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Welcome to the 2017–18 school year. As clinicians, we help our students and schools throughout the year, so it's nice that we get a few months to relax. I hope your vacation was productive and fulfilling however you spent it.
I have a few things to tell you about as we head into the fall. Below are updates on issues that we at the UFT have been working on since last year and a few things we plan on discussing this year.
- Assessment materials for clinicians: We’ve had ongoing concerns about assessment materials needed by clinicians for conducting evaluations and met with the DOE to discuss this issue. We even filed a union-initiated grievance on behalf of our members. We have made some progress in this area, but need to continue to monitor it and make sure our members have the tools they need to best serve students. There is still much work to be done about this and other issues, especially with the Committee on Special Education. Please continue to let me and your UFT borough representative know if you need any materials so we can continue to help you get them.
- Increasing our level of professionalism: As your union chapter leader, I am focused on improving our clinical standards, staying up to date on research, and maintaining our professional skills. We also need to continue to embrace our dual roles as mental health and behavioral providers in NYC’s public schools and as advocates for our public school students. I encourage you to come to union meetings, to network, to raise your concerns and to listen to your colleagues. Our chapter has held many high-quality professional development programs, and I will continue to organize more!
- Improving our contract: Our chapter has had significant concerns over the years including the lack of clinical supervision and excessive workloads. One of our issues is the lack of equity in terms of workloads and responsibilities among school-based support team members. We have discussed these topics with the DOE many times during the last two years and will not stop in our pursuit of ensuring equity and job security for all.
- For school psychologists: Save the date for our 2nd annual School Psychologists Awareness Day on Thursday, Nov. 2, at UFT headquarters. More details and a link to RSVP will be forthcoming.
- PD for social workers and psychologists: Save the date for our 12th annual Clinicians Day on Friday, Jan. 26. I will send you more details for this event at a later date.
As you embark on an exciting year, I want to remind you that we also have a lot of work to do as unionists. New Yorkers go to the polls on Nov. 7 to vote on whether to hold a constitutional convention. It is vital that we vote NO on this issue. Anti-union forces are committed to destroying our pensions as well as our right to organize and collectively bargain. Tell your family and friends to join you at the polls and vote NO!
Watch this video about the dangers of a convention »
Public employee unions are facing an enormous challenge this year. The Supreme Court has agreed to hear the Janus v. AFSCME court case that seeks to debilitate unions by declaring fair-share or agency fees unconstitutional. These fees cover the costs a union incurs representing and providing services for people who do not choose to belong to a union.
As we brace for this decision, we need every single one of you to remind your colleagues about the benefits of belonging to a union: a defined-benefit pension, employer-paid health insurance, due process rights, tenure, a grievance process, and a voice in how schools are run. Unions, through our voluntary donations to COPE, also provide us a place at the table in Albany as well as at the City Council.
Help us keep our union the strong force it’s been for more than 50 years! Have a great year and keep in touch.
Social Workers and Psychologists Chapter Leader