In the recent blowup over the release of teacher ratings, the United Federation of Teachers couldn't even rely on the Democratic White House for support.
Education Secretary Arne Duncan sided with the city - the latest blow to the once-mighty union, which has seen public support dwindle and has been forced to make concessions unthinkable just a few years ago.
Teachers unions were painted as villains in the high-profile education documentary "Waiting for Superman."
And the competition for millions of dollars in federal Race to the Top funds promoted reforms traditionally opposed by the unions, like charter schools and teacher evaluations linked to test scores.
"Public sentiment clearly has shifted in favor of reform and accountability, and the union has had to adjust," said Schools Chancellor Joel Klein.
Leaving aside the billions that have been employed by Uncle Joel's billionaire buddies on anti-teacher p.r. that have helped shift sentiment against teachers, I would say that the UFT and the parent AFT have been the biggest reasons why the union is where it is.
Rather than frame issue like merit pay or teacher test scores correctly, they allow Klein and his minions to frame the issues, then try and battle on ceded ground.
It's not actually difficult to frame the issues correctly.
The Vanderbilt study has proven merit pay DOESN'T work. But the UFT, have helped Uncle Joel do a limited merit pay program in NYC, they cannot claim purity on the issue, so whenever they argue against expanded merit pay programs, critics say things like "But you were for them a couple of years ago!"
And those critics have a point.
The same is true of the test score evaluations. Because the UFT caved on RttT and allowed test scores to be tied to evaluations, it gives the scores some validity that they do not deserve.
Same can be said for charters. The UFT runs a couple of charter schools on its own, so anytime they try and point out problems with charter schools, critics point toward their own and say "What about them?"
So the UFT and the AFT leadership have been the driving forces behind the loss of power. Bad decision-making, ill-conceived compromises that brought short-term economic gain but long-term contractual erosion, and just plain pathetic leadership have brought the UFT to the brink of irrelevancy.
Even the supposed victory of the school closure lawsuits will become a defeat this year when the city closes those same schools anyway.
It is time for new leadership at both the UFT and the AFT. The Chicago union has led the way, the D.C. union may follow suit.
Unfortunately here in NYC, there is no more entrenched power than Mulgrew and Company.
But as the UFT continues to become a bigger and bigger joke, perhaps even NYC teachers will realize it's time for new leadership.