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Chapter Leader UpdateChapter Leader Update for Feb. 28, 2020

Photo of the Week

Photo of the Week - Feb. 28, 2020

DON’T SQUEEZE THEM OUT: IS 291 members, including (from left) math teacher Mohanad Bensetra and bilingual special education teacher Yolly Vidal, joined dozens of their colleagues and students at a hearing in Bushwick on Feb. 10 to protest the proposed expansion of a charter school in their building.

This Week's Focus

Celebrate the UFT’s 60th birthday at your school

Monday, March 16, marks the 60th anniversary of the founding of the UFT. That anniversary gives you a great opportunity to engage your chapter and remind your colleagues of how far they’ve come as UFT members. Please consider organizing a birthday celebration or activity at your school on the week of March 16. The anniversary falls on UFT Lobby Day, so if you are traveling to Albany, feel free to choose another day that week to hold your chapter’s event. Please use the sign-up form to let us know your plans. Dignity and respect, professionalism, due process, competitive wages and pension benefits didn’t exist before the founding of our union. You can show this two-minute video about the story of the UFT’s founding to set the stage for your activity. Mark the anniversary in the way that best suits your members and school culture. If you organize a celebration or activity, please send a photo to

Mental health services for members from your union and the DOE

The city’s Employee Assistance Program will now offer services and referrals to all Department of Education employees and their families to help overcome problems that affect quality of life and interfere with effectiveness on the job. It’s important to remind members that the UFT has provided mental health services and other supports through its Member Assistance Program (MAP) since 2009. Members can contact MAP directly at 212-701-9620 or The Employee Assistance Program’s services are also free, confidential and voluntary and delivered by a staff of licensed mental health providers. Some members may be confused by the overlap in services between MAP and the Employee Assistance Program. Please read this FAQ on the UFT website for an explanation of the differences between these two programs.

Use the operational issues process to resolve workplace issues quickly

The operational issues resolution process gives you and your chapter a powerful mechanism to expeditiously resolve workplace operational issues. As a chapter leader, you play a critical role in organizing and empowering your chapter. You can exercise your chapter’s voice by resolving school-level workplace issues using this recently negotiated operational issues process, which builds on the success of the paperwork reduction process. Chapter leaders are raising operational issues with their principals through one-on-one conversations, email notification and consultation committee meetings. As of Jan. 31, more than 1,000 consultation committee meetings discussed an operational issue as part of their agenda. However, once you raise an operational issue with your principal, you also need to complete an online paperwork and operational issues report (you must be logged in to the UFT website to access it) the day you attempt to resolve the issue with your principal. This ensures the proper resolution escalation process is followed to resolve your issues as quickly as possible. From that day, your principal has five days to rectify the issue. If the issue remains unresolved after five days, it may be escalated to the District Paperwork and Operational Committee. If it is not resolved at the district level, the central committee will review the complaint. At that point, the UFT can take any unresolved issues concerning paperwork, curriculum, professional development and basic instructional supplies to arbitration. Unresolved workload and space issues affecting functional chapter members may escalate to the UFT president and the schools chancellor, or their designees.

Listen to President Michael Mulgrew discuss Census 2020

New York stands to lose billions of dollars in federal funding if all New Yorkers aren’t counted in the upcoming 2020 Census. At risk is money for schools, roads, hospitals, public transit and other vital services. The count starts on March 12. In the first part of the UFT's latest “On the Record with Michael Mulgrew” podcast, UFT President Michael Mulgrew and the Rev. Henry Allen Belin of First AME Church: Bethel talk about how educators and faith communities are working together to get people counted. In the second part, Mulgrew and New York City Census Director Julie Menin talk about how to break through the fear or indifference that people have about filling out their Census forms. You can listen to this podcast on your favorite streaming service.  


