'Unity' Caucus still holds largest AFT local... New York union incumbents returned to office by large margin

The incumbent president of the United Federation of Teachers (UFT), the American Federation of Teachers local in New York City, was returned to office by a large margin as a result of the union election held the first week of April 2010. When the votes were counted, former UFT vice president Michael Mulgrew won by a margin of roughly ten to one over two slates of opponents in the three-way race. Mulgrew, who was appointed by former UFT president Randi Weingarten (approved by the UFT executive board) when she went full time as president of the American Federation of Teachers, is a former vocational education teacher and long-time UFT activist.

United Federation of Teachers (UFT) President Michael Mulgrew (above right) shakes hands with Norm Scott (who edits the Web and blog for ICE, one of New York's opposition groups) following Mulgrew's appointment as President of the United Federation of Teachers at the July 9, 2009 meeting of the UFT Executive Board. Mulgrew succeeded Randi Weingarten, who went to Washington, D.C. to work full-time as President of the American Federation of Teachers. Mulgrew won a three-year term as UFT president in the April 2010 election by a margin of ten to one against two opponents, one of whom was supported by ICE. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.Various reports on the election will be published here over the next three days. The first, below, comes from "Gotham Schools," an on line news service in New York.

And the UFT election envelope please….by Anna Phillips

The results are in for UFT president Michael Mulgrew, who won election to his first full three-year term by a landslide. But if you’re interested to see how the other candidates for officer and executive board positions fared, the American Arbitration Association’s official vote tally is posted below.

Mulgrew won 41,521 of 45,596 votes, or 91 percent of the vote. The actual number of voters was approximately 53,500, but because about 25,000 retired members voted — surpassing the cap of 18,000 — each of their votes counted for .72 of one vote.

The participation rate this year was about 32 percent — slightly higher than in 2007, when about 30 percent of union members voted. Of 114,000 active union members, about 27,500 voted. That participation rate of 24 percent is an increase from 22 percent three years ago, but still down from 29 percent in 2004. Of the union’s 53,000 retired members, about 25,000 voted, or about 47 percent, up from 38 percent in 2007.

Gotham Schools was only one of many media to note the election. The conservative New York Daily News used Mulgrew's election as an opportunity to preach reactionary "realism" about charter schools and "Race To The Top."


Mike Mulgrew's mandate: Moment of truth for empowered teacher union boss EDITORIALS, Friday, April 9th 2010, 4:00 AM, New York Daily News.

Hearty congratulations to Michael Mulgrew on his election as president of the United Federation of Teachers in a landslide that certifies him as one of the most formidable labor leaders in New York.

The city's teachers like this former shop teacher's style - big time. They gave him an astonishing 91% of the vote.

Mulgrew's obligation is, of course, to advance the interests of his 80,000 members. He has shown himself to be no shrinking violet and will give Mayor Bloomberg a run for the taxpayers' money on wages and benefits.

But these times demand more from municipal labor bosses than hard-line, just-say-no bargaining - particularly from education union chiefs.

The great hope is that Mulgrew will emerge as a leader who helps City Hall preserve the schools in the face of devastating budget cuts, while leading the UFT to the forefront of education reform.

His stances will affect his members as well as 8 million New Yorkers, including 1.1 million school children. He speaks passionately about preventing a recurrence of the disaster that befell the schools during the fiscal crisis of the 1970s. Decades passed before there was recovery.

Now, under the very real threat that 5,000 or more teachers could be laid off, Mulgrew says he is battling to find revenues in Albany to ease the worst of the blows. He is welcome to try, but there is little question that he is engaging in the same wishful thinking that has swept the Legislature.

A $9.2 billion budget deficit all but guarantees severe cuts. If and when reality sinks in, the public can only hope that Mulgrew will put aside, even temporarily, the 4% annual raises the union believes it is due and accept such money-saving reforms as shifting newly hired teachers to 401(k)style retirement benefits.

At the same time, his blessings will be crucial to New York's shot at winning as much as $700 million in federal Race to the Top funding.

The state lost out in the first round largely because Mulgrew and the Legislature failed to get behind a simple elimination of the cap on charter schools and a system to guide teacher employment decisions based on student achievement.

Rewarding great teachers and dismissing lemons based on pupil performance data - test scores - is the wave of the future. President Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan are top proponents, and states across the country are on board.

Mulgrew would do his members and New York at large a huge service by leading the city's teachers into this new and unavoidable future of the profession. It's coming, and he should be far ahead of the curve.

Getting there would significantly bolster New York's chances to score big in the second round of the Race to the Top competition, bringing in a pile of money and charting a dramatic new course for education in the state.

Mulgrew is up against a lot. But big challenges mean big opportunities. He should dare to be great. Read more:


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