Wednesday, April 14, 2021

UFT Delegate Assembly April 2021--Retirement Incentive, Planning for Future

UFT President Michael Mulgrew welcomes us 4:17 PM. Thanks us for coming.

Federal--infrastructure package important--There is agreement that a good % of it will support energy efficient, carbon free schools. This is a good opportunity to improve buildings.  Solar panels, ventialation, retrofitting, etc. We need this support for our schools. We argued for dedicated funding for education in last bill and won that argument. 

Last April we focused on safety first, fighting for it on basis of medical guidance. Secondly, we had to protect our livelihood. Last April we were looking at massive layoffs for 2-3 years. Economy was wrecked. One year later, we aren't looking at any such thing. 

State--Elections matter. Our endorsements are in the interests of our profession and livelihood, and then people make own decisions. We are looking at best state budget in 20 years, though it's not yet official. Not yet signed by governor. There is an early retirement incentive in NYC. Nothing changed about it. Legislature approved in for non-uniformed employees. We now have to negotiate with this administration on terms and conditions. Will likely not be easy, but it's been over 20 years since NYC had this. State had one nixed by Bloomberg for NYC. As soon as it's signed we will get it out to all members who could qualify, basically people over 50.

We have been fighting for years for CFE. This year, we finally have it and state is finally meeting its obligation. This is a big deal, although overshadowed by pandemic. Incredible achievement to get state to recognize this. This is why elections matter. Finally, governor had no choice but to deal with these issues, and we finally had veto-proof majority. We've raised revenue by taxing ultra rich. We have two CARES Acts, American Recovery Act, and we will have new revenue for quite some time. Tough because it took so long. Thanks those who worked on it.Teacher Center, and other of our projects were funded. Thanks all those who were politically active. It made a difference.

We have a five point plan,  mental health issues, academic challenges, need for robust summer program, smaller class sizes, and making sure we support our graduating seniors with college and career. We're funding this for our members, and we need to recognize social emotional issues in both ourselves and our students. This has been a traumatic experience and we've expanded MAP program. 

Summer program should include socialization as well as academic support. We will push our plan in both state and city budgets as we try to get school system up and running as more students come back, especially in September. These are our advocacy/ lobbying issues beyond regular bread and butter issues.

City--Reinstating meetings between UFT, CSA and city. We are having issues with DOE. CDC put out guidelines changing 6 to 3 feet distancing. This was tested in rural areas. We are discussing this with state and city. Lawsuit filed outside of Buffalo demanding schools be fully open, and in preliminary part of case judge ordered districts had to submit plans to fully open safely. Told state it needed to put out new CDC guidelines. Came out Friday. 

Some provisions say all stakeholders must engage in process. We understood that. Under state guidelines only schools that could go to three feet would be elementary. Later HS and MS may qualify. Mayor told DOE to come up with plans. Now they will have to work with us, as per state. Not collective bargaining, but procedural rights. 

Opt-in--51K opted in, 10K out. Net gain of 41K. Schools have to reprogram by next week. Let us know about operational issues. We have stopped many schools from going to three feet on their own. Tell us right away. No one's doing that until there is a process on how to get there. You have to get them at six feet outside classroom. Eating requires six feet, Signage must be changed and many things must be worked out. We told DOE no one could move yet, and we will meet again tomorrow. DOE has told us they don't believe there are a lot of schools where this will happen, because citywide, we're under 35%.

We are looking at goals--safety, livelihood and profession. Five point plan helps with profession, but we will have a problem if not a lot of students return. If only 35% opt-in, it won't work. For our five point plan, we need kids back in. We know that children are now getting covid and variants. We are still at .6 or below. We know a large majority of membership is vaccinated. We know that's a personal decision and we respect that.

The work we have to do will be more effective if we have kids back in school. City won't get back to normal if schools don't. We have to be out there and make parents understand we're doing the right thing and putting safety first. Students not coming back this year. Better to have children back in classroom in September. We will keep children safe and have a plan. We have to campaign to get that done before September.

On getting rid of non-linked issue, we kept telling mayor same thing. We need linked to school system. With testing and contract tracing capacity we have, we now know a lot about inside of schools. Adult positivity rate going down, children up, but schools are still safe. We have to prevent spreading events. We will shut schools if that possibility exists. If it's spreading inside the school, we will shut the school. 

