Wednesday, June 17, 2020

UFT Delegate Assembly June 17, 2020--HEROES Act, September, and Everything Else

UFT President Michael Mulgrew--4:15--Welcomes us. Speaks of dedicated unionist Louisa Johnson, who passed.

Moment of silence.

Biggest ask among delegates was longer question period. Asked for extension. Motion to extend question period 15 minutes.

Passes 94%

Report--School opening issue--Focus will be on safety, livelihood, profession--Three options
1. Vaccine--unlikely but simple
2. Remain on remote--more realistic than acknowledged. Unless we get Federal HEROES act, don't believe there's any way we can open buildings safely. Massive budget cuts face us. If we don't get it, it's pretty clear we aren't going back into buildings.
3. We open, have package, put in safety procedures and social distancing. Many will need medical accommodations. Major issue of child care. Who will care for our children?

Federal--We were pushing. Three weeks ago HEROES act seemed viable, and both parties were looking at before July 4. Does not appear it will happen. Some GOP Senators support, but they don't control what gets voted on. Mitch McConnell not bringing it up. Working with AFT and various states to target 19 Senators. Thanks to retirees for helping in FL and elsewhere.

NY State budget passed April 1. There are provisions for cuts in worsening economy. Not made yet, but projected. Will damage communities and public sector workers will lose jobs, services cut. Trying to pay bills month to month while waiting on feds.

City has to pass budget July 1st. Must be balanced. Right now there are bad cuts. Elections matter. We have strong city council with former UFT members. Fighting for language that we might have to readjust for more cuts or new revenue. If we don't get fed package, governor will roll out cuts, because he won't have money to pay state bills. Many cuts will come to NYC. On July 1, 3 to 4% budget cut could be bad.

Could be additional cuts. Will be very ugly. City will come to municipal unions if there are more cuts. Then we'll discuss significant issues like wage freezes or furloughs, never done for UFT members. Could be layoffs. Could talk about freezing money. A lot of pain, no good decisions.

Stimulus package won't be done before city passes budget. We're all trying to push fed package. Without it there will be additional cuts, bad consequences, and school will not open. No way to be safe. No federal stimulus, school doesn't open. If you're in a 4th grade with 200 kids you have 8 teachers. Forget about remote instruction. If you get half the school in, you'd have ten classes of ten but only eight teachers. Forget about remote instruction, added costs of PPE and other things.

In July 1st city will pass budget. We will continue to work. This is a national election year. After July 4 there is a window before August and their summer break. That's when we can get this done. One things no one's arguing about is schools must open for economy to come back. This is not a game, but you can't open without this package. We will make sure everyone knows O Connell is stopping economy from opening.

If we get it passed, we have to judge about where virus is. We know reopening states are all having problems. If decision is made, if safe, we will open on social distancing system. If we get money, we have to be prepared to do this in September. There are professional, union and personal decisions we have to make. Want to get you all info and help you need.

Stories of people helping people is why we're successful. All principals received communication directing them to do walkthrough of school. Can invite others, parents, or SLT. Looking for simple questions to be answered. Square footage estimates are generic. Don't realize there are things inside rooms. Need number of classrooms vs. half classrooms. Count off all classrooms and look at other space you might be able to use--non traditional classroom space. Do you need walls for auditorium, principals are asked.

We need estimated enrollment, staff right now. No school will really make every other day. Looking at A, B, C scenario or more. Possible four groups. DOE can't program buildings from above. They don't know what you do, needs of staff or students. Please do that and get info back ASAP.

We need to plan for all contingencies. Safety and protecting our livelihood are in jeopardy otherwise.

Medical accommodations--We're advocating with DOE and CSA--We need to know approved medical conditions for accommodation. If anyone needs to do this they will ask for accommodation due to condition, so as to work from home. These people will do remote instruction. Hope to have it by end of month to send out to all.

You have complete right to never answer questions about your own medical conditions. You don't have to tell anyone. Should be handled at citywide level. You can change your mind later, but we thing 15-25% will have them. Many children will need them, and many will just stay home. Some will insist students go to school. Knowing how many will help us.

In terms of child care, we would like to set up ways our members can have access and be prioritized. If we help our children we have to help ourselves.

In terms of opening schools, our support centers have been open since mid March. We learned a lot in those centers. PPE is vital. We had all we needed. There were no issues. All procedures were followed. We learned it's tough to get five year olds to adhere to social guidelines. Thanks to volunteers and others who worked there. Proved this work can be done safely, but requires rigid procedures, cleaning. We can't pay for it without HEROES.

We need to watch and be there for each other.

