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Chapter Leader UpdateChapter Leader Update for June 23, 2021

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GRADUATION DAY: Sophia Lopez (left), who is headed for Colgate University, hugs a fellow graduate from Goldstein HS following the Brooklyn school's commencement ceremony today at Maimonides Park in Coney Island.

This Week's Focus

In this school year’s final issue of the Chapter Leader Update, I want to offer a heartfelt thank you to each of you for your steadfast efforts on behalf of our members during this difficult school year. By staying united and advocating forcefully for our school communities, we protected our safety, our profession and our livelihood. Throughout this pandemic, you kept members informed, supported and engaged. More UFT members than ever participated in union events, professional learning workshops and support groups. I wish you all a restful and restorative summer break. You’ve earned it. 

— Michael Mulgrew, UFT president 


UFT to file grievance on spring break pay on July 1

The COVID-19 limitations on grievances end on June 30, and our regular contractual grievance process will be fully up and running on July 1. The UFT will file its union-initiated grievance on 2020 spring break pay that day. The mayor kept schools open during spring break that year during the height of the pandemic; in compensation, members were granted four additional CAR days in their banks. The UFT will argue before the arbitrator that its members should receive a full compensation package for all the extra days they were required to work. All school-based grievances will open when UFT members report to schools on Thursday, Sept. 9. (See additional grievance items below in the Contract Empowerment section). 
 


More than 2,000 operational issues resolved this school year

The DOE-UFT contract gives UFT-represented educators more voice at the school level to tackle workplace issues. In the spring of 2020, after the pandemic hit and the regular grievance process had to be temporarily suspended, the DOE and the UFT agreed to expand the scope of the operational issues process to include any issues related to remote learning, student support and contract implementation for all chapters. Over the course of the 2020-21 school year, empowered chapter leaders filed 2,249 operational issue reports on behalf of their school chapters. With the assistance of district representatives, many of these cases were resolved at the school level. The UFT escalated hundreds of operational issue complaints to the district, central and schools chancellor/UFT president levels when the case could not be resolved at the school level. As of today, 2,033 cases have been resolved and closed since September, many involving additional compensation for UFT members.


Primary Day results still being counted

We want to thank all the UFT members who volunteered to help screen candidates and then get out the vote for union-backed candidates on Primary Day. Election results were mixed with many races still to be decided because of the ranked-choice voting system. The UFT-endorsed candidates for Bronx and Queens borough presidents were leading in their races, as was Alvin Bragg, who had the UFT’s backing for Manhattan district attorney. In 35 of the 49 Council races in which the union made an endorsement, the candidate supported by the UFT was either in the lead or had been declared the victor with 50 percent of the vote. “While the primary results are not complete, I want to congratulate the UFT-endorsed candidates for the City Council and other offices who have already won their races,” said UFT President Michael Mulgrew. “A candidate’s record on public education will always be our most important consideration, and we are proud to back – win or lose – those who make the public schools and students their first priority.” 


Final push for intervention teams and lower class sizes

The City Council and the de Blasio administration are entering the final stretch of negotiations on the city budget, which must be finalized by July 1. The union launched the #OurKidsNeed campaign to push the mayor and the Council to earmark funding in the budget for two of the most important pieces of its five-point recovery plan: smaller class sizes and intervention teams at every school. Our goal is to have two academic intervention teachers and two mental health professionals at every school to help students recover from the pandemic. More than 19,000 educators and parents have signed our petition calling for these initiatives, and scores of UFT members have sent tweets and posted comments on the Facebook pages of the mayor, the DOE and Council leaders. We plan to deliver our petition to Council leaders and the mayor later this week. 


UFT open this summer to serve members 

The UFT is open to serve members throughout the summer on a modified schedule. UFT headquarters and borough offices will be open from 9 a.m. to 5:15 p.m., Monday to Thursday, from Monday, June 28, through Labor Day. The Grievance Department at UFT headquarters will be open on Fridays with a reduced staff throughout the summer. All UFT offices will be closed on Monday, July 5, in observance of Independence Day; on Sept. 6 in observance of Labor Day; and on Sept. 7 and 8 in observance of Rosh Hashanah. Regular office hours, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., will resume on Thursday, Sept. 9. UFT members may call the union at 212-331-6311 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday, during the summer.

