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Jonathan Fickies 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.
Jonathan Fickies Miller Photography
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.”
Jonathan Fickies 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.”
What is your favorite back-to-school book for young readers?
Wemberly Worried, by Kevin Henkes
The Kissing Hand, by Audrey Penn
Thank You, Mr. Falker, by Patricia Polacco
First Day Jitters, by Julie Danneberg
Total votes: 29