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Chapter Leader UpdateOct. 5, 2021

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Michael Mulgrew, wearing a suit, stands at a lectern before a group of masked people sitting in evenly spaced chairs

BACK IN PERSON: Two hundred chapter leaders on Sept. 22 returned to Shanker Hall for the first time since the start of the pandemic to attend the annual citywide chapter leaders meeting. Another thousand participated remotely in the event. (Erica Berger)

This Week's Focus

Rising to meet this week’s staffing challenges

Thank you for submitting the staffing shortage form last week. Your responses helped us pinpoint the schools that most needed our support on Monday. In the end, 95% of all full-time DOE employees, including 96% of UFT members, received at least one dose of the vaccine by the Oct. 1 deadline. Redeployed DOE staff, including central and district office employees in UFT-represented job titles, along with substitutes, helped keep our schools safe and enabled teaching and learning to continue without major interruptions in the vast majority of our schools. We know these are temporary solutions; the UFT is working with the DOE to come up with a plan for permanently closing staffing gaps. If you need help with a staffing issue at your school, please contact your district rep or call the UFT safety hotline at 212-331-6317.


Review your nonmember report and sign up new hires

More than 5,000 new teachers and other staff have been hired so far this school year. You are the face of the union for these new hires. Please offer your support to them and invite them to your chapter meetings. Please check the nonmember report for your school in the chapter leader section of the website (you must be logged in to access it) to see if all new hires at your school have joined the union. Ask nonmembers to go to the UFT website and fill out the online union enrollment form at www.uft.org/enroll. New hires can also fill out paper enrollment cards, which you should submit to the union. If you don’t have any enrollment cards, please advise your district representative. Since new staff are hired throughout the school year, please ask your school secretary to give you a heads up each time a new hire in the UFT bargaining unit comes on board.


Protocol for resolving workplace issues this school year

The union has extended for another school year the use of the operational issues process to address the special work rules and temporary agreements negotiated as a result of the pandemic. The only exception is issues related to payment, which should be resolved using the standard grievance process. Chapter leaders should file an operational issues complaint on the day that they attempt to resolve the issue with their principal through a one-on-one conversation, an email or their UFT consultation committee. From that day, the principal will have five school days to resolve the issue. If still unresolved, the issue may be escalated to the District Paperwork and Operational Committee. The district representative and Superintendent have five days to resolve at the district level. If it is not resolved at the district level, the central committee, which meets monthly, will attempt to resolve the issue. Chapter leaders should file a Step 1 grievance on a member’s behalf to address violations of the regular DOE-UFT contract, including class size and reorganization. Issues concerning paperwork, curriculum, professional development, basic instructional supplies, workload and space issues go through the operational issues process. Both the operational issues report and the Step 1 grievance form are in the chapter leader section of the UFT website (you must be logged in to access them). 


Organize your school’s Go Pink day on Oct. 13

About one in eight women in the United States will develop breast cancer over the course of her lifetime. Please organize your fellow UFT members to raise awareness about breast cancer by asking them to wear pink on Wednesday, Oct. 13. The activity helps build chapter unity and demonstrates commitment to fighting breast cancer. Take photos of your members wearing pink and post them on Instagram and Twitter using the hashtag #UFTgopink. Please send your best one or two photos (large size, with captions) to uftphotos@gmail.com for the union’s Facebook, Instagram and website photo albums. Also, we want chapter leaders and delegates to wear pink at the Delegate Assembly on that same day. The UFT will send its photographer to several schools to take photos of members in pink. If a UFT photographer has not come to your school in the past five years to take Go Pink photos, please send an email request to editor Joe LoVerde at jloverde@uft.org.  


Register to attend Teacher Union Day virtually on Nov. 7

Teacher Union Day offers an opportunity to celebrate our union’s most recent accomplishments while remembering the brave educators who put everything on the line in the 1960 strike that forged the union. This year, on Sunday, Nov. 7, 89 school chapter leaders will receive Ely Trachtenberg Awards for building strong and vibrant UFT chapters. Ellie Engler, a former UFT staff director, will receive the Charles Cogen Award, the event’s highest honor, for her lifelong advocacy for safe and healthy schools and for her pivotal role protecting UFT members during the pandemic. The UFT’s Health and Safety Department will receive the Backer/Scheintaub Award. See all the 2021 honorees. This year, recognizing the need for social distancing, we are holding a hybrid event. Honorees and their guests only will be invited to attend the celebration at UFT headquarters. All other UFT members are invited to join virtually.

Register online


Donate new winter clothing for students in need

Please help us make sure the students in need who attend the union’s Thanksgiving Luncheon this November all have new winter apparel to bring home afterwards. Organize a winter clothing drive at your school for students in temporary housing and bring your school’s donations of new winter coats, sweaters, scarves, mittens, gloves and hats to the upcoming Delegate Assemblies on Oct. 13 or Nov. 17. You may also drop off donations until Friday, Nov.19, at UFT borough offices or at UFT headquarters, 52 Broadway, on the 14th floor. The union can only accept NEW articles of clothing. The garments may range in size from toddler to adult. For questions, contact Jeannette Noriega at JNoriega@uft.org. Please post this coat drive flier on your UFT bulletin board. 

