Archives For September 2017

Copy of Marcusheadshot.jpgBy: Marcus B. McArthur

High School Representative on the UFT Executive Board and MORE member

On Monday, September 11, 2017, the UFT convened its first Executive Board meeting for the 2017-2018 school year. The message was clear. The close of 2017 will be a pivotal chapter in defining the future of our union and public education in New York City. Three critical issues confront us over the next four months.

  1. The NY State Constitutional Convention referendum on November 7th in which we must organize to VOTE NO! If there is a Constitutional Convention, kiss our collective bargaining rights and pensions goodbye.
  2. The Mayoral and City Council elections which are crucial to securing a new and fair contract with paid family leave.
  3. The Janus v. AFSCME Supreme Court case that poses an existential threat to the strength of our union and its ability to protect NYC public schools from a Wall Street takeover. We have a decision to make.

Unite and fight or divide and die.

In his remarks to the board, President Mulgrew stated that his travels across the country this year made clear to him the extent of the damage inflicted on public education in America. He claimed that outside of New York City, with all of our struggles and challenges, it was difficult to identify other major districts thriving. Enemies of public education have succeeded in undermining the public system to open the floodgates for private profiteering. Mulgrew argued that the sole entity standing between Wall Street and the NYC public school system was the UFT.

The testimony of several veteran Adult Education teachers experiencing harassment and termination underscored the enduring threats. The picture painted was familiar to members who have experienced or witnessed abuse in the DOE: an inexperienced supervisor attacks veteran teachers in attempt to push them out through the usual tactics of failure by design, intimidation, and utilizing observations as a weapon.

As for the UFT, from my vantage point, we must reconcile the successes of our past formulas with the possibilities of a new direction for the challenges we face today. The fights waged by our UFT forebearers and the American labor movement claimed us a seat at the table of the pay-for-play politics of the American system. They secured labor rights, economic, and political gains that are the envy of much of the working class. As a union representing over 200,000 members, we are politically and financially formidable.

While we should maintain the influence that has historically served us, the UFT and the working people of our city and country, would be well served by our union committing resources and our bully pulpit to building the burgeoning left movement. At the end of the day, the dominant ideological forces of our time seek a world free of unions so the ownership class can pay workers pennies, a privatized education system ripe for pilfer and discrimination, and a decimated political opposition to implement policies that would not survive authentic democracy.

2017 is the year for NY teachers to unite in mass social movement to sustain hard won rights for workers, expand possibilities for economic and social justice for all New Yorkers, and build a winning left movement.

Emily James created and delivered this petition 
Thank you for having me. I’m here to shed light on an issue that has long been important to the parents and children of the DOE. In 2012, I got pregnant with my first daughter. I was so excited, like most first time mothers are. But I didn’t realize then what I know now: that pregnancy marked the beginning of new life for me, not just because I would become a mother, but because I would embark on a long financial struggle that would continue with me for years. My decision with my husband to create a beautiful family of four has left me with my life savings depleted, and in a constant state of panic over not being able to get out of my negative balance.

My story is not unique. Back in May, I started a petition to ask our union to help fight for paid parental leave. Since then, it has exploded: receiving almost 80,000 signatures, and still growing. When I began this petition, I had no idea how many thousands of other women and men were affected by this poor policy. They wrote story after story of how much they have struggled and are still struggling. Women wrote that they are scared to begin a family at all because of this policy, and keep putting it off out of financial fear.  Some wrote about missing rent payments and fearing eviction because they had medical complications before birth and just did not have a cushion to lean on.  Some wrote about leaving the profession all together because they could not fit motherhood into their lives with this lack of support; It was easier for them to turn somewhere else. I received email after email of story after story about people who were so horribly affected.  I wanted to print out the petition comments so you could read all of the stories yourself. But the document was 684 pages long.

