On Jan. 11, the Supreme Court of the United States heard oral arguments in Friedrichs vs. California Teachers' Association, a case that could have major repercussions nationwide for public employee unions. Ten teachers in California objected to paying agency shop fees to their union on the grounds that all union work is political in nature. Therefore, because they are forced to pay fees, they are also forced to support activities they oppose. This, they say, infringes upon their freedom of speech as guaranteed by the First Amendment.
We shall see what the court does; the death of Justice Scalia opens several possibilities including the Supreme Court deciding to rehear the case once a new Justice is confirmed. But the issues raised by Friedrichs are here to stay and so are our enemies.
We must continue to loudly and strongly trumpet the good that unions do for working men and women. To that end, the union has launched its Union Loud and Proud campaign, and we urge to you join us in this endeavor.
The UFT, with its army of 200,000 has achieved a great deal for its members. We were given nothing. We fought for and won a defined pension benefit, sick days, collective bargaining rights, free healthcare, and due process rights. We’ve negotiated a duty-free lunch period, a self-directed prep, dedicated time in the workday for professional development, and expanded opportunities for teacher leadership roles.
Our power and our ability to advocate for the children in this city comes from our collective work. We represent the vast majority of employees working in our public schools. When we organize and speak with one voice, we can influence decisions that are good for our students, for our profession and for our schools. We speak as the experts — who else has a front-row seat on what happens in our schools?
Of course, we want to be part of your community as well. Be sure to invite us to visit your school. We want to help you maximize your voice as an advocate for children and as a union member. That’s how we can realize our power, speak out for our profession and guarantee a great public school system for years to come.
Janella Hinds, Vice President for Academic High Schools
Sterling Roberson, Vice President for Career and Technical Education
We are under attack – Share this video highlighting the Friedrichs case
As we said above, Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association threatens to undermine the ability of the UFT and other public employee unions to advocate effectively for their members.
This six-minute video sets the stage for you to talk with each other about the importance of union membership. Please show the video at your next chapter meeting. Never has it been more important to stand united. UFT members need to know that their union fought for and gained all the rights and benefits they have today. Help us get the truth out about Friedrichs.
Chapter organizes to educate others on Friedrichs
ELLIS Prep Academy chapter leader Krisy Lawlor spoke about Friedrichs vs. California Teachers Association at a recent chapter meeting. The case, which is described above, is backed by the right-wing legal organization Center for Individual Rights, is part of a decades-long strategy on the part of billionaire businessmen to destroy public sector unions.
CTE educators shining bright
The UFT and industry partners honored more than 35 educators, chosen by students and colleagues, at this year’s Career and Technical Education Awards Recognition Ceremony on Feb. 4 at the union’s lower Manhattan headquarters.
More than 400 CTE educators from across the city were honored at the UFT on Feb. 4.
A conversation with Ugandan activist Frank Mugisha
You and your students are invited to attend a conversation with human rights defender and Ugandan LGBT activist Frank Mugisha at the UFT this Saturday, Feb. 27 from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. at UFT headquarters at 52 Broadway. Lunch will be served; students are encouraged to attend with an adult chaperone.
Coming together at Manhattan Center
Register now for our Academic HS Awards Recognition Ceremony
The UFT Academic High School Awards Recognition Ceremony will take place on April 15 from 6 to 8 p.m. at UFT headquarters at 52 Broadway. We will recognize outstanding educators, activists, dynamic union leaders and community champions who are going above and beyond to connect with students, communities and the union.
For more details and to register, see the event listing »
Questions about special education or IEP implementation responsibilities? Contact your union!
All teachers and school-related professionals serving students with disabilities must understand their responsibilities as outlined in the New York State Education Department regulations under Chapter 408.
Prior to providing services to these students, please make sure you’ve received the IEP either electronically through SESIS or via hard copy. The school administration is responsible for identifying a designee to meet with each teacher and service provider prior to the initiation of services to discuss their specific role servicing the student. Additionally if they haven’t done so already, the administration will ask you to sign Chapter 408 documents confirming the receipt of the IEP and other related documents. While signing the documents is not optional, carefully read the IEP and make sure that you fully understand the mandated services before you sign.
If you are still awaiting a meeting or if you have yet to get access to the IEPs, please try to resolve the matter with your principal at your next consultation meeting. If the issue cannot be resolved at the school level or with the assistance of your district representative, then notify the union by filing the special education/ELL complaint form.
Free curriculum resources for teachers
New Visions for Public Schools offers a number of tools to help NYC public school teachers prepare a high-quality curriculum for their students. You can download the free Common Core Learning Standards-aligned curriculum for Global History, U.S. History or Living Environment here:
CTE at the ‘core’ of the UFT
Star CTE educators joined UFT President Michael Mulgrew, AFT President Randi Weingarten and UFT Vice President Sterling Roberson on Feb. 1 at UFT headquarters for a day of CTE celebrations. The day’s events included advisory panels, CTE certification and training workshops, professional learning opportunities and sharing best practices.
Team High School Electronic Committee
Members of the newly formed High School Electronic Media Committee recently met to decide how Team High School can best stay informed, and shape and advocate for the technological needs of educators in high schools. The Committee will also highlight best practices as the use of technology increases in schools. If you would like to attend the next meeting, date to be determined, contact Gregg Lundahl at Glundahl@UFT.org or call 212-598-9217.
Student contest for future labor leaders
The New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health has announced the YouthSafe Contest, an opportunity for students to create public service announcements (PSAs) and social media images for prize money. Please encourage your high school students to design posters and PSAs that teach others about youth workplace safety. This year’s contest features three categories: video public service announcements, posters and social media images. All entries must use the approved NYCOSH themes in the application pack and be postmarked or received via email by Friday, April 15.
For more information about the contest and to download application materials, visit the NYCOSH website.
Social studies educators, unionists come together
Your team is on Twitter
Follow @UFTTeamHS on Twitter.