This Week’s Focus
Membership team conversations should be happening now in every school
With the Janus decision expected to be released by the U.S. Supreme Court any day now, it’s essential that the membership team ambassadors in your school are having one-on-one conversations now with the members they were assigned in the MiniVAN app. The purpose of these conversations is to be sure members understand the massive threat the Janus case poses and to help members feel heard and connected to our union. It’s essential that membership team ambassadors document each conversation in the MiniVAN app immediately afterwards — that’s how we can track the strength of the union in each chapter and provide extra support where needed. If you are not on your school’s membership team, please make sure everyone in your school knows who your chapter’s ambassadors are. Thank you for playing your part in ensuring our union remains strong and powerful. Together we can fend off this threat. If ambassadors don’t have these one-on-one conversations now, we will face a much more difficult task after the Janus decision comes down.
Our rights as UFT members
Knowledge is power. Remind your school colleagues that as UFT members, they have rights to professional and fair treatment and to working conditions that help make a tough job more doable. The totality of these rights has been negotiated in a give-and-take process with the Department of Education and the City of New York over half a century. But the contract is no more than words on paper if it is not used. Unless we exercise our rights, unless we demand fairness, oppose arbitrariness and speak out when we believe it is in the best interests of our students, our voice will fade to a whisper. So it’s important for members to be familiar with their rights and use them. If members feel their contractual rights have been violated, they should speak with you, their chapter leader, about possibly filing a grievance. The UFT website has a Know Your Rights section where our rights, listed alphabetically, have been spelled out in an easy-to-read style. It is by no means exhaustive and can’t substitute for reading the DOE-UFT contracts. If you have a question or need help, do not hesitate to turn to your UFT district representative or call your UFT borough office, where there are experts on different topics to advise you.
Thanks for making the Spring Conference a success
We want to express our appreciation to you for helping to turn out more than 1,600 educators and parents at this year’s UFT Spring Education Conference on May 19. Participants enjoyed a great day featuring a morning town hall with City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, a rousing defense of public education in a speech by Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza and a presentation by UFT President Michael Mulgrew about the Janus threat and other important issues, as well as informative workshops and an exhibit hall showcasing the accomplishments of our students in career and technical education high schools. Also bringing greetings at the luncheon were Mayor Bill de Blasio, City Comptroller Scott Stringer and State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli. Again this year, scores of UFT members shared their tweets and photos on social media. Read the story about the conference. See photos from the event on the UFT website and check out the #UFTspring tweets that capture the spirit of the day.
The Impact of Janus: Wage cuts and labor unrest
In the Janus v. AFSCME case, a right-leaning Supreme Court is expected by one vote to nullify the laws of 23 states, including New York and California, which allow public sector unions to collect fair-share fees from nonmembers to cover the cost of collective bargaining and union services they benefit from. Research by the Illinois Economic Policy Institute confirms that public sector wages are universally lower in states without agency fee payer laws and unions are much weaker. If the court strikes down these laws, the loss of bargaining power for five million public sector workers in the 23 affected states will translate to an average wage cut of about $1,800 per year, the institute found. An adverse court ruling would disproportionately affect African-Americans, who are more likely to work in state and local government and more likely to be union members. Union membership in affected states would drop by more than 725,000. More labor unrest would ensue. The school walkouts in West Virginia, Oklahoma, Arizona and North Carolina — and the poor pay and working conditions that precipitated them — each occurred in states without collective bargaining laws for public sector employees permitting fee payer provisions. Read the full commentary by Robert Bruno, a professor of labor and employment relations at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in the Chicago Tribune.
- apply for the scholarship through the online application process. A standard scholarship application is also available. The application deadline is Wednesday, June 20. Register online to join the AFT National Latino Caucus. AFT National Latino Caucus scholarships for high school seniors: All UFT members are invited to join the AFT National Latino Caucus to learn about Latino culture and history. The caucus, a strong advocate for our schools and students, is the sponsor of the annual Maria Portalatin National Freedom Scholarship, which awards three Hispanic high school seniors a $1,000 book stipend and a laptop to use in college. High school teachers, school counselors, paras and chapter leaders, please encourage your school’s eligible seniors to
- Now is the time to conduct chapter elections: The end of May is upon us. Have you conducted your chapter elections yet? Remember, elections for chapter leader, delegate and paraprofessional representative must be conducted by secret ballot under the supervision of an election committee. For information about how to run a school chapter election, chapter election procedures and the responsibilities of the chapter leader, see the chapter elections page on the UFT website.
UFT School Secretaries of the Year Awards Luncheon: School secretaries are invited to the 32nd annual UFT School Secretaries of the Year Awards Luncheon on Saturday, June 2, from noon to 3 p.m. at UFT headquarters, 52 Broadway, 2nd floor. The cost is $30. Online registration is available.
Health and Safety
Students can text BRAVEline: Let your students know they can turn to BRAVEline, the UFT’s confidential anti-bullying hotline for students. Braveline is open weekdays from 2:30 to 9:30 p.m. Students can call 212-709-3222 or text BRAVE to 43961. For more information on the union’s BRAVE initiative, see the BRAVE section on the UFT website.
Extensions of probation don’t need to be immediately signed: Probationers whose principals want to extend their probations do not have to immediately sign the extension of probation. Probationers have a right to have a union lawyer review it first. In fact, every extension of probation should be submitted to the UFT for a NYSUT attorney to review before the member makes the decision to sign. You should contact your chapter leader if you receive an extension of probation. Your chapter leader will contact your district representative. If your principal is insisting that you sign the extension without the proper time for the extension agreement to be reviewed, advise your chapter leader immediately.