This should not be a thing! It should not be a choice for women to be excellent teachers to the students of NYC or to be mothers for their own children. As you know, when we become mothers to our babies, we have to use our sick days in order to be paid for up to 6 weeks, 8 weeks if a C section.  Most of us do not have enough days to cover that time, and if we already had a child, then forget it. Having a baby is not a sickness. Borrowed time is not maternity leave time. It is a loan that many women are never able to pay back. I have been buying back one day a month for a whole year and am still in a negative balance. I need that money to help with my two daughters, my mortgage, my life. This also becomes an issue of gender equality. Men are able to retire with many more days that they can cash in. When we retire, if we have decided to have and raise children, or stay with them until they are 6, 8 or 12 WEEKS old, we will have so many fewer days than most men.

Have you seen what a 6 week old baby looks like? Have you held one? Most of us have to drop that tiny child off to strangers and return to work, and we have had to pay out of pocket just to stay home with them for that short time. They do not sleep through the night. They are still breastfeeding. And then we return, in the negative balance, we are further penalized when we get sick, or when they get sick. Sending a mother of a six week old back to work to teach America’s youth, financially strapped, ridden with anxiety, exhaustion, isn’t just bad for that mother. It’s bad for everyone.

I’m sure I don’t have to point out the irony here. But I will. We dedicate our lives to taking care of other people’s children, we become second mothers to them, sometimes first. The system expects that from us, and we deliver. But when it comes time for us to do the bare minimum for our own children, the system forgets us, makes it impossible for us, tells us we are on our own.

This petition is not for me: I am done having children, but this needs to be changed for all of the mothers and fathers of our future.

There are close to 80,000 signatures for this petition. It has gained media attention, national attention, international attention. People are watching us, they are expecting more from us. Studies have shown time and time again that babies benefit immensely from being home with their mothers for the first year of life.  The teachers of the DOE need more.. They deserve more time, they deserve to be paid for it. Why aren’t we fighting for them? Let’s not let them, or their children…who become our children…let’s not let any of them down.

We pay you our dues dutifully month after month, year after year. You are the only voice we have. We are here in numbers, 80,000 strong, demanding in the most polite way we know how,  that you stop ignoring us, that you help us begin this fight, and don’t stop fighting for us until we make the situation right.
A Co Worker who could not be here asked Emily to pass this on -We’re leaving her name off since she shares some private medical info.
I gave birth July 10, 2017 – 3 days before my due date. Teachers have said I was “lucky” to be due over the summer. It wasn’t luck. I have been trying to conceive for a couple years, but only had a small window – the month of October of each year. That would give me a late June – early July due date. My due date wasn’t “lucky” – it was meticulously planned. I used apps to track my cycle and ovulation and in October 2016 I bought an ovulation kit. I conceived that month. Had I not gotten pregnant, I would’ve waited another year to try again. I wanted to be due early/mid July. I NEEDED to be due early/mid July. You see, I did not have enough sick days to cover a 6 week maternity leave. I wouldn’t be able to afford taking any unpaid time off.
I only took 4 days off during the entire school year, 3 of them due to my severe morning sickness. I lost 21 pounds the first 6 months and at the time I gave birth, I was still under my pre-pregnancy weight. My pregnancy was considered high risk because of a previous health condition. Despite numerous days of debilitating morning sickness, even in my third trimester, I went to work. There were mornings I vomited in the trash can outside of the school as I waited for security to open the doors for the day. Despite almost passing out on the train station platform during my morning commute, on more than one occasion, I went to work. On the really bad days, I hunched over the platform edge and hurled onto the tracks, then continued to go to work. I could not afford to use any more sick days. I need them just in case I would have to be put on bed rest the last few weeks of my pregnancy. But I survived the school year.
I went into labor and was admitted into the hospital the morning of Monday July 10th. During labor, I ran a fever and had an infection. My daughter was born at 6:49p weighing 5lbs 13oz. My full term baby was the size of a premature baby. She would be in the NICU for the next three days because of my infection.

