Monday, November 23, 2020

UFT Town Hall November 23, 2020

By special guest Mindy Rosier


UFT President Michael Mulgrew

Thank you for coming on. Thank you for all you are doing. I want to use today to explain what we are dealing with. We have a lot to cover. 

I really wanted to do this Town Hall this week because it's Thanksgiving. Be safe, follow advice of the medical professionals.  You all heard about instances of family gatherings and it spreads. 

When we first put our plan together, we also needed a plan in place to reopen. We fought for the cleaning, procedures, small class sizes, ple, we had guidance in place what would happen if the rates go up. 

There was no state plan until Oct. There are 2 different plans and its confusing. The difference is the city doesn't have the legal authority to shut businesses down. The state does. The city threshold was 3%. . The state is always recalculating. There are always two sets of numbers. They calculated things differently.  The state us right now a little lower in the city. A couple of weeks ago they were higher. 

 3 is the mayor's number. The epidemiologist said that was fine, though certain districts can shut the whole city down. 

We should have only plan. The state was closing schools at a very rapid pace in their system. We like it with the colors. Testing ramps up in yellow. Orange is when they start shutting things down and red nothing is working. 

The two plans look ridiculous to the public. Think of where we started. We came up with the plan and we have to follow the plan. The mayor did the right thing to follow this plan. But the state has a better plan. The city didn't want to do it this way. We knew it would be much better that if there was an area that's a problem,that area would close the schools of that area. The people in the schools, they are all doing their jobs keeping the schools safe. But we can't s control the community. We need to all work together. Schools won't stay safe if the rates go up. It is important we have a plan in place, having 2 plans do not make sense. The state did not have a plan before but the state is much more aggressive with testing. As we move thru this, there will be more challenges. Six or seven districts caused the whole system to shut down. The city plan was approved by the state. The state will continue to kove forward with testing and remote if necessary.  

Decisions need to be made to keep a of us safe and our families. These constantly changes, everything gets politicized. Vaccine info is looking good. We are going to see when this goes. When will we open? Everyone is getting very concerned and with traveling for Thanksgiving.  City expects the state to put the whole city in orange. We need to get the numbers down. That's the key to everything and its going to be tough.

Even when we do get back we need to be more aggressive with testing. Its not being followed the way it's supposed to. Mandated testing. My position, no one should enter the buildings without consent forms. My biggest fear now, somebody is going to make a mistake and others will be harmed. We need to make sure we keep people self all the way up to the vaccine. I want everyone to get thru this pandemic. 

As we get closer to the spring, its going to be very important to close down schools through microclosing. Moves at a faster targeted pace. We should only be looking at one plan. West NY's schools are closing left and right. 

I want to thank you all for doing such a phenomenal job keeping the schools. Everyone is doing above and beyond keeping everything at bay. We could probably write a book on opening a school during a pandemic.  We will reopen. We don't know when. The numbers will tell and right now it doesn't look good. 

Medical Accommodation:

We thought it was ridiculous for the doe to ask everyone to reapply. We sent them guidance.  They are going to recognize the accommodations. We don't have to go crazy trying to get a doc note especially it maybe getting crazy trying to get an appt. 

200 operational issues have been resolved. CL will schedule meeting with uft rep and doe rep to help solve problems. There is a lot of misinformation out there. 

When I'm looking at social media, we are our own little word, we communicate, there is nothing easy about what we are doing. Nothing. We were hit the hardest. It is not easy at all. When I see animosity of people going after others for what they are doing. The world that we live in now, the way people talk about each other. We need more respect and we need to respect each other. 

NBC would do this week in education and it would be a national week of bashing teachers and the unions. We fought and we won that battle 12 years. 

You can be remote with a ridiculous class size or in person with a mask. We need to respect each other. We had mayors who never thanked us for anything. We fought through all the nonsense.  There are no easy solutions but we got a lot done. We can't, we can't allow that horrible behavior that our enemies have done to us, to be done on each other. Things will eventually be better but it will probably not be the same. Please, be respectful to each other. This is a tough job. 

Evaluations: The state is saying its a collective bargaining is needed and we will get a team together and work quickly. . We expect standardized tests to be waived this year. There's no way to do this test appropriately.  Admins can visit. If anyone says that they are going to write things up, let us know.  There is nothing in agreement now. 

Budget: All the unions are trying to do cost saving . Thank God we have the no lay off clause. We are in remote. In diff schools systems, people are  losing their jobs. 

There is no help from Washington. Looking at Jan and Feb. Will the govt help us out of suffering? We are going to have tough years ahead of us and it comes down how the new administration works things out. Everything is going up, unemployment,  everyone is running out food. There will be a horrendous winter,  no money, food, can't pay rent.. There is going to be a very bad winter. We will see if we can help with food. We want to be front and center helping communities out. 

If you want to work in school, we expect the vaccine will be mandated but we will get to that bridge. Its going to be ugly. You all go above and beyond.  We got done so much. Attendance is low and the mayor put in the iot in period and there was a low response. Its under 350,000 students who opted in. 

We will be there to help our communities. Please, I want you all to give thanks for each other. 

