College therapists need a greater contract. The UFT desires them to surrender.

College therapists need a greater contract. The UFT desires them to surrender.


A United Federation of Lecturers chapter representing college therapists stood alone amongst chapters in rejecting their union’s tentative contract settlement with Mayor Eric Adams earlier this month — and now say UFT management is pressuring them to simply accept the deal in a revote.

In voting down the contract, chapter members anticipated the following step can be for his or her bargaining unit — which additionally contains audiologists, nurses and supervisors — to barter with metropolis labor officers for a collective bargaining settlement that addresses their particular issues, as occurred of their final contract. As an alternative, chapter leaders and members say, UFT President Michael Mulgrew is urging a brand new vote with out additional talks or modifications. 

The two,900 therapists and nurses are a small unit throughout the 120,000-member union, whose members embody academics, social employees and different metropolis Division of Training staff. Three-quarters of the UFT membership permitted the contract, the union introduced earlier this month.

Inside the unit, 59% of all members rejected the deal, which ensures raises of 17.58% to twenty.42% by 2026. Most of these dissenting votes got here from occupational and bodily therapists, who make up the vast majority of the unit’s members. Two-thirds of the therapists who returned ballots opposed the tentative settlement.

The unbiased American Arbitration Affiliation carried out, tabulated and authorized the contract vote.

Considerations about wage gaps between therapists and academics are a serious supply of rivalry, in keeping with chapter leaders and rank-and-file members who spoke with THE CITY. The hole is appreciable: by January, a therapist with a grasp’s diploma and 10 years of expertise would earn $17,463 much less yearly than a trainer with the identical credentials and expertise, Chalkbeat reported, citing UFT paperwork. 

By rejecting the settlement, the unit voted to not obtain raises, bonuses or different advantages that go into impact for academics and paraprofessionals this summer time, and to as a substitute proceed working beneath their expired contract.

Vote once more?

However the unit additionally represents nurses, audiologists, and nurse and therapist supervisors who’re wanting to ratify the brand new contract, in keeping with Mulgrew.

Quite a few members are asking for a revote, he wrote in a signed July 21 letter to chapter management wherein he detailed efforts to separate the nurses, audiologists and supervisors into their very own unit in order that sooner or later they’re not tied in with the therapists in contract votes.

“They’re pushing arduous to separate as quickly as potential as a result of they really feel it’s unfair that, though members of every of their chapters voted overwhelmingly in favor of ratifying the contract, they won’t get the brand new contractual advantages as a result of their specific contract didn’t get a majority of the general votes,” Mulgrew wrote.

“We are attempting to get the town and DOE to come back again to the bargaining desk,” he asserted within the letter whilst he highlighted calls for from members for a direct revote. 

That place places him at odds with the therapists’ management: By a vote of 5-1 with one abstention final week, their govt board determined in opposition to a revote.

In a gathering with the therapists’ chapter on Wednesday afternoon, Mulgrew made repeated makes an attempt to influence members to surrender on pursuing a stronger contract and to influence them to hitch in a revote, claiming he had heard from 1,200 members who had demanded a brand new tally. Melissa Williams, the therapists’ chapter chief, requested Mulgrew for steerage on the place and the way the union’s structure lays out guidelines for revotes.

“I’ve by no means had a chapter with this many people who find themselves adamantly in opposition to the choice of their govt board,” Mulgrew stated.

He added: “We’ve to decide. If we resolve to not do a revote, positive. However everybody wants to know the results of not revoting.”

Or discount once more?

Mulgrew additionally urged members to surrender on attempting to get a greater deal. “Town isn’t thinking about getting again to the bargaining desk proper now,” he stated, noting that different authorized maneuvers might doubtlessly take years. “I can’t categorical this clear sufficient to all of you. We don’t have an avenue to get again to the bargaining desk proper now.”

Rank-and-file employees and union activists who spoke with THE CITY, nevertheless, stated that union management mustn’t entertain the prospect of a revote, however press on in attempting to strike a greater discount with Adams.

Pursuing a revote of an authorized election, Williams stated, “calls into query the integrity of the complete course of.

“I simply really feel dangerous for the individuals who took the time to vote,” she stated in an interview with THE CITY. “I trusted that this vote had integrity, now I see that it’s unsuitable. It appears like an ethical harm, to be trustworthy.”

UFT spokesperson Alison Gendar stated in an announcement that “greater than 1,000” chapter members “have requested — by emails and telephone calls — for the chance to carry a revote.”

 ”The UFT management is working with the chapter to determine subsequent steps,” Gendar added.

Vocal dissent

This isn’t the primary time that UFT occupational and bodily therapists bucked the remainder of the union in rejecting a tentative contract deal: The chapter additionally rejected a tentative settlement in 2018 over wage issues. On that event, UFT management returned to the bargaining desk and notched modest extra raises. 

A revote with out contemporary contract talks was by no means entertained as an choice after the chapter rejected the settlement in 2018, three chapter members and two union activists advised THE CITY.

One purpose for the standoff now with Mulgrew, activists say, is that the union’s structure doesn’t lay out a process for renegotiating rejected contracts. 

“The chapter voted, and the chapter voted just about 2-to-1 in opposition to the contract, and to go to a revote type of negates that course of,” stated chapter member and DOE bodily therapist Chris Griffin, who famous she’s “not an enormous ‘no’ advocate.” 

Dialogue of a revote “undermines that course of, which was accomplished in keeping with established guidelines,” she added.

Some therapists say they want to see Mulgrew push more durable to get the town again to the bargaining desk.

“I imagine he’s avoiding doing his job,” stated a chapter member who requested to be recognized solely as “E” out of worry of retaliation from her bosses. “His job is to barter on our behalf, to not justify the town’s stance. So I really feel like he’s utilizing that to scare us into voting sure.”

Daniel Alicea, a trainer and UFT activist, advised THE CITY that the union’s management ought to convene a constitutional conference that clearly lays out a renegotiation course of for rejected contracts in order that “issues aren’t accomplished arbitrarily and haphazardly.”

“If we acquiesce right here, this will occur in native chapter elections, it will probably occur in our subsequent basic election — that in the event that they’re not proud of the end result, they’ll discover another means.”


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