Wednesday, January 13, 2021

UFT Delegate Assembly January 13, 2021--Waiting for Vaccines

 4:19 UFT President Michael Mulgrew welcomes us. 

National--Has been difficult week. Tough for teachers to explain. We've never had students seeing everything happening in real time all the time. This is on top of all the other issues. We have to guide students through this craziness. We get no support at all from DOE. Hopefully things will turn around. From feds we need vaccine and funding. DeVos quit, tried to remove equity, to privatize, to help vulture lenders, to help all we're against. Probably worst Ed. Sec. of all time. We should see a strong contrast with a lifelong educator in this position.

Stimulus--Last one passed. NY State should get 4.5 billion, Much should go to NYC. First was one billion, but was completely supplanted by governor, as he took another billion out. We know students will be hurt by this situation. People will look to us to deal with various crises. Social and emotional stress, isolation--this is deeper than just learning loss. If state continues to supplant federal money will be huge problem. State is taking away money to help children in crisis. 2.4 billion coming our way, and children need to be prioritized. Will also effect city budget. We have no layoff clause until June.

Biden wants to do an infrastructure project. We've had resolutions throughout the year. We would like an aggressive program that makes every school carbon free. We want to utilize solar. It goes further. We're talking about ventilation and lighting aggressively. There could be an opportunity here to retrofit school buildings. 

Vaccine--Federal govt. has expanded the pool of people who should be eligible. State will likely follow. Add ons mean people with certain medical conditions and people 65 rather than 75 means 16.4 million will be eligible. Feds say they will release all reserve vaccines. Only way through is to get 65-70% vaccinated. They will release reserves, but not for two weeks, so it's not useful. They expanded pool, tripled it, while we have very limited supply. NY State gets 300K doses. In NYC, this is a major challenge. Governor asked unions to set up own apparatus, and we did. From now until Biden is in office, we will see a lot of people and institutions trying to get vaccine. Large orgs have run out or are close to it. This was very bad, will cause more frustration and anger across nation. Like final middle finger to everyone walking out door.

New Pres. will at least double Title One. We put between us and others over 1.2 million in GA, with many volunteers. In terms of our education agenda, the two Dems winning benefits us. We focus on protecting public schools and our livelihood. Lots of damage being done to our country nationally and internationally. 

We've had two stimulus payments for education, should get a third. 

State--Budget at state level. Gov. claims 63 billion deficit over three years. I believe closer to 30, but scary. 2007-8 we had 700 million deficit. We were very lucky, worked hard, but we were only large local that didn't see a deficit. 33K laid off in NYS in 08 and 09. We're looking at 9-10 billion dollars deficit a year for next three years. Protecting livelihood will be great challenge. If we want to help children, we need to fund programs. We can't have funds supplanted. I do believe next stimulus will have state and city funding, but won't cover deficit. We are going to push a revenue package. Senate and Assembly can now override vetoes.

Governor has said nothing about education. but this is what we're dealing with. We support taxing wealthy and ultra-wealthy, we support pied-a-tere taxes. We shouldn't give breaks to part time residents. We want state electeds to send clear message about supplanting of money.

We have new Regents Chancellor, Lester Young, NYC teacher, and Betty Rosa is Commissioner. We no longer have people who don't understand education running education. Has been long time since that happened, along with US Ed. Sec. being former educator. Others look at vulture charters and privatization.

State having hard time with vaccine, but is distributing them to local DOH. Except city has been stockpiling and not effective getting it out. Rest of state got out 74% of what they've been given. We want 100. NYC has only distributed 52%. We'll see where this goes, but now we know there will be a major vaccine shortage. I will be very upset and will get very loud with city if they continue to leave vaccine in storage. That's not how we get past pandemic. 

If we have people ready to go we want to get them through. Over 20,000 members responded to our program, but I now am not sure how fast vaccine supply will last. Biden will produce more vaccine as emergency. We are ready to work with providers, but can't do much until we see how this turns out. Happy we were able to help as many as we could. 

Two weeks ago they said teachers would have to wait until February. Mayor had 200K doses sitting on shelves. We said give them to us. I tell people try every avenue. Was really happy to see UFT nurses getting vaccines on Saturday. Last March 15, buildings closed, but school nurses were in centers, nursing homes, worked through entire summer. Grateful they were safe, glad they were first to get vaccine. Will be massive shortage over next few weeks. Happy for all who got them but we have long way to go.

