Monday, August 24, 2020

UFT Executive Board August 24, 2020--Stormy Weather

 Roll Call 5:50

Secretary LeRoy Barr--Thanks us for coming.

Minutes--approved via email

UFT President Michael Mulgrew--Thanks us. We have a position, and it's not ours only. It's doctors from

Harvard and Northwell saying this is what we should be doing. Mayor wants to open on the tenth and take his word he will keep us safe. Not only that, but we have two storms--layoffs and safety hitting us concurrently. 

On reopening safely, thanks everyone for going to meetings. We have a strong and appropriate safety plan. We are at .71% positive, with certain neighborhoods we have to watch. But if we're going to do this, we need to do it right, with the most aggressive safeguards. No one was hit as horribly as we were, and we cannot allow that to happen again. 

Doctors' biggest concern is reopening will cause another spike in the city. They understand the damage when schools are closed, they say we can open safely but we have to follow these conditions. Mayor says we don't have capability of testing. For this to work, it can be phased in. We don't have to test everyone at once.

We have promised to follow what the experts told us. People are nervous because we're talking strike. Mayor wants to call it UFT plan and doesn't want to know it comes from Harvard and Northwell. Many across city and state have endorsed our plan. We will have to wait until next week, but I may be recommending a strike authorization vote. 

As for money, we are pushing for authority to allow city to borrow. We discussed this with Municipal Labor Council. City has not responded, and we notified them in May. We're also looking at early retirement, but that won't completely solve the problem. State understands the need, but they need city to be transparent with books. This is a sticking point. Mayor has to deal with this. With MLC working together I believe we will get this solved. It's in no one's interest to put 20K people on unemployment. 

This is not the greatest position, but it's where we are. We have to be very clear about safety plan. Two thirds agreed to. Only testing and tracing programs have not been agreed to. 

We need to make sure everyone has supplies they need. We trained over a thousand people this morning, and we will be done on Wednesday. Now the issue is us doing the work we have to do, growing our grassroots and putting pressure on the mayor. You saw who was at the press conference with us. We have wide support. The city is coming together on this. 

We will need to get more aggressive. Things are churning, and if they stop we will be more aggressive, up to and including job actions. 

I will keep you appraised on layoff issue. We will solve it together.

Since Wednesday's press conference, membership is paying a lot of attention. We knew this road would not be easy. When mayor said no one brought this up it's a lie. We've been talking about it for weeks. 

You all know the only way this works is if everyone has each other's back. Parents are standing with us because they know we're doing the right thing. We have to be there with them helping them get through this.

I know it's tough and I know it's scary. But what we're fighting for is very important. We can't say it and not back it up. Safety is our number one priority and we're following recommendations of medical professionals. Everyone on this call is part of union and part of leadership. This is our job.

We love that we have a union, we love that we take care of people, but sometimes these jobs are really tough. Will all these things happening at the same time, it's one of the toughest. But there is a path through there. Our strategy is working together, bringing people together on safety and bringing MLC together to prevent layoffs.

We will stand by community, community will stand by us, and we will lend one another helping hands. There's a way through this, but we have to stick together, follow exact words of medical professionals, work with city council and all our allies. 

This receission will be here longer than the mayor, so we have to be prudent about how we make our next few moves. 

Teachers in Florida are prevailing over governor who insists on live instruction. Every open district has had major issues with virus, and that's what happens when you aren't careful. 

After press conference we met with UFT and CSA. A lot of us do great work, but there's no way for us to anticipate every issue that will arise. We will have remote teachers. We will have in person teachers. And we will have remote teacher counterparts for in person blended teachers. There is no way we can figure every scenario. We don't want anyone to have excess responsibility so we will put in a process.

Mayor said today we can teach outside, but principals are upset because there's no plan. They'd have to find and insure tents, clean them, etc.

Every school has to have an educational platfrom up and running. Google most popular, up to 70%. We need curriculum, scope and sequence, and teams for blended cohorts. We will have discussions on how to work these things out. This is not permanent, but it's really tough.


There will be temp checks at schools. We need students in and out at timely manner. We want evidence people don't have covid. Thereafter random testing every other week. City says monthly, insufficient.

100 person team--Many findings are ready. We will communicate perhaps next week. Working with school facility people to find out whether they can work. Majority of schools passing. Problems with dampers to allow fresh air are now being remedied. Took a pandemic to fix this.

We are working on what to do if mayor doesn't cave. We will do as much as we can to preclude strike. Let's focus on how to make schools safe. Our school system is at war with the virus. We lost first battle. Won't lose next.

Can we take no confidence vote on mayor before strike vote? We can look at that.

Short term strike won't affect medical coverage, Longterm all bets are off.

DOE is working on D75. Has a new group. Have been discussing over weekend. We need DOE more engaged.

No one is teaching 4 or 5 in a row. 

Two 40 minute meetings a month--before remote prep. Part of six hours and fifty minute day. 

We aren't giving money back. We are keeping retro.

Some teachers report 8/31. You will do as you are supposed to unless union calls strike.

Why don't we start remote and then phase in? Our plan might force that to happen. 30% remote only, but still 700K students to test. 200K adults. Schools would have to phase in reopening. We recommend we take time to get remote learning set up. Would be smart to put that together and spend time making it strong. 70% of instruction will be remote. City says there are training, but it's 50 teachers here and ten there. We need to get this right. If we open the tenth it will fall apart, Mayor will try to blame us. All members should be trained on protocols. Covid building response team should practice. 

Spring break--We have to go through grievance and arbitration process. Trying to see if we can avoid this. We're trying to work with operational complaints now as grievance process halted. We also need to free up lawyers to do this work. When there is breathing room we will get to it. 

Long week--if we have to have serious votes next week, we'll let you know ahead of time. We have to watch each other's backs. It will get tight but there is a way through. We have to keep moving in the right direction. Safety and livelihood are on the table, and that's where our attention has to be.

Closing roll call.  6:43

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