From your chapter leader
I want to take this opportunity to welcome new DOE nurses to the UFT. On March 20, we were fortunate to host one of their orientation days at UFT headquarters in Manhattan. UFT staff introduced themselves and spoke about the benefits of belonging to a union.
Nurses asked a variety of questions and speakers from the UFT pension department, the UFT Welfare Fund and UFT Political Action Department provided helpful information.
We hope these new nurses will reduce the need for school nurses to cover other sites. We also look forward to their participation in union activities and getting to know them.
Now, I want to revisit the issue of a constitutional convention. New York voters will be asked on Nov. 7, as they are every 20 years, if they want to hold a convention to revise and amend our state constitution.
This convention would pose a major political threat to our future. Opening the constitution for revision could jeopardize our defined-pension benefits, the 7 percent interest we receive on our Tax-Deferred Annuity and the cost-of-living adjustments on which our retirees depend. It could also destroy the strength of our union by eliminating our right to collective bargaining.
We must be diligent in educating our members, families and friends about this issue, and encourage them to vote “no” in November.
School Nurses Chapter Leader
Consultations are scheduled throughout the year with Director of Nursing Gail Adman. At these meetings, we discuss issues of concern and bring up questions you have. On March 7, the following topics were discussed:
Administration for Children’s Services update: We are still awaiting a final decision regarding who, other than school nurses, can take photos in a suspected child abuse case. The suspected case should be called in before taking any photos.
The union believes that you are best protected by taking a photo after a report has been filed. You should have a case number attached to any photos taken. If you have any questions, please contact your nursing supervisor.
Nurse directory: The nurse directory on the Automated Student Health Record website will be updated shortly. The UFT has requested that the directory be updated after every transfer period.
Vacancy list: If you applied for a transfer during the June–November 2016 posting period, but did not receive or declined the transfer, and want to reapply during this transfer period (ending in May) you may have difficulty with the online application. Members have experienced a computer glitch that prevents them from completing the application.
If you are having difficulty applying for a transfer, first contact the Automated Student Health Record help desk or Lisa Seales-Pearson at 347-396-4727. If the issue is not resolved, please contact Chapter Leader Cathy Connolly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Asthma case managers: Currently, 20 case managers have been hired. The union requested a list of their duties and guidelines for our staff nurses. In most cases, they are assigned their own offices; however, there are six sites in which they share an office. The case manager can have access to your computer, but he or she cannot interrupt the nurse’s work or have keys to the nurse’s office or file cabinet.
We hope guidelines will be forthcoming. If you have any issues, please contact your nursing supervisor along with Chapter Leader Cathy Connolly, so that the union is aware of any issues.
Nurse vacancies/coverages: We have received many calls from nurses who are pulled to cover other sites. We understand how being called by your nurse supervisor to cover a site creates a hardship in your workday.
For our chapter to build a case in this ongoing practice, we need your help. We need to know how often this is occurring and if it is being done on a rotational basis.
We are updating the unsafe staffing form, which was developed years ago and seems to have gone by the wayside. In the meantime, until we finalize this form, please email Chapter Leader Cathy Connolly at email@example.com whenever you are pulled to cover another site. We need a record of these incidents to prove that this is an unfair practice.
Nurse Lobby Day: We requested a release day for six school nurses to attend Nurse Lobby Day on Tuesday, May 9. Lobby Day give us an opportunity to have a voice in our government. We travel to Albany, and meet with our legislators to educate them about the importance of providing quality health care services, not only to our students but to all New Yorkers. If you are interested in participating, please contact Chapter Leader Cathy Connolly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Change in summer programs: The Office of School Health should have the Summer Programs application available in mid-April. There will be a few changes in the regional programs this year. Some of the programs will be six weeks (four days a week) and the length of the day will be six hours per day.
Our Functional Chapter Weekend
Our chapter, once again, participated in the UFT's Functional Chapter Weekend on March 4–5 in Rye, New York. Sixteen UFT school nurses attended.
The weekend began with a plenary session featuring UFT President Michael Mulgrew, who gave an overview of today’s political issues.
He discussed the current financial impact that vouchers and for-profit charter schools have on the funding of public schools, and spoke about the threat from the new administration especially since new U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is an avid supporter of both vouchers and for-profit charter schools. He then highlighted the negative effects that a constitutional convention in New York could have on our future as unionists, public employees and educators.
Every 20 years, the state holds a referendum to allow New Yorkers to decide whether to have a constitutional convention to amend our constitution. What is at stake? A free, public education, our pensions, workers’ compensation, collective bargaining and the state’s social safety net.
Mulgrew emphasized that we must all vote “no” in November.
The social media workshop relayed guidelines and safe practices regarding communication between employees and DOE students. When using Twitter, Facebook or email, be sure to exercise caution and use good professional judgement.
UFT Pension Representative Frank Panebianco gave an informative pension workshop. He explained how the different pension tiers work and reviewed the vesting qualifications for benefits.
Amy Arundell, the director of personnel, payroll and special projects, led a special workshop for our nurses and therapists. She discussed payroll issues; types of leaves including child care, health, maternity and terminal leaves; the Family Medical Leave Act; and how to use the Self-Service Online Leave Application System.
On Saturday evening, we enjoyed dinner and dancing. It was a great opportunity to meet other functional chapter members who also want to become more politically engaged with our union.
Anthony Harmon, the UFT director of parent and community outreach, gave a workshop on communication skills that was filled with fun and laughter as well as a lot of tips. We left the weekend on a high note after a delicious lunch and raffle.
Meet your Executive Board members
Beverly Briggs, Bronx
Cynthia Bennett, Queens
Marie Thompson, District 75
Janet Carter, Queens
Jessy Warren, Queens
Ellen Sebastiano, Brooklyn
BJ Darby, Afternoon UFT Staffer
Nurse Lobby Day: Tuesday, May 9 in Albany, NY.
Nurse Appreciation Dinner: Wednesday, May 17, UFT headquarters at 50 Broadway, 19th floor.