UNITY/UFT has, for over 60 years, consistently taken the lead and navigated us through many crises. From the creation of our Union and literally saving NYC from potential bankruptcy to helping rebuild lower Manhattan after 9/11 and the unprecedented challenges of Covid-19, UNITY/UFT took charge and made us not only a better union but a stronger one. And now, the work continues as the world strives to recover from a once in a lifetime global pandemic.
At the onset of Covid-19, the UNITY/UFT Caucus, under the leadership of President Michael Mulgrew, pushed Mayor Bill de Blasio to close our schools when he refused to do so. Furthermore, when our school did re-open, we succeeded at keeping them safe beyond anyone’s expectations. We insisted on doctor-approved safety protocols and testing and improved school ventilation systems. We provided thousands of members with appointments for a vaccination when appointments were next to impossible to get. We fought to keep our schools among the safest institutions in the city, if not the country. The well-being of our members has always been and always will be UNITY/UFT’s primary focus. We owe it to every member to do everything possible to keep them safe.
During the pandemic DOE asked our members to perform additional work and thought nothing of trying to force the issue. UNITY/UFT pushed back night and day to ensure our members were paid for the additional work expected. Teaching multiple modalities, creating digital classrooms, conducting office hours, coordinating recovery services are just a few examples of the new circumstances our members faced and for which they now are additionally compensated. When the city and DOE resisted our demands, UNITY/UFT did NOT relent. One of our core beliefs is that “if you work, you get paid.” And now, because of our actions, our members do.
UNITY/UFT accomplished all of this in spite of an incompetent mayor who continuously tries to derail schools. With half-baked ideas, ridiculous timelines and nonsensical decrees, City Hall gets in the way of the work we know needs to get done. We push back time and again, either working through or going around them. The mayor consistently is late to the party. UNITY/UFT sincerely believes that we would be better off if he didn’t show up at all.
There are those who see this pandemic as an opportunity to divide our membership. These very same people believe that a scorched earth approach is best without regard for long term implications and who gets harmed. We could not disagree more. UNITY/UFT knows that to not only lead, but lead successfully and with a firm hand, the opposite approach is required. And we have the track record to prove it.