Michael Mulgrew will continue to run United Federation of Teachers (UFT) in New York City, after beating back an effort to oust him by a challenger running on a progressive reformist platform. Mulgrew secured his fifth term as president on Wednesday after winning two-thirds of the vote, according to a UFT tweet.
Mulgrew’s victory shows once again just how hard it is to topple a powerful long-serving union leader. Mulgrew was first elected president of UFT in July 2009, when he became AFT President Randi Weingarten’s handpicked successor. After hearing of Mulgrew’s win, Weingarten tweeted out, “Congratulations to my @UFT union brother Michael Mulgrew on his re-election.”
His opposition came closer to defeating him than they had in the past—Mulgrew won by many fewer votes than he had in previous contests. His main challenger was Camille Eterno, who ran on a platform of getting better outcomes for teachers at the bargaining table, and keeping “corporate interests” out of schools. Eterno is part of the United for Change (UFC) caucus, which promised that a UFC win would “allow a national movement to flourish that endorses progressive candidates, fights for progressive positions organizes members for democratic input on convention decisions and prepares national actions that increase pressure for education investment and labor respect.”
Mulgrew had a strong financial incentive to beat his challengers. According to UFT’s federal filings, Mulgrew earned $339,298 in 2021 as president of UFT, and another $23,695 from New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) for serving on its executive board – many more times than what he would make if he went back to teaching. He also holds a leadership position in American Federation of Teachers (AFT), which is unpaid.