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Your Chapter Leader Checklist

  • How has UFT membership made a difference for you and your members?: As a chapter leader, you know the importance of being part of a strong and vibrant union. Let’s share these stories with fellow members so they are reminded of the value of union membership. The union’s Student Debt Relief Program allowed Katelyn Bean to reduce her monthly loan payments by half. Chapter Leader Kathy Lafontant’s school is turning around under the leadership of a new principal, thanks to the union’s help. The union helped teacher Alyson Macaluso when she suddenly lost her health insurance because of an administrative error. Read UFT members’ stories on our Union Proud website. What story do you have to tell about the importance of the UFT for you or your chapter? Use this online form to share your story.
  • District political action teams will support chapter leaders: In the coming weeks, small district-level political action teams will visit your school to support your efforts to educate your school community about the importance of counting every New Yorker, including children, in the Census. As the new COPE brochures and reports arrive at your school, these political action teams will also be on hand to support your efforts to increase the number of members who contribute to COPE as well as how much they contribute.
  • Have you joined your online Chapter Leader Community?: The new online Chapter Leader Community gives you a place to share ideas with other chapter leaders in your district and find answers to questions about union rights and benefits. If you haven’t joined the community yet, please take a moment to find the welcome email from UFT President Michael Mulgrew and follow the steps to log in. Having trouble logging in? Read our Login FAQ. Already registered? You can enter your Chapter Leader Community here. If you didn’t receive the welcome email, please check your spam folder or call the UFT contact center at 212-331-6311.

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Share with Your Members

NewSt. Pat’s For All flier

New HERstory brunch flier

New Student Debt Relief Program flier

New Project Farmhouse Open House flier

Why the 2020 Census Matters flier

Middle School Conference and Awards flier

UFT Pride Committee Daniel Dromm Scholarship 2020 Application Form

UFT Text Message flier

LGBTQ+ Support Group flier

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You Should Know

Community Service

UFT scholarship for high school seniors who are LGBTQ activists: High school educators and school counselors should encourage seniors who are LGBTQ activists to apply for the UFT Pride Committee Daniel Dromm Scholarship, named for the New York City councilman and chair of the Council’s LGBTQ caucus. One winner from each borough will receive a $1,000 scholarship. Applicants must attend college next fall and have a minimum 3.0 GPA. For full requirements and to apply, see the UFT Pride Committee Daniel Dromm Scholarship 2020 Application Form. The application deadline is Wednesday, April 1.

Health and Safety

New UFT Welfare Fund prescription benefit enhancement: Starting Sunday, March 1, in-service members may fill prescriptions for maintenance medication at any Walgreens/Duane Reade pharmacy. You may still order through the Express Scripts Mail Order Pharmacy; the choice is yours. Whether you use Express Scripts Mail Order or Walgreens/Duane Reade, your copayment remains the same for a three-month supply: $10 for generics, $30 for preferred brand-name drugs and $70 for non-preferred brand-name drugs. Use this store locator to find a Walgreens or Duane Reade near you.

Discounted rates for Weight Watchers: All city employees, their spouses or domestic partners, and dependents who are eligible for city health benefits, may join Weight Watchers for half price. For $7 a month, members may enroll in Weight Watchers Digital, which entitles them to 24/7 chat support, digital tools, mobile apps, the Weight Watchers Connect social platform and activity device syncing. With the Digital + Workshop option, for only $15 a month, members may take advantage of confidential weigh-ins, at-work meetings where available, unlimited community meetings and guidance from a Weight Watchers leader. For more information, see the Wellness Programs and Initiatives page on the UFT website or the Work Well NYC FAQ.

Professional Learning Opportunities

New Register for spring UFT high school workshops: High school educators who wish to upgrade their teaching skills may attend workshops in the UFT’s spring high school workshop series in March. Topics include Designing Coherent Instruction: Component 1E and Using Questioning and Discussion Techniques: Component 3B. The fee for each workshop is $30 for teachers who wish to receive CTLE credit and $15 without CTLE credit. The fee for paraprofessionals is $15 with or without CTLE credit. All workshops are held at UFT headquarters, 52 Broadway, from 4 to 6 p.m. For workshop descriptions and to register, see the High School Workshops page in the LearnUFT section of the UFT website.

