Resolution to Divert Union Dues from NY Teacher Unions to an Emergency Health Protection Fund

1-10-21

This resolution has been passed by the NY TEACHERS FOR CHOICE Steering Committee, http://www.nyteachersforchoice.org, originally published at the following link: https://nyteachersforchoice.wordpress.com/2021/01/10/resolution-to-divert-union-dues-from-ny-teacher-unions-to-an-emergency-health-protection-fund/

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WHEREAS educators and parents throughout New York State have formed an emergency “TEACHERS FOR CHOICE” union caucus;

WHEREAS the majority of educators currently in this caucus are members of the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) union, which is a chapter of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), and our caucus has members of the National Education Association (NEA) as well as New York State United Teachers (NYSUT).

WHEREAS these unions in New York have merged.

WHEREAS TEACHERS FOR CHOICE has reached out to UFT President Michael Mulgrew on numerous occasions asking to engage in a dialogue on in-school COVID testing and COVID vaccination, including (but not limited to) 3 separate open-letters addressed directly to Mr. Mulgrew, sent to his email address, and published at our website. Open Letter #1, Open Letter #2 , Open Letter #3

WHEREAS TEACHERS FOR CHOICE has protested in front of UFT’s Staten Island office building on December 19th, which was reported by the NY POST.

WHEREAS TEACHERS FOR CHOICE and our concerns have been covered in the NY POST on multiple occasions, including on 12-19-20, 12-14-20, 12-5-20, and 12-4-20.

WHEREAS a letter to the editor was written from our steering committee and published in THE CHIEF on October 16, 2020, kindly asking Michael Mulgrew to discuss with members of TEACHERS FOR CHOICE the issue of protecting student and teacher specimens and DNA during in-school COVID testing;

WHEREAS every labor leader in NYC reads THE CHIEF;

WHEREAS despite how widely publicized TEACHERS FOR CHOICE and our actions have been, we, and our concerns, have been completely ignored by the UFT president and his staff that all receive their paychecks from our union dues;

WHEREAS one major example of being ignored includes hundreds of teachers and parents emailing Michael Mulgrew in the month of October 2020, asking if specimens taken during in-school COVID testing were protected from being used for any other purpose. Mr. Mulgrew never responded to a single teacher or parent regarding this concern, nor did any of his staff;

WHEREAS TEACHERS FOR CHOICE had no choice but to retain an attorney to engage the NYC DOE to get a response regarding what could and could not be done with specimens collected during in-school COVID testing (since the UFT would not even respond to us, let alone represent us);

WHEREAS it was not until we had an attorney representing us that we received a response from the NYC DOE in regards to the security of our specimens and, up until today, we have still never once received any response from the UFT in regards to this matter;

WHEREAS TEACHERS FOR CHOICE was forced to sue NYC Schools in KANE vs. NYC DOE to obtain a legal, enforceable assurance that specimens from in-school COVID testing would not be used for any other purpose besides obtaining a positive or negative COVID test result;

WHEREAS TEACHERS FOR CHOICE won a court ordered stipulation assuring the protection of collected specimens written in plain English by our attorney Michael Sussman;

WHEREAS New York State Supreme Court Justices do not order such stipulations to be written when or if they are not necessary and, in fact, the DOE attorneys attempted to argue the stipulation was “moot” and unnecessary, but failed to convince the judge with such argument;

WHEREAS obtaining a written, enforceable guarantee regarding the security of teacher specimens collected during in-school COVID testing is without question in the realm of union responsibilities that we as union members pay dues for, but the union never made a single attempt to get such a legal assurance;

WHEREAS TEACHERS FOR CHOICE had to fundraise thousands of dollars to take the NYC DOE to court over this matter;

WHEREAS it seems highly likely there will be the need for more actions and litigation to protect against forced medical mandates on teachers, and our unions have made it clear they have no intentions of defending our rights;

WHEREAS there are still at least 2 secret contracts that govern NYC’s in-school COVID testing held by NYC Health + Hospitals Corp;

WHEREAS the UFT has done nothing, and is doing nothing, and plans to do nothing, to make those contracts available to the public;

WHEREAS the TEACHERS FOR CHOICE caucus is currently in communication with a law firm working to make these documents available to the public;

WHEREAS nearly every other union boss in NYC besides Michael Mulgrew has stated they will not force their members to take the COVID vaccine;

WHEREAS AFT President Randi Weingarten is on record saying teachers should be forced to take the COVID vaccine to keep our jobs;

