As a veteran teacher of two decades, Jeriann Jaloza understands the demands of the profession and had been a long-paying dues member of the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) without much drama.
But the pandemic drastically changed her relationship with UFT. Jeriann had legitimate concerns about the vaccine mandate, especially when UFT and New York state government agreed to fire employees if employees declined to get vaccinated. Yet her concerns, which were shared by many teachers, went unresolved and unaddressed by the union.
UFT, Jeriann said, “is basically an extension” of the New York Department of Education that has “never helped me in my 20 years” of teaching. When she expressed her concerns about the state-imposed vaccine mandate, UFT gave her “the run-around” and tried “to make you think they are helping, but they are not.” Not only that, but she noted that union officials were “rude” and stalled her questions because “no two people had the same answer.” She felt that UFT “couldn’t care less about their members” and “never helped me” despite being a dues-paying member for years.
Because of her experience with UFT, Jeriann left the union. She explained, “they didn’t help us with the vaccine mandate,” whether it was answering questions or fighting against the mandate. “They treated me disgustingly,” she said, “Their answers were condescending.”
Her advice to new or aspiring teachers is, “Do not join the union…They are corrupt.” “They are an extension of the Department of Education (DOE) [and] are totally political,” she added, “They messed with the health care of retirees, they sat back and enjoyed the ‘non-vaccinated’ people getting fired.” She pointed out that her rights “were null and void and [UFT] refused to help.”
Thankfully, Jeriann was connected to AFFT and she joined because “it was nice to join an honest, fair group that speaks up against the corruption at unions, such as the UFT.” She said that one benefit for membership is having access to reading articles and content about unions “because they expose the corruption of unions.”