New Remembering the Past: the Triangle factory fire: Educators may bring students to the 109th annual Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire Commemoration on Wednesday, March 25, at 11:30 a.m. The Triangle Waist Company fire was one of the deadliest workplace tragedies in U.S. history and the resulting public outrage led to new workplace safety laws, the strengthening of unions and a surge in political action around labor issues. To register, or to arrange for a guest speaker to speak with your students, email or call 212 598-9217. For more information, see the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire on the History Channel website.


New Attend a sustainability open house: All members are invited to the DOE Office of Sustainability’s first open house at Project Farmhouse, 76 E. 13th St., on Thursday, March 12, from 4 to 6 p.m. Participants will learn about sustainability programs and resources as well as network with the Office of Sustainability team. Light refreshments will be served. Please register by emailing Share this Project Farmhouse Open House flier with your members.

New Attend Project Cicero book drive: Teachers and librarians who work in schools that receive Title I funds may attend Project Cicero, a free book giveaway for all grade levels and spanning many topics and genres. Participants may take as many books as they can transport. (Bring an empty suitcase with wheels!) This event will take place on Saturday, March 7, and Sunday, March 8, from 10 a.m. to 5:15 p.m., at the Hotel Pennsylvania, 401 Seventh Ave., Manhattan, in the Gold Ballroom. For more information and to register, use the online form

New Opt in for text messages from the UFT: Be among the first notified by the UFT about weather-related school closings, breaking news and other important information. These messages are occasional — we won't inundate your cell phone. See our flier for a sample of text messages we have sent in the past. Use the online form to sign up for text messages.

Subscribe to the UFT’s Classroom Café podcast: The UFT’s Classroom Café podcast is the place for brewing conversations to help public school educators succeed. The podcast, produced by the union’s Member Assistance Program, offers advice from experts and tips from fellow educators on time management, self-care, mindfulness, classroom climate and other topics. In the latest episode of Classroom Café, you’ll hear about the steps you can take to stay calm and focused and develop a growth mindset. Subscribe to this UFT podcast on your favorite podcast provider to make sure you don’t miss any of the upcoming episodes.


Chapter spotlight on therapist Victor Barangan: Congratulations to Victor Barangan, who works at PS 229 in Queens, on his award for Physical Therapist of the Year. Victor has been a physical therapist with the DOE since 1994, serving students from pre-K to 5th grade in both general education and special education. For Victor, the most rewarding aspect of his job is changing a student’s conception from “I want to do that but I can’t do that,” to “Oh wow, I can do it!” Victor says he is grateful for the assistance the UFT has provided in getting fairer treatment and competitive pay for physical and occupational therapists. You can read more about Victor Barangan’s accomplishments on the UFT website.

Salary and Personnel

Correction to UFT dues information in New York Teacher: There was an error in the UFT dues chart for DOE employees on Page 30 in the Feb. 6 issue of the New York Teacher. These employees received eight checks, NOT 16, between Sept. 19 and Dec. 19, 2019.  That number is important in calculating your total annual dues in 2019. To determine your 2019 dues, you may also consult the UFT dues page on the website.

Apply for a study sabbatical by March 19: Teachers may apply for a sabbatical leave to enhance their teaching skills, restore their health if they are ill or achieve state certification in a shortage area. Eligible teachers who want to study to enhance teaching skills have until Thursday, March 19, to submit an application on SOLAS for a study sabbatical for the 2020–21 school year. Thursday, March 26, is the deadline for a principal’s recommendation to the superintendent. Coursework must be rigorous and related to one’s 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. During a yearlong health sabbatical, teachers earn 70 percent of their salary, too. Find out more about study sabbaticals, restoration of health sabbaticals and shortage-area study sabbaticals in our Leaves of Absence page and the sabbatical leaves section of the UFT website. Members can read the current guidelines and eligibility requirements in the DOE sabbatical memo, which the DOE updates and reissues each spring, and the Chancellor’s Regulation C-650 on Sabbatical Leaves of Absence .

