Wednesday, November 14, 2018

UFT Contract: OT/PTs Defend Turning Down Contract

Norm, if you have any advice to give the OTPT chapter, please feel free. I have a feeling you are right and the union will just punish them for voting the contract down. Mulgrew apparently was very proud that he got us a $500.00 increase for longevity! We have three steps…10 years, 15 and 22 years. Pathetic.... Retired OT
The union’s announcement that the “UFT members vote overwhelmingly to ratify the DOE-UFT contract” with absolutely no mention of us was not only insulting but also dishonest.  ... OT who voted NO.
The retiree is referring to my comments in The WAVE that the UFT leadership would get even with them for turning down the contract.

Some people have been in touch with me and I suggested that if some OT/PTs want to sit down and talk over options - and there may be few. Here are some comments being sent to Ed Notes. (Leave your own and I will publish them anon if you want - or email me at
I was a DOE Occupational Therapist for 22 years and recently retired. I read your article in the WAVE this week and thought I would write in case you are not aware of what is going on with the OTPT chapter. I support my fellow therapists in their disappointment with the contract and for taking a stand finally and voting it down. 

OT and PT have notoriously been underpaid and ignored by both the DOE and UFT for years. We used to be required to work summers without additional pay up until 2008, or whenever that contract was approved. Thanks to Randi Weingarten, she somehow got us summers off back then by nothing short of a miracle.

I just want to clarify one of the more recent bones of contention regarding NPI numbers. An NPI number is what NY state requires therapists to get in order to bill for Early Intervention services. 

Most OT and PT’s work two jobs, as did I, because our salary is so far below speech and teachers. Most of us had NPI numbers because of our second job in early intervention. It was not a requirement for our work in the DOE as therapists. 

About 3 years ago the DOE sent in Medicaid doctors because they were able to bill Medicaid for our services. At that time, speech was also required to meet with the doctors. We were told in no uncertain terms that we had to hand over our NPI numbers to the DOE so they could bill. 

We turned to the union and were told, by Carmen Alvarez, that we had no choice and had to turn over our numbers. Speech therapists, on the other hand, were told NOT to hand over their numbers by their union rep. 

We thought that was strange at the time, but most therapists were unaware of what was going on. About a year later, we learned that each speech therapist was given a yearly $5,000 raise for their NPI numbers. They were also granted the ability to work overtime to complete their work, while we were told that we were never to work outside the work hours. 

It’s been an ongoing battle with the union as to why were were required to turn over the one bargaining chip we had.... our NPI numbers without receiving a dime. Yet, speech therapists were given another $5,000 yearly outside of a contract. That further increased the disparity in our pay. The union claims that OT and PT receive more than their counterparts in city hospitals, which is not true. They use this to argue why they can’t get us more money, yet if we point out that social workers are the highest paid in the DOE, and their counterparts working in other city facilities are paid half of what they get paid in the DOE, we get silence. They can’t justify the reasoning.


This is another post by a DOE occupational therapist :

A lot of DOE employees don’t know that the OT/PT chapter voted down their contract... all that was publicized was that 87% of the union voted yes and the contract was ratified. But not ours and for valid reasons. Since we are such a small chapter, we often get no mention, and the union doesn’t want to draw any attention to this one small, frustrated, and unhappy chapter. But here’s some background if anyone’s interested to understand our point of view...

By the end of our pay scale, we are paid almost 30k less than speech therapists (speech has the most similar daily workload to OT/PTs so it’s interesting to compare ourselves to them); 

-our masters degrees are undervalued and paid literally thousands of dollars less than others’ (teachers, speech, etc.), and those of us with doctorates get absolutely nothing for that; 

-we get an unpaid 30 minute lunch; because of our unpaid lunch we don’t accumulate enough hours and are not guaranteed the right to an FMLA in the case of an emergency unless we’ve worked summers; 

-if we choose to work summers we get paid several percentage points less than everyone else (I think we’re 13% while everyone else is 16 or 17%); if there’s an emergency we can borrow 10 days while others can borrow 20; 

-we were required to hand over our NPI numbers so the DOE can use our notes to bill Medicaid with no compensation while speech therapists are given an extra $5000 a year for it; 

-we get no prep time and have 30 minutes a day to complete our documentation (8 daily notes, progress reports, IEPs, etc.)... speech has the option of completing paperwork at home and being paid for it, not us; speech also has the opportunity to take on an extra session during the day, if the school needs, and be paid for it, not us; 

So when we’re told that we’re so lucky that we don’t have to attend parent teacher nights, we’d like to clarify.... we would HAPPILY attend those evenings if we were compensated equally. The union’s announcement that the “UFT members vote overwhelmingly to ratify the DOE-UFT contract” with absolutely no mention of us was not only insulting but also dishonest. We love, respect, and support our colleagues: speech, counselors, teachers, paras... everyone. I am amazed and inspired by many of the people I’ve had the opportunity to work with. But we are very frustrated that the OT/PT chapter is consistently under-represented and are fighting for parity with our colleagues.

1 comment:

  1. At least OT/PT has a chapter, as an ATR we have no representation.


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