Vaccination program still open. We will get appointments right away. 

APPR--State did not waive APPR this year. Thankfully, we have an agreement. Very small number, fewer than five ineffective observations from before agreement. They do not count. Cannot be used. Working on MOSL Citywide measure better. 

Standardized testing--What if school is closed? State gave a range of days for standardized tests. School can use different days. If parents want kids to take tests, they have to tell school and students will have to report. We need to know who wants their children to take tests so we can set up safety plan. 

Politics--Not including mayoral, 440 members volunteered and have done interviews of 173 separate candidates. We thank them for this work. We need people to vet these candidates. We owe them a great debt. Of course members will have issues. Every committee's recommendation has been accepted by DA and Executive Board. We can disagree without casting aspersions on candidates. That's what makes this an invigorating but tough process. 

As of two days ago, our political website had over a million views, on mayoral forum over 12K participants. Not yet ready to make mayoral endorsement. Still vetting, Ranked choice voting tough for people to model. We'll know more after this cycle. When it comes time for mayoral endorsement there will be special DA and we will vote. We will look at surveys and viability. We don't have a magic wand, and not all we endorse will win. Would be easier, but not so. 

You're all getting a pay raise May 3. Hope covid and CL updates are helpful. Congratulations, you all earned 3% raise. 

Health care--We've been having issues with hospitals. MLC has been working on this. We negotiate with insurance companies, and they with medical providors. Majority of members use GHI. We're passive consumers, because others are negotiating for us. We think because we negotiate so much, we should be active consumers. We will get involved with hospitals and medical providers. Annual double digit increases do not work. MLC reps 1.3 million lives. This is buying power. 

If we find out you give better rate to someone with 1K participants, we will be upset. We will use our buying power as leverage. For retiree health care, we've told folks we're done with you saying we want a 12% increase but will make it 9. Health care only industry where you aren't allowed to see what you charge or why. We've changed that via legislation, Why should one hospital charge 50 to take temp while another gets 400? We don't want to fund multi-million dollar exec bonuses. You may see this in press, but we want to use buying power to get best prices. 

Hope you all had a good week off, unlike last year. We have a very tight calendar next year. 180 days probably most we will get. We just keep moving along, taking care of safety, livelihood and profession in every aspect. Thanks UFT leaders, and will get support you need. 

Staff Director LeRoy Barr--Thursday met with CLs, sent powerpoint out. Workshops on ranked choice voting April 21, May 6. HS Awards, April 29. Nurse recognition day May 6. Next DA May 12


Q--Told by principal to prep classrooms for 27, three feet apart...

A--Not happening. Contact us.  Principal would be legally liable for all medical issues. Doesn't even know what process is. Get to DR, borough rep and we will take care of this. Principals not medical experts. Doubt 27 kids will fit in room. Come September 3 feet may be rule. Maybe only masks will be recommended. We don't know yet. We rely on guidance from our doctors. We will handle this.

Q--Retirement incentive--Will we know by June?

A--ERI traditionally would be done by middle of June. We want it ASAP. Will be opt-in period. Will probably occur in summer, end in mid August. Will still negotiate this after bill is signed. Pension dept. on alert. Hopefully done in July. We have legislation. When it's signed, anyone 50 or above will be notified.

Q--September--Are students able to choose remote, and how will we teach, remote, in person, will we need more teachers?

A--City has made clear it will offer remote option. To do our work most effectively, we need our children in. If we get 85-90% back, there will also be some people advised not to take vaccine for medical reasons. These children and adults may not come back to buildings. We may look at remote academies by district. This year was highly complicated. You now see teachers teaching remotely from school and students in buildings learning from teachers at home. We understand we have to change as medical advice changes. This blended stuff is problematic. If you want to be remote, be remote, and we have to figure most efficient way to teach in person. No schools will be in red next year. We can't do what we did last year. We have to get ahead of things.

Q--What do you mean by tight calendar?

A--180 days, not 181. Will have all holidays. All are during school week. We can't cancel holidays. We're trying to figure 2 prep days at beginning of year. Not final until calendar comes out.

Q--683--Mayor mentioned remote options for students. How will that work with staffing?

A--683 are most medically fragile. We will need remote option there. We will have massive expansion of summer school. We will figure this out. All medical accommodations approved through June 30. Not sure about blanket accommodations after that. We've had initial meeting about 683. Majority of summer school will be in person. If city wants to use this to help re acclimate, they can. 

