Wednesday, March 24, 2021

UFT Delegate Assembly March 24, 2021--UFT Opposes Adminstration of NYSESLAT, Retirement Incentive Has Passed Both Houses, Cross Your Fingers

UFT President Michael Mulgrew--Welcomes us. Asks for moment of silence for son of UFT member who passed.

Two more days of work before break we didn't get last year. Last year's Easter week will be our first arbitration when arbitration opens.  

COVID--We asked DOE for clarification--CDC puts out guidlelines. State has to adopt them. If you arrive in NYC April 1 or after you don't need to quarantine. Whether individual is vaccinated or not is their own personal info that they do not have to share. . Some schools have asked people if they are vaccinated. They should not do that. If this happens, contact If you have positive test results in your class, they will tell you to quarantine, What they should be saying is that IF you have been vaccinated, you don't need to quarantine. It is your choice whether to come up with that info or not. 

We have a mayor who thinks he's a doctor. Newscasters think they're doctors. We will follow actual doctors and the law. DOE should sent out guidance to all by Friday. If violations continue, we will take legal action.

CDC guidelines--They are not mandated. States decide what to do with them. CDC was politicized last year. AFT and NEA don't understand how CDC has come to new conclusions. All studies were done in rural areas. We need to know whether schools can or cannot do it, and if it's safe. Mayor spoke quickly. We have spoken with a lot of other people who agreed we will look at it and work on it. Only mayor said we will just go out and do it.

We don't look like rural areas do. If students are supposed to be 3 feet apart in classrooms, we can't keep them six feet apart at other times. We will have to have more conversations with the city. As more people are vaccinated, conditions will change. We've been good at getting vaccine out. We've seen positivity rate drop. Still low in schools, but still same rate, .5 to .6. Fewer adults, but uptick in student population, likely due to variants. We still need PPE, distancing, and ventilation. 

Mayoral opt-in period--In our original plan, there were three. There would have been one right now. In NYC right now, 30% of parents are comfortable with children going in in person. 70% not. We don't know what it will look like this summer. Don't like remote or hybrid but we will have to figure it out.

City said this morning they will share numbers with us on a daily basis. No quarantine if you return to NY April 1 or later. No one may ask you whether you've been vaccinated. UFT program for giving members access to vaccine was highly successful, 35K matched. No big waiting list anymore. Thanks medical partners who helped. 

Contract tracing going well. Two positive non-linked cases lead to remote. Doctors will get back to us on these policies.

National--Elections matter. We were looking at 2-3 years of fighting layoffs, but American Recovery Act averts that. Infrastructure bill could be important to us. Coalition forming around green initiative for school buildings, retrofitting existing buildings and in new buildings. Ventilation has proven very important. Spanish flu changed schools, and that's why there are big windows in old buildings. Want to make sure NYC gets in there. 

In MLK building, ventilation was nonexistent, but we were able to get things fixed. Custodians said they never had this kind of support. Things moved quickly. This is what we need to do for every school building. American Recovery Act has given NYS almost 9 billion dollars, perhaps 5 for NYC. City receiving 5.4 billion for other expenses. Has changed entire budget landscape. This can stabilize parts of damaged economy. We need to make sure we stabilize and build things that will benefit us for years to come. 

Does mayor have right to just spend this or does this need to go through budget process? We don't want it all spent in next 9 months of his admin. We have to think long-term. 

State--Budget moving along. We don't like governor budget. House placed taxation on rich. Rich people upset, but ed. has been cut for three years straight. There is a majority of dems in both houses saying this is time to raise revenue. First time in years we aren't looking at cuts. We are fortunate to be in this position. 

Process may move faster because of other political things happening. As soon as this is done we will get it out to all here.

City--45 elections happening, mayor making proclamations, Andrew Yang as second coming of Mike Bloomberg. We are mostly through city council, now looking at citywide races. One person running for comptroller not invited to final forum because we took top three people. Primaries in June are making some candidates crazy. We have a lot of friends, and it's very tough when three or four friends are running in same race. Some will act out and scream. 

