Labor Union

United Federation of Teachers (UFT)

This is a logo owned by United Federation of Teachers for United Federation of Teachers. (link)
Location:

NEW YORK, NY

Tax ID:

13-5582895

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(5)

Budget (2017):

Revenue: $179,809,678
Expenses: $171,135,274
Assets: $151,657,053

Type:

Local Public Sector Union

Founded:

1960

Union Membership:
Active Members: 122,709

Retired Members: 64,751

Agency Fee Payers: 2,043

Agency fee payers are non-members of the union required to pay dues as a condition of employment under the law previous to the Supreme Court decision in Janus v. AFSCME

President:

Michael Mulgrew

President's Compensation:

Gross Salary: $285,339

Disbursements for Official Business: $13,780

The United Federation of Teachers (UFT) is a government worker union representing schoolteachers in New York City. It is an affiliate of the national American Federation of Teachers labor union as AFT Local 2 and the American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) and is one of the largest local unions in the nation.

Since the UFT’s rise to prominence in the mid-20th century, it has become among the largest and most well-known teachers unions in America. The union represents nearly 200,000 members and is the monopoly bargaining option for the majority of non-supervisor educators and school workers in New York City, including teachers, classroom aides, school administrative workers, counselors, and school nurses. The union has dozens of chapters representing varying subsets of school employees and also operates the nurses’ union Federation of Nurses/UFT as one of its chapters. [1]

The union’s influence on schooling policy in New York City and state is substantial; the union, its political committees, and the New York State United Teachers state-level federation of which it is a part are one of the largest contributors (if not the largest outright) to the city’s and state’s dominant Democratic Party. [2] The union’s 1968 strike wave unmade a Ford Foundation-endorsed plan by metropolitan liberal New York Mayor John Lindsay to increase neighborhood control of city schools;[3] the union has secured numerous legal benefits with the result that “New York City lacks control of its teacher workforce.” [4]

History

Early Years

The United Federation of Teachers traces its history to 1912, when Henry Linville, a biology teacher at Jamaica High School in Queens began publishing a journal titled The American Teacher. Soon, Linville and his colleagues would organize a labor union, the Teachers League. The Teachers League would help found the American Federation of Teachers (AFT). [5] AFT is as of mid-2020 the second-largest national teachers union and has retained a close alignment with the UFT, with three of its most recent four national leaders having previously or concurrently led the New York City union. [6][7][8]

For nearly 40 years, the union was unable to attract significant membership among New York City teachers and was opposed by city leadership. By 1935, the Teachers League had been renamed the Teachers Union and was caught in a generational standoff between older more traditional progressive teachers and younger Communist sympathizers. In 1935, the “old-guard” progressive teachers, who by that point were completely “convinced that the radicals were directly linked to Moscow” left and formed the “Teachers Guild,” which would eventually become the modern UFT.. [9]

The catalyst that ultimately founded the modern day United Federation of Teachers was a longstanding rivalry between high school teachers, whose ranks skewed towards male advanced-degree holders and who were higher paid, and elementary and middle-school teachers who were more likely to be women and often only possessed a bachelor’s degree. In 1947, the New York State Legislature removed a 25 percent high school pay differential that caused more rivalry between the Teachers Guild and the smaller High School Teachers Association. Finally, after many years of infighting, a compromise to make pay based on merit and degrees obtained and not simply the level at which one is teacher led the HSTA and the Teacher Guild to merge in 1960 and form the United Federation of Teachers. [10]

Adoption of Collective Bargaining and the Rise of Al Shanker

In 1959, New York Mayor Robert Wagner, Jr. (D), the son of U.S. Senator Robert Wagner (D-NY) best known for sponsoring the National Labor Relations Act in the 1930s,[11] granted municipal worker unions including the UFT the power to bargain collectively with the government. After Mayor Wagner’s order, the union demanded pay increases, work-free lunch periods, and automatic payroll deduction of dues; it called a strike in 1962 after the city balked at the demands. Despite the strike being illegal, the union “won big pay increases and other workplace rule changes.” [12]

