Chapter Leader UpdateApril 21, 2021
This Week's Focus
UFT endorses Scott Stringer for mayor
Following an arduous four-month vetting process including five town halls attended by more than 12,000 UFT members, the UFT Delegate Assembly, at a special April 19 meeting, voted to endorse Scott Stringer in the June 22 Democratic primary for New York City mayor. The resolution to endorse Stringer, the current city comptroller, was carried with 90% of the vote. “As a school system and as a city, we are going to be facing unprecedented challenges,” UFT President Michael Mulgrew said during a press conference following the DA vote. “We have to have someone with a proven record of getting things done. That person is Scott Stringer.” In the months leading up to the endorsement, some 14,000 UFT members shared their views on the new UFT political action website, nyc2021.uft.org, about what they wanted in the next mayor and their policy priorities.
3-foot guidelines in some schools on April 26
The DOE surveyed principals with 3-K, pre-K and grades K–5 to determine which schools would need to adopt the use of 3-foot social distancing protocols between students in classrooms. The only two reasons for schools to adopt this new distance would be to accommodate newly opted-in students or to expand in-person learning to five days a week. Elementary schools adopting the 3-foot guidelines received additional guidance on next steps from the DOE. The principals are using that guidance to develop a plan along with the COVID-19 building response team for implementation on Monday, April 26. The superintendent must approve all plans. UFT representatives are visiting schools this week to help create safety protocols for implementing the new guidelines. The union will then distribute these protocols to all elementary school chapter leaders. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact your UFT district representative. We will provide a complaint form to elementary school chapter leaders so issues needing resolution are addressed.
Details of early retirement incentive must be negotiated
The final state budget signed by the governor on April 19 includes an early retirement incentive. The bill that passed applies only to New York City public employees and requires the city employers and unions to agree on which job titles it will cover. The passage of the bill puts the UFT one step closer to securing the benefit for its members before the summer. But there is still one more hurdle: negotiating the details with the mayor and the City Council. “The UFT fought hard in Albany to secure this early retirement incentive for our members,” said UFT President Michael Mulgrew. “We hope we can reach an agreement that provides this well-deserved opportunity for many of our members. We will work hard to negotiate these crucial details as quickly as possible.” Please ask members to be patient as we negotiate those details.
UFT lobbying pays off in final state budget
New York City public schools are receiving a historic boost in state aid. The final budget provides a $1.3 billion increase for New York City schools. A sizable chunk of that money constitutes a long-overdue commitment to “foundation aid,” the part of the budget that goes to high-needs districts in New York City. Sixteen years ago, a state court settled the case of Campaign for Fiscal Equity v. State of New York by ordering the state to provide this money to the city’s schoolchildren to meet its constitutional responsibility to provide a “sound, basic education” to every child. “This is the best budget the children of New York City have had in years,” said UFT President Michael Mulgrew. Thank you to the chapter leaders and all our members who effectively lobbied state legislators this year for this funding increase.
Letitia James to receive UFT's Dewey Award
State Attorney General Letitia James will receive the John Dewey Award for Excellence in Education, the union’s highest honor, at its virtual Spring Education Conference on Saturday, May 15. James, the first black woman to hold that post, has long been an independent, strong advocate for public schools and working people. There will be a town hall in the morning and in the afternoon, UFT members have their choice of two CTLE-eligible workshops to attend.
Chapter Leader Checklist
- Trachtenberg Awards nominations due April 23: The nomination form includes a series of questions that reflect the criteria the Ely Trachtenberg Award Committee reviews in selecting outstanding UFT chapters to honor. Nominations are due by April 23. Nominate your chapter »
- Make sure your chapter’s election chair meets timeline dates: Remind election chairs that they must notify the district representative by Monday, May 3, at the latest if they have no member candidates to run for one or more of the elected positions for your school chapter. When the election chair has notified the union of a contested race, elections by phone will be conducted between Monday, May 17, and Friday, June 18. Learn more »
- CORRECTION on chapter election posters sent to schools: Please note that the chapter election poster has the wrong information about how the date of each school election will be determined. The school chapter will not pick the date. To manage workload and call volume, the American Arbitration Association will assign the date for each school chapter election so these elections are spaced evenly throughout the election period. The AAA will notify members of the school chapter by mail and email.
