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Chapter Leader UpdateFeb. 6, 2023

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GROUP PROJECT: Chapter Leader Jennifer Immello (center) shows off the ideas that came out of the teach-in at PS 112 in Dutch Kills, Queens.

This Week's Focus

Build on the energy from this week’s teach-in

The hard work put into holding teach-ins all across the city was evident this week. Close to 1,000 schools led by chapter leaders and other Contract Action Team members joined together to both inform and activate members on a whole new level. The photos you shared with the union were fantastic. Check out our Facebook album and our Instagram story. We will be in touch with more planned actions soon. We have been hearing from chapter leaders everywhere that their membership showed incredible levels of engagement. Your work generated new energy and interest in the work of our union, and you can use this moment to build. What questions did members have? What issues concerned them? It’s a good time to encourage colleagues to join your consultation committee, increase attendance at your chapter meetings and give them other ways to connect with and be an active part of the union. If they showed a particular interest in organizing around our contract negotiations, please urge them to join the CAT team.


UFT to fight Gov. Hochul’s plan to increase charters

Gov. Kathy Hochul proposed on Feb. 1 to significantly increase the number of charter schools in New York City. If her proposal becomes part of the final state budget, it could lead to as many as 106 new charter schools opening in New York City. Under each charter, chains may open elementary, middle and high schools in separate locations, so the total increase could be, in fact, more than 300 new schools. Hochul plans to scrap the regional cap on charters in the city and revive so-called “zombie” charters held by now-closed schools. Her plan was immediately pilloried by the UFT, NYSUT and key state lawmakers. “Gov. Hochul is right to fully fund public education, but wrong to try to expand charter schools,” said UFT President Michael Mulgrew. “Public resources should go to real public schools — not to corporate charter chains that claim success by refusing to serve our most vulnerable children, that force out students who don't fit their mold, and that refuse to permit independent audits of their spending.” Under a law foisted on the city by then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo, New York City is required to provide free space for charters in its school buildings or reimburse their rent. Of the 275 charter schools currently in New York City, 128 are in DOE-owned or DOE-leased buildings and 147 are in non-DOE space. New York City public school buildings need all their available space to lower class size. The rental aid the DOE pays for charter schools grew to $153.4 million in the 2021-22 school year, 15 times higher than the $10.2 million it paid in 2014‑15.


Federation of Nurses/UFT members ratify contract

Federation of Nurses/UFT members who are licensed practical nurses with VNS Health on Jan. 26 overwhelmingly ratified a contract that provides a 6.6% increase in base salaries over two years while preserving current premium-free health benefits and establishing a forum to address the important issue of caseload. “Our union team was committed to addressing the concerns of all our members,” said UFT Vice President Anne Goldman, who leads the Federation of Nurses/UFT. The contract went into effect on Feb. 1 and runs through January 2025. The contract features a 3% hike taking effect on April 1, 2023, followed by a 3.5% increase on April 1, 2024, raising the base salary by a minimum of $4,200 in just more than a year. The agreement also establishes a regular opportunity for dialogue dedicated to case assignment issues, and it makes tuition reimbursement more accessible.


Support your paras at their annual awards luncheon

Come out to support paraprofessionals from your school at this year's annual Paraprofessional Festival and Awards Luncheon, which takes place on Saturday, March 25, at the New York Hilton at 1335 Sixth Ave., from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. This year’s theme is “Remembering the Past as We Embrace the Future.” The keynote speaker is AFT Vice President Evelyn DeJesus, who began her career as a paraprofessional and rose to become the first Latina officer in our national union’s history. In addition to the awards ceremony, the event offers breakfast, CTLE workshops on a range of relevant topics, a carnival with games and prizes, a bag full of wellness freebies, a chance to win raffle prizes and a luncheon. The registration fee is $25 per person. Paras who would like to take a workshop for CTLE hours pay an additional fee of $7.50 for each workshop attended. School Leadership Team members may use funds allocated to the team to pay for registration fees by using a school-generated event purchase order. For detailed instructions on how to pay by purchase order, see this UFT purchase order memo.

Register now

Chapter Leader Checklist

To Do #1
Wear blue to the Feb. 15 Delegate Assembly

As we build on the momentum created by this week’s contract teach-ins, we want to see a sea of union blue at the Delegate Assembly on Wednesday, Feb. 15. Remember, as your school’s elected union representative, your participation at Delegate Assembly meetings is crucial to UFT policymaking. Be on the lookout for your email invitation to register.

To Do #2
Remind colleagues to explore the new Member Hub

Similar to the Chapter Leader Hub, the Member Hub places member-specific and other key information right at the member’s fingertips. Members can update their contact information, sign up for workshops, explore their benefits, view their claim status and do more in this personalized hub. The hub is accessed using the same username and password you use to access the UFT website. Chapter leaders can access both the Chapter Leader Hub and the Member Hub from the same main webpage.

Log in to the Member Hub

To Do #3
Fliers to share with your members

Here are fliers you can print and distribute in member mailboxes or post on your school’s UFT bulletin board.

CLU Hub Highlights

Request a visit to your school from a UFT representative

UFT officers and union reps from various departments are available to visit your school and speak with the members of your chapter. You can request a school visit from any of the UFT’s vice presidents, the UFT’s Certification, Contract Empowerment, Grievance and Safety & Health departments, or the UFT Welfare Fund. Request a visit today through the Chapter Leader Hub. Remember: You access the hub using your UFT website username and password.

Enter the hub

Work in progress

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

  • Helping sub paras navigate the DOE’s hiring process.
  • Addressing issues with SubCentral and principals pulling ICT teachers to cover absences.

