Wednesday, January 17, 2018

UFT Delegate Assembly January 17, 2018--Black Lives May or May Not Matter--Let's Not Go Out on a Limb

4:33 Mulgrew tells us to settle down. I’m eating popcorn with Mike Schirtzer.

Moment of silence for Doris Escaros, chapter leader from Queens.

Mulgrew, optimistic, welcomes us to February DA. Corrects himself, thanks us for not demanding a snow day today. Says we have one snow day left.

Federal—Things get crazier even when you think it isn’t possible. We knew there would be nothing but problems about profession, ability to have strong union, or for basic rights. We need to focus on state level. We need to solidify work in city. Not enough time to discuss federal craziness.

Union needs to remain focused on strategic priorities, or we’re setting ourselves up for loss. Our allies understand we are there for them. We support their issues. We must remain focused, and be there for allies who depend on us.

Says many people pressuring for resolutions, hitting streets, etc. But we must first prepare for Janus. This is about taking rights, benefits, and ability to advocate away from us.

EPA, Dept. of Labor devastated, and we hear about stupid tweets. We have to make it about our ability to advocate, push people, defend ed., community, and people we serve.

Asks delegation, as we move into firing line, to remain focused. Must be prudent on what we move on. We don’t need resolutions to go to Women’s March. We will be there. But must remain focus. If we fail, then all our causes will fail because we will not be there to help. UFT is largest most powerful union in USA.

State—Governor rolled out budget. Good things about public ed. Got large applause when he said NY State would protect union and workers. Proud NY State spends more on ed. than other states. Says we have educated him, are highly effective.

Budget proposal—two year process—have to meet minimums from last year—1.5% increase in education. Came in with 3% increase instead. He’s signaling he doesn’t know if he can get much further. Also, health care 3%. Important for students and communities we serve. We will not get involved in fights with health care workers, will have mutual support.

More important is idea of restructuring taxes in NY State. We will get a huge budget cut next year. Governor has taken lead and said in this. Federal tax plan specifically goes after 12 states, donor states, including us. We pay for services, 48 billion more than we get back. Being used in states that got tax break.

Now we are punished for not supporting candidates who passed that tax bill. Will cost NY 14 billion additional next year. Governor trying to give us deductions back. Will probably be used to give governor and corporations tax breaks.

NY State will create tax credit for charitable funds. 10K limit for state, local taxes, and mortgagee. Other piece is payroll tax, still deductible. We may lower income tax and increase payroll tax to use as a deduction.

Feds will call It outrageous. NY is acting like a corporation. Sad we’ve gotten to the point we even have to look at this, but if not, we will be hurt—individually, and our schools will hurt too.. We will work with governor to not allow fed scheme to hurt us.

Governor now gets student of the month, star on refrigerator, we must keep him there.
City—We are in agreement, except on middle management. We have sympathetic city council. Our visitors, Council Speaker Cory Johnson. Second most powerful position now held by chapter leader, Danny Dromm—also other CL Mark Treyger.

Johnson—Running speaker’s race was difficult. But there was someone who would call, ask if things were OK—Michael Mulgrew, thanks him for leadership. Thanks Paul Egan, Brigit Ryan, Anne Goldman and Dermot Smyth. Says thank you to UFT for being strong, progressive union that serves children every single day, through good times and bad. Members of this union show up every single day with a mission of service. No one becomes a teacher to get rich. You do it to make a difference, to improve lives of young people. It’s one of the highest callings. I was always a friend of this union. I stand shoulder to shoulder with you.

Dromm—Good to be back, for third and final term, as finance chair. Everyone in this room can do what we’ve done. Hope you are thinking about that. Thanks Mulgrew, calls him tough, strong, says he has created change. I was CL or delegate, sitting here, lived through Bloomberg and Klein, much better place. We now have great leadership. I came out as openly gay teacher, and people here supported me. Cory came out at 16. We speak out for voiceless. We want to change teachers thinking they are voiceless.

Politics is related to education—look at us, three of us, making change, with leadership of union. We will stand strong. Teaching is not a business, or business model—we need to push back.

Treyger—Says it’s good to be home. UFT was first and only union that stood with us in 2013, and we won. Proud product of public schools. I was a teacher and delegate. Started as paraprofessional. Made the journey. Was previously chairman of Hurricane Sandy recovery committee. Would ask tough questions. Mayor said I get fiery. Comes from Michael Mulgrew and my depth of knowledge DOK chart. I asked them critical thinking questions.

If you or your chapters ever had any doubt about power and potential of COPE, take a good look at this stage right now. Thanks to Mulgrew, to political directors, to leadership at UFT, to Brooklyn, we have the education dream team here. Speaker Johnson forgot one thing, that he and Dromm made sure we increased teachers’ choice. Had your backs. Message here is correct. Change begins at home. Must start from bottom.

I remember visitors with clipboards, quality reviews, etc. Now it’s our turn. Now we have the clipboard and I’m gonna ask questions of DOE. Where do we stand on reducing class size, paid leave, empowering children with IEPs and ELLs, making sure we have adequate wiring and AC, and on actually respecting educators?

Great to see friends at parades, but when it comes time for budget decisions you know where your friends are. We will always have your back in solidarity.

Mulgrew—Says we did this.

Lobby Day March 19th. Registration started today. May be someone other than CL.

Saturday, will rally 72 and Broadway, 11 AM.

