More than 37,000 workers at the Kaiser Permanente health care corporation in California have voted to authorize a strike in October over unfair labor practices and understaffing. The walkout would be the nation’s largest strike in more than 20 years.
The Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West, the largest union in a coalition covered by the national contract, voted to support a strike, according to the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions. Two-thirds of the union’s members voted, with 98 percent of those voting yes, it said. A total of 80,000 Kaiser workers in several other states, as well as the District of Columbia, will have the chance to vote on the strike through September.
Most contracts covering Kaiser employees will expire in October. The unions and their members accuse the company of bargaining in bad faith and insisting on a restrictive agreement prohibiting sympathy strikes among workers.
The union representing Newark teachers announced a five-year deal with its school district on Aug. 13 that eliminates merit-based bonuses and allows low-rated teachers to earn pay increases. The changes overturn key elements of a controversial 2012 contract and represent a shift away from former Mayor Cory Booker’s education reform agenda, which sought to introduce corporate-style accountability and compensation practices into public education.
Kids are kids, whether the calendar says 1890, 1910 or 2019.
So when 4th-graders from Brooklyn’s PS 10 took the “Sweatshop Workers” tour at the Tenement Museum on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, it’s no wonder they were fascinated to learn about the immigrant children who had lived there.
The students “had discussed the reasons for immigration to New York” as part of their social studies curriculum, said Michele Kertesz, who teaches the integrated co-teaching class with special education teacher Regina Zoltowski. They “learned about the contributions of immigrants” and were particularly interested in child labor, Kertesz said.
“In our classroom,” she added, “we role-played what life was like for these children. We discussed how living conditions could improve; how even today we can help to make changes.”
Climbing the creaky steps of a narrow staircase in the Orchard Street building, past peeling walls and rooms in ruins — evidence of the building’s history — the students traveled back in time to meet the Levine and Rogarshevsky families in apartments re-created with guidance from both families’ descendants.
The building, constructed in 1863 when Abraham Lincoln was president, was occupied for only 72 years. During those years, 7,000 people lived there; some walls have 20 layers of wallpaper to prove it. The building remained vacant from 1935 until 1988, when the museum — designated a National Historic Site — was founded.
When Rita Fattorusso invites one of her prekindergarten students to the front of the class to lead morning exercises, the other students pay strict attention. If they don’t, they’ll miss their classmate’s instructions: He uses American Sign Language to tell them to do eight jumping jacks, mimicking the action and counting out the number eight on his fingers.
Lucille Swaim, the coordinator of negotiations for every UFT contract from the first one in 1962 until her retirement in 2015, died on July 1 at the age of 87.
Her fingerprints are on every contractual improvement UFT members enjoy today.
“Lucille was a quiet hero,” said UFT President Michael Mulgrew. “She put her heart, soul and intellect into helping generations of educators and UFT members. She helped build this union.”
Swaim came to the UFT in 1961 during efforts to organize city teachers, and she stayed to negotiate the first comprehensive collective bargaining agreement covering teachers anywhere in the nation.
“That contract,” she later said, “broke the ground for teachers to start organizing across the country.”
For the first time, a teachers’ contract covered not just salary and benefits but working conditions, such as class size and the right to a duty-free lunch. And for the first time, contractual grievance procedure required that an impartial arbitrator, and not the employer, be the final decision-maker in disputes.
UFT retired teachers who worked in the 1950s and ’60s can bear witness to just how extraordinary those improvements were.
Bronx Engineering and Technical Academy Chapter Leader Yvonne Reasen used the new expedited resolution process for operational issues, negotiated as part of the 2018 DOE-UFT contract, to get the basic instructional supplies desperately needed by science teachers at her school.
New York City public school students improved their performance on state math and English tests for grades 3 through 8 for the sixth year in a row, according to 2019 test scores released by the state Education Department on Aug. 22.
The UFT seized the opportunity presented by the 2018 contract negotiations with the city Department of Education to revise the teacher evaluation system to focus on quality of observations rather than quantity and to incorporate meaningful professional development as part of the process. Here’s what you can expect for the 2019–20 school year.
Welcome back. I hope you enjoyed a restful summer break and you’re re-energized for the year ahead. As always, we’re here to help you meet the challenges and opportunities that present themselves every September. Please extend yourself to the new teachers who are finding their footing in the classroom this year. We’ve all been there, and it can be daunting.
This September, 3,000 new teachers have joined the city Department of Education’s ranks. Their interests and backgrounds are as diverse as New York City itself. But whether they teach 3-year-olds on Staten Island or high school biology in Brooklyn, they all have one thing in common: They belong to our United Federation of Teachers family.
President Trump tells people to go back where they came from for being critical of the U.S — this coming from a man who has been very critical of American policies and Americans both before and after coming into office. (The words “American carnage” come to mind.)
In 2014, while my kindergarten students at PS 290 in Manhattan were doing research about tomatoes and other foods in our cafeteria, they learned about pesticides. They did role-plays where farmworkers or gardeners were coughing and rubbing the rashes caused by the (pretend) pesticides sprayed on the tomatoes.
The start of a school year is a good time to plan how to integrate technology in your classroom. Many teachers have great ideas but do not have access to the hardware or software they need to run with them. Other than asking your principal to purchase equipment on a tight budget, education grants can provide needed funds for technology projects.
The Si Beagle courses at the new Queens Learning Center, 118-35 Queens Blvd., 8th floor, will not begin on Monday, Sept. 9, due to construction. Instead, the courses will begin on Wednesday, Oct. 2, and conclude on Friday, Nov. 22. The Queens trips will not be affected.
After 31 years in the classroom as a life science teacher, Kim McCarthy has traded in her microscopes and lesson plans for the Wobble, the Cupid Shuffle and Booty Call. McCarthy signed up for salsa and belly dancing classes at the Bronx Si Beagle Center, but was always on the lookout for an urban line dancing class. When she didn’t find one, she created one that has grown into two Si Beagle classes.