UFT President Michael Mulgrew told delegates at the Delegate Assembly on Nov. 17 that the union plans to seek extensive member input to help shape priorities for upcoming negotiations on the next contract and on health benefits.
With the DOE-UFT contract due to expire on Sept. 13, 2022, Mulgrew said he would like to form a negotiating committee at least as large as the 400-member group that helped shape the current agreement in 2018.
“The last time we had the largest one ever,” Mulgrew said. “We want to do the same things. We want members from each functional chapter to be negotiating the provisions of their contract.”
Also, with a new mayor about to take over, Mulgrew said the committee needed to be formed soon to give the union time to educate and train the members on city and state collective bargaining practices.
“What I saw last time, which was the first time we ever did that, was that the Department of Education didn’t know what to do with you,” Mulgrew said. “They couldn’t argue with members representing their functional chapters about what goes on for real during the workday at the worksites. That’s why we ended up with a contract with more changes than ever and more improvements for functional chapters.”
The health care group, he said, would work much the same way as has the 50-member retiree health care committee that was formed last spring to provide feedback on retiree health care priorities.
Health benefits for municipal workers are negotiated by the Municipal Labor Committee, of which the UFT is a member. “It gives us a lot of buying power and leverage,” Mulgrew said of the large coalition.
The goal is to create a group of informed health care advocates who can talk about the issues and challenges in this area with other members.
“I think it’s really responsible because as we continue down this road in health care, we need to not only educate ourselves as union leaders but we also have to start educating our members,” Mulgrew said. “It’s important our members understand how it all works.”
Members can be on either committee, but not both, Mulgrew said.
In his report, the president also reminded the delegates that the next state budget would mark the second year of full funding for the Campaign for Fiscal Equity deal.
The rush to complete all social-emotional, numeracy-literacy and Special Education Recovery Service program screenings in six weeks this fall has left members scrambling for time. Mulgrew reminded the delegates that members can use the operational issues complaint process to seek redress if administrators demand excessive paperwork.
“I expect there will be people asking for paperwork that’s duplicative and unnecessary,” Mulgrew said. “If so, I need you to file an operational issues complaint.”