NYC teachers union prepares for possible strike as school safety discussions continue

The United Federation of Teachers' executive board was set to meet on Monday but it is still unknown if teachers will follow through with a threat to strike if New York City does not meet their coronavirus safety demands in time for the reopening of schools.

The mayor said the president of the union indicated that a strike vote would not take place yet.

"The UFT has spoken to this over the weekend. They made clear that a strike vote is not planned," Mayor Bill de Blasio said. "I've spoken to Michael Mulgrew. It's clear to me that is not on the agenda for this meeting."

"We want everybody to be safe," said Arthur Goldstein, a member of the UFT's executive board. "We don't want anybody to have to worry about getting COVID."

Goldstein said that the city still hasn’t agreed to mandatory coronavirus testing for both students and educators, one of the union’s biggest demands.

"We want to test every person before they enter a school — me, the students, the custodians, kitchen staff, everybody," Goldstein said.

While the UFT has not yet confirmed a vote, the union is taking steps towards a potential teachers’ strike.

De Blasio said last week that he didn’t think mandatory testing was necessary but is still encouraging all staff and students to get tested. 

The Mayor’s Office says that all staff members will be asked to take a COVID-19 test before the first day of school and workers will have priority testing access at select hospitals with expedited results. 

Meanwhile, the city has been working to meet the union’s other requests, like inspecting more than 1,700 school’s ventilation systems. 

In response to the threat of a teachers’ strike, the Mayor’s Office says that it is continuing to have discussions with the UFT. 

The tentative first day of school in New York City is Sept. 10.

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