Chapter news

Occupational and Physical Therapists Chapter Newsletter: April 2017

Dear Colleagues,

I hope you enjoyed your well-deserved spring break. I am happy to share our latest newsletter with you and this important news: We've decided to pursue pedagogical status for all members of the Occupational and Physical Therapists Chapter.

It is an exciting direction for all of us. Recently, the UFT publicly announced its intentions to pursue pedagogical status for OT/PT members at the April 7-8 NYSUT Representative Assembly. As a separate pursuit, the UFT also seeks to transfer our pensions from the Board of Education Retirement System to the Teachers' Retirement System.

Earlier this spring, the chapter’s Executive Board got the ball rolling after voting to pursue pedagogical status for members of our chapter. The vote came after Executive Board member Joseph Marino and chapter member James Haughey met with UFT President Michael Mulgrew and me to discuss the subject.

While becoming pedagogues does not guarantee an immediate change in salary or working conditions, the change could mean, through future negotiations, an improvement in our working lives. Upon discussion and deep consideration, this appears to be the best course of action for our chapter to pursue in terms of pay and overall benefits.

I reported to the members about these decisions at our last membership meeting on March 8. Members were understandably interested to hear updates since the Jan. 17 meeting at which President Mulgrew spoke with members about a number of issues.

Those who attended, of course, had a number of questions about a big move such as this, but overall, the meeting was very positive. We will keep you updated as the process moves forward.

I also want to improve communication with you. In the near future, we’ll be emailing you regular updates. We’d also like to text you when we have important information for you. To that end, we invite you to sign up for UFT text messages.

How to sign up for OT/PT text messages: We're happy to announce that we'll be using text messages to send important news updates and reminders about upcoming chapter meetings. To sign up to receive texts updates, fill out the online form or send a text message to "30644" and type "UFT" in the message field. I promise we won’t inundate you with text messages; we will still use email as our primary mode of communication. 

As part of our effort to communicate better, our chapter held its first-ever new member event for occupational and physical therapists on March 6. Speakers from the UFT pension department, UFT Welfare Fund, and personnel and salary spoke to members and answered questions on a myriad of issues. Thank you, Cathy Szpunt, an Executive Board member, for making this event happen. 

If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to email me at kevangelista@uft.org.

Sincerely,

Kerri Evangelista
OT/PT Chapter Leader


Make-up sessions

The DOE recently sent guidance to OT/PT supervisors about make-up sessions. This guidance affirms what we already know — that you cannot be asked to go beyond eight sessions per day or 40 sessions per week. If you are asked to do makeup sessions that don’t fit in your schedule, please reach out to me at kevangelista@uft.org.


Family medical leaves and absences

The UFT continues to negotiate on behalf of occupational and physical therapists for the right to maintain health coverage while off payroll for up to 12 weeks, commensurate with FMLA-eligible employees. So far, we have not negotiated an agreement that we’re happy with, but we will continue to work for this important benefit.


White House budget guts public school funding

Recently, the White House took the first step to gut funding for our public schools and divert it to charter schools and private and religious schools.

President Donald Trump's budget proposes deep cuts to education programs that help disadvantaged students, including reducing or eliminating funding for teacher training, after-school and summer-enrichment programs and aid to low-income college students. The president’s plan calls for the cancellation of $3.9 billion in reserves for Pell grants, which help low-income students pay for college.

New York City's public schools could lose as much as $140 million in federal funding under Trump’s budget proposal. While punishing our neighborhood public schools, the president found $1.4 billion to fulfill his education campaign promise: Expand charter schools and fund private-school vouchers, alternatives to traditional public schools.

U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos praised the Trump plan, calling it a “first step in investing in education programs that work.” The president’s blueprint is the opening move in what will be a lengthy process as Congress hashes out a final budget. Join the campaign and be part of the fight for our public schools in the weeks and months ahead.


FAQ addresses special education and ICT requirements

Special education teachers and related-service providers see firsthand that many students with disabilities are not receiving the services they need. This special education FAQ, created jointly by the DOE and the UFT, spells out the requirements of IEPs, integrated co-teaching and Chapter 408. Please make sure these programs are implemented properly to support students with disabilities in your school. 

If the procedures outlined in this FAQ are not followed, the UFT asked chapter leaders to discuss them at the next consultation committee meeting with the principal. If an issue is not resolved, members may use this online form to ask your UFT district representative for assistance or to file a special education complaint. This Know Your Rights column in the New York Teacher focuses on special education.


