UFT Exec Board Report 3/20/23 – Muscle Has Memory

The meeting began with members sharing their concerns about changes to healthcare plans, school shootings, and the UFT logo misuse… in a nutshell. Pretty typical of our EB meetings. Also, typical & an unfortunate, all-too-common occurrence is the opposition asking the same question, over and over hoping for a different answer? Or hoping that eventually Mr. Mulgrew or Mr. Barr will someday say – “You know what? You are right. All the things you are accusing us of are true and we have been lying, stealing, and we want our members to suffer.” (Disclaimer: this is also sarcasm lest they spin this too).

The meeting then covered negotiations on the budget, preparations for the upcoming primary season, potential school budget cuts, and updates on curriculum choices for New York City schools. Actions proposed include working with PACs, advocating for school budgets, evaluating curriculum choices, and scheduling meetings for questionnaires and interviews. Members also discussed upcoming workshops and events held by UFT to empower educators and the scholarship and student debt relief programs. All good stuff. Because that’s what we do.

 It is fascinating, in an exhausting kind of way, that the opposition needed “clarity” on why they received cease and desist letters for using the UFT logo on slides or “information” that is disparaging to the UFT. Slides that don’t contain factual information and talk about alleged corruption. That sure IS confusing! Why wouldn’t the UFT want their logo on that? Plus, a real motivator for organizing members is creating dissention within the unifying body. (*sarcasm)

How about considering hosting events to build solidarity, unity, and support amongst fellow educators? Or getting members to think about their why? Organizing members by having them think about what they need to do their jobs better?

Muscle has memory – is a term often heard around the gym. In this case, Amy Arundell was talking about our power as a union – united in purpose. United in celebrations around the districts, united in protecting the rights of teachers, united in serving the children in our classrooms & schools, united in contract negotiations, and so-on and so-forth. UNITED. Period.

“All of these events are a way for us to come together as a union and we need to come together in good times so that when we must come together to fight – the muscle is built. These aren’t just reports about bragging. These are reports about muscle building and I’m asking people on this executive board to think about the way that we’re sharing these things as ways to build muscle at all our schools. Because you can’t, you just don’t wake up and fight, you must be able to come together. So like people are saying, sitting down during lunch and breaking bread and being together and saying this is our sacred time and we’re going to do this together, builds a muscle so that when you say let’s do an informational picket out in front of the school at 7AM, the muscle is built. These things that our people are coming together to do are extremely important and are very inspiring. I’m just asking people to think about that these aren’t little things, they’re collective actions in good times and in bad …”. 

The theme: use our collective muscle so we remember how to be unified, organized, and TOGETHER when we NEED it. Celebrate the UFT’s anniversary in schools and organize similar events to promote collaboration and support between teachers – always.


It felt disingenuous to not acknowledge that at the DA between the EB Meetings – there was some “excitement” for lack of a better word. Leroy Barr, who in my opinion, is one of the UFT’s best speakers, gave a fervent speech re: about the resolution celebrating the UFT’s anniversary, the history of our union and its’ founders, as well as the Taylor Law & strikes. He didn’t really need anyone to rise in support because he had everyone at “hello,” right?   

It seems many people these days are fired-up or angry for the sake of being OPPOSED. They talk about being against things that they don’t REALLY seem to understand. I have family members like this too. They think if they talk louder than you and say their same point repeatedly, they win, or it proves that they ARE right. Have you ever seen “man-on-the-street” reporters ask the public about things they are protesting, and they cannot answer the questions? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=he0fsAbRK5  

I think most of our members know on a basic level what a strike is. It means not going into work because you are demanding fair treatment, better wages, premium free healthcare, etc. https://www.nysut.org/members/member-guide/collective-bargaining

Maybe they don’t know the intricacies of a strike?   https://www.nlrb.gov/strikes

Maybe they don’t know what the Taylor law is? Maybe they didn’t understand the resolution brought to the floor about honoring the UFT on its’ birthday? And maybe people don’t understand that Mr. Barr was tactfully and respectfully telling the DA that it was disrespectful to the founding members sitting in that room, on that night, to try to hammer in this amendment. An amendment that like many others the opposition brings to the floor is misplaced. It really had nothing to do with the anniversary of our union or the Taylor Law for that matter -despite what they said or the lies they told on the internets. It was yet another attempt to muddy the waters, distract from the actual resolution, and get people to say things they can use against them.

Sometimes even the best of us fall prey to these traps. The opposition loves this tactic. Even when they get what they want they continue to take it out of context and make it worse. In this case, they took to social media IMMEDIATELY to editorialize and make it seem like she actually said the words, “YOU CAN ONLY STRIKE IF YOU ARE WHITE AND RICH LIKE ME”.  She did not say that. They did this as well when Michael Mulgrew spoke about the copay at CItyMD increasing to $100. Making it seem like Mulgrew said he wouldn’t mind if the Copay was $400. If you were at the DA – you knew he was explaining why CityMD is at fault, and he was using sarcasm to talk about their awful price gauging. More about the opposition’s playbook in Act 3.