I get questions about positivity rates. When state came out with reg, said every school district needed a plan signed off on and submitted. In September, state put out change that said school district could change its plan without collective bargaining as long as it met state minimum standard. State can do that under health emergency. When we get through this our first negotiation will be about spring break they unilaterally took from us. 

When city closed in November, it decided to change plan again. We were able to get state to agree that city would have to abide by new agreement for more aggressive tests.  City formula is irrelevant, has its own number. We felt it was being used for political purposes. State's plan said 9% caused county lockdown. Governor reversed that. Said district can remain open as long as they have school testing program in place and school positivity didn't go above community rate. That will never happen because sick people don't attend.

We disagree with this. Shifting policy undermines public confidence, causes fear, anxiety frustration. Our schools are very safe, but if NY state number hits 9% we will go to war. May be parents against us in places. You can't keep shifting policy. Psychological toll becomes physical toll. City numbers get higher when mayor wants to pressure governor. We have to go by state numbers. Both state and city numbers are going down. City number never counted. 

When you hear we're closing many schools. that's positive. 271 schools, 100 classes closed today. This means our program is working. Social distancing, masks, ventilation important, but we need to know if COVID is in building. Not good enough for us to probably stop it. We need to shut them down and our testing program was designed to do that. Doctors have said if you do everything else you can keep them open but I said no. 

This should be set up in entire country. It isn't but we have it here. Christmas Eve was a disaster, but schools were closed. 

Random lists for each school should be generated by DOE. Of course, that's not good, but we have made progress. Now testing more children than adults. Wasn't random when 2/3 were adults. We are getting better nonetheless. 

Some people upset about how we prioritized vaccines. People in schools were able to get vaccines. We will get through people in schools first. City made same decision but put nothing in place. I understand some may disagree. But we need to get it to elementary and D75 members. 

Evaluation--We have to have one but are getting nowhere with DOE. I have consultation Friday with chancellor. DOE people have no clue. Have never taught remotely and want to work out evaluation. We have issues with Danielson, but may have worked. DOE turned it into attack tool.  We have to have a MOSL. State has told us this. 

Operational issues--Thank you CLs. We've had 1693 filed. 1036 settled. 176 closer in progress. We're working in ICT and class size issues. We're not closing them until CL approves. 

Mayor's race--We have many offices coming up. Mayor, city council, and we'll have great budget challenges. Thanks volunteers. Have groups at all City Council districts. We have 21 planned endorsements, will have more. Starting Feb. 1 we will have Town Halls for mayoral race. We will interview 4 or 5 at a time. We will select 4 finalists and do open Town Hall for all members. We may not make an endorsement, but likely will. 

We have a lot of people in background who were near and dear to our previous mayor. Thanks to all people volunteering on this. 

471 people at last CL training. Thanks to all who help teachers by being union activists. We have one more training to go. This is hardest time ever to be CL. 

We had issues with CTLE course. Thousands registered for one course. We will make sure every person gets into one shortly. 

Elementary Town Hall will go back out. 3,000 wanted to attend. We will fix it with Zoom. 

WeFeedNYC program was going to begin in February, but started earlier. We see huge lines everywhere for food. Anyone distributing food now is facing major shortages. We've raised some money and will raise more. We've delivered over 20,000 meals to many orgs. Restaurant owner called to thank us for allowing him to help.

Optical form for UFT--No more. Beginning Feb. 1st can be done online. Will be email on how it's done. 

LeRoy Barr--Good afternoon and happy new year. We have over 2000 delegates on the call today.

1. 1/21 - Black History Film Series - From Chisholm to Harris. Breaking the glass ceiling in government. We’ll be watching “Chisholm ‘72, Unbought and unbossed. We’ll send the link in the CL update.
2. 1/23 is the last CL training for this semester. Please sign up.
3. 2/1 - 2/5 BLM week of action in schools. Links are on UFT website. We will send it out in the CL update as well.
4. School safety and scanning committee has started meeting. If you want to join them send an email to
5. Congratulations to Lester Young Jr. on being named chancellor of the NYS board of regents. He’s the first African American to hold the post. We’ve done a lot of work with him over the years with my brothers keeper.
6. Enjoy Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Do something in his name and his spirit.
7. Happy new year.


Q--Happy about UFT efforts for vaccine, also concerned. Members want to know if UFT is trying to rush vaccine so schools will fully open.

