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Chapter Leader UpdateDec. 15, 2022

Three children wearing headbands with felt antlers attached to them pose in front of a Christmas tree holding wrapped gifts

A season of giving: Children who attended the UFT holiday party on Dec. 10 leave with gifts donated by UFT members in the union’s annual toy drive. (Jonathan Fickies) 

This Week's Focus

Contract Action Teams will organize teach-ins

Our UFT Negotiating Committee will have much more leverage at the bargaining table with the city and the DOE if it has a vocal and united membership behind it. This organizing work must happen in each school. Your school’s Contract Action Team will organize a contract teach-in at your school in late January. At the teach-in, the Contract Action Team will lead a discussion about the rights we've won over the course of the union’s history, outline the UFT's current contract priorities and what they mean for your school community, and brainstorm actions your school could organize to promote the fight for a fair contract. A one-hour teach-in training session will be offered three times: Tuesday, Jan. 17, at 4 p.m. (remote); Wednesday, Jan. 18 at 6 p.m. (for chapter leaders and delegates only at UFT headquarters right after the Delegate Assembly); and Thursday, Jan. 19, at 4 p.m. (remote). Contract Action Team members will receive an email invitation in early January. If you have not already done so, let us know that you are willing to lead or participate in your school’s Contract Action Team. 

Join the team

New health advisory on masks

The city Department of Health on Dec. 9 issued a new health advisory recommending that New Yorkers, regardless of their vaccination status, wear masks at all times when they are in indoor public spaces, including schools and day care centers, as well as in crowded outdoor settings. Public health experts made the recommendation in light of an increase in COVID-19 and flu infections and related hospitalizations. The DOE said KN95 masks will be available at school for all staff who want them. Contact your chapter leader if there are any issues. 

Students and staff must wear a mask when:

  • Returning to school on the sixth day after testing positive for COVID-19, through day 10 after symptom onset or date of positive test, whichever is earlier, including when traveling on a school bus. Masks may be removed during this period if the person has received two negative rapid tests 48 hours apart.
  • Entering the school medical room, nurse’s office, or school-based health center.
  • Exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 at school.

Students and staff are also strongly encouraged to wear a mask:

  • When you are exposed to someone with COVID-19, whether the exposure occurred in school or outside of school. You should wear a mask for 10 days after your last day of exposure and get tested at least 48 hours apart.
  • When you are immunocompromised, and a mask is recommended by your health care provider.

Chapter Leader Checklist

To Do #1
Secure personal items and equipment during holiday break

Chapter leaders should tell members to protect themselves against theft by securing all personal belongings and valuable school equipment such as laptops, camcorders and projectors during the break. Read this story for more tips on the UFT website. Please distribute the NYPD Larceny Prevention flier in your members’ mailboxes and post it on your UFT bulletin board.

To Do #2
Request a UFT rep to speak about leaves and absences

Do your members have questions about paid parental leave or FMLA leaves? Do they ask you questions about sick days and excused absences? Representatives from the UFT Personnel Department are available to discuss time and attendance and leaves of absence at your school chapter meeting either in person or virtually. Tell us on the online form below your preferred time for a visit and any specific areas of concern to your members, and the UFT Personnel Department will do its best to accommodate you.

Request a school visit

To Do #3
Bring toys to the Dec. 21 Delegate Assembly

Encourage your members to share the season of joy this holiday season by donating new toys to New York City public school students in need or making a monetary donation via PayPal to the UFT Elementary School Division’s toy drive. Chapter leaders and delegates can bring the donated unwrapped, brand-new toys to the Dec. 21 Delegate Assembly. You may also bring donations to any UFT borough office through that same date. 

To Do #4
Have you submitted your consultation committee summary?

Your consultation committee summary for your November meeting with your principal was due the first week of December. Please submit your summary via the Chapter Leader Hub. Submission of meeting summaries will be a factor in the size of your supplementary stipend in June.

To Do #5
Fliers to share with your members

Here are fliers you can print and distribute in member mailboxes or post on your school’s UFT bulletin board.

Hub Highlights

Answers to all your questions

Chapter leaders have access to our Knowledge Base, a deep and extensive repository of information in the Chapter Leader Hub. This searchable database will provide answers to many of the questions your members ask about their rights and benefits as UFT members. Whether it’s the process for obtaining a health benefit provided by the UFT Welfare Fund or accessing accurate information about retention rights, the Knowledge Base has the answers. Remember: You access the hub using your UFT website username and password. 

Enter the hub

Work in progress

The UFT is working on the following issues with the DOE and other city, state and federal-level entities as appropriate: 

  • Fixing vacation day issues for school-based members who either did not receive vacation days or did not receive enough vacation days per the arbitration award.
  • Revising the language in the special education Standard Operating Procedures Manual to clarify that IEP teams are empowered to determine a student’s need for assistive technology without a formal assessment if team members have sufficient information.
  • Working with the DOE on new guidance to clarify the SETSS model.
  • Advocating for members employed in the Division of Early Childhood Education and the 3K and pre-K educators they support.
  • Pushing the DOE to take common-sense steps to plan for compliance with the state class-size law.
  • Negotiating a Medicare Advantage plan with Aetna that provides the same high-quality care and broad network of providers that our retirees are accustomed to and deserve while making a final push to prod the City Council to amend the city’s administrative code to provide retirees with health care plan options.

