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Chapter Leader UpdateSept. 21, 2023

Sean Mackell

STOP FOSSIL FUELS: Ahead of a United Nations climate summit, UFT members joined thousands of climate activists at a march and rally in midtown Manhattan on Sept. 17 to demand that world leaders take action on global warming.

This Week's Focus

Your submitted consultation notes help enforce the contract

When you face an issue with contract implementation at your school, you should put the issue on the agenda for your monthly UFT consultation committee meeting with your principal. Report any unresolved issues in your consultation summary notes, which you should submit as soon as you can after the meeting in the forms section of the UFT Chapter Leader Hub. Your district rep will receive a copy of your notes upon submission. The union will escalate unresolved issues to the monthly district consultation or — if the same issue is reported by chapter leaders across the city — to the monthly consultation at the chancellor's level. Contract enforcement in this first school year under a new contract is important because we are setting a precedent for the coming years. When the UFT raises contract-implementation issues in consultation meetings at the district or chancellor's level, the data provided by chapter leaders' consultation summary notes give us greater leverage because we have documentary evidence of the problem and its scope.

Professional-learning rights in the new contract

The new DOE-UFT contract gives educators more voice in their professional learning.  Each school will now have one committee to serve as an instructional leadership team that plans all school-based professional learning. As chapter leader, you are automatically a member of that committee, and you and the principal will each choose an equal number of members to also serve. When deciding which UFT members to invite to serve on your school's committee, please consider UFT Teacher Center staff and teacher leaders and recruit some members who are not teachers.The new contract also says that school-based professional development must not be one size fits all;  instead, all UFT members must receive professional learning that is directly related to the work they do. Having paraprofessionals and members in other titles on this committee will help ensure that all titles receive relevant professional learning. The DOE and the UFT Teacher Center will create a catalog of professional learning options aligned with DOE initiatives that will confer CTLE hours and other required PD credits, such as CEs. These options may be used in PD time during the workday at the school's discretion.

Parent engagement time under the new contract

We fought for and won for teachers and paraprofessionals the autonomy to dedicate time to parent engagement as they see fit. The 55 minutes of weekly parent engagement time is self-directed and can be conducted remotely. Teachers and paras can do this work at the time that works best for them outside the regular school day. The list of activities that are considered parent engagement is comprehensive:

  • Meetings (individual or group) with parents or guardian
  • Telephone conversations with parents or guardians
  • Written correspondence with parents or guardians
  • Creating newsletters
  • Creating content for school/class websites and answering machines
  • Preparing student report cards
  • Preparing student progress reports
  • Meetings with parents of English language learners
  • Preparing for parent engagement activities

If teachers and paras spend the parent engagement time on a school-approved digital system that tracks parent engagement time, they do not have to document their time. Otherwise, they should track their time using a simple log.

If less than the full time is taken up with parent engagement activities, the teacher or para can use the remaining remote work time on Other Professional Work (OPW).

Report oversize classes again on Sept. 27 — Day 14

We are addressing the class size issues that chapter leaders reported on Days 1, 6 and 10. The next key reporting days are: Day 14 (Sept. 27) and Day 19 (Wednesday, Oct. 4). Please obtain your school's RACL (elementary or middle schools) or Master Schedule Final (high schools), which indicates class sizes on these dates. For most schools, the oversize classes that remain unresolved by Day 14 (Sept. 27) will go to your district representative and superintendent to tackle. On the 21st day, unresolved cases escalate a step higher to the citywide Class Size Labor-Management Committee.

The 2018 contract created a special additional step for schools that are chronically out of compliance, defined as having oversized classes for four of the past six school years. These schools are escalated to the Class Size Labor-Management Committee once the overages are reported to the union. If the Class Size Labor-Management Committee cannot resolve the issue, the case is scheduled for expedited arbitration as soon as 10 days later — and no later than the 34th school day of the term. The arbitrator can issue a binding remedy within five school days that the DOE must implement in five school days.

Please reach out to your district rep if you have any questions.

