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Chapter Leader UpdateChapter Leader Update for March 5, 2020

Photo of the Week

Photo of the Week

UNION AT WORK: Members of the Federation of Nurses/UFT cast votes on Feb. 27 at NYU Langone Hospital-Brooklyn, overwhelmingly ratifying a two-year contract that raises salaries and improves staffing, a top priority for many.


This Week's Focus

See the UFT website for what you need to know about coronavirus

The UFT has created a new information hub on its website that contains the latest information and city Department of Education guidance on the new coronavirus. Here you’ll find DOE guidance for principals, staff and parents as well as information about transmission and symptoms, quarantine guidelines, preventive measures and absences. We will update this section as new guidance from the DOE or other important information is released. As soon as you have had the chance to gather the information we asked for concerning cleaning supplies and protective gear and the staffing of the isolation room, please fill out this online form to report any issues to the union. The UFT continues to work with the DOE and the Department of Health to monitor the outbreak of Covid-19 and its effect on our school communities.

Get the word out at your school about the Census

The 2020 Census begins on Thursday, March 12. The stakes are high. The more of us who fill out our Census forms, the more money New York will get for schools, hospitals, roads, bridges, senior centers and more. UFT members are trusted messengers and can help get the word out to our families and communities. If you have not yet done any outreach to your school community, please consider distributing this Why the Census Matters flier and supporting families with completing their Census forms at parent-teacher conferences, at drop-off or pickup from school or at a scheduled school event. Remember to visit Census 2020: Everyone Counts! on the UFT website for more information, resources and lesson plans.

Celebrate Women’s History Month with HERstory brunch

In honor of Women’s History Month, UFT members are invited to the union’s third annual HERstory brunch, a celebration of the women of the UFT, on Sunday, March 15, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., at UFT headquarters, 52 Broadway, second floor. Register online. This year’s event theme is “Ceiling Smashing.” Join us as we share stories about our roles as UFT leaders and activists and pay tribute to the women who helped build the UFT into the powerhouse it is today. Our special guest speakers — Sherry Chan, chief actuary of New York City, and Sharon Lee, Queens borough president — will share their stories of “ceiling smashing.” We will honor Lucille Swaim, whose fingerprints are on every UFT contract starting with the very first one in 1962. We will also kick off our Women of Hope poster series with a poster honoring New York State Attorney General Letitia James, the first African-American and first woman to be elected to the position. Participants will also have the opportunity to have a relaxing massage, manicure and more.

Career Training Program for paraprofessionals

Please alert your paras about a benefit fought for and won by the UFT that will help subsidize their college education. Paraprofessionals who wish to earn a bachelor’s degree can apply for paid college credit through the New York City Career Training Program. This program pays tuition for three to six credits per semester up to a maximum of 120 credits for undergraduate study at participating colleges or universities. Participants receive two and a half hours per week of release time from their school and a summer stipend to support their study. Only full-time paraprofessionals are eligible for this program. The application deadline for the summer 2020 semester is Tuesday, March 31; paras must have an account with the Career Training Program. To register for an account and apply for the summer 2020 semester, use this online form. For more information, see the Career Training Program Fact Sheet or the Career Training Program FAQ.

Sign up your CTE high school for the Spring Conference exhibit hall

high schools and two free luncheon tickets for each participating school. This year on Saturday, May 16, at the New York Hilton in midtown Manhattan, we invite members from these schools to take advantage of this great opportunity to showcase their programs and stress the importance of career and technical education. More than 1,000 educators, parents and city leaders will attend the daylong event and view the exhibits in the Americas Hall. We want you with us on this exciting day. A maximum of 10 students from each school may participate in the exhibit. These students are invited to join us for breakfast, but cannot attend the luncheon. Each student will receive a round-trip MetroCard and two movie passes. Register online by Friday, April 24. For more information, read the exhibitor instructions. If you have any questions, please email Angel Valentin at

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Your Chapter Leader Checklist

  • New Use your personal email for all union business: DO NOT use your DOE email address to conduct union business. To do so is a violation of the DOE’s internet policy. All email correspondence about grievances and other union activities should be conducted using a non-DOE personal email address.
  • New Participate in your district’s 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. Already registered? You can enter your Chapter Leader Community here. Having trouble logging in? Read our Login FAQ or call the UFT contact center at 212-331-6311.
  • 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
  • Use the operational issues process to resolve workplace issues quickly: You can exercise your chapter’s voice by resolving school-level workplace issues using the recently negotiated operational issues 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. You need to complete an online paperwork and operational issues report (you must be logged in to the UFT website to access it) on the day you attempt to resolve the issue with your principal. This report 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.

