UNITY/UFT: Never Relenting!

UNITY/UFT has, for over 60 years, consistently taken the lead and navigated us through many crises. From the creation of our Union and literally saving NYC from potential bankruptcy to helping rebuild lower Manhattan after 9/11 and the unprecedented challenges of Covid-19, UNITY/UFT took charge and made us not only a better union but a stronger one. And now, the work continues as the world strives to recover from a once in a lifetime global pandemic.

At the onset of Covid-19, the UNITY/UFT Caucus, under the leadership of President Michael Mulgrew, pushed Mayor Bill de Blasio to close our schools when he refused to do so. Furthermore, when our school did re-open, we succeeded at keeping them safe beyond anyone’s expectations. We insisted on doctor-approved safety protocols and testing and improved school ventilation systems. We provided thousands of members with appointments for a vaccination when appointments were next to impossible to get. We fought to keep our schools among the safest institutions in the city, if not the country. The well-being of our members has always been and always will be UNITY/UFT’s primary focus. We owe it to every member to do everything possible to keep them safe.

During the pandemic DOE asked our members to perform additional work and thought nothing of trying to force the issue. UNITY/UFT pushed back night and day to ensure our members were paid for the additional work expected. Teaching multiple modalities, creating digital classrooms, conducting office hours, coordinating recovery services are just a few examples of the new circumstances our members faced and for which they now are additionally compensated. When the city and DOE resisted our demands, UNITY/UFT did NOT relent. One of our core beliefs is that “if you work, you get paid.” And now, because of our actions, our members do.

UNITY/UFT accomplished all of this in spite of an incompetent mayor who continuously tries to derail schools. With half-baked ideas, ridiculous timelines and nonsensical decrees, City Hall gets in the way of the work we know needs to get done. We push back time and again, either working through or going around them. The mayor consistently is late to the party. UNITY/UFT sincerely believes that we would be better off if he didn’t show up at all.

There are those who see this pandemic as an opportunity to divide our membership. These very same people believe that a scorched earth approach is best without regard for long term implications and who gets harmed. We could not disagree more. UNITY/UFT knows that to not only lead, but lead successfully and with a firm hand, the opposite approach is required. And we have the track record to prove it.

UNITY/UFT: COVERING ALL THE BASES

For over 60 years UNITY/UFT has proudly been the majority voice of our union. Whether the concern be safety and health or economics, we never stop fighting for our members. When the fight is about politics or working conditions, we continue to advocate for the betterment of our schools and students. No matter what the issue, UNITY/UFT is always at the forefront, leading the charge.

SAFETY & HEALTH

Next year we hope to have, at a minimum, 90% of our students back for in person instruction. And UNITY/UFT will fight to make sure that, when it does resume, such instruction is well planned, based upon both science and fact. Doing it any other way is a disservice to all of our school communities.

ECONOMICS

Because UNITY/UFT took the lead in negotiations, our members will receive a 3% raise in a few days. This is the final raise in our current contract, and we will soon start forming our negotiation committees again for our next round of bargaining.

Additionally, this July members will receive the 12.5 % lump sum payment that Mayor DeBlasio tried to take away from us, a payment that UNITY/UFT fought for and won.

WORKING CONDITIONS

Toward the goal of a successful resumption of school next year, the union has proposed a five point plan with the following components:

  1. A team of academic intervention specialists and mental health professionals in each school.
  2. Reduced class size
  3. Free CTLE-granting webinars to members offering strategies to help assess students and respond to those suffering
  4. from stress or trauma.
  5. Extra support for HS seniors in college and career planning.
  6. Increased in-person instruction during this year’s summer school.

POLITICS

UNITY/UFT is working to elect a mayor who supports public education.

This is the reason we endorsed Scott Stringer, an ally who has stood with us through every battle we have faced. As
President Mulgrew
said, “Scott Stringer is the right candidate to support public schools and the children who go there.” We do not want four years of wanna be Bloombergs.”

