Chapter Leader UpdateDec. 2, 2021
Chapter Leader UpdateDec. 2, 2021
TIME TO ACT, SPEAKER JOHNSON: At PS 77 on the Upper East Side, teacher Leslie Blaustein and school counselor Joshua Goldstein took to the streets on the Dec. 1 Day of Action to urge City Council Speaker Corey Johnson to bring the class size bill to a vote. (Jonathan Fickies)
This Week's Focus
The next Delegate Assembly is Wednesday, Dec. 15.
Our work on class size is not yet done
Parents joined with UFT members in hundreds of schools across the city for our Days of Action to pass legislation to reduce class size. See our website photo album, our Facebook post, our Instagram story at the top of our profile page and tweets using the #OurKidsNeed hashtag. These actions would not have been possible without the hard work of our chapter leaders. As a union, we made a powerful statement about why the City Council must pass the bill to lower classroom occupancy limits. Our advocacy must continue. More than 38,000 New Yorkers so far have signed the petition to lower class size and on Dec. 1, our 41st City Council member signed on as a supporter of this bill, which means it now has a veto-proof majority. But City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, who is leaving office at the end of December, has still not allowed the bill to come up for a vote. He has only until Dec. 16 to act — or the current window of opportunity closes. It’s up to us to keep the pressure on him.
DOE shifts policy on school staff testing under union pressure
With the number of COVID-19 cases across the city on the rise, the emergence of breakthrough infections and the new threat of the Omicron variant, the UFT called on the city to resume COVID testing of adults in school buildings. The city heard us and has now allowed the testing of school staff on a voluntary basis. Beginning on Monday, Dec. 6, school staff can request to be tested on their school’s testing day. According to the new policy, student testing must be completed before any adults can be tested, and test providers must maintain their schedule and are not permitted to extend their time at the school to accommodate staff who want to be tested. The DOE has removed students who have received one dose of the vaccine from the weekly testing in schools. Test providers may test up to 10% of staff. All COVID-19 testing of DOE staff is voluntary; staff must give consent via the DOE’s daily health screening form at least three school days prior to the test date. It may take up to five days for the DOE to process that consent, so members should submit it as soon as possible.
Chapter leader stipend checks will be mailed in December
Chapter leaders are the face of the union for most members and we rely on your leadership. As a small acknowledgment of the work you’ve done and the work you will do during this difficult school year, we are mailing you your base stipend check this month as compensation for out-of-pocket expenses you incur while performing your duties as chapter leader. The base stipend is calculated at a rate of $6 per member. Each chapter leader receives a minimum of $300 and a maximum of $1,350. The chapter leader stipend is based on your estimated expenses as chapter leader during the school year. The IRS is very clear that for tax purposes, any excess you receive must be included in your gross income. Therefore, we strongly suggest that you keep all receipts. As with last school year, chapter leaders who qualify will receive a second stipend check at the end of June in recognition of the extra time and effort they have dedicated to empower, organize and engage their members during the 2021–22 school year.
Check to see if new hires have joined the UFT
Full UFT membership makes your chapter stronger and amplifies the voice of your members at your school. We recently optimized our nonmember report to display the most accurate account of union membership in your school. Please check the nonmember report (you’ll have to log in to the website to access it) this week to confirm that all new hires, including any para subs, at your school have joined the UFT. If they have not, please urge them to complete the online union enrollment form and then recheck the report in a week to confirm. If it’s easier, you can ask new hires to fill out a paper union enrollment card. If you don’t have enrollment cards, please ask your district rep for a supply.
Chapter Leader Checklist
- Remind members to update their contact information: With UFT elections for leadership slated for this coming spring, it’s important that the union have up-to-date mailing addresses, email addresses and phone numbers for all its members so they receive all election-related information and can participate fully in the election process. At your next chapter leader meeting, please remind members to notify the UFT if they have recently moved or changed their email address or phone number. Members can call the UFT at 212-331-6311, Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., to update their contact information. If you have any questions, reach out to your district representative.
- Read the FAQ on school librarians: Librarians are valuable colleagues in schools, but often their role is misunderstood. It is more important than ever for our librarian colleagues to exercise their voice and participate fully in school and union activities. Please read our FAQ on school library media specialist roles and responsibilities on the UFT website. The FAQ, which was designed specifically for chapter leaders, will answer many of the questions you may have and empower you to represent our hard-working school librarians.