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Share with Your Members

New Labor Seder flier

New Men in Education 2020 flier

New  Purim Costume Party flier

HERstory brunch flier

Student Debt Relief Program flier

Project Farmhouse Open House flier

Why the 2020 Census Matters flier

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You Should Know


New Evaluation guidance for ATR pool teachers: Teachers in the Absent Teacher Reserve (ATR) pool acting in a day-to-day absence coverage capacity should not be evaluated with the Advancesystem and should be observed using a traditional S/U observation format. ATR pool teachers are eligible for evaluation under the Advance system if they are a full-time K-12 classroom teacher of record for at least six cumulative calendar months and during that time teach at least 40% of a full-time position. Please see your chapter leader if you have questions about your evaluation status.

Health and Safety

UFT Welfare Fund prescription benefit enhancement: In-service members may now 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.

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.


New UFT Jewish Heritage Committee Purim Costume Party: Members are invited to join the UFT Jewish Heritage Committee and Educators’ Chapter of the Jewish Labor Committee for a Purim Costume Party on Wednesday, March 18, at 6 p.m., at UFT headquarters, 52 Broadway. Admission is $15 for UFT members and guests, and $10 for members of the UFT Jewish Heritage Committee. Admission includes light refreshments and soft drinks, and one glass of beer or wine. There will be a 50/50 raffle and a $50 cash prize for the best costume. Register online. Please note, this event is for adults only. See the Purim Costume Party flier.

New Celebrate Passover at the UFT Labor Seder: All members are invited to celebrate Passover through the eyes of the labor movement with the UFT Jewish Heritage Committee and the Educators’ Chapter of the Jewish Labor Committee. This event will take place on Tuesday, March 31, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., at UFT headquarters, 52 Broadway, 19th floor. The evening will include a traditional kosher Passover dinner and reading of the Haggadah. All faiths are welcome. The registration fee is $40 for adults and $18 for students and children. For more information and to download the mail-in registration coupon, see the Labor Seder flier. The registration deadline is Tuesday, March 17.

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.

Political Action

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. 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.

Professional Learning Opportunities

New Using dramatic arts in the classroom: All K-12 educators are encouraged to speak with their principals about attending four-hour professional development workshops presented by the CUNY Creative Arts Team. The workshops will be held throughout the spring and will cover a variety of topics including violence prevention and social-emotional learning. The next workshop, Moving from Classroom Management to Student Engagement, will be held on Wednesday, March 11, at Creative Arts Team, 101 W. 31st St., Sixth Floor, training room, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Participants must submit DOE form OP-201 to their payroll secretary. For more information and to register online, see the Creative Arts Team website. For a full list of workshops, see the Creative Arts Team Professional Development flier.

Register for the UFT's spring 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.

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 Shirtwaist 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 for your class, email or call 212 598-9217. For more information, see the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire on the History Channel website.

Teaching and Learning

New Lessons for Women’s History Month: The AFT’s Share my lesson website has hundreds of lessons, webinars and other resources about Women’s History Month. Elementary educators can read Chelsea Clinton’s children's book “She Persisted” to their students. Middle school students can learn about Sally Ride, the first American woman in space. High school students can read “The Real Sonia Sotomayor,” the memoir of the first Latina woman to serve as a Supreme Court Justice. You can find more classroom resources on the Share My Lesson website.

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This Week in Education and Labor News

A purge of teaching assistants: The University of California, Santa Cruz, on Feb. 28 fired 54 striking graduate student workers demanding higher pay to afford the area’s high cost of living, according to the Los Angeles Times. As part of a wildcat strike, about 200 teaching assistants withheld fall quarter grades pending an increase in pay of $1,412 per month after a series of unsuccessful negotiations with campus administrators. The graduate students have a stipend of approximately $2,400 a month before taxes.

First woman of color elected to lead L.A. teachers’ union: The L.A. teachers' union has elected the first woman of color, Cecily Myart-Cruz, to lead the organization, reports the Los Angeles Times. Myart-Cruz will lead a familiar and experienced team that will include outgoing union President Alex Caputo-Pearl, who was elected as a vice president. A little more than a year ago, United Teachers Los Angeles went on strike for six days, bringing a focus to overcrowded classrooms and staffing shortages.