Big vote tomorrow--Mayor trying to get policing plan done. If not, state can withhold money. Lots of horse trading between city and city council. School safety big issue. We want school safety to stay intact. We don't think DOE will do good job. They squashed all incidents and said everything was fine. Many advocates disagree. 

DOE--New chancellor--We've met to talk planning for this summer and next year. We don't want people filling out preference sheets right now, because many programs, preferences and SBOs didn't happen. We're not sure now how we will program our schools or what we'll be able to do. Calendar coming out soon. We have a very tight calendar for next year. 

We will meet again, and try to tell people what decisions will be made and when. If science and medical guidance changes, our plans may change too. Waiting for recommendations. Trial on vaccines for 10-15 year olds finished now. Let's not forget what we've been through and what we're still doing. People complain teachers want this and that, but teachers are doing everything they can to get instruction to children. We don't like hybrid, remote, or any of this, but we do what we have to. 

Without our work and what we've been doing, all of these things would've been much worse. Concerning because it's been a year now. We've done this, kept people safe, and will do it the right way. If we can decide on dates, we can give you period of time to do programming, SBOs, etc. 

Chancellor doing well with us, No longer 39 people coming to meetings. 

Operational issues--Over 2059 filed. 1727 rectified. Lots of compensation. Key here was to have a plan and process. We're all in this together, in person, at home--None of this has been fair, but we have system so people are compensated when mistreated.

Reorganization grievances--Only 38 have reached central level, 24 rectified and 14 pending. 142 reached district level, most resolved. 399 at school level most resolved. 

PSAL--Guidelines coming out with calendar. Don't want people coming up with their own rules. Some people don't want to bother thinking things through. We will get rules out shortly.

Thanks HS for reopenings. All have made it work, elementary, D75, MS. We're handling it. Two openings for every division of this union. You did great work--no drama, no problems. Two days from break--relax, stay safe after long, difficult year. 

LeRoy Barr-- Happy birthday UFT, 61 years old. Power rooted in early actions. CL elections starting. Make sure you have election team in place, that chair is selected. Saturday training for CLs. Mayoral town hall April 7, DA April 14.


Q--In person opt in--For students already stable, kids can be shifted back into blended learning. How can we do this with so many teachers out?

A--We always said there should be three opt in periods. Mayor said only one more and things would be locked, Now he decided there would be new period. He really wants to see interest of parents. Once we have number, we can see what it means. If he says three feet, there may be issues, If our doctors say it's okay, it's one thing, But he just makes announcement without planning. Hybrid's the worst. Horrible in terms of programming and bounces everyone back and forth. Let's see what real ask is for parents and students. We have schools with only 20% opt in and teachers w/o accommodations teaching remotely. If 100% have to opt in, what do we do? Most schools have people eating in classroom, and has to be six feet apart. How do we do that if kids are six feet apart? They suggest we skip every other child. That's ridiculous, and not what CDC said, Much to be done.

Q--Opt in questions changed. Why? If you click your vaccinated, no more options. Can't I still spread covid vaccinated?

A--They were trying to be responsible to complaints, clear up things. If you're vaccinated you are clear to enter. That's CDC and local guidance. I didn't answer it, and it doesn't stop you. Form may change again. None of this info is saved anywhere.

Q--With so many changes, can mayor change mind about accommodations?

A--Yes. They just have to accommodate so you can do job safely. Previously, biggest accommodations were working on first floor or getting elevator key. We won those arguments because of underlying COVID conditions. Was nothing about caregiver, but we were able to get it. They will change sooner or later. When they change is the question. Goal is to get back to school. Nothing decided for this school year. With vaccine, and closer to herd immunity, idea is to get everyone back. There is a small percentage of population that cannot take vaccine. Some members may have this issue. As long as we don't have some crazy variant immune to vaccine, then all bets are off.

Q--AP calling parents of remote students asking them to come back face to face. Is that allowed? Is there financial incentive?