The 1962 strike was led by Al Shanker, the son of Socialist-aligned Russian Jewish parents and a former math teacher who would earn a reputation as “a fighter more than a thinker” for his battles with city-level and national education policy rivals and collective bargaining counterparts. [13] Shanker had edited the newspaper of the Teachers Guild and rose to become secretary of the merged UFT; the UFT elected him president in 1964. [14]

1968 Strike Wave

An effort by Mayor John Lindsay, at the time a liberal Republican but who would later seek the Presidency as a Democrat, to decentralize control of schools in New York led to a series of UFT strikes that strained relations between African American and Puerto Rican-diaspora communities in the city and Jewish and white-ethnic communities. Lindsay, with support from McGeorge Bundy of the Ford Foundation, had proposed “that the school system be broken up into a ‘community school system, consisting of a federation of school districts and a central education agency.’”[15]

African American community leadership had responded to poor conditions and performance in New York City public schools by demanding “community control” of schools, under which neighborhood-level panels would set curriculum standards, establish budgets, and (crucially for the conflict with the teachers’ union) hire staff. The Lindsay administration agreed to trial a limited form of community control on the lines set out by the Ford Foundation in three parts of New York, most notably Ocean Hill-Brownsville, a formerly Jewish-majority neighborhood that by 1968 was 95 percent Black or Puerto Rican. [16]

The Ocean Hill-Brownsville experiment was financially supported by the Ford Foundation. [17] A local board was elected in 1967 and chose Black-radical educator Rhody McCoy to manage the new district; while Shanker and the UFT initially tried to work with the decentralization plan, disputes over hiring-and-firing powers would lead to conflict. In May 1968, the local board ordered 19 educators, all of whom were UFT members and the majority of whom were Jewish, to be terminated from employment. Shanker threatened a citywide strike if the Ocean Hill-Brownsville board did not reinstate them; despite an arbitrator’s order, the board did not. [18]

In response, the UFT walked out three times for a total of 55 days from September through mid-November 1968;[19] the strike was marked vitriolic rhetoric, with supporters of the Ocean Hill-Brownsville board resorting to anti-Semitic pamphleteering and sloganeering[20] and UFT leadership comparing the firing of the teachers to Nazism. [21]

Shanker’s gambit proved successful; Mayor Lindsay ordered the teachers reinstated and the Ocean Hill-Brownsville board placed under state oversight. In 1969, the state legislature passed a school decentralization law that the UFT supported that created 30 smaller “community districts” subordinate to a city-wide Board of Education;[22] the UFT took advantage of the low turnout in community district elections to become the “strongest force in decentralization” under the 1969 law. [23]

Power and Politics

United Federation of Teachers has an active Political Action Department, which campaigns for left-leaning and pro-labor union policies in New York City, New York state, and nationally. The union’s influence over education policy in New York is extensive; in the 1990s, the New York Times quoted education reform campaigners as saying that “There is no piece of education legislation in this state that passes without the UFT.” [24]

New York City’s government worker collective bargaining practices essentially gives the UFT “two bites at the apple”; to the extent its substantial political operations are successful, they place UFT “on both sides of the bargaining table.” According to Manhattan Institute fellow and City College of New York professor Daniel DiSalvo, the effect of this is that “negotiated outcomes favor the UFT over time.” [25]

In DiSalvo’s assessment, “no group in New York City can rival the UFT’s manpower and money” in New York City politics. Further, “The UFT’s membership constitutes the largest single voting bloc in mayoral elections. And because teachers and school paraprofessionals live in all parts of the city, they can be decisive in low-turnout city council races.” [26]

The New York State Democratic Party and the UFT are very closely aligned; at one point, the State Senate Democratic Campaign Committee was provided office space by the union. Then-UFT (now AFT) union president Randi Weingarten co-chaired the 2000 U.S. Senate campaign of then-First Lady Hillary Clinton. As of 2014, the UFT and its state-level federation NYSUT were the largest source of funds to the Democratic Party in New York. [27] UFT is also a substantial funder of left-progressive advocacy groups; in 2018-2019, the union reported funding the NAACP, Al Sharpton’s National Action Network, Alliance for a Greater New York, and the Hispanic Federation. [28]