Stay connected with the UFT on social media: In the face of the serious threat the Janus case before the Supreme Court poses to your workplace rights and benefits, it’s more important than ever that UFT members stay informed and use social media to get out the word about the dangers we face and the importance of the union. Sign up for UFT text messages. Like the UFT on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter. Follow us on Instagram. And if you are on Snapchat, add UFTnyc.
Farrah Alexander’s achievements as a chapter leader on the UFT website.Shoutout to PS 64M Chapter Leader Farrah Alexander: Chapter leaders are on the front lines, defending members’ rights, ensuring members have a voice in school decision-making and mobilizing members in political action to benefit public schools. We’re giving a shoutout to Farrah Alexander, the chapter leader at PS 64 in the East Village, for reactivating her chapter. There was no chapter leader at PS 64 when Alexander returned from maternity leave in September, so she stepped up to the plate. She moved quickly to mobilize her members, increase COPE contributions from 25 percent to 95 percent and, working with her school’s membership team, get all but one of her members to commit to the union. Read more about
Salary and Personnel
Peer Intervention Program offers professional support for tenured teachers: Is a tenured teacher in your chapter feeling overwhelmed with classroom issues? That teacher may qualify for support from the Peer Intervention Program (PIP), a voluntary, confidential program that provides assistance for teachers who believe their teaching would benefit from such assistance. PIP has successfully helped thousands of teachers for 30 years and is a proactive step toward professional growth for teachers struggling with their craft. Teachers interested in PIP can find more information, including an online request for assistance, on the Peer Intervention Program page on the UFT website.
Teaching and Learning
DeVos gives schools option to report undocumented students: U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on May 22 said that it’s up to individual schools to decide whether to call federal immigration enforcement if they suspect their students are undocumented, reports Politico. “That’s a school decision. It’s a local community decision,” DeVos said during her first-ever testimony before the House Education and the Workforce Committee. Civil rights groups blasted DeVos’ comments, which they said run counter to a 1982 Supreme Court ruling that guaranteed the rights of students to receive a public education regardless of their immigration status.
Supreme Court delivers blow to workers’ rights: In a case involving the rights of tens of millions of private sector employees, the U.S. Supreme Court, by a 5-4 vote, delivered a major blow to workers, ruling for the first time that workers may not band together to challenge violations of federal labor laws, reports NPR. Writing for the majority, Trump appointee Neil Gorsuch wrote that employees who sign employment agreements to arbitrate claims must do so on an individual basis — and may not band together to enforce claims of wage and hour violations. In a scathing dissent, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg warned that the ruling will result in the huge under-enforcement of federal and state laws designed to advance the well-being of vulnerable workers.
Older Americans postpone retirement: Faced with a wave of baby-boomer retirements and a worsening labor shortage, many employers are trying to entice older workers to stay on the job, reports USA Today. Companies are offering flexible arrangements that include part-time schedules, work-at-home setups and phased retirements that gradually reduce hours. The share of employers with strategies to retain and recruit older workers is still limited, partly because of the biases about older workers as burned out and not technically savvy. In fact, older workers have lower rates of absenteeism, less turnover, better job performance and adapt well to new technology.
Saturday, June 2: The 32nd annual UFT School Secretaries of the Year Awards Luncheon will take place from noon to 3 p.m. at UFT headquarters, 52 Broadway, 2nd floor. Online registration is available.
Sunday, June 10: All members are invited to join the UFT contingent at the annual Puerto Rican Day Parade as we march along Fifth Avenue in celebration of Puerto Rican heritage. Baseball player Jorge Posada will serve as the parade’s Padrino. Laura Posada will serve as the parade’s Madrina. Lucecita Benitez will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award for Music and Carlos Beltran will serve as the 2018 Athlete of the Year. The meeting time and assembly point will be announced soon. For more information, see the Puerto Rican Day Parade flier.
Wednesday, May 30: Queens-based members are invited to the STEM Family Fun Night 2018 at the New York Hall of Science. Join the North Field Support Center for STEM activities, student project showcases, vendor presentations and more, in addition to the Hall of Science’s 450 exhibits. This event will take place from 4 to 8 p.m. at the New York Hall of Science, 47-01 111th Street, Corona, Queens. Register online. For more information, see the STEM Family Fun Night Flier.
For more events, go to uft.org/calendar.
UFT Professional Committees offer a wide range of workshops, presentations and exchanges, enabling all members to take an active part in their professional growth. Unless indicated, meetings are at UFT headquarters, 52 Broadway, Manhattan. Check in the lobby for exact locations. For further information, contact us at 212-598-7772 or visit us online.
Association of Teachers of Social Studies
- Saturday, June 16, 9 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., cultural tour — Queens Quartet: A Multicultural Quest in a Corner of Queens. For more information, see the 2018 Corner Queens Quartet flier.
Irish American Heritage
- Thursday, June 7, 5 p.m., seventh annual Frank McCourt Memorial Lecture. For more information, see the seventh annual Frank McCourt Lecture flier.
- Friday, June 1, 4:30 to 8 p.m., 20th anniversary. For more information, see the Players Gala flier.
- Saturday, June 2, 12 to 3 p.m., first annual Daniel Dromm Scholarship Brunch. For more information, see the Daniel Dromm Scholarship Brunch flier.