Celebrate Teacher Union Day on Oct. 29

This year, we dedicate Teacher Union Day to our Contract Action Teams. They embody the passion, pride and dedication of the brave educators who put everything on the line in the 1960 strike that forged our union. See the day's award winners, including the 88 school chapters who are receiving the Ely Trachtenberg Award. Please consider bringing a group of members from your school to the event, which takes place on Sunday, Oct. 29, at the New York Hilton from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. There will be a continental breakfast and post-awards reception. This year's celebration will conclude with a special tribute to UFT founder George Altomare, who passed away in August.

Register now

Chapter Leader Checklist

To Do #1
Enroll new hires in the UFT 

Welcome any new staff members in your building. Take a moment to review the list of nonmembers in your chapter in the Chapter Leader Hub and visit each new hire who is a nonmember to offer your support and hear their needs and concerns. In this one-on-one conversation, talk about the value of union membership and get them to sign a union enrollment card on the spot if possible.

To Do #2
Hold your first chapter meeting

Please hold your first chapter meeting by the end of September and invite all UFT members in your chapter. Post the meeting notice on the UFT bulletin board and send an email invitation or text message. Here are some topics for that first meeting:

  • Welcome new members
  • Talk about the new contract
  • Discuss teacher evaluation and final ratings
  • Talk about the importance of each school committee and ask members if they would be interested in serving on them

To Do #3
Make sure new members are on payroll

Check with your school's payroll secretary to make sure new members of your chapter are on payroll. Newly appointed pedagogues and paraprofessionals placed on payroll by Aug. 29 should have received their first paycheck on Sept.15. If payroll processing is completed between Aug. 30 and Sept. 12, those new hires should receive their first paycheck in the Sept. 29 payroll. New H-Bank members, including therapists and school nurses, who were placed on payroll by Sept. 1 should have received their first paycheck on Sept. 15. If payroll processing was completed between Sept. 2 and Sept. 18, those H-Bank hires should receive their first paycheck in the Sept. 29 payroll. New UFT members who missed the first payroll should call the union at 212-331-6311 regarding the possibility of a supplemental check.

To Do #4
Oct. 15 deadline to change dental plans

Remind your members that the open enrollment period to change dental plans ends on Oct. 15, with changes taking effect on Nov. 1. To change plans, fill out the Welfare Fund's Dental Transfer Form. For more information, see the Know Your Benefits column on dental care.

To Do #5
Oct. 13 deadline to enroll for catastrophic major medical insurance

Remind your members that all in-service UFT members (along with their eligible family members) have until Oct. 13, to enroll in the Catastrophe Major Medical Plan, sponsored by NYSUT Member Benefits. The plan, which has an infrequent open-enrollment period, offers additional coverage for expenses that a basic health plan might not cover, including convalescent or home health care. To learn more, members can attend an informational webinar. To enroll, visit the NYSUT Member Benefits website.

To Do #6
Create a team for Making Strides Against Breast Cancer

Organize a team of UFT members to walk and fundraise in Making Strides Against Breast Cancer. Be sure to include "UFT" in the team name. This year, the walks in Manhattan (Central Park), Queens (Flushing Meadows Corona Park) and Long Island (Jones Beach State Park) are on Sunday, Oct. 15. The walks in Brooklyn (Coney Island), the Bronx (Bay Plaza Shopping Center) and Staten Island (Midland Beach) are on Sunday, Oct. 22.
Set up your team »

To Do #7
Fliers to share with your members

Print and distribute these fliers in member mailboxes or post on your school's UFT bulletin board.

Hub Highlights

Find key dates and milestones in the hub

Did you know that Wednesday, Oct. 11, is the next Delegate Assembly? Did you know Friday, Oct. 27, is the deadline for teachers to have their Initial Planning Conference? The Chapter Leader Hub has a calendar of important deadlines and milestones to keep chapter leaders on track throughout the school year. Remember, you can 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 entities as appropriate:

  • Pushing the DOE to release the allotments for Teacher’s Choice for this school year.
  • Finalizing an incentive for teachers who have the proper credentials to attain their bilingual license.
  • Pushing the city to provide the resources necessary to properly serve the asylum-seeking students in our schools.
  • Working with the DOE to update the paperwork standards and guidance as agreed to in the 2023 contract.
  • Creating new labor-management committees established in the 2023 contract.