Parental leave—started with social media, many emails, please keep doing that. Have to get there. All pols wonder about cuts. Important to do now.

Thanks schools fighting back against closings. Some schools make no sense. We need transparency. Keep telling them there are failures in leadership. They wait years, say we’re right, and close schools. We want to avoid that.

Can’t they find good principals?

Negotiating committee met. Signed confidentiality committee. Largest in history.

Membership teams—There is no way everyone in this room can talk to every member. Important we tell people what Janus means. Wisconsin union prez will be here to tell us what’s happened. Worse than I thought. Benefits, pay and rights at stake.

We need to have a real conversation about facts. Let us know if you don’t have a team, and we will help.

Asks how much you get from Welfare Fund. Average $1740.

What happens the year you need it, if you don’t have a plan? We have this because of our union. Ask your staff—do you think the city gives us the welfare fund? They don’t. We negotiate for what we can get, and then fight with many companies to make sure they don’t rip off members. Members need to understand.

Without this, we’ll pay thousands for pharmaceuticals.  We will have more door knocking. Face to face at worksite is pivotal.

Every time there’s a snow day, email is full of people who have to report. If they aren’t on school table of organization, they have to go to work. People need to know this is condition of employment. Stupid if they’re open for no reason. We have to negotiate this.

Next DA February 7th, in 3 weeks. This is national Public School Proud week. We will have coordinated activities. Suggests bear costume for Betsy DeVos. We do best job, because we take them all and educate them all. Let DeVos come here. Suggests we invite her. She can come see what we do every day. Ends 5:27.

LeRoy Barr—Speaks of Women’s March, invites us. Feb. 6, 12, 27 Black History Month film series. CTE Awards, Feb. 15. CL Training Pt. 3—March 3, 4. March 10—Para luncheon, also 14 annual school counselors conference. Early childhood 3/17. Next DA 2/7.


Q—Hearing Regents wants school year based on hours rather than days. What is our position?

A—Problem for almost every state system. Right now, you get credit when children are in partially. We are in discussion, with Regents and NYSUT. Do not believe it will work. Should be changed. Some PROSE schools have shifted schedules. Would be aversely affected. Would have to change calendar. We like it as is.

Q—How can we get repped on negotiation committee?

A—Adult ed. is already on.

Q—MOSL—we have students who have to take “Sandy Fast.” Principal has too high expectations—from 4 to 27. Some kids out for 7 months. Where do numbers come from?

A—Problematic when we look at challenging students. Someone will see you right now, who reps us at state level. She was able to help self-contained teachers.

Q—Class sizes—we have support from city council—How can we add over utilization to class size concern. Says his school at 187% (mine is higher). Says some are over 200%. How do we address this?

A—Most class size grievances settled, we win most. Some areas so overcrowded. This was failure of planning on behalf of city. They’ll rush to build schools where overcrowded now. By the time they do this, others will be overcrowded. System doesn’t work, no one has changed it. Hopeful that one of these folks you saw on stage today understands issues. We have finance and ed. chairs now. Never had this opportunity before. Ridiculous we don’t require developers to add school seats. Hudson Yards will have at least 10K students. City building only 210 seats. In five years west side will be direly overcrowded. No one talking of building schools there.

Must change our whole process. We have a census, need better transfer plan too. Real problem, working with city council.

Q—What is protocol for UFT members who have issues with one another.

A—Recommends CL not try to mediate. Used LEOC or peer mediation in his school. No easy answer. We will send people to help. We have counselors.


Janella Hinds—In support of Women’s March.  Asks we vote on it this month.


Safe and Supportive Schools—next month.

Mike Lowe—Encourages support—lays out problems and solutions. Suspension of students of color—leads to higher incarceration. De Blasio mandates reduced suspensions. Not real solution. Wants training for teachers. Have been pilots. 3 districts pushing non-punitive actions.


Dermot Myrie—Resolution for Black Lives Matter Week—MLK says silence is a betrayal—this res. says UFT should participate with grassroots orgs Feb. 5-9. As we defend public ed., can we address equity for communities we serve. 60% students of color. Affects us all. BLM is not anti-law enforcement. Family members are police, DAs, correction officers. Asks that we support this action. Could be asset to Public School Proud. Could move cultural awareness. Urges endorsement.

LeRoy Barr—Speaks against. Not against movement, or saying we are unaware of racism. Passed numerous res. on these issues. Moved agenda on these issues. Worked with numerous groups pushing diversity. Did that work. Says father was cop. Spoke of this at AFT. Knows what it’s like to be child of police officer.

Said community policing was most important thing he did. Mom was teacher. Grew up in city, was stopped by cops.

I’m politically active in different groups. However, this is the UNITED Federation of Teachers. This is splinter issue, is divisive. With Janus on horizon, does UFT need to be engaged in activity that will split the membership. If you support this, other bodies will help you. You can do this work.

Many years ago, Vietnam War was splinter issue. UFT said, we’re not going to politically engage in that. Would take us away from main issues. Membership must be aware of attacks coming in next three months. We need to stay focused to stay largest and most powerful union.

Not speaking against issue, asking you vote down.

Point of order—To extend meeting.

Mulgrew will ask in 90 seconds.


Time not extended.

Res. 1—CHIP—children’s health program

Karen Allford speaks for, supplies free lunch, school based health centers, 8.9 million children enrolled. Helps poor and middle class. Ran out of money in September. Asks we urge funding.

Passes unanimously.

We are adjourned. 6:02
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