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Former UFT officer Langiulli passes away at 85

New York Teacher
Elizabeth Langiulli

Elizabeth Langiulli (left) accepts the Charles Cogen Award from Randi Weingarten, who was then the UFT president, on Teacher Union Day in 2007.

Elizabeth Langiulli, a pivotal figure in UFT leadership for four decades, died on Sept. 24. She was 85.

Langiulli became a chapter leader, one of the first women to be elected to that position, at John Adams HS in Queens, where she started as an English teacher in the late 1950s. Her career, she said, was governed by her belief that “a union’s strength lies in its school chapters.”

She rose to become District 27 representative and within four years was appointed the UFT Queens borough representative.

Langiulli continued onward and upward to chair high-level committees at both the UFT and its state affiliate, New York State United Teachers (NYSUT), and received prestigious awards from both organizations. She served as the executive director of the UFT Leadership Institute, the UFT director of staff and the UFT assistant secretary. She was also a member of the NYSUT Board of Directors and an assistant to former UFT President Randi Weingarten.

NYSUT honored Langiulli with its Sandra Feldman Not For Ourselves Alone Award, which was introduced in 2002 to honor a woman leader for her outstanding contribution to the labor movement.

“If any one person personifies the statement that the union has come a long way, it’s Liz Langiulli,” Weingarten said in 2007 when she presented her with the Charles Cogen Award, the union’s highest honor, the year after Langiulli’s retirement.

She was memorialized on the Wall of Honor at UFT headquarters in 2012. 

Langiulli became a union activist when she returned to teaching after several years on maternity leave and found the changes in working conditions won by the union to be remarkable. She committed herself to building strong chapters so members could do their jobs “without interference, intimidation or reprisal,” she said.

Vincent Gaglione remembers Langiulli as an “articulate, assertive and to-the-point activist” and praised her leadership qualities at union meetings when she was Queens borough representative and Gaglione occupied the same role in the Bronx.

“She had historical knowledge of the union from her many years as an activist and a leader,” he said, “and she was never afraid to challenge the prevailing opinion if she thought it was incorrect.”

Related Topics: News Stories, UFT History