You Should Know

Contract Empowerment & Enforcement

What the new contract says about Other Professional Work

In single session schools, Other Professional Work (OPW) is now a 40-minute weekly block of time for teachers and a 35-minute block for paraprofessionals scheduled after school on Tuesday, unless modified through a school-based option (SBO). Other Professional Work is self-directed work; principals may direct teachers and paraprofessionals to an activity, but it should be the exception, not the rule.

Here is the list of activities considered Other Professional Work:

  • Collaborative planning
  • Lesson study
  • Inquiry and review of student work
  • MOSL-related work
  • Work related to computer systems or data entry
  • Preparing and grading student assessments
  • Mentoring
  • IEP-related work (which now includes IEP meetings)
  • Responsibilities related to teacher leader duties for teachers in teacher leadership positions

In addition to the activities listed, a teacher or a group of teachers can propose additional activities that may include working with students for a portion of the school year. These additional activities require the principal's approval.

If less than 55 minutes is spent on parent engagement activities in a given week, the teacher or paraprofessional can use the remaining time, remotely if they wish, on Other Professional Work.

If you have issues involving the implementation of Other Professional Work at your school, speak to your district rep about resolving them through the paperwork and operational issues resolution process.

Sept. 30 is the deadline to set up a digital classroom

School-based teachers and mandated-service providers are required each year to set up a digital classroom by Sept. 30. The union's new contract ensures members will continue to receive appropriate compensation for that work. If you are on payroll as of Sept. 30, you will receive $225 on or about Oct. 31, for completing this task. If the employee comes on payroll after Sept. 30, they may submit for this payment.

Health and Safety

Free COVID-19 tests

Beginning on Monday, Sept. 25, every U.S. household can again order four more free COVID-19 rapid tests from the federal government. The tests will be delivered directly to your home. Before you throw out any "expired" COVID-19 tests you might have, check if the expiration date has been extended.

Order free tests


Last chance for chapter leaders to register for PD on new early childhood curriculum

Chapter leaders in schools with 3K or pre-K will receive information about the new early childhood curriculum and assessments, empowering them to provide valuable support to early childhood educators and their students. Please join the UFT and the DOE for an all-day professional learning event on Tuesday, Sept. 26, from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at union headquarters in Shanker Hall. You must register by Friday, Sept. 22. Chapter leaders who have 3K or pre-K students in their schools or centers, except for those in Districts 17 and 25, may attend this event. Districts 17 and 25 will join the literacy initiative later as part of the second cohort of schools. Eligible chapter leaders will be released by their principal to attend this training.

Register now

Dial-a-Teacher is back in the swing

Tell your members that homework help is once again available through the UFT's Dial-A-Teacher hotline. Students who need help (or parents) can speak to a teacher at Dial-A-Teacher by calling 212-777-3380, Mondays through Thursdays, from 4 to 7 p.m., during the school year. Dial-A-Teacher can also give parents advice on how they can help their child at home. The staff speaks 10 languages: Armenian, Bengali, Chinese, English, French, Haitian-Creole, Korean, Russian, Spanish and Tagalog. See more information about Dial-A-Teacher on the UFT website.

Medical and Wellness

MAP offers CE credits for social workers and psychologists

The UFT's Member Assistance Program has scheduled virtual workshops throughout October and November for social workers and psychologists. These two-hour workshops cover a variety of wellness topics and cost $25 to attend. Each participant will earn two Continuing Education credits for each workshop they attend. The October workshops run from 5 to 7 p.m. They are: Wellness Overview on Monday, Oct. 2; Foundations of Mindfulness on Monday, Oct. 16; The Second Brain on Wednesday, Oct. 18; Pediatric Health on Monday, Oct. 23; and Breath Work and Meditation on Monday, Oct. 30.

Check out our Brewing Wellness podcast

The UFT's Member Assistance Program has revamped its Classroom Café podcast to focus on well-being and appeal to union members beyond classroom educators. Each month, the Brewing Wellness podcast series will delve into a mental health or wellness topic to help UFT members thrive in their professional and personal lives. In "Facing Fears," the first episode of the new podcast, Dr. Jarell Myers, a clinical psychologist, discusses ways to work with our thoughts and feelings so we are freed of unhealthy fears. He shares an approach to developing tolerance through exposure as well as other strategies to help manage our anxieties. Subscribe to this UFT podcast on your favorite streaming provider to make sure you don't miss any upcoming episodes.