The union faced limited setbacks during the mayoralty of Michael Bloomberg, a liberal Republican-turned-Independent who would later run for President as a Democrat. Bloomberg re-centralized control of schools in the mayor’s office and later, spurred by revelations from city council hearings called by then-New York Councilor (later charter school executive and activist) Eva Moskowitz (D-Manhattan), secured minor changes to the “rubber room” disciplinary processes and teacher tenure rules that the UFT had negotiated as well as expanded charter schools in exchange for substantial increases in salaries. [29]

Legislative priorities of the UFT include major left-leaning issues including supporting state bills such as the Reproductive Rights Act, which expanded abortion availability and lifted certain restrictions on the practice, and the Jose Peralta New York State DREAM Act. The union touts 2019 as “the most progressive legislative session in decades” and expressed that “This was government at its best.” [30]

The UFT similarly attacks Trump administration policies like capping the state and local tax deduction in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, a change that increased the exposure of high-income taxpayers in high-tax jurisdictions like New York City to the full economic costs of their state and local tax burdens. On other taxation issues the UFT is supportive of substantial tax increases, including wealth taxes. The UFT is a critic of Trump administration Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and her support of school choice; the union opposes charter schools and supports legislation to close most charter schools. [31]

Chapters

The United Federation of Teachers operates several chapters that span numerous classes of school employees. UFT chapters include:[32]

  • Administrative Education Officers & Analysts
  • Adult Education
  • Attendance Teachers
  • Audiologists
  • Charter Schools
  • Directors of Alcohol & Substance Abuse Programs
  • Education Officers & Analysts
  • Hearing Education Services
  • Home Instruction
  • Hospital Schools
  • Lab Specialists
  • Living for the Young Family (LYFE)
  • Nonpublic Schools
  • Occupational & Physical Therapists
  • Paraprofessionals
  • Re-Start Program
  • Retired Teachers
  • School Chapter Leaders
  • School Counselors
  • School Nurses
  • School Secretaries
  • Sign Language Interpreters
  • Social Workers & Psychologists
  • Speech Improvement
  • Supervisors of Nurses & Therapists
  • Teachers Assigned
  • Vision Education Services
  • ADAPT Community Network
  • Birch Family Services
  • Block Institute
  • Bright Horizons
  • Consortium for Worker Education
  • Family Child Care Providers
  • Federation of Nurses/UFT
  • Lincoln Center Education
  • Little Red School House
  • Lorge School
  • Stanley S. Lamm Preschool
  • Hearing Officers (Per Session)
  • Supervisors of School Security

The UFT also operates the Federation of Nurses/UFT, a nurses’ union that is among the largest health care workers’ unions in New York City. The union represents Registered Nurses and Licensed Practical Nurses at two private hospitals in New York City, and majority of its membership is made up of home healthcare nurses. The union dates to 1979, when union leaders at the Lutheran Medical Center disaffiliated with the New York State Nurses’ Association and chose the United Federation of Teachers as their bargaining agent. The union added nurses at several other health care organizations to its ranks over the years and currently claims membership of roughly 5,000 nurses. In term of members at each healthcare organization, the union website claims “700 registered nurses at Brooklyn’s NYU Lutheran Medical Center (NYULMC), 300 registered nurses at Staten Island University Hospital’s (SIUH) South Site and approximately 10 registered nurses at NYU Lutheran Augustana. In home healthcare, we represent about 2200 registered nurses and licensed practical nurses at the Visiting Nurse Service (VNS) and 50 RNs at Jewish Home Healthcare (JHH). We also represent several hundred healthcare professionals at Guildnet.” [33]

People

Michael Mulgrew

Michael Mulgrew is the president of the United Federation of Teachers and a vice president of the national American Federation of Teachers with which UFT is affiliated and a member of the board of NYSUT, UFT’s state federation. [34] Mulgrew faced criticism for an alleged affair with a school guidance counselor and later UFT employee whom he later married. [35]

