The President of the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) in New York City has started a firestorm between two of the city’s most powerful unions by co-sponsoring Al Sharpton’s anti-police rally in Staten Island, NY on August 23rd.
According to the New York Post, President of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association Pat Lynch “fired both barrels” at UFT President Michael Mulgrew in a letter to the Post after the teachers’ union sent an “action alert” email to members promising free transportation to Sharpton’s demonstration – one that has been billed as a march for justice for “victims of police brutality.”
UFT is joining Sharpton’s National Action Network, the NAACP, and local 1199 SEIU at a rally that will feature the family of Eric Garner, a 43-year-old black man who died of a heart attack last month while police were reportedly holding him around the neck after he resisted an arrest for the sale of untaxed cigarettes on the street. Police said Garner had more than 30 arrests.
“Mr. Garner’s death was a tragedy for the city,” Mulgrew said when asked about UFT’s involvement in Sharpton’s demonstration. “Teachers want to help ensure that something like this doesn’t happen again.”
In his open letter to the Post, Lynch said, “It is absolutely ridiculous that [Mulgrew]… would waste his members’ dues to get involved with a march that has nothing to do with teachers or his union.”
“Mulgrew knows that the UFT is under siege from all sides, and this is purely an attempt to distract attention from that mounting criticism,” Lynch wrote, referring to the union’s chronic battles over teacher tenure and charter schools as well as a recent contract – considered to be “substandard” – he negotiated for his members.
As Breitbart News reported August 7, Mulgrew also drew national attention with his fiery, threatening rant against opponents of the Common Core standards during the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) national convention last month.
“If someone takes something from me, I’m going to grab it right back out of their cold, twisted, sick hands and say it is mine!” Mulgrew shouted, according to a report in the New York Daily News. “You do not take what is mine!”
“And I’m going to punch you in the face and push you in the dirt because this is the teachers!” he continued. “These are our tools, and you sick people need to deal with us and the children we teach. Thank you very much!”
Lynch, referring to Mulgrew’s action supporting the anti-police march as “disgraceful,” suggested Mulgrew’s decision was motivated more by a desire to “curry favor with politicians and Al Sharpton” than in helping his union members and the city’s school children.
“Mulgrew is always on the wrong side of the issues, and I’m not surprised,” said Ed Mullins, head of the police sergeants’ union. “The UFT has other issues. This is not their issue.”
According to the Post, a flier for the rally – attached to a UFT email sent to union members – announces the rally as a “March for Justice for Victims of Police Brutality!” and adds, “We Will Not Go Back.”
Other union leaders denounced Mulgrew’s action due to an understanding that unions generally stick together publicly.
“It’s just not right,” said Bill Pelletier, former vice president of the Transit Workers Union. “For the leaders to get involved with this is out of character.”