Q--Lump-sum payment?

A--Due this summer. We had no layoff clause as part of that. Should be July, second pay period.

Q--Class sizes--heard a lot about ventilation and buildings--CFE called for class size cpats to be achieved gradually over five years. Could be negotiated in contract with enforcement mechanisms. Could get rid of DOE consultants and move ATRs to classrooms. What is union plan or position?

A--You are also UFT. WE are UFT. Five point plan, one major component was class size reduction. All mayoral candidates believe in smaller class sizes, but when they get job, they say they don't have the space. I remember being able to teach more effectively with smaller classes. We need to start at a local level first. This could be done. Michael Bloomberg always said he wanted it, then said we didn't have space. We have academic loss, social emotional crisis, but we now have money and CFE. Teachers and parents want this. 

Q--Clerical and chancellor's day for elementary--Virtual or in person?

A--Not decided yet, will bring up in consultation. DOE has been flexible. 

Q--Organization, preference sheet on hold, Why?

A--We asked for this until programming is determined. Meeting with DOE weekly to determine these. Once we finalize calendar we can work on SBOs. We want preference sheets to go out once and not have to be reconsidered. However, if we can't preliminarily program we will have to get sheets out. 

Q--Tenure decisions. Were three up for tenure, one got it, two extended under crazy circumstances.

A--We haven't had a lot of that under covid, but some admin comfortable with being nasty even this year. Will bring this to borough rep and my own consultation. 

Q--Capacity for rooms--If we go to three feet, will we have new capacity numbers?

A--Since we now have all square footage in database, DOE should be able to do it. With 3 feet, we can accommodate 92%, using non-traditional space. If I were principal, I would want DOE to tell me what number was. I don't believe anything until I see it. If I were principal, I would be asking them. 


Nat Hookway--Motion for next month--Resolution Senate bill allowing pharmacists to dispense PREP and ?. We need to fight transmission of HIV. Not available to many in marginalized communities, higher risk of HIV. We need DOE to help us eradicate HIV. 

Mulgrew--UFT covers these medications.

Helen Leshinsky--speaks in favor.

96% yes. Passes.

52nd Anniversary Stonewall Riots--Margaret Joyce--next month--52 years ago, Stonewall raided by police, Patrons finally took stand against NYPD, began movement for equality. Work far from done. Please put on next month's agenda. 

Roy Whitford--Rises in favor. We have seen targeting of young trans youth recently. This can help our students. Should know that we see their history, and by extension, them, that they are safe with us.

Diana Gonzalez--Speaks against. For respect, but against commemorating events that make students feel everyone thinks behaviors are okay. If others have right to express views, I should have right to express my point of view, not give others a monopoly. 

81% yes. Passes


Political endorsements--Elizabeth Perez--Great honor and pleasure to present this reso. Political teams worked diligently to select best candidates. Can't say enough of hard work political teams have put in. Asking this body to join me in endorsing these people. 

Carmen Romero--Would like to endorse Alvin Bragg for Manhattan DA. Got overwhelming support of UFT for accountability and transparency. 

Mulgrew--Thank you. Not just about him.

David Pecoraro--Wants to divide Comptroller endorsement from remainer.

Mulgrew--Can't do that.

Pecoraro--Then speaking against resolution. Cannot support speaker Johnson. Favors David Weprin.

Thomas McDonough--Also speaking against motion. Endorsing seven at a time is rushing things,. Should vote individually.  Disagree with several endorsements.

55% no. Fails.

Rashad Brown--40th anniversary of HIV AIDS. Last 13 months, unlike any we've ever seen. Reminded many of us of AIDS epidemic. Has gone unnoticed for some. We've come very far from 1980s. Now people can take a daily pill to reduce presence of virus. Injection treatment being tested. Resolution to remind us HIV AIDS is still a reality. Reminder of HIV positive members, you are not alone. We can provide support. Let's lift those currently living with HIV, remember those who've passed, and make sure that we support HIV AIDS community, support funding, oppose violence. Urges you to unanimously support this. 

Peter Lamphere--Point of order--Resolution from last month on taxing rich removed from this month's agenda.

Mulgrew--Will check. Thought there was conversation with maker, and since we achieved this goal, thought debate was over.

90% yes. Passes.

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