- Register for chapter leader training: The second round of chapter leader training workshops are taking place via Zoom on Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. These virtual workshops are open to all chapter leaders. The final two sessions are Reorganization on Saturday, April 24, and End-of-Year Topics on Saturday, May 1. Register now »
Work in progress
- Pressing the DOE to release the 2021-22 school year calendar
- Finalizing Measures of Student Learning (MOSL) options for schools
- Negotiating with City Hall the details of the early retirement incentive
School Chapters on UFT.org
You Should Know
Health and Safety
New protocol for school closures
Following the science and the advice of its independent medical experts, the UFT negotiated with City Hall a new protocol for closing classrooms and schools that shifts the focus to preventing in-school outbreaks. Under the new policy, which took effect on April 12, classrooms continue to go fully remote whenever one positive case is detected but entire schools no longer go remote when two unrelated cases are found. Now entire schools move to remote learning for 10 days only when four or more cases in different classrooms within one school can be traced to a common exposure within the school in a seven-day period.
Continue to report safety issues to union
All school divisions are now open and every school must continue to follow the comprehensive building safety plan the city and union established last fall. Your school’s building response team is responsible for ensuring that your building is adhering to these safety and health standards. Please immediately report any issues to the UFT at our dedicated safety hotline at 212-331-6317. We will relay your information to the city and the DOE so they can immediately fix the problem. Please keep your UFT district representative in the loop about issues you report.
Medical and Wellness
Are the constant changes of the pandemic getting to you?
Dealing with change is challenging at the best of times, and we've been confronted with continual changes during this pandemic. Please join the UFT's next Let’s Talk About It session on transitions organized by the union's Member Assistance Program. This large, interactive session will be led by a licensed clinician and give you time to share and reflect on your experiences in breakout groups. You’ll leave with actionable strategies for navigating transitions to implement in your daily life. Register for this session on Thursday, May 6, from 5 to 6 p.m. The session will be offered again on Wednesday, May 19, from 5 to 6 p.m.
Bereavement support group for UFT members
Grieving the loss of a loved one or colleague can be difficult and complicated. You don’t have to go through it alone. The UFT’s Member Assistance Program organizes small bereavement support groups where members can connect with other members who are also experiencing a loss, whether due to COVID-19 or another cause. The next four-week virtual group session will meet on Tuesdays, from 5 to 6 p.m. on May 11, 18 and 25, and June 1.
Find healthy ways to manage negative feelings
The pandemic has led to difficult emotions for many people. Learn to identify your emotional triggers, develop healthy coping skills and enhance your interpersonal relationships. When left unresolved stress, frustration and feeling overwhelmed can feel like a volcano erupting inside you. Join the Member Assistance Program’s small support group for 60 minutes each week and learn how to manage your emotions in a healthy way. The next three-week virtual group sessions take place on Wednesdays, from 4 to 5 p.m. on May 5, 12 and 19.
Learn the basics about ranked-choice voting
Ranked-choice voting is New York City’s new method for conducting elections, allowing you to rank the candidates for a city office in order of preference. Come to a workshop on Thursday, May 6, at 7 p.m. to learn the basics about ranked-choice voting with the UFT, the Eleanor’s Legacy Action Fund and allied groups. Feel free to share this invitation with your colleagues, family members and friends. The sessions are open to the public.
Salary and Personnel
Summer school postings coming soon
Our members and parents challenged us to reimagine summer school and the union’s advocacy with the DOE worked! We’ve redesigned summer school as a place for children to go to make friends, learn social skills, participate in enrichment activities and catch up on academics. We expect the largest summer school enrollment in the city’s history, so there will be many positions to fill. The DOE will post the positions in the next few weeks. Stay tuned.
Members on leave must tell the DOE of plans for 2021-22
UFT members on leave through June must notify the Department of Education of their intentions for next school year by Monday, May 17. If a member does not notify the DOE about their plans to return or apply for a leave extension by the May 17 deadline, they will be deemed voluntarily resigned from their position. Members on leave will receive an email from the DOE that explains how to log into SOLAS to state their intentions. They are also receiving alerts from the union. Members who have questions should call the UFT at 212-331-6317.
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