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DA Report

Mulgrew: Conciliation can resolve disagreements

President's report

Shaking hands in agreement - generic

Resolutions: Time to take on challenge to fair-share fees

The delegates approved a resolution to oppose an anti-worker ruling in the Janus v. AFSCME case that is expected to be added to the U.S. Supreme Court’s docket in September. The case, similar to the Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association case that ended in a 4–4 tie a year ago, challenges the fair-share fees collected by public-sector unions from workers who are covered by the union contract but don’t become members. The resolution commits the union to mobilizing members to protest the union-busting campaign behind the case. It included an amendment proposed by a delegate to ask UFT members to pledge to stay in the union.

Delegates also voted to endorse a list of incumbent candidates running for City Council and borough president positions.

Professional disagreements with supervisors now can be successfully worked out through the professional conciliation process outlined in the UFT-Department of Education contract, UFT President Michael Mulgrew said during his report at the Delegate Assembly on May 10.

“We’ve had a joint training with the DOE of people who have volunteered to be conciliators and we are beginning the rollout of the conciliation process,” Mulgrew said to the group assembled at UFT headquarters in Manhattan. “We’re looking to do a couple of conciliations before the end of this school year.”

Mulgrew explained that the process would be used when there is a professional disagreement with a supervisor over such matters as curriculum mandates, textbook selection or program offerings or scheduling. Principals will have to explain the rationale behind their decisions, but UFT members will also have the opportunity to present their side to the conciliator.

“Principals can no longer explain a decision by saying, ‘Because I want it that way,’” Mulgrew said. “Our voice must now be heard.”

The goal of professional conciliation is to attain a solution that satisfies both sides, he said.

Mulgrew’s report to delegates included bad news on the federal level. He noted that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos had continued her disparaging remarks about public education during a visit to a school in Utah the previous day. He said she called on people to embrace change, declaring that “it’s time to break out of the confines of the federal government’s arcane approach to education.”

He said it was sobering to hear firsthand at a recent AFT executive committee meeting of the problems in other states. Arizona? “Almost a complete voucher program.” Texas? “It might become illegal for union dues to be deducted from paychecks.” Kansas? “A complete disaster” for school funding.

Mulgrew also noted House Speaker Paul Ryan was greeted by protesters when he paid a visit to Success Academy in Harlem on May 9.

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