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Michael Mulgrew is the fifth president of the United Federation of Teachers, UFT, which represents 200,000 teachers, paraprofessionals, school secretaries and other professional staff in New York City public schools as well as home day-care providers, nurses, adult education instructors and retired members.
Mulgrew spent 12 years as a classroom teacher at William E. Grady High School 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, won election to his first full term in 2010, and was re-elected in 2013. A Staten Island native, he has degrees in English literature and special education from CUNY’s College of Staten Island.
During his tenure, the UFT has sought to improve schools in New York City by advocating for smaller classes, increased funding from both the city and state, greater parental involvement, reduced reliance on standardized testing, and other initiatives.
Also under Mulgrew’s leadership, the union won its most recent contract with New York City and its Department of Education. The contract included full retroactive pay for members, with an 18 percent increase over nine years; hard-won reductions to paperwork; increased career pathways for teacher leadership; and a strengthening of parent engagement.
Mulgrew was one of the leading advocates of the city’s Community Learning Schools Initiative, which brings social, medical and psychological services to school buildings for students and their families. Also as part of the UFT’s drive to boost innovation and academic achievement in the city’s classrooms, he advocated for the PROSE (Progressive Redesign Opportunity Schools for Excellence) initiative, which gives teachers and other school staff the opportunity to design innovative new approaches at the school level.
On both the local and national fronts, Mulgrew is active on promoting a range of issues that include economic fairness, immigration reform, equality and social justice.
He serves as a vice president of the American Federation of Teachers; 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.