The state of the union — as in the United Federation of Teachers — is good, UFT President Michael Mulgrew reported to the Delegate Assembly on Feb. 13.
The reason? The new Department of Education-UFT contract that was ratified by members last fall.
It’s a contract that locks in salary increases — including a 2 percent raise that took effect on Feb. 14 — at a time when the city is discussing budget shortfalls.
“We chose the right timing for our contract agreement,” Mulgrew said to the delegates gathered at Shanker Hall in Manhattan.
It’s also a contract that gives UFT members, as Mulgrew put it, “more voice than ever before.”
And on top of that, he added wryly, “We haven’t had to use our only snow day this school year.”
Mulgrew stressed the importance of implementing the elements of the new contract that give members new ways to tackle workplace issues at the school level. He used a PowerPoint to walk through the new process with the delegates.
“These are your rights,” he said. “If you don’t use them, what are they worth?”
Mulgrew asked chapter leaders to use a new online form on the UFT website to submit their monthly consultation notes to the union.
“We want all consultation, good and bad,” he said. “Consultation works in the majority of schools, and we need to be able to show what’s working and offer help when it’s not.”Chapter leaders now have a new process to address violations of the new systemwide standards governing the following workplace issues: paperwork, curriculum, professional development, basic instructional supplies, workload, space and safety. They should first attempt to resolve the issue with their principal through a one-on-one conversation, an email or their UFT consultation committee. If the issue remains unresolved, Mulgrew said chapter leaders should notify their principals that they have five school days to resolve it; meanwhile, chapter leaders should immediately fill out the online form on the UFT website.
“Once it’s online, the clock starts ticking,” Mulgrew said. “That’s your protection.”
Mulgrew urged chapter leaders to begin exercising this new contractual right as issues come up at their schools.
“When it comes to the day-to-day operation of the school,” he said, “you need to file a complaint if the contract is not being followed.”