Randi Weingarten

Among the most notable former leaders of the United Federation of Teachers is Randi Weingarten, who  served as UFT president from 1998 to 2008 and now leads UFT’s parent organization, the American Federation of Teachers. Weingarten is described as the “hand-picked successor of the hand-picked successor of Albert Shanker.” She is often accused by union members of using her political clout to block reforms and is further described as focusing heavily on politics and lobbying. [36]

In 1986, then-United Federation of Teachers president Sandra Feldman recruited Weingarten from a law firm job to serve as her aide and as counsel to the United Federation of Teachers, taking a lead role in contract negotiations and union lawsuits. In addition to her work for the UFT, Weingarten got a teaching certification and began teaching at Clara Barton High School in Brooklyn for six years, from 1991 to 1997. She was only “full-time for half of that period.” Weingarten was elected assistant secretary of the UFT in 1995 and then treasurer in 1997. Weingarten was also elected vice president for the national American Federation of Teachers in 1997. In 1998, as departing UFT president Sandra Feldman’s hand-picked successor, Weingarten was appointed president of the union by the union’s executive board to serve the remainder of Feldman’s term. She subsequently won election to the office in 1999. Like her predecessors, Weingarten faced no serious opposition as head of the UFT. In 2007 she defeated an opponent with 86.2% of the vote. In July 2008, Weingarten was elected president of the AFT. Weingarten is also an active member of the Democratic National Committee, serving as a member at large. [37]

When she left UFT to take over the presidency at the American Federation of Teachers, Weingarten was described as receiving a “golden parachute” payout of nearly $200,000 by cashing in unused sick time and vacation. The windfall of cash brought Weingarten’s total 2010 salary to approximately $600,000. The New York Post commented that “Not many companies allow employees to cash out unused vacation days; even fewer pay out unused sick time on top of that. But, obviously, the world of organized labor is different.” [38]

