. It is now on the table.

Q--Principal says we are on a budget freeze, next year we will lose a lot of money. Can we get DOE to reconsider, or make allowances. We're unprepared for freeze. What can we do?

A--Email me school and personal info and I'll see what I can do. Cuts announced were from management and business, not DOE. When we do cuts we need to know what's going on. We do more lobbying for schools than anyone in the city. If you cut schools, there will be a ripple effect of problems. They don't want to hear me talk about excess positions in DOE. I don't have a chief of staff, and they all do. Send me your info. Will be in touch.

Q--Clarification on hiring freeze. In art school, and every year we lose art teachers and programs. What does it mean? Can we hire teachers coming out of school, from other schools, or only ATRs?

A--We know it's important to have a hard hiring freeze, but we have numerous programs that haven't got teachers who can teach them. It's possible they don't fill positions, depending on your school or budget. Principals may take extra students to compensate. If you lose enrollment and budget, there will be excessing. If you have budget, you can hire teachers from other schools, not only ATR teachers but anyone in DOE. Should be talking to teachers already if you know. Thousands transfer every year. Some UFT communities have formed their own type of schools with their own recruiting strategies.

Thank you for being on call. Sorry for length of report, but was answering questions and reporting on things that must be done. Stressing safety and continuation of jobs. Your leadership is key. You will have stories to tell later in life. It's frustrating, but we've overcome our challenges simply by talking with each other. We're lucky to have tech, but we miss people. Can't thank you enough for all the things you've been doing.

Remember UFT Honors webpage for all the members we lost. Bless you, thank you, and I'll see some of you at Town Hall tomorrow. Hopefully next time we can do resolutions. Be well, be safe, and bye bye everyone.
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