A--Safety is important. Our goal from March has been to get schools closed, then get through pandemic. Teachers need quick access to schools. We, along with Chicago, are only large school district that opened. Members were on board with closing in March. Since then more disagreement. Some think we're trying to mandate vaccine. Some saying no one should be allowed back without it. Some were upset when schools closed in November, Others wanted them closed. We will always have differences. We will continue to make decisions, and rarely will all agree. We will say why we're doing it, I'm setting up program because I want people vaccinated. Having no conversations about opening schools. We're using schools for vaccines. They will have to be hubs. Hospitals not designed for this. Since there are people who hate us, they use this as way to oppose public education. People try to create wedge issues. We're smarter than that. 

Q--Student participation low at school despite reaching out. Admin pressuring us to pass students when not warranted.

A--There is a law that says our professional judgment cannot be changed. In our numerous conversations with DOE we said remote instruction requires much more work. Why don't they plan to help people? In the end they'll want to deal with low passing percentage. UFT asked DOE to put together a district and citywide administrative program to help disengaged students. They refused. 

Q--Any update on retirement incentive? Would it help those with 20 years?

A--Depends how it is negotiated. This is a city, not state priority, for all except uniform workers. State said not for people with 20 year plans. This is one of our biggest priorities in Albany. Until we work it out, it's all rumor. My goal is to get as many as possible included. We have a lot of subs looking for full time jobs now. Will save money for the city. Working on it for this and many other unions.

MOSL--City polices nothing. Puts out things and refuses to fix them--previous observations cannot be used against you.

Q--Update on improved communication to schools on infection rates?

A--If there is specific issue, contact DR. We are improving but still not where we want to be. We will make sure DOE knows. They are getting better. They want to keep rates low, shut down problem schools quickly. These are not DOE folks, actually, doing shutdowns. Not there yet, but in better place. If you need a result, go to DR and we will get it.

Q--Do you know when middle and HS may return?

A. No. We don't know yet. We're using large HS for vaccine distribution. City doesn't have capacity for testing so they can't open them up. If you're vaccinated you still have to wear mask. You may not feel symptoms but you can still spread it. We have to see how this plays out. If I hear anything, I will communicate it. I expect next September we will open.

Q--What will union do to protect G and T programs?

A--Our position is there should be such programs in all schools. We believe they're in every school I don't think we should be testing pre 3rd grade kids for this. For specialized HS, they didn't give us a heads up, a deputy chancellor did it on his own. There will be new guidance for this exam given in two weeks. Will enforce social distancing. 

Q--What if people can't get second vaccine on time?

A--They'd have to start all over again. We want to avoid that. We know you need shot three weeks later. You should be scheduled in same place. MLC went hard to negotiate release time if you need it, as well as additional time for adverse reactions. We negotiated for all city unions, and DOE tried to reinterpret it, giving authority to principal. 

Q--Teachers complaining that building not clean, things been on floor for week...

A. Tell us and we will take care of it. Send it to DR.


Charlaine Williams--Proposes resolution in honor of Stacy Abrams for leadership in elections, for next month. Was Democratic nominee for governor of GA, lost and created massive constituency, turned GA blue and won US Senate for Dems.

Passes 89%

 Nichole Puglio--Next month--Crime to incite a riot, Trump did, urged people to fight like hell, we know attack is worse than we'd thought. Was act of domestic terrorism. We need to condemn these actions. 

Katherine Martin Bridge--Concerned with last resolve. Trump will be out of office. Seems silly to put in something that will have already happened.

Mulgrew--Motion is motion, but we assume it could be amended next month.

Passes 75%


Endorsements--Liz Perez--Encourages body to endorse 21 canditates--51 open seats in city council, want to endorse incumbents who've supported our agenda and newcomers we support. We also endorse incumbent Queens Borough President, will expand economic and education opportunities. 

Mulgrew--Does anyone object to any individual candidates?

Jonathan Halabi--Objects to Gjonaj

Mulgrew--We will take a motion, taking Gjonaj out, and we will vote on rest as group. All those in favor, please vote yes.  

Yes 41% No 59% Motion fails

Vote to endorse all candidates--

Passes 83%

Mulgrew--Thanks us, apologizes for long report. Will keep you updated. Thanks for all you do. Hope I can continue to do what needs to be done to help you.

Note--I missed at least one question due to excessive barking in my living room.

blog comments powered by Disqus