Chapter Leader UpdateMar. 3, 2022
Chapter Leader UpdateMar. 3, 2022
This Week's Focus
Decision on mask mandate expected on Friday
After Gov. Hochul lifted the statewide mask mandate for schools on Feb. 27, Mayor Adams announced the possibility of making masks optional in city schools beginning Monday, March 7, due to the CDC’s categorization of New York City as low risk. He said the decision will be made after evaluating the positivity rate from in-school and at-home testing during this school week. According to newly released data, the positivity rate on in-school tests was 0.14% on Monday and Tuesday, down from 0.26% the week before the February break. Throughout this pandemic, we have been led by science and our doctors, and this decision should be no different. We are optimistic about the declining COVID numbers, but it’s important to make sure that our risk remains low before the city changes its school mask policy. As a reminder, any change in policy would still allow for those staff and students who wish to continue wearing masks to do so, and we hope that those who choose to continue masking and those who unmask will be respectful of each other’s decisions. There will be no change in supplies of KN95 masks and at-home test-kits availability, and in-school testing will continue to take place at the same rate so we can continue to monitor the situation in our schools.
Start to discuss SBOs with your members
You should begin discussing with your chapter and your principal possible school-based options (SBOs) for next school year now. If your chapter would like to renew an SBO or implement a new SBO, you can begin to discuss options at your March chapter meeting. An SBO allows staff at a school the opportunity to collaboratively modify contractual articles or to create positions not automatically allowed under the contract. You can use the SBO process to change your school schedule, including when members engage in professional development, parent engagement and Other Professional Work; change the dates for parent-teacher conferences; and create comp-time positions. An SBO can be proposed by either the principal or the chapter leader on behalf of the chapter. However, a principal cannot force the chapter to hold a vote on any SBO, and an SBO cannot be adopted unless at least 55 percent of the UFT members voting support the modification. All SBO voting will be conducted through the secure Election Buddy online voting system. Find comprehensive information about the SBO process on the UFT website. If you have questions, please contact your district representative.
Celebrate the UFT’s 62nd birthday on March 16
Wednesday, March 16, will mark the 62nd anniversary of the union’s formation. Dignity and respect, professionalism, due process, competitive wages, and health and pension benefits: Sixty-two years ago, those things didn’t exist for New York City public school educators. Throughout this pandemic, our union fought for the safety of school communities and its rank-and-file negotiating committee of unprecedented size will work hard to bargain a strong new contract. Our progress was hard-fought, and our rights and benefits earned. The UFT’s anniversary presents an opportunity for chapter leaders to remind UFT members how far we’ve come. You can show this two-minute video about the UFT’s founding to set the tone at this month’s chapter meeting.
Nominate your chapter for a Trachtenberg Award
Are you proud of your union chapter? Nominate it for an Ely Trachtenberg Award. Hallmarks of award-winning chapters include holding regularly scheduled chapter meetings, having a consultation committee that meets regularly with administration and having a high or growing proportion of members who contribute to COPE. Winning chapters will be honored and given their Trachtenberg plaque at the 2022 Teacher Union Day ceremony. See the online nomination form for more information about the selection criteria. Please note that chapters that have received a Trachtenberg Award in the past three years are not eligible this year.
Federation of Nurses/UFT contract with NYU Langone tackles nurse staffing shortages
Federation of Nurses/UFT members employed by NYU Langone Hospital – Brooklyn on Feb. 24 overwhelmingly ratified a three-year contract that provides solid salary increases while making inroads in addressing the universal problem of staffing shortages. The contract includes a 4% pay hike effective March 1, 2022, a 3% increase effective March 1, 2023, and another 3% hike on March 1, 2024. The agreement also provides for an increase in staffing, with more than 100 positions for registered nurses to be posted by March 1, 2022, along with an expedited hiring and recruiting process. It strengthens a staffing subcommittee to better hold the hospital accountable to posting and selection timelines and to overall staffing commitments. In addition, the contract creates a panel of three arbitrators to hear staffing shortage cases once a month, streamlining an often arduous process.“Nowhere in the country has anyone done more than we have,” said UFT Vice President Anne Goldman, the head of the Federation of Nurses/UFT. “But staffing is so bad that it’s a moral insult to our nurses, and we have really bargained hard to have the employer become part of the solution.”