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This Week in Education and Labor News

Trump moves to cut bargaining rights for Department of Defense employees: President Donald Trump has granted the Department of Defense the legal authority to abolish the collective bargaining rights of its civilian labor unions representing some 750,000 workers, reports the Federal Times. Trump invoked “national security” to justify granting the Department of Defense an exemption from the law giving all federal workers the right to unionize. The Trump administration has come under fire for attempts to restrict collective bargaining and unions overall.

Kickstarter employees vote to join union: Workers at the online crowdfunding platform Kickstarter voted on Feb. 25 to join a labor union, reports the Washington Post. The staff of the Brooklyn-based company voted 46 to 37 to join a chapter of the Office and Professional Employees International Union. The campaign was sparked in the months after managers made the decision to take down a funding page for a comic book called “Always Punch Nazis” after it had been written about by the right-wing site Breitbart.

Teachers see raises following strikes: In the wake of roiling protests and painful teacher shortages, at least 13 state governors so far this year have proposed raising teacher pay, according Education Week. The different bills, if passed, will affect some of the poorest and most rural regions of the country where recent work actions took place. The governors have asked their legislatures to increase funding for K-12 education in order to bump the state’s minimum starting salary for teachers, give across-the-board pay increases or roll out pay-for-performance initiatives.

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Events Calendar


Saturday, March 7: Come to the UFT’s 16th annual School Counselors Conference at UFT headquarters, 52 Broadway, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. This year’s theme is School Counselors Create Positive Change. The registration fee is $30 and includes breakfast and lunch. Register online. You must be logged in to the UFT website to register. When you click the link, you'll be prompted to log in. Then, select "School Counselors Conference" from the menu.

Saturday, March 14: The 39th annual Paraprofessional Festival and Awards Luncheon runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the New York Hilton Midtown, 1335 Sixth Ave. This year’s theme is All Aboard: Navigating the Needs of Culturally Diverse Learners. District 2 City Councilmember, Carlina Rivera is the keynote speaker. The conference includes an awards ceremony and workshops. Participants may also take advantage of wellness activities including a health fair, and meditation and yoga classes. The registration fee is $25 without CTLE credit and $40 with CTLE credit. For a full list of workshops and the agenda, see the Paraprofessional Festival Awards and Luncheon flier. To register, use the online form.

Saturday, March 21: Come to the seventh annual UFT Middle School Conference at UFT headquarters, 52 Broadway, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Participants may attend various workshops to learn more about the union’s Empower! Organize! Engage! campaign and how to implement specific strategies to build powerful chapter committees. See the workshop descriptions on the UFT website. We’ll also honor the vital organizing work of some of our UFT delegates, paraprofessionals and other functional chapter members who work with middle school students. To register, use the online registration form. The registration deadline is Friday, March 6. If you are a middle school chapter leader, please post this Middle School Conference and Awards flier on your UFT bulletin board.

Saturday, March 28: The UFT's 13th annual Early Childhood Education Conference will be held at UFT headquarters from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. This year's theme is Lighting the Future. Rick Ellis, a dynamic early childhood educator, is the keynote speaker. Participants can choose from among 14 exciting workshops on topics including differentiating instruction for boys, creating center activities, using play to foster math skills and making connections between science and literacy. CTLE credits are available. Coffee and tea will be served in the morning, and a hot brunch will be served in the afternoon. For the fee breakdown and to register, see the online form. For detailed descriptions of all the workshops and other information, see the Early Childhood Conference brochure.

This Week

Saturday, Feb. 29: Members may sign up for an informational webinar to hear an overview of the Student Debt Relief Program from 9:30 to 11 a.m. After you register online, you will receive log-in information for the webinar.

Sunday, March 1: Join the UFT contingent as we march in the Annual St. Pat's for All Parade beginning at 12:30 p.m., at 43rd Street and Skillman Avenue, Sunnyside, Queens. This is an inclusive celebration of Irish heritage and culture. To register, see the online form. For more information, see the St. Pat’s For All flier.

