Michael Mulgrew is the fifth president of the United Federation of Teachers, which represents nearly 200,000 New York City public schools educators and school-related professionals, as well as child care providers, nurses, adult education instructors, retired members and other titles and organizations. He has been president since July 2009.
Under Mulgrew’s leadership, the union won two landmark contracts. In 2018, Mulgrew delivered a contract that empowers educators. Centered on the creation of a 400-member negotiating committee that based its approach on “members’ priorities,” this agreement was ratified four months early and runs until September 2022. It raised pay and longevities, extended due process rights to paraprofessionals and expanded the authority of school-based UFT consultation committees.
The 2014 agreement included full retroactive pay, with an 18 percent increase over nine years; reductions in paperwork; increased career pathways for teacher leadership, while creating the Lead Teacher Assistant position for paraprofessionals; and a strengthening of parent engagement.
During the 2017-18 school year, Mulgrew increased the union’s organizing ahead of the U.S. Supreme Court Janus v. AFSCME decision declaring agency fees unconstitutional, potentially destabilizing union finances. Mulgrew’s #UnionProud campaign resulted in the UFT’s lowest levels of nonmembers in over 40 years.
Mulgrew in 2017 worked with the Municipal Labor Committee to secure health savings for members and the continuation of no health care premiums. He secured both state and city budgets that protected public schools. UFT Teacher Centers and Teacher’s Choice reimbursements retained funding.
In November 2017, Mulgrew joined more than 7,000 members in a successful campaign for paid parental leave for UFT-represented employees.
Mulgrew was a leading proponent of United Community Schools, which brings health and social-emotional services to school buildings together with strengthened academic support and engagement for students and their families. He also advocated for the PROSE (Progressive Redesign Opportunity Schools for Excellence) initiative, which gives educators the ability to introduce innovative and productive changes to the way schools function.
He also championed the Positive Learning Collaborative student discipline initiative, which shifts away from punitive action, replacing it with restorative practices that can change school climate and individual behaviors.
Mulgrew promotes issues that include economic fairness, immigration reform, equality, social justice and the union’s humanitarian efforts. He has championed women running for public office and challenged educators to “Stand Up and Run” at the 2019 Spring Educational Conference.
He is a vice president of the American Federation of Teachers; an executive board member of New York State United Teachers; a member of both the executive council of the New York State AFL-CIO and the executive board of the New York City Central Labor Council; and executive vice chairman of the city’s Municipal Labor Committee.
Mulgrew taught 12 years at William E. Grady HS in Brooklyn, where he was chapter leader. Before becoming UFT president, Mulgrew was vice president for career and technical education high schools and chief operating officer.
The Staten Island native has degrees in English literature and special education from CUNY’s College of Staten Island.