News stories

New member meet and greets

Finding support through the UFT

Salary and pension staffer John Amato answers questions for PS 287 members ShirlMiller PhotographySalary and pension staffer John Amato answers questions for PS 287 members Shirley Ho and Runhui Li at the Brooklyn meet and greet on Oct. 5.

PS 67 Chapter Leader Colleen Miska (left) brought five new members from her schoJonathan FickiesPS 67 Chapter Leader Colleen Miska (left) brought five new members from her school to the Bronx meeting on Nov. 2. As part of a special effort to engage and inform the union’s newest members, the UFT’s New Member Initiative held meet and greet events in each UFT borough office this fall. The gatherings were a chance for new members to network with colleagues, meet their UFT representatives and get important information.

“Given that I’m new in the profession, I wanted to start meeting other people and understanding the philosophy of the UFT,” said Auki Hermes, a school psychologist in training at PS 84 on the Upper West Side. “Now I see that there are a lot of resources available to me.”

At each of the events, members had the opportunity to visit information tables to ask questions and collect materials about their union benefits, salary, certification and more.

“I see a lot of things that I’m interested in — like the pension table has me thinking about my future,” noted Hermes.

PS 132 teacher Liza Andrews picks out a few free books at the Manhattan meet andJonathan FickiesPS 132 teacher Liza Andrews picks out a few free books at the Manhattan meet and greet. Vanessa Rosario of PS 143 shares a story of a positive experience on the job at Miller PhotographyVanessa Rosario of PS 143 shares a story of a positive experience on the job at the Queens event on Oct. 12.

UFT President Michael Mulgrew also spoke at each event. At the Manhattan meet and greet on Nov. 10, he stressed the importance of standing together as a union.

“We should be proud of what we do. We look after each other because we care about each other,” he said. Explaining the significance of Janus v. AFSCME, the anti-union case before the Supreme Court, he said, “They want to weaken our union so they can weaken our ability to take care of each other.”

UFT President Michael Mulgrew addresses new members from Staten Island at the OcJonathan FickiesUFT President Michael Mulgrew addresses new members from Staten Island at the Oct. 26 event. Many of the new members were accompanied by their chapter leaders, who often serve as a new member’s first point of contact with the union.

“When you enter the DOE, it’s a bureaucracy that can be hard to tackle,” said Sarah Feeney, a new social worker at KAPPA IV in Harlem, who attended with her chapter leader Ali Fischer. “To know that there are people here to support you is super helpful.”

This year, in addition to the meet and greets in the UFT’s borough offices, some districts also hosted gatherings with district representatives and superintendents. The events all served to let new members know about UFT supports and services right from the start.

“There are a lot of things I’d like to learn, and now I know I have resources and contacts,” said Cynthia Castellano, a first-year paraprofessional at P 9 in Maspeth, Queens. “Everyone’s been very informative and hospitable, and I feel very welcomed.”

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See the Manhattan photo gallery »

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See the Staten Island photo gallery »

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