Listen to the latest episode

Get your flu shot at the Delegate Assembly

Delegates and chapter leaders attending the UFT Delegate Assembly at union headquarters on Wednesday, Oct. 11, may receive a free flu shot between 3 and 5:30 p.m. You are eligible for a shot provided you have a New York City health plan.

New hires once again have health plan options

The mandate for all new city employees to enroll in the HIP HMO Preferred Plan during the first year of employment ended on June 30, 2023. Please note: Anyone hired before that date must still complete one full year in the HIP HMO plan. Anyone hired on or after July 1, 2023, may enroll in any health plan for which they are eligible.

Politial Action

Register to vote by Oct. 28

The deadline to register to vote in the Nov. 7 general election is Saturday, Oct. 28. UFT members who have an ID issued by the state Department of Motor Vehicles can register to vote at their current location by visiting the DMV Voter Registration website. If they wish to submit a written application, they can download the New York State Voter Registration Form and mail it to their county board of elections. The addresses for all county boards can be found on the second page of the form. The paper form must be received by the county board of election by Oct. 28. Not sure if you're registered to vote? Visit the NY State Board of Elections Voter Registration and Poll Site Search website.

Salary & Personell

Teachers may be eligible for extra time on teaching certificates

Earlier this year, the state Board of Regents made several changes to the requirements for time extensions, reissuances and renewals of teaching certifications. These changes went into effect on Aug. 2, 2023. Read the State Education Department's quick reference guide to learn more about the new requirements. Note: If a teacher had a time extension with an expiration date of Aug. 31, 2023, or later, two additional years were automatically added to that extension.

Paras can earn a bachelor's degree with tuition assistance

For paraprofessionals interested in becoming teachers, school counselors, school psychologists or other titles, the Career Training Program is a benefit fought for and won by the UFT. The program provides eligible UFT paraprofessionals with the opportunity to earn their first bachelor's degree. The program pays tuition for three to six credits per semester for undergraduate study at a participating college or university. Program participants who are registered for and actively taking five or more credit hours are eligible for 2½ hours per week of release time. Paraprofessionals are responsible for researching, applying and enrolling in an approved participating college or university. Paras can apply through Oct. 31 for the spring semester.

Learn more

Apply for a spring study sabbatical by Oct. 23

Eligible teachers who want time to study to enhance their teaching skills during the spring 2024 term have until Monday, Oct. 23, to submit an application in SOLAS for a study sabbatical. The applications become available on Wednesday, Oct. 4. The deadline for a principal's recommendation to the superintendent is Oct. 30. Coursework must be rigorous and related to your teaching assignment. All teachers are eligible for a one-year study sabbatical after 14 years of service. Middle or high school classroom teachers with seven years on the job may also apply for a six-month study sabbatical for the spring semester only. During a study sabbatical, whether six months or a full year, teachers earn 70 percent of their salary. Members can find out more in the sabbatical leaves section of the UFT website. Members can read the current guidelines and eligibility requirements in the DOE sabbatical memo, which the DOE updates and reissues each spring, and Chancellor's Regulation C-650 on Sabbatical Leaves of Absence.

Next round of pension workshops starts in October

The UFT Pension Department offers virtual workshops throughout the school year to help members understand their pension benefits. All workshops take place from 4:15 to 5:30 p.m. Upcoming workshops include Health Benefits at Retirement on Wednesday, Oct. 4; Tier 4 Milestones, Final Average Salary Calculations and CAR Days on Tuesday, Oct. 17; Tier 6 Milestones, Final Average Salary Calculations and CAR days on Wednesday, Oct. 25; Tax Deferred Annuity and Pension Options on Tuesday, Nov. 14; and Medicare and Turning 65 on Wednesday on Wednesday, Nov. 29.