A-- No rule says they can't call. They won't come because AP calls. We have access to vaccine. Large number of our members have been vaccinated. There are activist parents being used, but parents don't want kids to get COVID. Children and families don't have access to vaccine. Should be much bigger part of conversation. Child and families have no guarantees. Does AP have those answers? If so, it's not truthful. No financial incentive whatsoever. Schools held harmless in terms of roster. Debts will be wiped off. 

Q--Elections--functional chapters--Can we have list of number of members, how much paid UFT time they get, and when elections will be?

A--We will let it out. It's nothing we hide. Each functional chapter has made decisions at different times. People need to have all the info. Not an issue.

Q--Early retirement incentive?

A--In both of one house bills. Trying to get in into final budget. Will be huge piece, and then it comes to city. When we pushed retro payment we got city to say it supported incentive. City has to abide by it. Keeping fingers crossed. 

Q--Do new CDC guidelines change classroom capacity?

A--If we adopt them, yes. We have to see what state says. If we go to three feet from six, you will get double number of students, more or less. Problem is everywhere else they have to be six feet apart, and eating issue. With cohorts and pods, purity is questionable. Pure pod means they have no interaction outside of pod. Not happening in many places.

Q--Will there be true open market this year?

A--Working on that. Have meetings about it. Budgets at school level should be good. We expect full foundation aid and full FSF. No one could have imagined we'd have our busiest transfer year. 

Q--Observations--Admin doesn't want to count any from the fall. Do I have to persuade them or are they overstepping?

A--You have to persuade them--wording is they may use it. But they can only use favorable ones. We couldn't get governor to do waiver, but we are pursuing suspension via legislative process as many districts are having trouble figuring this out. Possibility there may be another waiver. We will see where that goes between now and April.

Q--Positive testing--If classroom has to shut down and teacher is vaccinated, can teacher say she wants to come in?

A--Situation room will say you have to quarantine. Admin crosses line if they ask whether you've been vaccinated. Depends on level. If you're coming in to teach child remotely, it's different than if you're with students. If you have had a close contact but have been fully vaccinated you don't have to quarantine. Completely up to you and reveal of info also up to you.


Alexandra Papadopolous--For this month--Resolution to urge NYC council vote no to transfer safety agents to DOE, but instead hire counselors, nurses. 

85% yes

Marie Peltzer--this month--Supports union organizing for Amazon workers in Alabama.

92% yes

Geraldo Maldonado--this month--Supporting Columbia U. Graduate Working Union, on strike after two years of failed negotiations. 

91% yes


Endorsements--Marie ?--Participated in selection process, all candidates have been interviewed, will advocate for us. 

?--Candidate interviews done by colleagues, reflect views of membership. Did survey where they were ranked. Then political experts decide viability, rate history. Rises in support. 

Victor Jimenez--agrees with last speaker.

Daniel Alicea--against, disconnected.

85% yes.

Tom Brown--Nominates David Kazansky as TRS Trustee--resepected pension advocate, serves on multiple committees, has presented on panels, knowledgeable, diligent, and passionate. Pensions stronger and safer. Asks delegates to pass resolution and nominate for re-election.  

Lina Constantino--supports resolution.

Diana Gonzalez--in favor of resolution. 

97% yes.

Janella Hinds--Cancel NYSESLAT this year. Very challenging in that it takes lots of time, little connection with what they are able to do. In light of COVID we'd like this cancelled as many other exams have been. Only students attending in person are taking this.

(I miss name, as I'm in queue.) Everyone's under way to much stress. Really support this, hopes all will vote yes. 

I speak of absurdity of this exam. (I co-wrote resolution with Janella H.)

Edward Burke--Agrees with everything everyone said, but needs to be some way to evaluate students who've never been tested. Says students are wrongly placed as beginners. 

87% yes 

6:01 We are adjourned. Mulgrew urges us to be safe and wishes we spend some quality time with loved ones. Thanks us, wishes us happy Easter and Passover.

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