Gotten number of emails about buyout or retirement incentive. Members are likely excited about this. We had 6K register for pension meetings in 15 minutes. We know city's budget. This is on the table, but this is not an easy process. We understand there was a bill in Albany, but that bill is introduced every single year. Then they go back and say they tried.

Both parties have to be willing at local level. City hasn't said that yet. If we do, we have to work out all numbers, put together a financial note. We would need Senate and Assembly to vote, and governor to sign. Last one in NYC was 1995. I support it and put my name on letter. I will keep you up to date.

No APPR this year, but will be tenure. Licensing and compliance issues have been granted waivers. Last thing we are working on is for guidance counselors. Other certifications are extended officially. Thanks team who did work with SED.

Told DOE we don't want to do anything new. We still don't have a program for September. We don't want anyone to migrate to Gsuite. We can't do new things until we take care of old things. Every time they put info in data system, it doesn't work. Guidance doesn't say anyone has to do it. If you want to phase it in, fine, but why should you have to migrate over?

No new initiatives. We want a plan to open schools safely and effectively. They say they talk to parents, but we talk to parents every day. They speak only to a very small group all the time. This has to be done as a community together.

You may go to school and get your things. Must adhere to social distancing.

Working on reorganization. Should've asked us about that. We could've been flexible. How can you file reorg grievance when you don't even know what schools will look like.

Thanks to all who've demonstrated for civil rights, peace and justice. Abuse has to stop. Optimistic this could be time, but I've been optimistic before. Our union is large with diverse opinions, but evidence is overwhelming. We should all be on same page.

School safety--I understand about issues with NYPD, but they don't want school safety, They'd be happy to give it up. Was taken away from DOE because UFT agreed with and worked with Giuliani to remove from DOE, because there was a problem. Our schools were not safe at all. Violence in halls constantly. You know how DOE central works. Imagine them trying to keep schools safe.

NYPD safety got bad when Bloomberg started zero tolerance policy. Incidents would lead to long term suspensions and arrests. Teachers were arrested for intervening. Fortunately we got that stopped. Safety doesn't report to precincts. If people want to move them, we'll have that discussion. If moved, we need to be assured of safety. We can defund NYPD, but moving safety won't do it.

We don't want to open schools and deal with DOE having more things they're trying to fix. Would be perfect storm. Can entertain different management system, but police now need permission to enter school and arrest someone. We can't play politics with safety of children.

Tuesday is election day, and elections matter. If you don't understand that now, I don't know what to tell you. You vote. We need to change dramatically what happens in DC. You have to vote. Whether or not you agree with positions of union, vote and tell others to vote.

Staff Director LeRoy Barr--June 23rd NY Primary, elections matter. Early voting now. General election November 3, 2020. June 19, Emancipation Proclamation 1865, Juneteenth, celebrated 100 year. Official state holiday next year. Pride month, commmemorate Stonewall Riots. Puerto Rican Heritage and History celebration one people, many voice. AFT teachers and UFT Nurses honored. Happy Father's Day, have safe summer.

Mulgrew--Sad we miss celebrations this year, but think of what you did. Put it in perspective what you've been able to do in taking the largest school system putting it on our backs and shoulders, and making it work. We did something no one else did. Was scary, but this is phenomenal union because of your passion and leadership. All across the country no one believes what NYC has done.

Question period of 30 minutes.

Q--Concerned about why individual principals are asked to make decisions about how many kids should go into schools. Can individual principals advocate for 100% remote learning?

A--Strict guidelines. If not adhered to, won't be approved. Can't play games with this. If principal says they're being asked to do that, they're just supposed to provide room by room number of safe occupants, including teachers, paras and students. Principals don't have final say. Just looking. They don't have final decision.

Q--We have multi-buildings. Told by AP principal has to walkthrough before us. When should it happen and what it they don't want to do it?

A--On call this morning because of this. Principal was ordered by chancellor to call you and invite you to walkthrough. If problem, get back to us. CL should call DR.

Q--Four schools in our building. What is protocol for shared buildings? Only with our principal, or with other schools?

A--Depends on relationship between schools. Some principals work together and others hate each other. If you can work with other schools and discuss common spaces great. If schools can't play nice we will deal with it. Better to scatter schedules, or make them the same? Should be discussions.

Q--Email about reorg said form would be today.

A--Will be out today or tomorrow. There is something put together, just want to make sure it's right.

Q--APPR ratings suspended, but what about those with S and U?

A--As far as we're concerned we are suspending all of them. APPR law says if none is approved at state level, funding could be taken away. Order said can't stop tenure and no financial harm can come to district. We are talking with DOE, and we prefer everyone covered. Will get back to you.

