The strength of the UFT was undeniable in the union’s successful effort to get schools closed, starting March 16, because of the coronavirus pandemic. It was fitting that the date also marked the 60-year anniversary of the founding of the union.
Clearly, at age 60, the UFT is needed more than ever.
Despite being in the midst of a health crisis unprecedented in their lifetimes, many UFT members across the city still chose to recognize the union’s milestone.
Members at PS 171 in East Harlem celebrated on Friday, March 13, the last day before schools were closed. Chapter Leader Kelly Kim said the 60th-birthday celebration gave her school the perfect opportunity to salute the union for its work.
“The UFT does so much for the members and we wanted to acknowledge the union,” Kim said. “We also did it to support the UFT, because the union can only be strong if members stand together.”
The chapter recognized the event with cake, signs and balloons, and members received UFT-tagged items — including, appropriately, hand sanitizer.
When educators at PS 46 in Fort Greene, Brooklyn returned to their building on March 17 to begin training for remote learning, they marked the union’s anniversary by sharing a birthday cake.
“We thought it was important to get together at our school because it is what we always do,” Chapter Leader Medina Selmanovic said. “We are family, and this union has brought us even closer together.”
Selmanovic says her chapter is extremely proud to be part of the UFT.
“This reminded us that no matter what the challenges ahead are, we are here for one another,” she said. “And who doesn’t want a sweet treat during a challenging week?”
Members at PS 92 in Corona, Queens, had planned a birthday bash for March 16, but postponed it a day and celebrated with cupcakes that were delivered to members while they took part in the first day of remote-learning training.
“Despite not being able to have the party, we wanted to instill union pride and unity, as well as show our appreciation for a union that advocates for us no matter the circumstances,” Chapter Leader Geri Ann Clark said.
At PS 274 in Bushwick, Brooklyn, cupcakes, balloons, cookies and banners were in order.
Chapter Leader Helene Loomis said members at her school felt it was important to celebrate because, while the union has faced many struggles over the past 60 years, it has always emerged stronger and more united.
“Celebrations are an important way of showing gratitude and hope,” Loomis said. “We need all of that now.”