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What you need to know about functional chapters

New York Teacher

Although the union is called the United Federation of Teachers, the membership has grown to include many other types of educators and professionals who serve the children of New York City in a variety of ways.

These DOE-employed members have chapters of their own to address common issues and concerns. The union calls these groups “functional chapters” because the common bond is the function performed by their job title. For example, school counselors may face different issues in their individual schools, but they share common concerns about their profession, their practice, their professional development and their working conditions in the city school system.

The UFT has more than 37,000 functional chapter members who work at one site or a combination of locations. The largest functional chapter by far is the Paraprofessionals Chapter, with more than 26,000 members. Other functional chapter members employed by the DOE include, but are not limited to, speech teachers, school counselors, social workers and psychologists, occupational and physical therapists, school nurses, education officers and analysts, hearing and vision education service workers and teachers assigned, a title for teachers who are assigned to a DOE office.

Many UFT members thus belong to two chapters: They belong to the school chapter where they work as well as a functional chapter.

In addition to DOE functional chapters, the UFT represents members in a number of private-sector and nonprofit bargaining units, which are also called functional chapters. The largest of these are the functional chapters within the Federation of Nurses/UFT and the union’s Family Child Care Providers Chapter. Other non-DOE chapters include the Adapt Community Network, the Block Institute and various private and nonprofit schools.

Functional chapters elect a chapter leader and representatives to the union’s Executive Board and Delegate Assembly.

Functional chapter leaders hold regular meetings to report on issues and identify member concerns. Each functional chapter leader also communicates with members through email updates, telephone calls and newsletters. They handle individual problems as well as citywide issues.

Many functional chapters, including paraprofessionals, school counselors, school secretaries and all the non-DOE chapters, have their own contracts.

If you hold one of these job titles, visit the Our Chapters section of the UFT website to learn how your functional chapter leader is supporting you and the role you can play in your chapter. If you aren’t receiving email alerts from your functional chapter leader, please sign up here.

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