When I went for my six week postpartum check up on Aug 20th, my doctor recognized I had some postpartum complications and advised I not return to work. Despite being advised to take a significant amount of time off, I quickly referred to the school calendar to figure out that I only had enough sick days to take September off (17 working days). I could not afford to take any unpaid days off.
As of today, September 25, 2017, I am preparing to return to work in a week. My health and well being will just have to take a back seat. My daughter, who is only 11 weeks old as of today, will have to take a back seat.

Mulgrew’s response from Arthur Goldstein’s report—Thanks teachers for petition. Made sure it got to city hall. Have given city numerous proposals. Mayor said he would make sure city had it. Not one city unionized employee had it. Those who do paid too much. Says city profits off their adding members to family. Says that’s what they want from us. Agrees with NY Post. Says OLR not being truthful. Will take petition. Says they will figure it out. Will not allow them to do what happened to city managers. Like paying $75 for a Big Mac. Mayor said two years ago he wanted this. No one has it. City always wants more. Says union believes in this. Looks forward to this. OLR now says it will equalize, but is profiting from managers. We analyzed it. Were happy. UFT has created benefits from Welfare Fund. Mayor’s agencies have dropped the ball. We will move forward, emphatic thanks for petitions. Will get it done one way or other.We won’t agree to bad terms. Will not be fleeced.

MORE is excited to announce our 2017 Convention – Friday October 13th and Saturday October 14th!

Please register here to attend – check out more info on Facebook – Print and distribute the flyer to your colleagues!

FRIDAY, Oct.13th  7pm-10pm Project REACH Youth – 39 Eldridge Street, 4th Fl, NYC

Hear from speakers, socializing, refreshments

SATURDAY, Oct.14th 9am-5pm P.S. 58 The Carroll School – 330 Smith St, Bklyn

Plenary, workshops, Discuss, debate & decide our priorities for the coming year.

Breakfast and Lunch Available. Childcare available – RSVP to by 10/7

Participate in workshops & discussions on how to challenge the inaction of the UFT leadership while we develop a union that will fight for teacher rights and for the schools our students deserve.

  • Let’s continue to organize our schools.
  • Let’s build alliances & get support from parents and community organizations.
  • Let’s increase our membership;
  • Expand our seats on the UFT Exec Board
  • Increase MORE Chapter Leaders & Delegates.

We must transform the narrative of the education reformers as they push harder then ever to privatize our entire educational system and destroy our union!

Be part of this two-day convention!

Attend workshops. Socialize with friends. Meet educators from across the region. Engage in MORE member-driven decision making for the coming year!

  • Support all UFT members’ rights including our most experienced teachers
  • Fight for healthy workspaces without bullying from supervisors
  • Make sure our union guarantees Special Education Compliance for students and for staff
  • Strong contract! Enforced contract!
  • End school segregation    
  • Increase Teacher Diversity
  • Teacher Evaluation System decided by school staff
  • Money for schools not war! Disburse the CFE funds immediately
  • Reduce Class Size and Stop Co-Locations
  • Support parents’ right to opt-out until there are alternatives to rote and standardized testing
  • Defend immigrant rights and DACA! Liaison for every school


The Delegate Assembly (DA), Executive Board and chapter leader meeting dates are listed below.

This promises to be an important year for our union, from the Supreme Court case and federal legislation meant to defund and break unions, to the vote on state constitutional convention which aims to reduce or even get rid of our retirement and contractual protections, to the new evaluation system, over-sized classes, expansion of vouchers and charters, abusive administrators, the list goes on and on, and your involvement is more important than ever!

The DAs and Chapter Leader meeting is one Wednesday a month 4:15pm at UFT Headquarters 52 Broadway New York City.

The Executive Board Meets two Mondays a month 6:00pm at UFT headquarters.

The MORE/New Action elected representatives to the Executive Board hold their pre-meetings at 5:00pm in the public space in the back of the lobby of 52 Broadway NYC. These meetings are open to all MORE/NA members.

If your chapter has an issue that you need the UFT to address and/or your chapter wants to present a resolution to steer the unions’ policies/actions please bring to our Executive Board’s pre-meeting. Any chapter may do this, you need not be a MORE/NA member.

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