Charles Sutera, who served as the UFT’s vice president for middle schools from 1987 to 1995, passed away on May 3.
Sutera stepped away from a career in private industry for a job teaching industrial arts at Manhattan’s Frederick Douglass Junior High in 1961. In 1969, he left Frederick Douglass to teach industrial arts at IS 61 in Queens.
The tribulations of the time quickly drew him to the picket line during the teachers’ strike of 1968, and Sutera helped transform his fellow teachers’ anger into organized political power in the UFT.
“Charlie was basically a people person,” said Tom Pappas, a former UFT staff director. “He worked very hard in the early days when we were trying to build the union. I think his personality had a lot to do with drawing people into the union.”
Sutera served as a school chapter leader and then district representative for District 24 in Queens before becoming the union’s vice president for middle schools in 1987.
As a district rep, Sutera held monthly position meetings to keep chapter leaders informed on current issues.
“He listened,” said Ken Goodfriend, the Florida coordinator for the UFT’s Retired Teachers Chapter. “He was respected; he never brushed you off.”
Sutera is survived by longtime partner Miguel Gonzalez.