Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Member Update

Dear Colleagues, 

UFT Executive Board is meeting every Monday night for now, and here are my notes from last night. I notice that Mulgrew seems to be answering some of the same questions each week, and that his questions are quite similar to ones I'm getting.

Of course I understand we're all nervous, even panicked at times like these. While it's easier said than done, there's simply no point in worrying, let alone arguing, over things that haven't actually happened. For example, there's been no talk of layoffs. The chancellor's last email was cryptic in that it mentioned health classes, but in high school, at least, they're required, as is PE. We have not had layoffs in NYC since 1975.

Another repeated question is about raises--will we get the agreed-upon raise in May, and will we get retro in October? Even in 1975, teacher raises and steps were not interrupted.

We had a faux-Easter break last week, and all of us worked. Mulgrew says they can make us work, but they can't make us work for free. UFT will fight for seven days of pay for members, and we contend that the four CAR days were for religious holidays, NOT in compensation for our work.

Will they make us work in the summer? First of all, we have worked all year and we don't owe the city extra work. My guess is they will not make us work in the summer. The city and state are not in great financial shape right now, and they don't want to pay us an extra 20% salary.

Summer school itself is questionable. If it happens, it will be per-session as usual, but we don't know whether it will be physical or virtual. That brings us to another topic--September.

There's a lot of talk about crisis. In 1975, because there was an emergency, they laid off teachers and oversized classes. I've heard tales of 50 or more in classes. However, because of the nature of this emergency, I don't foresee any such thing happening. In 1975, social distancing was not a thing, let alone a health priority.

We are the largest school in Queens, and the most overcrowded in the city. Mulgrew mentioned the possibility of end to end sessions, AM and PM, or students coming in every other day. Given the circumstances, scenarios like these are far more likely. The principal tells me these scenarios would have us at 105% capacity, so even that's less than ideal.

Of course these are educated guesses, and I haven't got a crystal ball. I will keep you up to date on developments as they come to me. If you have questions for Mulgrew, he's holding a Town Hall on Thursday at 3:15.

Please do all you can to stay safe, and feel free to reach out to me at any time.

Best regards,

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