UNITY/UFT president Michael Mulgrew stated that “. . . it is about always doing the absolute best for our members in any and all ways, in every facet possible . . . that’s our job and something we will always continue to do.”

UNITY/UFT: Planning Ahead

Under the leadership of UNITY/UFT President Michael Mulgrew, the union fights every day to keep our members, students and schools safe and healthy as the COVID-19 pandemic continues its fearsome march across the country, leaving 50,000 New Yorkers dead and nearly 600,000 citizens across the nation.

Despite these grim numbers, we succeeded in keeping our schools safe beyond anyone’s expectations. We insisted on doctor-approved safety protocols and testing, and improved school ventilation systems. We provided thousands of members with appointments for a vaccination when appointments were next to impossible to get. The UFT fought to keep our schools among the safest institutions in the city, and we vow to continue our vigilance going forward.

Now, light appears to be glimmering at the end of this long dark tunnel. Our colleagues and students need our full support as we rebound from the disruptions and chaos of this year. And, as UNITY/UFT has always done, we have jumped into action instead of waiting to follow someone else’s lead. Following Mulgrew’s lead, we created a plan of recovery that says:

  1. Every school should have a team of academic intervention specialists and social workers or psychologists to provide targeted help to students.
  2. We should cut class size by a third in 100 of the city’s neediest schools as a pilot project. The goal: to use this as a blueprint citywide.
  3. The city should offer a free CTLE-granting webinar to all our members offering strategies to help assess students and respond to those suffering from stress or trauma. Thousands of UFT members have signed up for the UFT’s version of this program this spring: From Trauma Awareness to Healing-Centered Classrooms, which teaches teachers how to identify stress and trauma in students and in ourselves as well.
  4. High school seniors must receive extra support in college and career planning and in applying to college and for financial aid; these same students must have opportunities to complete missing work.
  5. The DOE must provide as much in-person instruction during summer school this year as possible. All current safety and testing protocols will remain in place.

As UNITY/UFT President Mulgrew recently said, “This pandemic has challenged us in so many ways, ways in which we never could have imagined, but now thankfully we see an end in sight and must be prepared for future challenges.”

UNITY/UFT: Our Safety, Our Priority

Over a year ago, the UNITY/UFT Caucus, under the leadership of President Michael Mulgrew, pushed Mayor Bill de Blasio to close our schools at the onset of this pandemic. The mayor was reluctant but UNITY/UFT worked tirelessly fighting for the health and safety for every UFT member, and we got the schools closed. Today, the fight continues.

The Centers for Disease Control recently announced new social distancing guidelines for schools. Immediately, the mayor announced he would increase the number of students attending schools in person. Of course, as has been the case time and again, de Blasio makes these proclamations without any thought or plans or even the authority to move forward. So, doing what UNITY/UFT has done for over a year, we push the mayor to correct his course as he steers for the cliff again.

We are consulting with medical experts, scientists and doctors who are reviewing the CDC’s latest guidelines. We believe experts should drive the conversation, not a politician. Expanding in-person learning at this time is not quite as simple as the mayor thinks. We have to analyze the schools, classroom by classroom, to determine if the space exists to do this safely. We know some schools and sites have the capacity, of course, but others do not. To make a blanket statement about expanding in-person instruction is disingenuous to say the least.

UNITY/UFT will fight to make sure that any expansion of in-person instruction is well planned, based upon both science and fact. Doing it any other way is a disservice to all of our school communities.

President Mulgrew, responding to the mayor’s latest announcement, said that “. . . while we wait for the state and medical experts to weigh in on the new CDC guidance we do what we have done for over a year – support our students and keep our school communities safe in these uncertain times.”

Safety remains a UNITY/UFT Caucus priority as middle schools reopen

Middle schools will once again welcome students after the February break under the terms of an agreement between the city and state. Specifically, the city can reopen more schools after it has demonstrated it has built capacity to maintain strict in-school coronavirus testing standards.