Special Education

The role of the Special Education Intervention Teacher (formerly the centrally funded IEP Teacher)

Special Education Intervention Teacher is the new name for the centrally funded IEP Teacher, a change made to reflect the primary role of the teacher serving in the position. This position ensures that the selected schools have a trained teacher to deliver targeted instruction and interventions to students with disabilities who are not meeting grade-level benchmarks. Special Education Intervention Teachers should not have IEP coordination responsibilities, such as reviewing, drafting and gathering information for IEPs for other teachers in the building and attending IEP meetings as the district representative. A new cycle for this three-year position begins this school year. Schools that received central funding for the last cycle retained the position if the teacher in the position participated in the DOE training during that period. New schools were selected based on the number of students referred for special education evaluation in the past three years plus the number of students with disabilities who qualified for free or reduced-price lunch, were English language learners or were classified as having a speech and language or learning disability School Allocation Memorandum No. 16, FY 2024 and the posting for the position contain important information, including changes in the role and responsibilities of the Special Education Intervention Teacher.

Everything Else

High school students can meet college recruiters at two UFT events

UFT Team High School and the UFT's Office of Parent and Community Engagement are hosting two college-networking events for high school students applying to college for 2024-25. Counselors or teachers must accompany all students. Students will have one-hour appointments to meet with college recruiters from public, private and technical colleges and universities. The first event is on Thursday, Oct. 12, from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Lehman College, 250 Bedford Park Blvd. West, in the Bronx. The second is on Friday, Nov. 3, also from 10 am. to 1:30 p.m., at the Borough of Manhattan Community College, 199 Chambers St. Space is limited so don't wait to register your students to attend during one of the available time slots. For more information on the Oct. 12 event, please contact James Rodriguez at 866-509-5921. For information about the Nov. 3 event, email

UFT's Future in Focus helps students explore unionized careers

High school members are invited to bring their 9th- through 12th-grade students to the UFT's annual Future in Focus event, sponsored by the UFT Academic High School Division, at UFT headquarters on Tuesday, Oct. 17. High school students can learn about collective bargaining, the impact of organized labor on society and the benefits of union representation at your job. There will be presentations on an array of unionized careers and postsecondary opportunities including internships and apprenticeship programs. Students can participate in discussions about labor unions, and they can hear from workers who are union members. Doors open at 9:30 a.m., and the program runs from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Only chaperoned groups may attend, and registration is required. High school chapter leaders, please post this flier on your UFT bulletin board.

Celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month in your classes

National Hispanic Heritage Month runs from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 each year. The UFT has gathered curriculum materials to help educators observe National Hispanic Heritage Month with their students. Teachers may find these educational resources especially helpful this year as they create welcoming communities for asylum seekers.

Last chance to register for the UFT Invitational Golf Outing

Please join us at the 2023 UFT Invitational Golf Outing and luncheon. There will be raffles, basket auctions and fun for a good cause. We hope to see you there as we strive to raise money for the UFT Disaster Relief Fund. This year, we will make a donation to support the victims of the Hawaiian wildfires.

Register now

Register middle school students for UFT's anti-bullying conference

Bring your middle school students to the UFT's anti-bullying conference organized by the union's Middle School Division. On Tuesday, Oct. 19, a terrific group of presenters will give information to students about how they can combat bullying in their schools and turn their communities into safer learning environments for everyone. Space is limited; each school may bring a maximum of 12 students. Registration is on a first-come, first-served basis. Lunch, snacks and giveaways will be provided. UFT members must register themselves and their students. Middle school chapter leaders, post this flier on your UFT bulletin board. For more information, contact Jeannette Noriega at

Paras are invited to welcome-back events in each borough

The Paraprofessionals Chapter is holding boroughwide events to welcome paraprofessionals back to school. Members will have the chance to meet Paraprofessionals Chapter Leader Priscilla Castro, hear her speak and ask her questions. With more than 25,000 members in the chapter, the chapter's elected leaders want to make sure members have an opportunity for some in-person quality time with them. Registration is open for the Bronx gathering on Friday, Sept. 29, from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. Registration will open soon for the remaining events: Brooklyn on Tuesday, Oct. 5; Queens on Friday, Oct. 13; and Manhattan on Wednesday, Oct. 18. The date for the Staten Island gathering has not been set. For more information, call 212-331-6312 and ask for the UFT Paraprofessionals Division.

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Key Events & Deadlines

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