The Supreme Court ruling in the Janus case is looming. The federal tax overhaul is a bitter pill for New York State. At times like these, UFT President Michael Mulgrew told the Delegate Assembly on Jan. 17, the union needs politicians in office who understand its members’ needs and are willing to fight for public schools.
“We need our allies more than ever,” he said.
A few minutes later, three of those allies — new City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, new Council Finance Committee Chair Danny Dromm and new Council Education Committee Chair Mark Treyger — were introduced to rousing applause.
“We have a City Council that understands what we do and works with us hand in hand,” Mulgrew told the delegates who packed Shanker Hall in Manhattan for the first meeting of the new year. “And these three are some of the best partners you can have.”
Johnson, who grew up in a union household and credited Mulgrew with helping him become elected speaker, called the UFT “a strong, progressive, well-organized union that serves children every day to make this city better — in good times and in bad.”
Johnson called the Council threesome “a dream team” for the union and public education.
Dromm, a teacher from 1984 to 2009 at PS 199 in Queens where he served as chapter leader, told delegates that the UFT “has created change in this city.” When he was a chapter leader, Dromm said, “Members would ask what politics has to do with education. I think the three of us standing here today shows what it means, and we will continue to fight in solidarity with the United Federation of Teachers.”
Treyger, who was first elected to the Council in 2013, started as a paraprofessional and later became a teacher and delegate at New Utrecht HS in Brooklyn. He told the delegates, “When it comes time to make budget decisions, that’s when you find out who your friends are.”
Mulgrew said having Gov. Andrew Cuomo as a partner — an alliance which took some work — has also paid dividends for UFT members. Mulgrew noted that Cuomo was trying to shield New Yorkers from some of the harm of the loss of state income tax deductions. Of the 3 percent increase in state education aid in the governor’s proposed budget despite the state’s looming deficit, Mulgrew said he was “proud that New York State is spending more than any state on public education. That’s the way it should be.”
The UFT president pointed out the loudest applause during Cuomo’s budget speech [see “State budget proposal boosts education, ‘protects middle class’” on page 9] came when the governor said New York “will be the state that protects workers and unions.”