Skip to main content
Full Menu Close Menu
President's Perspective

Building our power through activism

New York Teacher
UFT President Michael Mulgrew

UFT President Michael Mulgrew

You showed up strong at grade-ins across the city on March 30 in our fight for a fair contract. Thousands of UFT members from hundreds of schools joined together to do their work in public places and engage the community about their need for more autonomy and better working conditions in the next contract. 

You delivered a powerful yet nuanced message about the amount and nature of your work as public school educators. You took piles of papers, laptops and lengthy to-do lists, and you sat in parks, coffee shops and on the street outside your schools to put our invisible labor on public display. You spoke as professionals who are willing to fight to improve your working conditions — because you care deeply about your students and want to better serve them. 

In March, we also asked school-based members to fill out an online contract survey on how they spend their workdays. The results showed how much of your time is wasted on DOE-mandated tasks that do not directly benefit your students. 

We all know that during the school day your time is scarce. You are hard-pressed to find the time to complete the tasks and projects you know are important for the well-being and academic success of your kids. You scramble to find time to meet with your students one on one, to provide them with individualized written feedback and to plan lessons that will excite them. Whatever time you do have outside the classroom is eaten up by unnecessary tasks that are placed upon you by DOE administrators who never step foot in the classroom. 

You are working inside a school system that is not set up for you to succeed, and yet, each day you do succeed. You inspire our kids and make them feel seen and cared for. Your students leave your classrooms with more knowledge, more self-confidence and clearer pathways to the future. Imagine what you could achieve if you had the time and autonomy to do the work that matters most for your students. 

In late April, our Contract Action Teams will be organizing leafleting outside schools to distribute the time survey’s key takeaways to school families. Parents deserve to know that their children’s education is being weakened by DOE initiatives and assessments that don’t keep kids at the center. 

We continue to make waves with our activism. Over the course of our contract campaign this school year — from wearing blue to holding teach-ins and grade-ins — our Contract Action Teams have done an incredible job mobilizing rank-and-file members across the city. This is how we build our power. 

We are at a stronger place as a union than we were a year ago. We are using the muscle of activism. We have engaged our communities in a conversation about what is important to us as a profession. We have used our superpower — the power to educate — to make our voices heard. And we will keep on pushing until we have the contract we deserve.

Let’s show the mayor and the DOE what it looks like when we all stand shoulder to shoulder and fight for our cause with one voice.

Related Topics: President