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DA Report

Membership teams form at schools, worksites

President's Report

UFT President Michael Mulgrew watches delegates react to an anti-union video. Jonathan Fickes

UFT President Michael Mulgrew watches delegates react to an anti-union video.

Resolutions: Federal tax plan unanimously opposed

UFT President Michael Mulgrew devoted a good deal of his president’s report at the Dec. 6 Delegate Assembly to discussing the dire consequences for New Yorkers of the tax legislation passed by the U.S. Congress.

Later, the delegates voted unanimously to oppose the plans and fight the provisions “that unfairly target those who need help the most, including senior citizens, those who earn the least, children, the poor and the destitute.”

“Here’s how you can best sum it up,” Mulgrew said. “New tax credits for buying a yacht but removal of health care for children.”

Once the federal tax overhaul becomes law, he said, “It will result in education and health care cuts in New York State. And it will be the greatest transfer of wealth ever to the wealthiest people in the country.”

The UFT is putting together a membership team at each school or worksite to speak with members and make sure they are aware of what’s at stake in the anti-union Janus case before the U.S. Supreme Court, UFT President Michael Mulgrew reported at the Dec. 6 Delegate Assembly.

A decision is expected in Mark Janus v. the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) case by May or June. The conservative majority on the high court is expected to rule to ban agency fee arrangements and allow nonmembers to receive union representation without paying their fair share of the costs.

“These people want unions to lose their ability to have power and leverage,” Mulgrew said of the lawsuit’s sponsors. “And once that’s done, they want to hurt these former union members who no longer have an ability to fight back. There is no way UFT members would have what they have without the union advocating for them.”

He showed the delegates a few anti-union videos released by the Koch Brothers-sponsored Freedom Foundation that aim to convince workers to leave their unions to save money. The videos fail to explain that workers would lose much more in the long run if they stop paying dues because unions can only protect the rights and benefits they have won for members if they remain strong.

“It’s all about face to face,” said Mulgrew of the new membership teams. “If members aren’t educated properly, they will be susceptible to this misinformation.”

The formation of a membership team in every school comes on the heels of the launch of the union’s door-knocking campaign, in which members are being visited by fellow members at their homes.

Mulgrew noted several recent victories that he said could not have been possible without a strong union. Kashan Robinson, a paraprofessional and chapter leader at the Morris Academy for Collaborative Studies in the Bronx, was able to return to her home school in November after the union rallied to her side when the principal improperly excessed her. A district superintendent in Brooklyn has become much more cooperative, Mulgrew said, after chapter leaders used the UFT’s new school consultation reporting process to document school-level issues throughout the district. And in District 16 in Brooklyn, the union led a campaign at PS 335, a thriving community learning school in Crown Heights, to fend off a proposal to co-locate a charter school in its building [see story].

With the current UFT contract expiring on Nov. 30, 2018, Mulgrew reported that the union has assembled a negotiating committee of 300-plus members — “our biggest ever.” The committee will hold its first meeting in January to start to shape the union’s priorities in the next agreement with the city Department of Education.

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