References

  1. “About UFT”. United Federation of Teachers. Accessed May 20, 2020. https://www.uft.org/your-union/about-uft ^
  2. DiSalvo, Daniel. “The Union That Devoured Education Reform.” City Journal, 2014. https://www.city-journal.org/html/union-devoured-education-reform-13678.html. ^
  3. Moritz, Owen. “When the Teacher’s Union Shut down NYC Schools for Two Months over Racially-Charged Community Control.” nydailynews.com. New York Daily News, January 12, 2019. https://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/story-new-york-city-two-month-teacher-strike-article-1.808131. ^
  4. DiSalvo, Daniel. “The Union That Devoured Education Reform.” City Journal, 2014. https://www.city-journal.org/html/union-devoured-education-reform-13678.html. ^
  5. Amlung, Sam. “Finding Common Cause in the early years”. United Federation of Teachers/New York Teacher. January 11, 2010. Accessed May 20, 2020. https://www.uft.org/your-union/about-uft/our-history/finding-common-cause-early-years ^
  6. Berger, Joseph. “Albert Shanker, 68, Combative Leader Who Transformed Teachers’ Union, Dies.” The New York Times. February 23, 1997. Accessed December 12, 2016. https://www.nytimes.com/1997/02/24/nyregion/albert-shanker-68-combative-leader-who-transformed-teachers-union-dies.html ^
  7. Berger, Joseph. “Sandra Feldman, Scrappy and Outspoken Labor Leader for Teachers, Dies at 65.” September 20, 2005. Accessed December 12, 2016. http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/20/nyregion/sandra-feldman-scrappy-and-outspoken-labor-leader-for-teachers.html?_r=0 ^
  8. Greenhouse, Steven. “Teachers’ Union President to Step Down; New Yorker Is Seen as Successor.” The New York Times. February 13, 2008. Accessed December 13, 2016. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/13/education/13teachers.html ^
  9. Amlung, Sam. “Finding Common Cause in the early years”. United Federation of Teachers/New York Teacher. January 11, 2010. Accessed May 20, 2020. https://www.uft.org/your-union/about-uft/our-history/finding-common-cause-early-years ^
  10. Amlung, Sam. “Finding Common Cause in the early years”. United Federation of Teachers/New York Teacher. January 11, 2010. Accessed May 20, 2020. https://www.uft.org/your-union/about-uft/our-history/finding-common-cause-early-years ^
  11. Clarity, James  F. “Robert Wagner, 80, Pivotal New York Mayor, Dies.” The New York Times. The New York Times, February 13, 1991. https://www.nytimes.com/1991/02/13/obituaries/robert-wagner-80-pivotal-new-york-mayor-dies.html. ^
  12. DiSalvo, Daniel. “The Union That Devoured Education Reform.” City Journal, 2014. https://www.city-journal.org/html/union-devoured-education-reform-13678.html. ^
  13. Berger, Joseph. “Albert Shanker, 68, Combative Leader Who Transformed Teachers’ Union, Dies.” The New York Times. February 23, 1997. Accessed December 12, 2016. https://www.nytimes.com/1997/02/24/nyregion/albert-shanker-68-combative-leader-who-transformed-teachers-union-dies.html ^
  14. Berger, Joseph. “Albert Shanker, 68, Combative Leader Who Transformed Teachers’ Union, Dies.” The New York Times. February 23, 1997. Accessed December 12, 2016. https://www.nytimes.com/1997/02/24/nyregion/albert-shanker-68-combative-leader-who-transformed-teachers-union-dies.html ^
  15. Cannato, Vincent. “The 1968 New York City School Strike Revisited.” Commentary Magazine, May 16, 2018. https://www.commentarymagazine.com/articles/vincent-cannato/1968-new-york-city-school-strike-revisited/. ^
  16. Cannato, Vincent. “The 1968 New York City School Strike Revisited.” Commentary Magazine, May 16, 2018. https://www.commentarymagazine.com/articles/vincent-cannato/1968-new-york-city-school-strike-revisited/. ^
  17. Moritz, Owen. “When the Teacher’s Union Shut down NYC Schools for Two Months over Racially-Charged Community Control.” nydailynews.com. New York Daily News, January 12, 2019. https://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/story-new-york-city-two-month-teacher-strike-article-1.808131. ^
  18. Cannato, Vincent. “The 1968 New York City School Strike Revisited.” Commentary Magazine, May 16, 2018. https://www.commentarymagazine.com/articles/vincent-cannato/1968-new-york-city-school-strike-revisited/. ^
  19. Berger, Joseph. “Albert Shanker, 68, Combative Leader Who Transformed Teachers’ Union, Dies.” The New York Times. February 23, 1997. Accessed December 12, 2016. https://www.nytimes.com/1997/02/24/nyregion/albert-shanker-68-combative-leader-who-transformed-teachers-union-dies.html ^
  20. Cannato, Vincent. “The 1968 New York City School Strike Revisited.” Commentary Magazine, May 16, 2018. https://www.commentarymagazine.com/articles/vincent-cannato/1968-new-york-city-school-strike-revisited/. ^
  21. Berger, Joseph. “Albert Shanker, 68, Combative Leader Who Transformed Teachers’ Union, Dies.” The New York Times. February 23, 1997. Accessed December 12, 2016. https://www.nytimes.com/1997/02/24/nyregion/albert-shanker-68-combative-leader-who-transformed-teachers-union-dies.html ^
  22. Cannato, Vincent. “The 1968 New York City School Strike Revisited.” Commentary Magazine, May 16, 2018. https://www.commentarymagazine.com/articles/vincent-cannato/1968-new-york-city-school-strike-revisited/. ^
  23. Berger, Joseph. “Albert Shanker, 68, Combative Leader Who Transformed Teachers’ Union, Dies.” The New York Times. February 23, 1997. Accessed December 12, 2016. https://www.nytimes.com/1997/02/24/nyregion/albert-shanker-68-combative-leader-who-transformed-teachers-union-dies.html ^
  24. Steinberg, Jacques. “Crew Agrees With Feldman On Charters For Schools.” The New York Times. The New York Times, October 24, 1996. https://www.nytimes.com/1996/10/24/nyregion/crew-agrees-with-feldman-on-charters-for-schools.html. ^
  25. DiSalvo, Daniel. “The Union That Devoured Education Reform.” City Journal, 2014. https://www.city-journal.org/html/union-devoured-education-reform-13678.html. ^
  26. DiSalvo, Daniel. “The Union That Devoured Education Reform.” City Journal, 2014. https://www.city-journal.org/html/union-devoured-education-reform-13678.html. ^
  27. DiSalvo, Daniel. “The Union That Devoured Education Reform.” City Journal, 2014. https://www.city-journal.org/html/union-devoured-education-reform-13678.html. ^
  28. United Federation of Teachers, AFT Local 2 (Department of Labor file number 063-924), Labor Organization Annual Report (Form LM-2), 2019, Schedule 17 https://olms.dol-esa.gov/query/orgReport.do?rptId=713350&rptForm=LM2Form ^
  29. DiSalvo, Daniel. “The Union That Devoured Education Reform.” City Journal, 2014. https://www.city-journal.org/html/union-devoured-education-reform-13678.html. ^
  30. “Legislative Priorities”. United Federation of Teachers. Accessed May 20, 2020. https://www.uft.org/get-involved/uft-political-action/legislative-priorities ^
  31. “Legislative Priorities”. United Federation of Teachers. Accessed May 20, 2020. https://www.uft.org/get-involved/uft-political-action/legislative-priorities ^
  32. “Chapters”. United Federation of Teachers. Accessed May 20, 2020. https://www.uft.org/chapters ^
  33. “Federation of Nurses/UFT”. United Federation of Teachers. Accessed May 20, 2020. https://www.uft.org/chapters/private-and-nonprofit-chapters/federation-nursesuft/about ^
  34. Phillips, Anna. “Michael Mulgrew is elected president of the teacher’s union.” Accessed May 9, 2020. https://ny.chalkbeat.org/2009/7/29/21085678/michael-mulgrew-is-elected-president-of-teachers-union. ^
  35. Edelman, Susan. “Teachers-Union President Wed Staffer Following Sex Scandal.” New York Post. New York Post, January 8, 2017. https://nypost.com/2017/01/08/teachers-union-president-wed-staffer-following-sex-scandal/. ^
  36. Nathan-Kazis, Josh. “The Leading Jew in Labor Wears Pearls.” Forward Magazine. May 12, 2010. Accessed May 20, 2020. http://forward.com/news/127978/the-leading-jew-in-labor-wears-pearls/ ^
  37. “AFT Leadership: Randi Weingarten; AFT President.” American Federation of Teachers. Undated. Accessed May 20, 2020. https://www.aft.org/about/leadership/randi-weingarten ^
  38. “Randi’s Golden Parachute.” The New York Post. January 16, 2011. Accessed May 20, 2020. https://nypost.com/2011/01/16/randis-golden-parachute/  ^

