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
Reflections on 9/11
UFT members work every day to make a difference in people's lives. On September 11, 2001, in the face of horror and uncertainty, we were there to make a crucial and, in many cases, a life-saving difference. Teachers, nurses, guidance counselors, paraprofessionals and others led their charges out of danger, made sure students across the city were cared for while communication and transportation systems were frozen, and calmed the fears of hundreds of thousands of other children. They set a shining example of courage and inspiration.
This feature is filled with a few of the many heartfelt stories that we have gathered from members about that horrendous day and its aftermath. They reflect the best in all of us.
History in Photos
UFT and the civil rights movement
Sensing in the civil rights movement a natural ally with shared goals and values, the early leaders of the UFT and its predecessor, the Teachers Guild, threw their support behind the movement and its objectives of racial equality and individual dignity, and forged a strong alliance with black leaders such as Martin Luther King, Jr., A. Phillip Randolph and Bayard Rustin. UFT President Al Shanker encouraged New York City schoolteachers to attend the 1964 March for Jobs and Freedom co-organized by Rustin, and the union subsidized travel to the march for participating UFT members.
Your union, then and now
Articles from the New York Teacher
- The UFT’s work is far from finished
- Class struggles: The UFT story
- Finding common cause: The early years
- Albert Shanker: Prophetic reformer
- The Feldman Years: From labor union to union of professionals
- The Weingarten years: Fourth UFT president tied excellence to competitive salaries
- Not for teachers only
- UFT connection to rest of organized labor
- Back from the brink: How the UFT saved New York from bankruptcy
- The contract becomes a tool for school reform
- People power: The UFT and political action
- Allies: The UFT and the civil rights movement
- A collective advantage
- Teacher quality and the UFT
Profiles of prominent union leaders and members.
- Si Beagle
- Charles Cogen
- Jeannette DiLorenzo
- Sandra Feldman
- Sol Jaffe
- Jules Kolodny
- Layle Lane
- Abraham Lefkowitz
- Henry Richardson Linville
- Alice Marsh
- Benjamin Mazen
- Rose Schyler
- Albert Shanker
- Fanny Simon
- Rebecca Simonson
- Martha Straus
- June Temple
- Ely Trachtenberg
- David Wittes
- William (Bill) Woolfson