However, the UNITY/UFT Caucus, under the leadership of President Michael Mulgrew, will monitor the situation to make certain the city can truly conduct randomized weekly testing of 20% of staff and students in every middle school building. In addition, we will also make sure that there is no diminishment in the current testing (the same 20% of staff and students) in elementary, K-8 and District 75 schools.

Furthermore, with middle schools reopening, UNITY/UFT insisted on:

  • All students in school buildings must have testing consent forms on file. The forms must be signed by a parent or guardian or students may not remain for in-person learning.
  • The city will provide all educators working in-person with additional opportunities for vaccinations through the union’s vaccine program
  • The city will open new vaccination sites dedicated to DOE employees.
  • The city will arrange to designate more vaccines to thousands of educators with the goal of offering a shot to every in-person teacher who would like to receive it.
  • On Feb. 8, more than 400 UFT members received the vaccine at Thomas Jefferson HS as part of a program with Emblem Health.

We will of course continue to push for even more safety and health protocols. As UNITY/UFT President Mulgrew said, “We want our educators to be safe and to have access to vaccines if they want them. We want the continuation of strict testing and the closing of individual schools when necessary. It is our collective responsibility to do all we can to help our school communities thrive while we continue to fight the pandemic through safety protocols and vaccinations.”

UNITY/UFT: Fighting for our Health and Safety!

Our caucus, UNITY/UFT, has advocated and fought for the safety and health of our members since our union’s inception more than 60 years ago. The past year has been a testament to that fact as UNITY/UFT fought seven days a week for our members to work in a safe environment as the pandemic devastated our nation’s health and economy.

And, because of our perseverance, our refusal to bow to poorly-conceived strategies that may have harmed our members and to advocate for safety and preventive measures, we are now among the first people in the city and state to receive the vaccine.

UNITY/UFT coordinated with participating health care institutions to ensure that teachers, paraprofessionals and our other education members who want the shot can get it as soon as possible. Priority was given to in-person educators first because they’re at a higher risk for contracting COVID than those who remain at home.

An astounding 20,000 UFT members responded with a resounding, “I want the vaccine,” since we announced this program on Sunday, Jan. 10. Of course, educators may receive their vaccine through the city-run programs but our swift actions allowed for multiple vaccination opportunities for members.

UNITY/UFT also negotiated with the city to ensure our members have two hours of paid release time if they can’t schedule an appointment outside of work hours.

UNITY/UFT President Michael Mulgrew, when asked about our members being offered the vaccine said, “Thankfully, our members are getting the vaccine. We all hope this is the beginning of the end of this horrible crisis that has killed thousands in our city and millions worldwide.”

UNITY/UFT – Working to keep members safe during the COVID pandemic.

UNITY/UFT Keeping Us Safer!

UNITY/UFT has been a bedrock of our union for more than 60 years. We have successfully navigated our membership through many political, economic and financial crises. And, now we find ourselves in uncharted territory as we battle a pandemic that has left more than 300,000 dead across the nation and more than 35,000 in our state.

Under the leadership of UNITY/UFT President Michael Mulgrew, we are fighting every day to keep our members, students and school communities safe and healthy. And we have succeeded beyond anyone’s expectations. Our schools remain among the safest institutions in the city.

Because of UNITY/UFT’s diligence, we have had the strongest protections of any school system in the country since we opened in the fall. And in the last weeks, we’ve worked with the city and state to make those protections even better:

  • Schools in the City’s high-impact red and orange coronavirus zones will continue to follow the state’s 3 percent rules
  • Schools will reopen in phases
  • More frequent testing and more stringent guidelines for closing
    • 20 percent of all staff and students must be tested every week in every school
    • The presence of a COVID-19 case or cases in a classroom results in that class moving to remote instruction
    • Two or more positive cases in a school that are not linked will result in the entire school going fully remote

As President Mulgrew recently said, “Each of these strategies, properly implemented, will keep us even safer until we beat the pandemic ravaging our nation. With approved vaccines arriving in our city, we are nearing the finish line for what has been a year none of us will forget.”