Chapter Leader Checklist
- Amplify member voice with school-based committees: School-based committees ensure that UFT members have a voice in decision-making at the school level and that all the work does not fall on the chapter leader’s shoulders. Make sure that you have the following active committees at your school:
- a consultation committee that meets monthly with the principal to discuss and attempt to resolve issues at the school level before they escalate;
- a professional development committee to plan and review the professional learning that is offered during the time set aside for professional learning in the contract;
- a school safety committee that meets monthly to address safety-related violations and issues such as crisis response, student removal procedures and fire drills;
- a school leadership team that develops the school’s Comprehensive Educational Plan and makes sure it is aligned with the school-based budget.
- Part 3 of training for new chapter leaders: Chapter leaders with five or less years in the role may still virtually attend Part 3 of the union’s training series on Saturday, March 5, and Sunday, March 6. In-person registration is closed, but it’s not too late to register to attend online.
- Help members find union dues for taxes: Now that tax season is upon us, many members will be looking for how much they paid in union dues in 2021. Read dues information and find out what deductions are available to educators filing taxes.
Work in progress
The UFT is working on the following issues with the DOE and other city, state and federal-level entities as appropriate:
- Reviewing COVID test results as decision is made about mask mandate
- Resolving spring break 2020 dispute over vacation days for members with low CAR balances
- Fighting for state funding for UFT initiatives and other education priorities
- Resolving late payments for after-hours SERS and SEED work by OTs and PTs
You Should Know
CONTRACT EMPOWERMENT & ENFORCEMENT
Know your rights on supervisory harassment and retaliation
Under the DOE-UFT contract, the city Department of Education is required to maintain an environment that is “free of harassment, intimidation, retaliation and discrimination.” The contract states that the DOE “shall maintain an environment that promotes an open and respectful exchange of ideas and is free from harassment, intimidation, retaliation and discrimination. All employees are permitted to promptly raise any concerns about any situation that may have violated the collective bargaining agreement, rule/law/regulation or DOE policy, or that relates to their professional responsibilities or the best interests of their students. The harassment, intimidation, retaliation and discrimination of any kind, because an employee, in good faith raises a concern or reports a violation or suspected violation of any DOE policy, rule/law or regulation, or contractual provision, or participates or cooperates with an investigation of such concerns, is prohibited.” If you believe a supervisor is violating this clause at your school, a grievance can be filed. If not resolved, the union may take the matter to arbitration. Read our Know Your Rights column on this topic for further details.
State tests scheduled for elementary and middle schools
The state Education Department has released its schedule for the administration and scoring of this year’s English Language Arts, math, science and NYSESLAT exams. Students in Grades 3-8 will take the ELA tests between March 29 and April 5 and the math tests between April 26 and May 4. The testing window is April 11 to May 20 for the NYSESLAT speaking exam and May 9 to 20 for the NYSESLAT listening, reading and writing exam. The science performance tests for students in Grades 4 and 8 will be administered between May 24 and June 3. The science written test for children in those grades will be on June 6.
Tell us about an inspiring classroom at your school
Inside My Classroom in the New York Teacher features a classroom photo that highlights stimulating anchor charts, visually interesting class projects, innovative classroom organization strategies and layouts, and more. If a teacher in your school has a classroom that deserves to be spotlighted, use this online form to tell us about it or submit a photo.
UFT helps paras climb career ladder
Any para considering going back to school should know that the UFT supports its paraprofessionals pursuing higher education for career growth, skills enhancement and personal development. Through the LEAP to Teacher program, the UFT helps place its paraprofessional members pursuing their education in any field of study offered by the CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies in collaboration with participating colleges throughout New York City. LEAP to Teacher provides paras with a wide range of free, specialized support services over and above the union’s tuition support. For more details, see the LEAP to Teacher page on the UFT website or contact a program counselor.
