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Our history

Dignity and respect. Professionalism and due process. Competitive wages and benefits.

Fifty years ago, those things didn’t exist for teachers in New York City’s public schools. The system’s structure and support were haphazard at best, and concepts such as class-size limits and career ladders were only pipe dreams.

A patchwork of more than 100 different and often competing organizations were available for educators to join, but there was no one true voice and advocate for students and teachers.

That all changed, thanks to the grit and determination of a small group of visionaries who believed that educators and their students were being shortchanged and did something about it. Together, they created the UFT.

March 2010 marked the 50th anniversary of the union’s formation, the beginning of its remarkable growth and extraordinary power and influence. Those 50 years of triumphs and advocacy have strengthened the education profession and New York City public schools.

“From the beginning, UFT members have been making positive contributions to this city,” said UFT President Michael Mulgrew. “We’ve moved the system forward during good times and bad. The profession has come so far in 50 years, and it’s important for people to know about that journey.”

United Federation of Teachers: 50 Years

View or download a PDF version of the limited edition book produced for the UFT's 50th anniversary in 2010. [This image-heavy file is relatively large (21 MB).]

See the UFT story


History in photos

The UFT and the civil rights movement: See the photo gallery »

Your union, then and now

Articles from the New York Teacher