The basic unit of the union is the chapter, which is composed of all the UFT members at a school or worksite. Members are supported and represented at multiple levels — the chapter, the functional chapter, the district, the UFT borough office and central headquarters.
The chapter leader is the front-line representative of the union and the first source of information, support and guidance for a chapter. Chapter leaders have the entire union behind them to answer questions and assist members on a range of matters such as working conditions, teacher evaluation, Teacher’s Choice and health and pension benefits.
The chapter leader is there to represent both the staff as a whole and the union. The role of the chapter leader is to listen, encourage, support and represent all members and to speak knowledgeably in the union’s voice.
Chapter leaders are also there to ensure that members’ contractual rights are enforced. They make sure all represented members know what their rights are. Violations can be resolved formally or informally. Not everything is a grievance; whatever the nature of the member’s complaint or concern, the chapter leader will try to address it.
Every three years the UFT members in your school (or functional chapter) conduct chapter elections. UFT members have a right to run for office, nominate other members and vote for candidates. Electing a solid team at your school is important to your interests, the strength of your school community and the strength of our union.
Members are strongly encouraged to participate regularly in chapter meetings and join school-based committees in which their issues can be discussed and resolved. School-based committees ensure that UFT members have a voice in decision-making at the school level.
It’s vital that all members participate in their chapters. The more engaged chapter members are, the stronger the chapter’s voice and the union overall.