History & Mission

Our Mission

The UFT is committed to strengthening our communities, our profession and the lives of our members and our students.

As a member-driven organization predominantly made up of education and healthcare professionals, the UFT negotiates and advocates vigorously for fair and competitive salaries, enhanced professionalism and improved working conditions.

Our union actively supports policies, legislation and programs that promote attaining educational equity, closing the persistent and unacceptable achievement gap and assuring parent and community voice in school governance. We believe in raising academic standards and strengthening instruction; reducing class size and overcrowding; creating safer, more orderly schools; improving school facilities; and increasing parent involvement in schools.

As part of its goal to foster educators' professional development, the UFT offers a full spectrum of workshops and graduate-level courses to some 30,000 members annually. Partnering with institutions like Mt. Saint Vincent, Baruch, NYIT and Adelphi, we offer master degrees in programs ranging from Literacy and Early Childhood Education to TESOL (Teaching English as a Second Language) and Special Education. In collaboration with Empire State College, we also have designed programs that enable paraprofessionals to obtain college degrees and for school secretaries to advance in their field. Additionally, we offer workshops to members with content specifically targeted to the students they serve from pre-school age through high school.

Our union also prides itself on its extensive parent and community outreach. For example, the UFT’s nationally acclaimed Dial-A-Teacher program offers homework assistance to more than 80,000 public school students and parents every year. In addition, the Albert Shanker Scholarship Fund awards more than $1 million in college scholarships to deserving students each year.

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 >>

UFT history

Our History

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. Our history section contains New York Teacher articles chronicling the UFT's history, profiles of notable union leaders and members, and historical photographs and videos.

Learn more about the union's history >>

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