Do not call on a Sunday to open on a Monday. We need to be able to gave time to shift. That's how the DOE likes to work but not us. This winter is a big challenge. Hopefully by next September we can have a party to celebrate that we did it. 


Q: Some people still haven't gotten any confirmation but the extension of the medical accommodations.  Is there anything anyone should be doing? 

Mike Sill: Their email system does not go out all at once. They go out in a rolling order. It takes several days. There are no exceptions except for those pregnant who has to reapply. Also, primary care givers are being extended.

Mulgrew: if you didn't get the info by Dec 7, call in. 

Q: I'm up for tenure this year. Whats going on with attaining tenure? 

M: Last yr the govt. put put guidance that no one would be harmed because of covid. We are assuming this will happen again this year. We are waiting for it to be official.  Hopefully by January.  We will keep everyone up to date. 

Q: I'm a CL and frustrated with class sizes that no one wants to listen. My members are insulted that money is being thrown at them. We are in District 3. It's at central now. I've made proposals. My staff is amazing. Nobody wants to listen to us.

M: I have consultation with the Chancellor tomorrow and you are now on the agenda. We will get back to you tomorrow. 

Q: You have become such an advocate and rockstar fighting for us. I really admire what you've been doing. I'm a senior member, 27 years teaching, any hope of an early incentive or retirement? 

M: We now have an early retirement legislature. During the fight of the lump sum we came up with legislation to push forward. This will also save the city money. If we get it pushed thru, then we negotiate with the city. This will be one of our priorities in Albany. 

All the unions are getting behind it. 

Q: Since everyone is remote and teachers are allowed to pick up stuff. Can they also teach in schools? 

M: I'll bring it up. All the schools are being cleaned again. The operational side of the doe has worked really well with us. I will ask.

Q: Is anyone considering elementary school s are in the neighborhood but the HS you travel all over the place. 

M: We don't have zoned HS here. Kids travel everywhere at the HS level. Attendance hasn't been that great. D75, early grades, are fine to open whenever they can safely and  open first. We'll see what the mayor says and in our conversations.  With D75 all the work you do, all the PPE, great work. It's the ppe that's the most important thing. So yes, we are having these conversations.  

Q: Whatever happened to the virtual content specialist?

M: We just finished it. The doe didn't want it. This was agreed to. Its a $12,500 stipend.

Q: What will it look for students who have not consented?

M: Pre K will not be tested. The doctors said that mandated testing would have to be done. The doe was doing wink wink with the testing. We had a lot of reports about testing not being done. When we reopen, we can't have this again. The consent must be there and ratcheted up and do weekly testing. The situation room has been really good.  There's no playback on how to do all of this in a pandemic. We shut down about 500 schools and if contact tracing wasn't being done, they couldn't open. But we want those consent forms done when we reopen. 

Q: Doe device issues. People are still waiting for devices and its a long wait. 

M: I wrote an editorial about this. I don't know ow why they didn't order the devices ahead of time. 

Q: circular 6; We are told that 8 period schools are 7 period schools so Circular 6 doesn't happen 

Sill: Not true.  

Q: I'm very upset and concerned about our students about housing, food, and anything else they need. What are we as a union going to do and what are we going to say to the mayor? 

M: At the end of Dec the non-eviction notices will lift and there will be evictions across the nation. The advocacy on the federal package will have to keep on. We are seeing the damage now, we understand this better than anyone. We will have lots of work to do because all of the damage. Everyone is hurting one way or another. The city will have a challenge with all the homelessness. We are tied into the community. The better we can make it for the students the better off they will be. Our member assistance program is swamped. We are all hurting.

Q: Teachers with young children, what is going on with Learning Bridges?

M: We may have to open our regional support centers again. The Learning Bridges, they made some adjustments but its been so frustrating.  They broke the cardinal rule, did not talk to the people who would be using it. Crazed at keeping kids where you live rather than where we work. Their hours didn't always work. Its not where it should be. Hopefully more changes can be done. 

Q: Because of MAP, I received so much support and thank you for that. Concerned about the virtual sizes are going to increase and in person will have less kids. 

M: We should take this period of time and reprogram where we can. See what makes sense. There's a Mayors' race coming, we are going to roll out our political plan in the next few weeks. How are you going to blow up the doe bureaucracy and make it so that our schools are supported? 

Q: If we expect the numbers are going up, why can't we say we will be closed thru January so parents can plan?

M: Should the schools remain remote till January? The mayor and gov don't want to make that call yet. I say if we go up to 4 after Thanksgiving, a decision has to be made. But we don't want to open and then close down again. A lot of conversations have to happen. We do not think the numbers will go down.  Doesn't make sense to have restaurants and bars open when schools are closed. 

Q: As we come into the holidays, can you encourage members to donate blood? Centers are so low. There are no school drives right now. Please encourage people to donate. 

M: You are 100% right. Nurses have told us these challengers are there. The blood issue is real. Its the right thing to do. We are going to help with the food, for coats, we are still figuring out how to get things done. We will figure out what we can do.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving. Be safe! We can't forget who we are and respect each other. Things will get scary and frustrating. I want everyone to remain safe and to your families have a great Thanksgiving.  

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