Q--Please ask DOE for plan by second week of August about protecting our health in school buildings.

A--We plan to follow CVC guidelines. States who didn't have huge issue.

Q--What measures being taken to sanitize books, walls and everything?

A--We have a report from DOE that all schools have been cleaned. Taking with grain of salt. Will have to verify all equipment, supplies and cleaning protocol is in place. Wiping program will be big deal. We will ask CL to check before school year. If not, we'll get done on your behalf.

Q--SBOs--We want to have some--Can we issue and draft them and how do we do that?

A--We should be as flexible as possible and should keep it open even in August, to suit new programs. Will make it happen.

Q--Now at school meals for students and community. Going forward, will that continue?

A--If schools don't open will probably continue. If schools open, they'll have to show how they isolate it and keep school safe. Will suggest they move it elsewhere. Food pantries are different.

Q--What if people in household have medical conditions? Can teacher still work from home?

A--Unless school asks for volunteers there are no CVC guidelines about that. Legal plan for members involves eldercare, which may help these members. However, CVC now says that isn't covered. Will try to work with our medical people and at school level to work things out.

Q--Shared campus, good working relationship with DOE school, but charter above us. What are they being asked to do?

A--They have to follow same guidelines. State waiting until August, but if there is no vaccine, schools will have to follow social distancing recommendations. Some charters work well, chains not so much, but must follow guidelines. DOE would have authority to make them change.

Q--Teacher's Choice doesn't allow cleaning supplies. Can that change so we can sanitize our space>

A--Working with city council now to try and figure out how we can make things work. We have former UFT there. Will see if we can get that regulation changed. Others are asking about this.

Q--If HEROES act is or is not passed, is possibility we will do only remote?

A--If we look like Texas or Florida, we are remote.

Q--When will you have statement on buyout? People already putting papers in.

A--I guess somewhere in August. We will do whatever we have to do with pension fund. They can handle a lot more volume than before. If we have to bring in extra staff or work 14 hour days we will. City and state government don't know what things will look like yet. Everything politicized.

Q--Budget cuts and open market--

A--will be no opening of open market until we know budgets and who is retiring. Union will extend open market this year perhaps until end of August.  Good we have excessing rules to prevent layoff. Will fight financial problem first.

We will have a team of people get back to others with questions.


?. Moves up resolution offering summer contingency plans for endorsement, in case we need to do it between July and August. Move up because it must be done if we need it. For this month.

Passes 91%

Katie Moilan--for this month--(very fast, I missed a lot) UFT has resolution for BLM--should end zero tolerance, fund counselors not cops, and express solidarity, and more...

Passes 82%

Mulgrew--We have passed resolutions in support of BLM.

Rashad Brown-- next month 51st anniversary of Stonewall Riots. Last Friday, Trump got it wrong and announced rollback of Obama protections for LGBQ and trans people. Trump admin will be sued. We have had JK Rowlings spreading anti trans and several being murdered. Trump anti LGBQ, rolled back title 9 on sexual harassment and violence. Ben Carson proposed fed funded shelters deny access to trans women. UFT has always been on right side of equity equality and justice. Can't do nothing as Trump denies rights to marginalized group. We will denounce that and partner with groups, push affiliates to do the same.

No speaker against.

Passes 89%


Summer contingency--

?- Critical we make endorsements if necessary. Probably won't need it unless someone resigns, passes or is removed from office. We have to stay involved, Please support.

 Speaker--Rises in support, logical, makes sense, unforeseen situations happen, asks you vote yes, because you never know.

G. Escobar--As member of union advocate for all life, you are advocating for perspective we all stand for. Stand in solidarity with LGBQ.

Mulgrew--wrong resolution.

Question called

Passes 92%

Mavis Yan--Supports resolution we must support workers under attack in seven unions as Trump blocks Post Office workers. Mail persons are essential for everything we do. Need to support postal service also for election. Trump already doesn't want vote by mail. 3 of 4 Americans support mail in voting. We can't have outsourcing, would be blow to labor.

Kate Martin Bridge--In favor. Remembers when stamps were 2 and 3 cents. Can't imagine life without postal service. In 2006 was awful they had to prefund expenses for 75 years. Handled in despicable way, should've been addressed by Congress, and should be addressed by us. They could try to do same thing to any public entity.

Question called.

Passes 98%

Mulgrew--We are at time. Thank you for being there and doing extra work for members. We all did this, but it doesn't happen without leadership of people on this call. Will be communications this summer. Reach out to everyone you can about HEROES act. We cannot allow schools to be decimated in pandemic. God bless you and UFT, and all we do. 6:05
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