UFT News & Updates for December 6, 2019

Dear Colleagues,

Greetings everybody!  It’s been gratifying to get your messages of support. Please accept my regrets if I didn’t get back to anyone.  I can be reached by text or voice at 347-217-2219. 

Take note of the following upcoming UFT workshops.  When the sessions are fully booked you can often still sign up to get notifications when new dates are scheduled.

Probationary Teachers

Tenure Workshop for Brooklyn High Schools, Thursday, Dec. 12, 2019, 4 to 6 p.m., UFT borough office, 335 Adams Street, Brooklyn.  Register here.

Student Debt Relief: Now There’s a Webinar

The UFT has a Student Debt Relief Program which is meant to help members lower their student debt bills. As an employee working in public service, you may be eligible to participate in the federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness and federal Title I Loan Forgiveness programs. Understanding your options and applying for the right program is complicated.

The in-person information sessions have been filling up nearly as quickly as they are offered.  The program is now expanding to include webinars that can be viewed on a personal computer. After watching a webinar, you can make an appointment to speak by phone with a loan specialist to discuss your individual situation. Use this online form to sign up for a webinar.


Visit this page for an overview of the program.


Below are couple more workshops focused on personal financial management.

Money Moves: A Financial Wellness Workshop for UFT Members, December 10, 2019 at 4:30 pm to 6:30 pm, UFT Brooklyn borough office.  All UFT members are welcome to attend.  This session is designed to give you strategies for living within your means while saving to meet your short- and long-term financial goals.


There are also some upcoming pension clinics taking place in Manhattan.


Teachers Choice

All eligible members should have received a payment for Teacher’s Choice in their November 29, 2019 paycheck.  The current funding levels by title are teachers, $250 / school counselors, $110 / school secretaries, $ 60.

Keep your receipts for school-related purchases made between August 1, 2019 and January 12, 2020. The accountability form that you need to submit by Jan. 17, 2020, can be downloaded here:

Click to access teachers-choice-accountabilty.pdf

You probably know that you cannot include any sale tax on the accountability form. Did you also know you can avoid paying any sales tax in the first place by presenting a form to the vendor?


More information here:


Note that contrary to what the UFT website says, the boycott of Staples is over.  It was in effect from 2014-2017 in response to the U.S. Postal Service outsourcing its work to non-unionized workers at the retail giant.  In response to a boycott by the AFL-CIO and national teacher unions, information pickets, and a court ruling Staples retreated from the arrangement.

UFT wins Regents Scoring Grievance

Recently an independent arbitrator ruled that the DOE improperly denied retention rights to a teacher in Queens for Regents scoring.  The city had told her she could not claim retention in June because she had not done Regents scoring the previous January.

This was a dispute over retention rights and how to define a per session activity.  Under the UFT contract teachers who have at least two years of continuous satisfactory service in a particular per session activity get priority for retention in the same activity for the following year.

The new ruling upheld the UFT’s position that scoring in January and June are separate per-session activities.  The teacher’s retention rights were restored and she was awarded full back pay for the activity.

CUNY Adjuncts Win Pay Increase


CUNY campuses are the most accessible destination for ENYFA students enrolling in college.  Unfortunately, the CUNY system has suffered from years of austerity budgets, rising tuition and low pay for the adjunct professors who teach most of the classes.  The recently ratified agreement with the Professional Staff Congress provides for a significant salary increase for those at the bottom but little for longevity.

I’m linking to a range of views from the boosters and detractors of the agreement.



Harriet Tubman movie

Last week at lunchtime I came across some high school classes lined up at the UA Court Street Theater for a showing of Harriet.  They were excited about seeing a feature film on this 19th century abolitionist who participated in the Underground Railroad and led military operations of Union troops during the Civil War.

The following links lead to articles that analyze what is historical and what is imaginary in the movie.  Overall the researchers found that the film is mostly well grounded in historical facts.

Movie viewers might wonder Tubman’s use of weapons (not shown in picture books), the role of black slave-catchers (who were relatively few compared to white slave-catchers), and the nature of Tubman’s “spells” which she believed to be prophetic.

Another commentator has a problem with the lack of a vernacular dialect.  This is common problem with movies set in historical times.  Film writers nowadays often don’t bother making the dialogue contemporaneous with the times.  This review emphasizes the mysteries remaining with regard to Tubman’s endeavors which by necessity were shrouded in mystery.

Hopefully this movie will have a good run.

Further Reading:  Fiat-Chrysler v. General Motors

Another November movie released was Ford v. Ferrari.  I enjoyed the performance of Christian Bale, especially his struggle with the faulty door of his Ford GT during the first lap of Le Mans.  This movie relates the story of the rivalry between the two car companies that was spurred by the Ford Motor Corporation’s hope that it could add luster to its new car models with an auto racing victory against Ferrari.

In the September News & Updates I posted some articles about the UAW strike against General Motors.  The story at the time was about how the autoworkers were trying to recover ground from the huge givebacks the union had agreed to at the time of the government bailout of GM.

In recent weeks a lot more information has been added to the story, especially in the light of a federal corruption investigation of the UAW leadership which has led to the resignation of top officers. 

Recently, General Motors filed an unusual lawsuit against its rival company Fiat Chrysler, which it accuses of making bribes to UAW officials, resulting in “unfair advantages” for the Italian automaker that cost GM billions of dollars.”

The UAW leadership allowed FCA to hire tens of thousands of workers who are paid less than workers hired before 2007 and have inferior health and retirement benefits. The UAW also allowed for a huge expansion of temporary workers.


These are really dismal revelations about a once great labor union, but a necessary “update.”

Well anyway, stay healthy, everybody!

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