Chapter Leader Checklist

  • No COVID-specific medical accommodations for 2021-22 school year: Since the DOE will not have a fully remote learning option in the fall, COVID-19-related accommodations to work remotely are unavailable for staff next school year. All current remote work accommodations related to COVID-19 expire on June 30. DOE employees may apply for the regular, pre-pandemic reasonable accommodation. The application will be available online later this summer for school-based employees applying for an accommodation in September. The DOE’s application will require up-to-date, supporting medical documentation, and the DOE will review each one on a case-by-case basis consistent with the law.
  • Share UFT school election results with your chapter: If your school chapter held an election by phone for chapter leader, delegate and/or para rep this month, your election chair will be notified of the results about two days after the election. Please share the news with your chapter. If you have questions or concerns, please call the UFT Election Hotline at 212-331-6310.
  • Functional chapter election results: Earlier this month, the American Arbitration Association counted the votes in chapter elections for attendance teachers, LYFE, home instruction, paraprofessionals, sign language interpreters, social workers and psychologists, school counselors, OT/PTs and Hearing Education Services members. After the AAA certified each functional chapter’s election results, the union shared those results via email with the chapter’s members. 

Work in progress

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

  • Planning for opening schools in September

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You Should Know

Contract Empowerment

Summer per-session and Chapter 683 selection process

Selection for summer per-session and Chapter 683 positions has begun and will continue on a rolling basis through the beginning of July. Those UFT members with retention rights who were not selected for positions should immediately contact the UFT at 212-331-6311 and ask to speak with their UFT borough office grievance liaison. The union will fight to have these members placed before the activity begins. Members who are not selected and want to file a grievance should visit a UFT borough office starting on Monday, June 28. Summer grievances will open on Thursday, July 1, and the UFT borough offices will file all grievances by close of business on July 2 to ensure timeliness.

Reorganization grievances filed as operational issues

Reorganization issues will be dealt with through the remote reorganization process through the end of the school year. Teachers can file their reorganization issue directly via the online Remote Reorganization Form on the UFT website. Teachers are not required to submit the form within two days of knowledge of the issue this June; they can file it at any time as long as the issue still exists. Starting on the first workday in September, the regular reorganization grievance process will resume. Chapter leaders can file those grievances on behalf of teachers through the chapter leader grievance portal on the UFT website. Those reorganization grievances should be filed within two workdays of receiving the program or notice of the issue being grieved. Teachers who have already filed under the remote reorganization process do not need to refile the issue as a grievance unless a new issue has occurred. Reorganization issues filed under either process are eligible for arbitration.

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Health and Safety

COVID-19 rules remain in place for public schools

In mid-June, Gov. Andrew Cuomo made COVID-19 guidelines — including capacity restrictions, social distancing, cleaning and disinfection and health screening — optional for most businesses. The restrictions will not be lifted for pre-K to 12 schools and public transit, among others. The UFT has fought for its members’ safety since the pandemic began, and we support moving ahead in a cautious manner until the science confirms that we are not taking risks with the health of our school communities.


Instruction

Update on teacher evaluations

The DOE has decided to issue final teacher ratings for this school year. In mid-June, the state Legislature approved a waiver for school districts regarding the Annual Performance Review for the 2020-21 school year, but it recently amended the legislation to give individual school districts the choice whether to rate teachers. The DOE decided to proceed with teacher evaluations because most of the principals had already completed their work. All observations should have been completed by June 11.


Salary and Personnel

Summer pension workshops

The UFT Pension Department has scheduled four workshops over the summer for members of Tier 4 and Tier 6 who want to learn how to calculate their retirement allowances. These sessions will take place at 3:30 p.m. on the following dates: Wednesday, July 21, and Tuesday, Aug. 17, for Tier 4 members only; and Wednesday, July 28, and Wednesday, Aug. 18, for Tier 6 members only. Registration will open shortly.

DOE’s summer payroll protocols

DOE employees who participate in the EFT direct deposit program should keep open any bank account receiving June, July or August paychecks. When a bank account has been closed before the DOE deposits the direct deposit checks in those months, the money is returned. The DOE issues a supplemental paper check only after the money has been returned. The DOE cannot issue an emergency check. If a paper check is lost, stolen or mutilated, a stop payment must be placed on it. To report a stolen, mutilated or lost check, contact the DOE. The DOE will mail you an affidavit, which must be returned before a replacement check is issued. This process may take up to six weeks. To request an affidavit, pedagogues may call 718-935-2217 and paraprofessionals may call HR Connect at 718-935-4000 or their DOE borough field office.

Summer paper checks will no longer be delivered in bulk

As of this year, DOE payroll no longer closes in mid-May; it will operate year-round. Q-Bank paper paychecks dated July and August will no longer be distributed at the end of June. The DOE will issue and mail these checks on the issuance date as it does during the school year. Direct deposit and other services are now available year-round as well. DOE employees may enroll in the direct deposit program or update their direct deposit choices throughout the year.

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