You Should Know

CONTRACT EMPOWERMENT & ENFORCEMENT

Determine if PROSE is right for your school

If you work in a school that is highly collaborative and has innovative practices, you may be interested in becoming a Progressive Redesign Opportunity Schools for Excellence (PROSE) school. PROSE schools may change the UFT contract and DOE regulations to create educator-led, community-driven innovations. The UFT is accepting applications from schools interested in joining the PROSE program in fall 2023. Please join us at a virtual information session on Tuesday, Feb. 7, at 3:30 p.m. A PROSE school liaison would be happy to set up a meeting with your school. Contact PROSE@uft.org to request a visit or ask questions. For more information, check out the PROSE section of the UFT website. The deadline to submit an application is Friday, March 31. Applications are reviewed and approved on a rolling basis by the PROSE panel.  The earlier your application is received, the sooner it will be reviewed by the panel.

Register for an information session

MEDICAL & WELLNESS

Learn about the journey from adversity to triumph

What does it take to transform your life when you face great adversity? In this episode of the UFT Member Assistance Program’s Classroom Café podcast, S.P. Brown, a New York City-born author, attorney and former corporate executive, talks about how, spurred on by her love of books and writing, she overcame childhood verbal and physical abuse. “Gifts in Brown Paper Packages,” her debut novel, is a fictional coming-of-age story based on real-life experience about a teenager who escapes domestic abuse to find her way in the world.

Listen to the podcast

A discussion on how gun violence affects schools

The UFT, in collaboration with the University of Pennsylvania, will host a community conversation on Thursday, Feb. 16, from 4 to 5:30 p.m., about the trauma of gun violence and how it affects our students, members and families. You can attend at the UFT’s Brooklyn borough office at 335 Adams St., 24th floor, or participate remotely. Amina Brown, the guest speaker, is the founder of the Center for Community Turnaround in Washington, D.C., and a doctoral student who has conducted research on gun violence at the University of Pennsylvania. A short film will be screened, and then Brown will talk about her research examining teacher-led efforts to respond to gun violence and the trauma it creates for children and the school community. The event will conclude with a group discussion among in-person attendees. Post this flier on your UFT bulletin board.

Register now

POLITICAL ACTION

UFT Lobby Day in Albany is slated for March 13

Chapter leaders, let your district representative know if you or others in your school chapter are interested in participating in UFT Lobby Day in Albany on Monday, March 13. Together, we will encourage state lawmakers to increase funding for public schools, speak out against Gov. Hochul’s charter school expansion plan, and support the rest of the union’s legislative agenda. Remember, once they have registered for Lobby Day, UFT members must obtain approval from their principal. You can advise your principal that the Principal’s Weekly states, “As in past years, the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) is sponsoring a State Aid Conference in Albany. This year‘s conference will be held on March 13. Note that this day is authorized as a conference day for selected teachers and as a nonattendance day for selected paraprofessionals. You may receive a request from your UFT chapter leader or district representative to release staff members who have been selected. Staff members may also notify you directly that they have been selected and request permission to attend; note that they must obtain your permission and they must have been selected by the UFT in order to attend the conference.” Please make sure that members understand that anyone who formally registers for Lobby Day but does not attend must report for work or use a sick or personal absence day. If you have any questions, please contact your district representative or your borough’s political action coordinator.

SALARY & PERSONNEL

Tax deduction for educators increases to $300

Eligible educators can deduct from their federal income taxes up to $300 of unreimbursed expenses from 2022 for books, supplies, computer equipment (including related software and services), other equipment and supplementary materials they use in the classroom, according to the IRS. The agency raised the deduction from $250 to $300, the first time the deduction has increased since its enactment in 2002. If you are married, filing jointly and both spouses are educators, you can deduct up to $600, but not more than $300 each. For courses in health and physical education, expenses for supplies are qualified expenses only if they are related to athletics. The educator expense deduction is an “adjustment to gross income” so you can use it whether you use the standard deduction or itemize on your tax return. You should keep documentation, such as receipts or canceled checks, for any deductions you take. UFT members can deduct the full amount of their union dues from their state taxes if they itemize deductions on their state tax return. If you are not sure whether you are entitled to a deduction, or you have any other questions regarding your tax returns, consult a tax adviser.

Learn more

SPECIAL EDUCATION

Find the latest guidance on students with disabilities

The students with disabilities section of the UFT website has comprehensive, up-to-date information about working with students with disabilities in New York City public schools. Check out what’s new in special education as items are added regularly. There is also valuable information about new special education certification opportunities. It’s important to make sure you are on the principal’s radar for these opportunities since they may require an administrator’s endorsement or nomination. This section currently features a package of CTLE-eligible restorative practice webinars offered by a collaboration of the State Education Department, the State Unified Court System and New York’s Community Dispute Resolution Center.

EVERYTHING ELSE

Come to the UFT’s Early Childhood Conference on April 1

You are invited to attend the UFT's 15th annual Early Childhood Education Conference, which will be held at UFT headquarters on Saturday, April 1, from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Attendees can connect with fellow early childhood educators and earn up to four CTLE hours in workshops that will help 3K to 2nd-grade educators holistically support young learners. Participants can choose from among 10 workshops on topics including self-regulation, the power of play, science as inquiry for young children and igniting learning in multilingual learners. UFT President Michael Mulgrew will give greetings, and conference organizer Karen Alford, the UFT vice president for elementary schools, will deliver a welcome address. The fee is $35 with a $10 discount for paraprofessionals. For detailed descriptions of all the workshops and other information, see the Early Childhood Conference brochure.

Register now

Recent Guidance and Agreements

Contact the UFT

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