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Michael Mulgrew is the fifth president of the United Federation of Teachers, whose 200,000 members include teachers and other professional staff in New York City public schools as well as family child-care providers, nurses, adult education instructors and retired members.
As UFT president, Mulgrew has led the union’s efforts to transform education in New York City. He is also a leading labor voice for economic fairness, immigration reform, equality and social justice. He has fought to increase respect for the teaching profession and to forge labor and community partnerships across the nation in opposition to the privatization of public services and on behalf of policies that support both education and trade unions.
Mulgrew mobilized a diverse coalition of New York City public- and private-sector stakeholders to pilot the Community Learning Schools Initiative in response to the high rate of poverty and its impact on New York City schoolchildren. Select schools in the initiative collaborate with service organizations to support the academic, health and social service needs of children, their families and communities.
As part of the UFT’s drive to boost innovation and academic achievement in the city’s classrooms, the union’s most recent contract with the city’s Department of Education includes provisions to: ensure that all teachers have appropriate curricula; give UFT members in the schools a say in designing their own professional development; create a career ladder to encourage accomplished teachers to mentor others; and expand parent engagement. The PROSE (Progressive Redesign Opportunity Schools for Excellence) initiative gives teachers and other staff in the schools a chance to try innovative new approaches in their schools.
A strong proponent of career and technical education, Mulgrew is a member of the Advisory Council for Career and Technical Education, where he has worked to strengthen the connections of secondary schools to colleges, technical schools and emerging technologies and fields so that students have pathways to gainful employment and higher education.
Mulgrew spent 12 years as a classroom teacher at William E. Grady HS in Brooklyn, where he also served as chapter leader before becoming the union’s vice president for career and technical education high schools and later its chief operating officer. He was appointed president in 2009, filling out the term of Randi Weingarten following her election to head the American Federation of Teachers, the national affiliate of the UFT. Mulgrew won election to his first full term as UFT president in 2010 and was re-elected in 2013. A Staten Island native, he attended CUNY’s College of Staten Island and has degrees in English literature and special education.
He is vice president of the AFT; an executive board member of New York State United Teachers; a member of both the executive council of the New York State AFL-CIO and the executive board of the New York City Central Labor Council; and executive vice chairman of the city’s Municipal Labor Committee.