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DA Report the highest policy-making body of the UFT

Mulgrew: Prepare to be called on in July

Delegates cheer NAACP’s

NYT_20110622_44aMiller Photography A standing ovation (left) greeted NAACP New York State President Hazel Dukes’ visit to the June Delegate Assembly following the assembly’s unanimous passage of a resolution pledging continued UFT solidarity with and support for the NAACP. Dukes said the truth has not been told in the news media about why the NAACP joined the UFT and other plaintiffs in challenging school closings and the co-location or expansion of 18 charter schools in public school buildings. “The issue is that every child be educated through quality public education,” she said. “That’s the fight I’m involved in.” Dukes defended the NAACP against coordinated attacks by charter school supporters at a June 3 press conference. At the DA, she thanked the UFT for its support, noting the long history of labor support for her organization dating back to its founding 100 years ago. She concluded, “Until I draw my last breath, I will fight for all children for equality and justice.” UFT President Michael Mulgrew praised the NAACP for standing strong against the attacks. “We’ve been through fires with the NAACP and continue to support them,” he said. below right: Dukes addresses the Delegate Assembly. NYT_20110622_44b

With the threat of 4,200 teacher layoffs still looming as the school year draws to a close, an angry Michael Mulgrew called on the delegates to be prepared to hit the streets this summer in the event that even one teacher receives a pink slip.

“If there is a single layoff, everyone must understand our pain and anger,” the UFT president told the Delegate Assembly on June 15. “The mayor of New York City needs to understand the ramifications of what happens if he lays off our members.”

Mulgrew urged chapter leaders and delegates to be prepared in case the UFT has to mobilize members quickly in July or August.

“Start planning now,” he said.

He advised them to build school-based teams, to create a summer contact list and to reach out to local community allies who were part of the successful grassroots outreach that the union initiated.

Mulgrew said the member unions of the Municipal Labor Committee have discussed using money in a health care reserve fund to save public employee jobs and 20 fire companies, but the unions’ deep mistrust of the mayor has made it difficult to reach agreement.

“The unions are very angry at this point,” he said. “I don’t know if this deal or any deal gets done.”

Mulgrew thanked the delegates for “fighting back at everything they threw at us this year.” He gave kudos to them for showing up and turning out thousands more at scores of rallies, for initiating school demonstrations and for lobbying their local Council members to stand firm against layoffs.

“You have kept this union strong and fighting throughout the year,” he said.

But even with virtually every City Council member on the same page with the UFT thanks to the members’ activism, he said layoffs could not be ruled out.

“Just because it makes sense to use the surplus money in the budget to stop layoffs, that doesn’t mean that that is what the mayor will decide,” he said.

Touching on other union issues in his presentation, Mulgrew called the Special Education Student Information System (SESIS) a good idea that the Department of Education fouled up in the implementation. He said the DOE once again chose not to talk to the educators in the schools who must use the system, instead relying on consultants and lawyers to create and roll out the new system.

He asked members to use the online form in the Students with Disabilities section of the UFT website to document their problems with SESIS to help the UFT prepare a union-initiated grievance to force the DOE to remedy the issues.

“We are trying to force them to fix the system and make it right,” he said. “If they can fix it, it will make our work easier.”

Mulgrew acknowledged that next year may be no easier, but promised the UFT will only make decisions that are best for its members and the students they teach.

“We are at a crossroads in education and have to take back our profession,” he said.


Delegates opposed to co-location inequities

Delegates at the last Delegate Assembly of the 2010-2011 school year passed three resolutions at their June 15 meeting:

A resolution for the UFT to continue to oppose the Department of Education’s co-location policy pending a court ruling on the lawsuit and to call on the DOE to ensure that schools involved in co-locations keep class sizes under the agreed-upon limits, that co-location plans accommodate all educational, social and programmatic needs of the schools, and that capital improvements benefit all students in the building.

A resolution to publish in the New York Teacher the names of city public schools that burn “dirty oil,” which is linked to lung, heart and respiratory conditions, to call on the city to speed up the replacement of those boilers before the end of the mayor’s term in office, and to take legal action if the DOE and city are found negligent in safeguarding students, members and the public.

A resolution calling for UFT solidarity with and support of the New York State NAACP and its president, Hazel Dukes. An amendment to the resolution, put forth by President Michael Mulgrew, calling for a campaign to encourage more UFT members to join the NAACP, passed unanimously. [See back page to join.]

Delegates voted to put on the day’s agenda a resolution urging members to support and join union workers encamped overnight at “Bloombergville” near City Hall to protest budget cuts, but the meeting adjourned before a vote could be taken.

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