- Attend an information session about PROSE: Do staff at your school work collaboratively to help students? Do you want more control over the policies that govern your work? You are invited to attend a virtual informational session on Tuesday, Dec. 14, at 4:30 p.m., to learn about the Progressive Redesign Opportunity Schools for Excellence (PROSE) program and how your school can apply. This session is hosted by the PROSE Panel, which includes decision-makers from the city DOE, the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators and the UFT. We urge you and any other interested change-makers at your school to take this opportunity to talk with the panel about the ideas you are considering as part of your PROSE application.
- Stay in touch with the UFT: For news alerts and important information about your rights and benefits as a UFT member, sign up on the UFT website, opt in for text messaging, "like" the UFT on Facebook, follow the UFT on Twitter and read the New York Teacher.
Work in progress
The UFT is working on the following issues with the DOE and other city, state and federal-level entities as appropriate:
- Creating a negotiating committee for the 2022 contract
- Creating bargaining committees for each DOE functional chapter
School Chapters on UFT.org
You Should Know
HEALTH & SAFETY
Maintain good ventilation during winter
If your members rely on open windows for good ventilation, they’ll still need to keep a few windows cracked open a few inches even though it’s getting colder. The good news is they can open fewer windows because of the laws of physics. The temperature difference between warm air inside and cold air outside actually creates better movement of the air. The colder it is outside, the better the air exchange! Tell your members to 1) open two to four windows from the top about three inches; 2) have the custodial engineer check the temperature and carbon dioxide levels in your classroom if it’s just too cold to leave windows open that amount; and 3) keep the tops and front of radiators clear to allow proper heat circulation. For questions about building temperature or your school's ventilation system, alert your district rep or call the UFT at 212-331-6311.
Update on Special Education Recovery Services
All schools must begin Special Education Recovery Services (SERS) for students with disabilities no later than Dec. 6. Here are postings and posting templates for all the SERS positions that may be available. Each school has been given additional funds to pay for SERS work in the following categories: after-school instruction (teachers, including hearing and vision teachers, and paraprofessionals); intervention training; counseling; related services; recovery planning and preparation. Find out what funds have been allocated for your school. Students with IEP recommendations for specialized transportation are eligible for transportation home from after-school SERS services. However, school bus transportation will likely not be available until February at the earliest. Until bus service is in place, MetroCards will be provided and transportation reimbursement will be available for other public transportation, driving or taxi/rideshare.
SALARY & PERSONNEL
Register for pension workshops
The UFT Pension Department offers virtual workshops to help members understand their pension benefits. Members should know the defined-benefit pension is one of the most valuable assets they have as union members and understand their pension is key to a financially successful retirement. The first workshop this month is on how to read the TRS Annual Benefit Statements on Wednesday, Dec. 8. A workshop on Tier 4 pension calculations will take place on Tuesday, Dec. 14, and a workshop on Tier 6 pension calculations is set for Thursday, Dec. 16. The workshop on Monday, Dec. 20, will focus on your TDA and post-retirement RTC membership; and the workshop on Wednesday, Dec. 21, is on turning 65 and Medicare. While you may register for individual workshops, the UFT Pension Department encourages you to attend the series. All December workshops are held online and begin at 4:15 p.m.
UFT discounts can save you money during the holidays
The UFT has negotiated special member-only discounts with local and national merchants. With the holiday season upon us, members can access these discounts in the member-only Discounts and Promotions section of the UFT website. They will have to log in to the website to view this page. Discounts are available in the following categories: apparel and accessories, entertainment, food and drink, gifts, home improvement and travel. The UFT also offers discounted movie tickets to Premium UA Theatres, Regal Cinemas, BowTie Cinemas and Cinepolis, from $8.50 to $10 depending upon the company. Again, members must be logged in to buy tickets.
Recent guidance and agreements
- Remote per-session work for the 2021-22 school year (November 2021)
- Mayor's Personnel Order No. 2021/2 on excused leave to get own children vaccinated (Nov. 8, 2021)
- Guidance for schools regarding staff vaccination exemptions or accommodations (Nov. 2021)
- DOE-UFT agreement on social-emotional screenings (Nov. 1, 2021)
- Special Education Recovery Services agreement (Sept. 17, 2021)
- DOE-UFT agreement on Operational Issues (Sept. 10, 2021)
- Personnel Memo No. 1 of the 2021-22 school year (Sept. 10, 2021)
- DOE-UFT Memorandum of Agreement on remote instruction for the 2021-22 school year (Sept. 1, 2021)
Chapter Leader Communities
Share ideas with fellow chapter leaders in your district and find answers to questions about union rights and benefits.