UFT History

Dignity and respect. Professionalism and due process. Competitive wages and benefits.

Fifty years ago, those things didn’t exist for teachers in New York City’s public schools. The system’s structure and support were haphazard at best, and concepts such as class-size limits and career ladders were only pipe dreams.

A patchwork of more than 100 different and often competing organizations were available for educators to join, but there was no one true voice and advocate for students and teachers.

That all changed, thanks to the grit and determination of a small group of visionaries who believed that educators and their students were being shortchanged and did something about it. Together, they created the UFT.

March 2010 marked the 50th anniversary of the union’s formation, the beginning of its remarkable growth and extraordinary power and influence. Those 50 years of triumphs and advocacy have strengthened the education profession and New York City public schools.

“From the beginning, UFT members have been making positive contributions to this city,” said UFT President Michael Mulgrew. “We’ve moved the system forward during good times and bad. The profession has come so far in 50 years, and it’s important for people to know about that journey.”

United Federation of Teachers: 50 Years

View or download a PDF version of the limited edition book produced for the UFT's 50th anniversary in 2010. [This image-heavy file is relatively large (21 MB).]

United Federation of Teachers: 50 Years


The UFT Story



Reflections on 9/11

UFT members work every day to make a difference in people's lives. On September 11, 2001, in the face of horror and uncertainty, we were there to make a crucial and, in many cases, a life-saving difference. Teachers, nurses, guidance counselors, paraprofessionals and others led their charges out of danger, made sure students across the city were cared for while communication and transportation systems were frozen, and calmed the fears of hundreds of thousands of other children. They set a shining example of courage and inspiration.

This feature is filled with a few of the many heartfelt stories that we have gathered from members about that horrendous day and its aftermath. They reflect the best in all of us.

Read the reflections of UFT members, 10 years after 9/11 >>

History in Photos

UFT and the Civil Rights Movement. See the photo gallery >>

UFT and the civil rights movement

Your Union, Then and Now

Articles from the New York Teacher.

History Makers

Profiles of prominent union leaders and members.

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