MEDICAL & WELLNESS
Optical and hearing aid benefits enhanced
The UFT enhanced its Welfare Fund optical benefit and hearing aid benefit for in-service members and retirees effective March 1. Every two years, UFT members are eligible to be reimbursed for a maximum amount of $175, up from $125, toward the purchase of eyeglasses or contact lenses plus a basic eye exam. Members will continue to be eligible for additional discounts for progressive lenses and designer frames from participating optical providers. The hearing aid benefit, which can be used once every three years, will also increase. Members will be reimbursed for up to $1,500, up from $1,000, for a hearing aid, comprehensive audiological evaluation, ear impression and required visits necessary for a proper fitting. “We’ve worked diligently over the last few years to make sure the UFT Welfare Fund is in strong fiscal shape so we can improve our offerings to members,” said Geof Sorkin, the executive director of the Welfare Fund.
View acclaimed documentary Private Violence
UFT members are invited to attend a free screening organized by the UFT Women's Rights Committee of Private Violence, a documentary that explores a simple, but deeply disturbing fact of American life: the most dangerous place for a woman in America is her own home. The knee-jerk response is to ask: “Why doesn’t she leave?” This film answers that question and asks many others. Join Latrice Curry and Vicki Primiano, the co-chairs of the UFT Women’s Committee, as they moderate the post-film discussion with Kit Gruelle, who is featured in the film; Emily Lo Bue from Sanctuary for Families; Jolene Dibrango, the NYSUT executive vice president; and Janella Hinds, the UFT vice president for academic high schools.
Classroom Café podcast episode on domestic violence
In our most recent episode of Classroom Café, a podcast created by the UFT’s Member Assistance Program, you can learn practices, techniques and resources that can be used in school-based settings to identify survivors of domestic violence and support their health and well-being. Jules Perkél, a trauma psychotherapist and clinical social worker, will discuss the most commonly seen behaviors of survivors of domestic violence and the best practices when working with those who have experienced this trauma. Listen and subscribe to Classroom Café wherever you listen to podcasts so you don’t miss an episode!
SALARY & PERSONNEL
DOE enforces need for second dose of vaccine
DOE employees who received their first dose of the vaccine in the fall have a deadline of Friday, March 11, to submit proof of their second shot. The DOE notified these employees in mid-February that they must upload proof of a second dose of COVID-19 vaccination by that date to the DOE Vaccine Portal or face immediate termination. Any UFT member who received only a single dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines should prioritize getting the second dose by this date.
Watch the Paraprofessionals Festival and Awards online
Join us online this Saturday, March 5, from noon to 2 p.m., as we celebrate our wonderful paraprofessionals at the UFT’s annual Paraprofessionals Festival and Awards. Paraprofessionals Chapter Leader Shelvy Young-Abrams and UFT President Michael Mulgrew will present awards to those paraprofessionals who have gone above and beyond during these challenging times. Due to COVID restrictions, only the para honorees and one of their guests will be attending the event in person at UFT headquarters, while their friends and colleagues cheer them on online.
Recent guidance and agreements
- Updated Situation Room tips for principals (Feb. 28, 2022)
- Updated DOE school health policy (Feb. 25, 2022)
- DOE field trip guidance (Feb. 22, 2022)
- Policies for use of DOE space (Feb. 16, 2022)
- Updated COVID-19 testing policies (Feb. 11, 2022)
- Updated COVID-related FAQ for principals (Feb. 4, 2022)
- Updated Personnel Memo No. 1 of the 2021-22 school year (Jan. 3, 2022)
- 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)
- DOE-UFT Memorandum of Agreement on remote instruction for the 2021-22 school year (Sept. 1, 2021)
Contact the UFT
- DOE members, call 212-331-6311.
- DOE functional chapter members, call 212-331-6312.
- A health benefit question? Call the Welfare Fund at 212-539-0500.