Directors, Employees & Supporters

  1. Randi Weingarten
    Former President
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: July - June
  • Tax Exemption Received: February 1, 1945

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2017 Jul Form 990 $179,809,678 $171,135,274 $151,657,053 $180,229,554 N $4,706,300 $176,189,437 $11,093 $8,216,392 PDF
    2016 Jul Form 990 $171,708,592 $171,852,812 $144,688,614 $179,691,524 N $3,175,361 $168,480,473 $12,185 $8,631,665
    2015 Jul Form 990 $158,421,396 $156,606,685 $140,249,359 $159,469,376 N $1,091,271 $157,843,046 $12,425 $7,602,737 PDF
    2014 Jul Form 990 $150,680,382 $151,498,272 $135,076,440 $145,243,859 N $357,915 $150,662,368 $13,971 $7,427,523 PDF
    2013 Jul Form 990 $150,130,669 $149,250,608 $133,861,871 $133,765,490 N $1,698,544 $148,309,164 $24,308 $6,547,284 PDF
    2012 Jul Form 990 $139,602,434 $139,633,786 $131,555,962 $157,676,413 N $93,542 $142,542,917 $27,104 $6,539,724 PDF
    2011 Jul Form 990 $141,392,853 $153,215,380 $139,138,088 $155,998,550 N $1,500,000 $140,175,459 $43,460 $6,309,901 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    United Federation of Teachers (UFT)

    52 BROADWAY
    NEW YORK, NY 10004-1603