Contacting the UFT

If you have questions about your own terms of employment, or any questions about the union, please reach out to your UFT borough office. If the borough office refers you to me or to Mike Sill, liaison to the OT/PT chapter, please reach out to us and let us know who you spoke to. That way we can circle back and build an understanding of OT/PT issues throughout the organization.

If you haven’t received emails from the UFT, please check your spam folder. We’ve heard from some members that our recent emails are ending up there. If they’re not there, please email me at kevangelista@uft.org and write “not receiving UFT emails” in the subject line. You need the information we send to you.


Join the #PublicSchoolProud campaign

Public School Proud - campaign page graphic

The UFT launched a new #PublicSchoolProud campaign, supported by a resolution passed at the Jan. 18 Delegate Assembly, to celebrate student achievement and all the wonderful opportunities public schools offer.

U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has made it clear that she has no use for public education, but we see the passion and promise in our schools each day. We must continue to protect public education and our rights as professionals. We cannot allow DeVos to disparage and defund the public schools we have fought so long to protect.

Here are a few actions you can take to protect public education:


Register early for the Spring Education Conference

Spring Conference 2017 carousel The UFT Spring Education Conference celebrates, supports and inspires our work as public school educators. This year’s conference will be held on Saturday, May 13, from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the New York Hilton Hotel, 1335 Avenue of the Americas at W. 53rd Street. We’ll have a morning town hall, breakfast, exhibits and a gala luncheon. The Rev. William Barber, the president of the North Carolina NAACP and leader of the Moral Mondays civil rights protest, will receive the John Dewey Award, the UFT's highest honor.

Participants may earn CTLE hours for attending the workshops. See the full list of workshop choices. The registration fee is $50. Register online to reserve your seat and follow up by mailing a copy of your registration form along with a check.

If you are part of a school leadership team, funds allocated to your team may cover conference fees. To apply for these funds, fill in this special mail-in coupon for school leadership team members and fax it along with a DOE purchase order. We hope you'll join us this year for great workshops on topics such as creating safe spaces at schools and building restorative practices.


Have an idea for an event?

After the success of our first-ever new member fair, we’re looking for other types of events to hold. We want to hear from you if you have an idea. Email me at kevangelista@uft.org or Mike Sill, our OT/PT chapter liaison, at msill@uft.org.


Important reminders and resources

Here are a few important reminders and resources for you to keep on hand for the rest of the school year. If you have any suggestions for additional resources for members, email me at kevangelista@uft.org.

  • UFT membership - If you’re not a UFT member, I hope you’ll consider joining now. Union membership gives you a voice in the union, and helps build solidarity. The UFT is strong because of its members! If you’d like to become a member, sign up on the UFT website.
     
  • UFT Welfare Fund - The UFT Welfare Fund provides many amazing, supplemental health benefits including coverage of prescription drugs, dental, hearing aids and vision services. For more information, visit the Welfare Fund’s website.
     
  • Membership Assistance Program - The Membership Assistance Program provides short-term counseling to in-service UFT members. Counseling is conducted by professionally-trained mental health staff; you can also get referrals to outside practitioners. For more information, call 1-212-701-9620 or visit the Member Assistance Program page on the UFT website. 
     
  • BERS - The Board of Education Retirement System of the City of New York manages our pensions. If you have questions about your pension, contact BERS at 1-800-843-5575.
     
  • Workers' Compensation - To file for Workers’ Compensation, you must follow certain procedures and file paperwork quickly. To find out more, visit the Workers’ Compensation page on the UFT website. Please notify me, your principal and your school's chapter leader of any accident or incident. All accidents should be reported. 

Reach out to your chapter representatives

Sometimes, of course, it’s not possible to attend our meetings. But we still want to hear from you! If you have any comments, questions or concerns, please telephone or email our Executive Board members. Our office number is 1-212-598-7705. Or you can email us during the following hours.

For urgent matters during non-office hours, however, please contact your full-time UFT representatives at the appropriate borough offices.

And we want to stay in touch with you

I plan to send more frequent updates to you; so much happens, so quickly and you need to know what I know! In addition, I ask you periodically check the OT/PT page on the union’s website for information about upcoming events and for answers to frequently asked questions.

If you’ve received this, obviously you’re already on our email list. But a number of your colleagues are not. Please ask them, especially the newer people, if they’re receiving union emails and if they’re not, ask them to contact the UFT membership department at 1-212-598-6855.

New telephone number or address? Let us know

If you’ve recently moved or changed telephone numbers, please fill out the Personal Information Change Form to make sure the UFT has your new information as well. Send it to the Membership Department, UFT, 52 Broadway, NY, NY 10004.

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