Denver to close schools for a day due to teacher protest: Colorado’s largest school district will cancel classes on March 19 because many of its teachers will go to the Colorado State Capitol to participate at the Education Day of Action, reports the Denver Post. The protest, organized each year by the Colorado Education Association, brings Colorado teachers to the Capitol as they continue to push for better teacher wages and school funding

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Events Calendar


Saturday, March 14: The 40th annual Paraprofessional Festival and Awards Luncheon runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the New York Hilton, 1335 Sixth Ave. This year’s theme is "All Aboard: Navigating the Needs of Culturally Diverse Learners." District 2 City Councilwoman 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 Engage! Organize! Empower! campaign and how to implement specific strategies to build powerful chapter committees. Download the workshop descriptions. 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 Wednesday, March 18. 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. We’ll serve coffee and tea in the morning and a hot brunch 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, 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.

Monday, March 9: Social workers are invited to Staying in Balance, 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 Brooklyn borough office, 335 Adams St., 24th floor. Two CE hours are offered. The cost to register is $50. Register online

Tuesday, March 10: REGISTRATION CLOSED—The Social Workers and Psychologists chapter meeting will be held at 4 p.m. at UFT headquarters, 52 Broadway, 19th floor, room F.

Tuesday, March 10: Queens-based members in District 25 are invited to an informational session to hear an overview of the Student Debt Relief Program at MS 158, 46-35 Oceania St., Bayside, from 4 to 5 p.m. After you attend this session, you can make an appointment to speak with a specialist. Register online.

Wednesday, March 11: The Hearing Education Services Chapter Meeting for Staten Island-based members runs from 8 to 11 a.m. at the UFT’s Staten Island borough office, 4456 Amboy Road.

Wednesday, March 11: Staten Island-based members are invited to a Pathways to Parenting workshop to learn about maternity and parental leave. This workshop will take place from 4 to 6 p.m. at the UFT’s Staten Island borough office, 4456 Amboy Road. Register online. See the Pathways to Parenting Workshop flier

Wednesday, March 11: The Speech Improvement Chapter Meeting will take place from 4 to 6 p.m. at UFT headquarters, 52 Broadway, third floor North.

Wednesday, March 11: Bronx-based school nurses are invited to attend the Bronx School Nurse Chapter Meeting from 4:15 to 6 p.m. at the UFT’s Bronx borough office, 2500 Halsey St.

Wednesday, March 11: Members may watch an informational webinar for an overview of the Student Debt Relief Program from 6 to 7:30 p.m. After you register online, you will receive log-in information for the webinar.

Thursday, March 12: Manhattan-based members in District 1 are invited to a pension benefits workshop. UFT Treasurer Debra Penny, one of the union's representatives on the TRS Board of Trustees, will explain your pension benefits and answer your questions. This workshop is at PS 19, 185 First Ave., at 3:30 p.m. Register online.

Thursday, March 12: Queens-based high school members may attend an informational session for an overview of the Student Debt Relief Program at Bryant High School, 48-10 31st Ave., Long Island City, from 3:30 to 5 p.m. After you attend this session, you may make an appointment to speak with one of our specialists. Register online.

Thursday, March 12: The UFT Pension Department will host Money Moves, a financial wellness workshop for all members, from 4 to 6 p.m. at UFT headquarters, 52 Broadway, Shanker Hall, second floor. This workshop will provide members with strategies for living within their means while saving to meet short- and long-term financial goals. Space is limited. Register online.

Thursday, March 12: Queens-based members are invited to a Pathways to Parenthood workshop from 4 to 6 p.m. at the UFT’s Queens borough office, 118-35 Queens Blvd., seventh floor, Forest Hills. Register online. For more information, see the Queens Pathways to Parenting flier

Thursday, March 12: Brooklyn-based District 17 members are invited to an informational session for an overview of the Student Debt Relief Program at PS 705, 443 St. Marks Ave., from 4 to 5 p.m. After you attend this session, you may make an appointment to speak with one of our specialists. Register online.

Save the Date

Saturday, April 4: The UFT's fifth annual Men in Education Symposium runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at UFT headquarters, 52 Broadway, 19th floor. This year’s event features workshops about mentoring, fatherhood and empowerment. A continental breakfast and lunch will be provided. Register online. For more information, see the Men in Education 2020 flier.

Saturday, May 16: Join us at the annual UFT Spring Education Conference at the New York Hilton, 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. 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 "2020 Spring Conference" from the menu.

For more events, go to

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In Case You Missed It

Testimony regarding class size reduction and "zombie" charter schools

Testimony regarding NYC’s preparation for coronavirus/COVID-19

Bronx Parent Newsletter: March 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.

English Language Arts Committee

Hellenic American Educators Association

Jewish Heritage Committee

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

Runners Committee

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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.

Send us your feedback

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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.