Chapter Leader Checklist

  • Pre-registration required for next Delegate Assembly: Chapter leaders can attend the first Delegate Assembly for the current school year on Wednesday, Oct. 13, in person or remotely. To adhere to social distancing rules, chapter leaders and delegates planning to attend in person must register in advance, too. Look for your email invitation. 
  • Still time to participate in Making Strides Against Breast Cancer: Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walks are back this year! Brooklyn is holding its walk this Sunday, Oct. 10, and all the other walks will take place on Sunday, Oct. 17. Please make sure your chapter has a school team to fundraise together and support each other. It’s a great event to build chapter spirit and solidarity. Please send your best one or two photos (large size, with captions) to uftphotos@gmail.com for the union’s Facebook, Instagram and website photo albums. Use the hashtag #UFTStrides when you post your own photos to Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. 
  • Are you a new chapter leader? Register for training: New chapter leaders are encouraged to attend UFT Chapter Leader Training, Part 1, online or in person, at UFT headquarters on Sunday, Oct. 17, from 9 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. This all-day training session, the first in a four-part series, is designed to give newly elected chapter leaders the tools and resources they need to effectively lead their school chapters during this difficult year.  

Work in progress

The UFT is working on the following issues with the DOE and other city, state and federal-level entities as appropriate:

  • Guidance on the teacher evaluation system for the 2021-22 school year
  • Tenure criteria for school secretaries

School Chapters on UFT.org

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You Should Know

Contract empowerment and enforcement

Spring break grievance heard at Step 2

The union-initiated grievance filed on July 1 on payment for work during the spring break in 2020 is proceeding through the process. A Step 2 hearing at the chancellor’s level was held on Sept. 28. If the grievance, as expected, is not resolved at Step 2, the dispute will proceed to arbitration, probably in mid-December. This grievance will be the first one filed after the reopening of the traditional grievance system to proceed to arbitration. The grievance argues that UFT members should be fully compensated for all the extra days they were required to work during the 2020 spring break at the height of the pandemic in New York City.

Extension for filing reorganization grievances

The period for filing reorganization grievances has been extended due to the expected reprogramming at some schools because of the staffing changes triggered by the vaccine mandate. As a result of the extension, reorganization grievances filed in early October will be heard by an arbitrator, and the arbitrator’s ruling can be put into effect this term.


Health & Safety

Update on COVID testing in schools

The city is continuing its weekly COVID testing in schools. Now that all school staff have received one dose of the vaccine, only unvaccinated students with signed parent consent forms on file will be part of the school’s 10% random sample each week. Please encourage student families to give their consent for testing. The more unvaccinated students in the testing pool, the safer our school communities will be.

School quarantine policy

According to the new quarantine policy that took effect on Sept. 27, unvaccinated students who consistently wore their mask and were three feet or more apart from a positive student in their classroom will not need to quarantine. The principal, in consultation with the classroom teacher and other staff, will determine which students must quarantine based on this new criteria. There are some caveats to this new policy. If the student who tested positive was unmasked (such as for lunch), any unvaccinated student who was within 6 feet of the positive student and for more than 10 minutes will be considered a close contact. Also, if it was an adult staff member who tested positive, all unvaccinated students in the class will be quarantined. If you have an issue in your school, please call the UFT’s safety hotline at 212-331-6317. See answers to common safety questions in our School Year 2021-22 FAQ on the UFT website.


Instruction

Speak with a certification specialist before signing up for classes

UFT members considering pursuing courses towards an additional certificate or an advanced degree to increase their salary should consult with a UFT certification specialist before making a decision. Certification specialists can help you decide on a study plan so you don’t waste time and money on the wrong classes. Contact a UFT certification specialist at 212-331-6311.

Special education town hall

Special education teachers are invited to attend a special education town hall on Thursday, Oct. 7, from 3:30 to 5 p.m. Participants will learn about the DOE’s Academic Recovery Plan and how it applies to students with disabilities. The academic screening process for students and intervention programs will also be discussed. Town hall attendees will learn about the negotiated resolution processes for contractual and operational issues, how the special education complaint process works and if any of last year’s changes to serving these students will remain in effect.


Political Action

Register to vote by Oct. 8

The deadline to register to vote in the Nov. 2 general election is this Friday, Oct. 8. UFT members who have an ID issued by the state Department of Motor Vehicles can register to vote online by visiting the DMV Voter Registration website. If they wish to submit a written application, they can download the New York State Voter Registration Form and mail it to their county board of election's address, which is found on the second page of the form. The paper form must be postmarked by Oct. 8 and received by the county board of elections by Oct. 13. Not sure if you’re registered to vote? You can check your voter registration status by visiting the NY State Board of Elections Voter Registration and Poll Site Search website.

Vote by mail in the Nov. 2 general election

Due to the COVID pandemic, all registered voters in New York may vote by mail in the Nov. 2 general election if they prefer. You must request an absentee ballot by Monday, Oct. 18, at the NYC Absentee Voting website. Make sure that you check off “temporary illness” on the application as the reason for your request to vote by mail.


Salary & Personnel

Apply for a study sabbatical by Oct. 22

Eligible teachers who want time to study to enhance their teaching skills have until Friday, Oct. 22, to submit an application in SOLAS for a study sabbatical in 2022. Friday, Oct. 29, is the deadline for a principal's recommendation to the superintendent. Coursework must be rigorous and related to your teaching assignment. All teachers are eligible for a one-year study sabbatical after 14 years of service. Junior high or high school classroom teachers with seven years on the job may also apply for a six-month study sabbatical for the spring semester only. During a study sabbatical, whether six months or a full year, teachers earn 70 percent of their salary. Members can read the current guidelines and eligibility requirements for the various sabbatical leaves in the DOE’s 2021-22 sabbatical memo.

Apply for a sabbatical

Virtual town hall for new members on Oct. 26

New hires as well as DOE-employed UFT members who have three years or less working in New York City public schools are invited to attend the union’s new member virtual town hall on Tuesday, Oct. 26, starting at 4:30 p.m. UFT President Michael Mulgrew will give the latest updates, and UFT Vice President Karen Alford, the chair of the union’s New Member Committee, and other UFT representatives will speak to new members about pension, certification, salary and more.


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