We’re Not Finished! Census 2020 / Next Generation Standards

It has been one year since we ratified the UNITY/UFT negotiated contract that provides us with new and improved rights at the school level/workplace for all UFT represented DOE titles.  We listened to our members concerns and addressed safety, lack of curriculum, professional development, basic instructional supplies, workload and issues around physical space.

However, UNITY/UFT is NOT finished. We are now confronting the issue of curriculum
alignment to the new standards (NextGen). We are working to ensure that EVERY school in the city has an appropriate curriculum to match with these new standards and that each and every one of our members is given professional development on these standards. UNITY/UFT knows that if our students and schools succeed, then WE win. Unfortunately, these days, too many people want to see us fail. We cannot and will not let that happen. As UNITY/UFT President Michael Mulgrew said, “we need to have the appropriate curriculum in our schools and be given the proper professional development . . . we work with students every day and know better than anyone what works and doesn’t work in the classroom.”

Whats At Stake Pledge Card 3On a very different note, UNITY/UFT has pledged to raise awareness and encourage participation in the 2020 census. It will literally and figuratively be our rallying cry as we head into 2020. NY historically has had a low response rate and, as a result, our city has lost BILLIONS of dollars of federal monies. UNITY/UFT President Mulgrew recently stated that “We cannot keep subsidizing the rest of the country while continuously losing tens of  billions of dollars each year. We can and must change this . . . it is our job as educators to teach everyone about the importance of being counted.”

Everybody counts!

UNITY/UFT: Not on Our Watch!

The UNITY/UFT caucus has been the foundation of our union for over 60 years, and we proudly bear the responsibility for being the majority voice. UNITY/UFT never stops advocating and fighting for our members, improving our working conditions for the betterment of our schools and students.  This is exemplified by our current contract which, one year in, has demonstrated its value by enabling VOICE, SUPPORT, RESPECT and true EMPOWERMENT.

As you know, under the leadership of UNITY/UFT President Michael Mulgrew, we have negotiated many tools to assist us in our roles as educators. Among them are school-based professional development committees, standards for paperwork reduction that eliminate duplicative and unnecessary paperwork (both written and electronic), and, for the first time, a requirement that the DOE provide curriculum to teachers of core subjects. Unfortunately, the DOE has again managed to “muddy the waters” when it comes to these three collectively bargained items.

The Instructional Leadership Framework, or ILF, is a DOE initiative that integrates NYS Standards (“Next Gen”), Culturally Responsive Education, and Advanced Literacy. While we agree with this initiative in concept, we do not agree with the implementation. Our teachers should be exposed to these new standards, as next year our students and our school system will be judged on them.  Writing curriculum, bypassing the PD Committee and creating paperwork for the sake of creating paper and work are our new but old fights. How does this help our members, our students, and our schools?

UNITY/UFT President Mulgrew has made it clear that if the DOE can’t or won’t help our students prepare for the Next Generation Standards, then we must do it alone; if the DOE will allow it to fall on the backs of our members, then we must stand firm and demand the support our schools and teachers need. As ridiculous as it sounds, if our employer cannot do this work, then we must lead the charge to help our school system succeed. We have too many enemies waiting and hoping for us to fail in the ever important role of educating our students.

UNITY/UFT believes that failure is not an option. As President Mulgrew stated “. . . if we are challenged with the tasks of working towards a successful school system and ensuring that the DOE does their due diligence in supporting our schools, then we will wholeheartedly rise to that challenge.”

THIS FRIDAY: Coquito Fundraiser to Support Refugee Families at the Border

Come out this Friday November 1st at 4:30 to the UFT Bronx Borough Office for the AFT-Latino Caucus’ Coquito Fundraiser and Challenge!

Your donations to the UFT Disaster Relief Fund will support the Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley as they work to provide humanitarian relief to refugee families at the border.

Register Here https://tinyurl.com/CoquitoFR

And if you think you make the best Coquito in town, join the Coquito Challenge.  Sign up here: https://aftlatinocaucus.wufoo.com/forms/coquito-challenge/

 

Coquito Fundraiser Flyer

Coquito Challenge