WHEREAS Mr. Mulgrew held a UFT town hall meeting on November 23, 2020, where multiple teachers reported him to say the COVID vaccine would be mandatory for teachers to keep their jobs in September of 2021;

WHEREAS TEACHERS FOR CHOICE wrote a letter to Mr. Mulgrew asking if these reports were true, and if he could please clarify his position on forced COVID vaccination of UFT members; yet again we received no response from Mr. Mulgrew or his staff;

WHEREAS TEACHERS FOR CHOICE has sent many emails to UFT President Michael Mulgrew on other occasions asking to discuss COVID vaccination of UFT members and to clarify his position on forced vaccination of UFT members to keep their jobs;

WHEREAS Mr. Mulgrew has failed to even acknowledge being asked such questions;

WHEREAS TEACHERS FOR CHOICE completely supports any and all educators (and people) who decide with their doctors to get the COVID vaccine;

WHEREAS most UFT members who want to get the COVID vaccine do not want their job predicated on such a forced medical mandate;

WHEREAS public health law 2165 still allows for adults to have a religious exemption to vaccination;

WHEREAS TEACHERS FOR CHOICE has a petition against mandatory vaccination of educators that has over 17,000 signatures;

WHEREAS TEACHERS FOR CHOICE received an email from CHANGE.org on December 16, 2020, stating they removed the UFT logo we had on our petition as one Beth Norton had claimed it violated copyright;

WHEREAS Beth Norton is general counsel for the UFT;

WHEREAS TEACHERS FOR CHOICE recognizes UFT’s right to request their logo be removed from our not-for-profit petition, however this is clear evidence proving the UFT and President Michael Mulgrew are aware of who we are and what our efforts are, yet still choose to completely ignore us;

WHEREAS TEACHERS FOR CHOICE recognizes the brave teachers of West Virginia who went on strike in 2018 and 2019 when their access to insurance benefits became linked to the medical mandate of wearing Fitbits to monitor their physical activities to determine their premium rates. In similar fashion, we too are resisting over-reaching medical mandates linked to our employment;

WHEREAS UFT President Michael Mulgrew has a fiduciary responsibility to represent, listen to and respond to the interests and well being of the rank-and-file membership of the union, which includes TEACHERS FOR CHOICE caucus members;

WHEREAS even the founding fathers of the United States of America revolted over the issue of “No taxation without representation“;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED That the TEACHERS FOR CHOICE caucus calls upon all AFT, UFT, NYSUT, NEA members et al. in New York State who share our above concerns to divert their union dues to an “Emergency Health Protection Fund” beginning on March 1, 2021. This fund will be dedicated to the purpose of protecting the ability of teachers in New York State to have the freedom to make their own medical decisions without fear of losing their jobs for the decisions they make. The specifics of such a fund are currently being discussed with our attorneys and will be released soon.

We advise no one to stop paying union dues before March 1, 2021, in hopes that this diversion of funds WILL NOT BE NECESSARY. No one in the TEACHERS FOR CHOICE steering committee desires to stop paying union dues. We all recognize the importance of supporting and funding a strong teachers union. However it is clear based on all the evidence presented here that we are paying for representation that we are not receiving when it comes to matters of forced medical mandates at our jobs. We have already had to fund legal matters in this regard from our own pockets, and we anticipate more on the horizon. This is not acceptable. We will no longer be ignored and taken advantage of. If UFT President Michael Mulgrew and other union leaders will recognize they have a fiduciary responsibility to the members of the TEACHERS FOR CHOICE caucus and our growing supporters who all pay their salary, and begin a dialogue with us through the TEACHERS FOR CHOICE caucus in regards to in-school COVID testing and, most importantly, COVID vaccination of educators and students, then we believe there may be no need to create such a fund. We desperately hope this will be the case.

At this point in time if UFT President Michael Mulgrew or any other union leaders are ready to begin a respectful dialogue surrounding our above concerns with the TEACHERS FOR CHOICE caucus to avoid the creation of an “Emergency Health Protection Fund,” we kindly request that all such communications be directed to nyteachersforchoice@ gmail.com. The main focus of this resolution has been on the UFT President Michael Mulgrew as it has been the NYC/UFT faction of TEACHERS FOR CHOICE that has been most active thus far. However this is not merely an NYC issue, it is state-and-nation-wide. All other New York State and national teacher union leaders are welcomed and encouraged to reach out to us as well.

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