Monday, March 2: Social workers are invited to Cyberbullying, a workshop presented by the UFT’s Member Assistance Program. This training takes place from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., at the UFT’s Queens borough office, 118-35 Queens Blvd., 7th floor, Forest Hills. Two CE hours are offered. The cost to register is $50. Register online

Wednesday, March 4: REGISTRATION CLOSED The Bronx maternity/parental leave workshop will take place from 4 to 6 p.m., at the UFT’s Bronx borough office, 2500 Halsey St., rear entrance. 

Wednesday, March 4: Queens-based members are invited to a paid parental leave consultation for the birthing parent from 4 to 6 p.m., at the UFT’s Queens borough office, 118-35 Queens Blvd., 7th floor, Forest Hills. Participants must be in their third trimester. Register online. For more information, see the Queens Paid Parental Leave flier

Thursday, March 5: REGISTRATION CLOSED — The Manhattan paid parental leave/maternity leave workshop will take place from 4 to 6 p.m., at the UFT’s Manhattan borough office, 52 Broadway, 10th floor.

Save the Date

Saturday, April 4: Join us for the 5th annual UFT Men in Education Symposium which will feature workshops about mentoring, fatherhood and empowerment. A continental breakfast and lunch will be provided. Register online.

Saturday, May 16: Join us at the annual UFT Spring Education Conference at the New York Hilton Midtown, 1335 Sixth Ave., from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The event will feature a town hall, exhibits, workshops, breakfast and a gala luncheon. Register online.

For more events, go to

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In Case You Missed It

Testimony regarding proposed state executive budget

Testimony regarding the exploration of a civil service pipeline

Photo Gallery: African Heritage Committee Awards Dinner 2020

CTE Awards Recognition Ceremony 2020

Supervisors of Nurses and Therapists Chapter Newsletter 2020

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Professional Committees

UFT Professional Committees offer a wide range of workshops, presentations and exchanges, enabling all members to take an active part in their professional growth. Unless indicated, meetings are at UFT headquarters, 52 Broadway, Manhattan. Check in the lobby for exact locations. For further information, contact us at 212-598-7772 or visit us online.

African Heritage Committee

  • Tuesday, March 17, 4:30 to 5:30 p.m., second floor, room A, 50 Broadway, general membership meeting.

Asian-American Heritage Committee

  • Wednesday, March 4, 4 to 6 p.m., monthly membership meeting.

Capably Disabled Committee

Jewish Heritage Committee

  • Wednesday, March 18, 6 p.m., general membership meeting.

New York City Art Teachers Association

  • 2020 Student Exhibit Opportunity, Inside/Outside: Young Artists Unite Against Bullying IV. The submission deadline for images and statements is Thursday, March 5.

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Calling the UFT

The UFT’s new contact center is open and can provide support with all your union rights and benefits. Call the following numbers with any questions or for assistance.

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Editor: Peter O’Donnell

Executive Editor: Bernadette Weeks

Contributors include: Karen Alford, Bradley Alter, George Altomare, Nancy Aromando, Ina Babb-Henry, LeRoy Barr, Hannah Brown, Rashad Brown, Tom Brown, David Campbell, Crystal Deoraj, Brian Gibbons, Alison Gendar, Anthony Harmon, Sarah Herman, Janella Hinds, Anthony Klug, Junior Linton, Joe LoVerde, Richard Mantell, Samantha Mark, Deidre McFadyen, Michael Murphy, Gabriel Nott, Frank Panebianco, Marisol Pena, Suzanne Popadin, Jeffrey Povalitis, Debra Poulos, Cassie Prugh, Tina Puccio, Nadine Reis, Hector Ruiz, Nanette Sanchez-Rosario, Robin Sentell, Michael Sill, Anne Silverstein, Geof Sorkin, Rosemarie Thompson, Joseph Usatch, Angel Vasquez and Betty Zohar.