You Should Know


Payment for teachers working with COVID-positive students

Schools have received funding dedicated to paying teachers for posting asynchronous instruction and providing office hours for their students who are isolating following a positive COVID-19 test. Here is each school’s allocation. Students who are absent for any other reason must be marked A for absent using the appropriate reason code (not code 35) and are not eligible for asynchronous instruction and office hours. Read the pivot-to-remote agreement for the 2022-23 school year for the details. If your principal is not complying with these guidelines, please contact your UFT district rep.

Know your rights about your sick bank

If you are a pedagogical employee or paraprofessional, the Cumulative Absence Reserve (CAR) is the formal name for your sick bank. You are credited with one day of sick leave on the 16th of each month of the school year, or 10 days for a full school year of work. You do not accrue days in your CAR when you are on an approved sabbatical or leave of absence without pay. If you are regularly appointed, you can accumulate up to 200 days of sick leave during your career. When you leave service with the DOE, you will be reimbursed, upon application, for one-half of your unused days at the rate of 1/200th of your then-current yearly salary per reimbursed day. If you have exhausted all the days in your CAR and are ill, as a pedagogue you may request, via SOLAS, to borrow a maximum of 20 additional sick days. (If you are a paraprofessional or administrative employee, you may borrow up to 10 days.) If you fail to pay these days back by the time you retire or resign, the DOE can deduct a sum of money from your termination pay to cover that cost at your current salary. If you are not entitled to any termination pay or if your termination pay is less than what is owed, the DOE will send you a bill for the gross amount owed. Ask your payroll secretary about the various ways you can pay back this time. You can read more about CAR days on the UFT website.


Update on retiree health benefits

An independent arbitrator has ordered the city to negotiate a new Medicare Advantage program with the Aetna insurance company for Medicare-eligible city retirees in the next 25 days. We will use this time to negotiate fiercely, and if we cannot come to an agreement that ensures our Medicare-eligible retirees’ health benefits are the same or better than they have now, we will oppose going forward with Aetna. But we see an opportunity to use the Medicare Advantage system to access $600 million annually in federal subsidies while creating a premium-free health plan for all Medicare-eligible city retirees that provides the same high-quality care and broad network of providers that our retirees are accustomed to and deserve. Most importantly, we want to maintain health plans that do not require our members to pay the thousands of out-of-pocket dollars that most workers now typically have to pay for health insurance.

Read the full ruling


Members can call the UFT during the winter break

Make sure your members know they can call the UFT at 212-331-6311 with questions about their rights and benefits, including their Welfare Fund benefits, during the last two weeks of December. Members can call the union from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays through Thursday, Dec. 22; from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 23; from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 27, Wednesday, Dec. 28 and Thursday, Dec. 29; and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 30. The union’s offices will be closed on Monday, Dec. 26, and Monday, Jan. 2.

Next round of pension workshops starts in January

The UFT Pension Department offers virtual workshops throughout the school year to help members understand their pension benefits. While members may register for individual workshops, the Pension Department encourages members to attend the series. All workshops take place from 4:15 to 5:30 p.m. Upcoming workshops include Turning 65 and Medicare on Wednesday, Jan. 11; Annual Benefit Statements and Death Benefits on Thursday, Jan. 19; Tier 4 Milestones, Final Average Salary Calculations and CAR Days on Tuesday, Jan. 24; Tier 6 Milestones, Final Average Salary Calculations and CAR days on Thursday, Feb. 2; Retirement Options, TDAs, SHIP, COPE and RTC Membership on Wednesday, Feb. 8; and Health Benefits for Pre-Medicare Retirees on Thursday, Feb. 16.


Nominate an outstanding paraprofessional for a UFT award

Each year, the UFT recognizes outstanding paraprofessionals who have made contributions to their schools, their communities and their union. Do you have a dedicated paraprofessional at your school who deserves recognition? Use the form below to nominate a full-time paraprofessional for an award. Paraprofessionals may not nominate themselves, and winners from prior years are ineligible. To process your nomination, all the information requested on the form must be filled in correctly. The Paraprofessionals Chapter will contact winners. The deadline to submit nominations is Monday, Jan. 2.

Nominate a para

Certification opportunity from NYC Men Teach

NYC Men Teach is a partnership geared to diversifying the city’s teaching pipeline by recruiting and retaining men of color to teach in New York City public schools. The NYC Ed Prep program is a part of NYC Men Teach Village Pathways and supports uncertified school-based staff who are working in New York City public schools and interested in becoming certified teachers. The Village Pathways Programs may be a good fit for men of color who are not yet eligible for traditional or alternative certification programs or would like to try out teaching before becoming certified. Past program participants have included school safety officers, substitute teachers, cafeteria workers, paraprofessionals and parent coordinators.

Save the date for key UFT events in 2023

We celebrate members and hone our practice at signature union events designed for particular sectors of the membership. Mark these dates on your calendar and stay tuned for featured speakers, award recipients and more.

  • Feb. 3, Career and technical education high school members: CTE Awards and Recognition Ceremony
  • Feb. 4, 9 to 11:30 a.m., Middle school members: Secrets of Grand Central Scavenger Hunt
  • March 11, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., School counselors: UFT School Counselors Conference
  • March 25, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., Paraprofessionals: UFT Paraprofessional Festival and Awards
  • April 1, 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., Elementary school members: UFT Early Childhood Conference
  • May 5, Academic high school members: Academic High Schools Awards Celebration

Recent Guidance and Agreements

Contact the UFT

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