UFT chief Michael Mulgrew was accused in court papers last week of selling out union members’ work protections in order to cover up a 2005 sexual tryst with a colleague in a Brooklyn school — a charge his spokesman dismissed as “absurd.”
The lawsuit filed by Queens high-school teacher Andrew Ostrowsky alleges that Mulgrew rendezvoused in a classroom with guidance counselor Emelina Camacho-Mendez, when both were working at William Grady HS in Brooklyn.
The up-and-coming labor leader brought his alleged paramour up the union ladder with him.
The mayor and schools chancellor colluded in a coverup of the incident — gaining contract give-backs from the union in exchange for remaining silent, according to the rambling federal court papers.
Ostrowsky claims it was the erosion of work rights that prohibited him from successfully challenging a recent negative rating.
“Everything in the lawsuit is false,” Mulgrew said yesterday, speaking directly about the claims for the first time. “It really does read as a book of crazy fiction.”
Ostrowsky’s lawyer, Joy Hochstadt, admitted in the court papers that she had no concrete proof of the alleged sexual tryst — but says it was witnessed by the former principal and a custodian.
Yet the custodian whom sources identified as the witness in question flatly denied to The Post yesterday that he had seen any tooling around in the shop room.
“The guy didn’t do nothing in front of me. If they did do something like that, I would have thrown them out,” said retired custodial helper Donald Herb.
So the filing of the lawsuit has been used by the NY Post (and now the Daily News and the mayor) to humiliate Mulgrew, to compare this lawsuit based upon hearsay to lawsuits the union has filed against school closures, and to once again smear a teacher in the press as a "perv."
Of course, this time the teacher is actually a former teacher and a current labor leader.
A mess all around.
The only thing that I hope comes out of this is Mulgrew now realizes how horrific it is to be smeared in the papers and comes to the defense of his members when the Post or the Daily News turns their smear lenses on them.
But I won't hold my breath for that.
The UFT leadership, from Randi Weingarten to Michael Mulgrew, have been only too happy to throw their own members under a bus for political expediency.
That policy is so ingrained at the UFT that I cannot imagine this Mulgrew episode will change it.
But at least Mulgrew now gets a "Walk A Mile In Someone Else's Shoes" moment.