Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Sunday, August 17, 2014

How Much Longer Can Michael Mulgrew Stay In Power?

The UFT has signed on as a co-sponsor for the Rev. Al "Rent-A-Collar" Sharpton's anti-police brutality march and it's not sitting well with the police unions who are now openly savaging UFT President Michael Mulgrew in the media:

In an open letter to The Post, the spitting-mad boss of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association ripped his teachers-union counterpart Saturday for the “disgraceful” decision to co-sponsor the Rev. Al Sharpton’s anti-police rally next week.

PBA President Pat Lynch fired both barrels at United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew, saying, “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 the “substandard” contract Mulgrew recently negotiated for his membership.

“How would he like it if police officers lined up with the activists who oppose his efforts to shield bad teachers and undermine effective charter schools?” Lynch fumed.
In a series of personal jabs, Lynch suggested Mulgrew was more concerned with “continuing to curry favor with politicians and Al Sharpton” than in helping his 200,000 union members or the city’s 1.1 million schoolchildren.


 The Queens-born Lynch, 51, in a phone interview that followed his literary fusillade, said he was blindsided by Staten Islander Mulgrew, 49.

“We’ve never had a problem,” said Lynch, who represents 50,000 cops. “We’re amazed that he would chime in on an issue like this.

“We typically boost each other up. I’m dumbfounded why Mike Mulgrew would do and say the things that he has,” Lynch told The Post. “It’s disgraceful.”

Detectives’ Endowment Association President Michael Palladino said he was “not surprised” by Mulgrew’s co-sponsorship.

“Teachers union leadership marched alongside Sharpton, with the Bloods and Crypts, during the Bell case,” Palladino said. “I imagine most educators would be embarrassed by Mulgrew’s actions.”
The UFT declined to comment.

I'm going to leave aside the efficacy of joining Rev Al "Rent-A-Collar" Sharpton's march - Michael Fiorillo dispensed with that pretty well in a comment he left on a post by Arwen at NYC Educator's site on this move by the UFT to back Sharpton - and focus on the open animosity coming from other union heads aimed at Mulgrew.

According to the Post piece, the kind of dispute that's going on between Lynch, Palladino, et al. and Mulgrew would normally be taken care of behind the scenes:

Labor insiders were shocked by the escalating battle between the two political heavyweights who head two of the city’s most powerful unions.

“It’s just not right,” said Bill Pelletier, former VP for the Transit Workers Union. “For the leaders to get involved with this is out of character.”

He said such disputes are usually resolved privately at the Central Labor Council.

That this dispute made it out into the open, with Lynch hammering both Mulgrew and teachers (essentially framing Mulgrew's job as "protecting bad teachers" and "keeping bad schools opened") shows you how pissed off the cop unions are at Mulgrew and the UFT leadership and is just the latest piece of bad press Mulgrew has gotten this summer.

Earlier in the month, the Daily News publicized Mulgrew's violent speech at the AFT Convention in which he threatened to "punch in the face" and "kick in the dirt" anybody who took away Common Core from him.

I followed that up with a post re-examining the two other scandals Mulgrew has faced in recent years - the conflict of interest that saw his sister's tutoring company make millions of dollars from NYCDOE contracts even as she was still on leave as an NYCDOE teacher and the allegations that surfaced in a lawsuit that he had sex with a co-worker in a classroom when he was a teacher.

In the comments section of that post, Michael Fiorillo and I had the following discussion:

Michael Fiorillo August 10, 2014 at 11:39 AM
Is he a crook?


Is he a incompetent slob, whose fake tough guy persona is directed against teachers, rather than their enemies?

Without a shadow of a doubt.

I would argue that he's highly competent in making sure his gravy train never derails.

But I agree with the rest of your comment, Michael.

Michael Fiorillo August 10, 2014 at 1:45 PM
He may be able to keep his gravy train on the rails, but I suspect not.

I have little beyond what we already know about him - not very appetizing, at all - to base this on, but my sense is that, at some point in the future, this guy is going down: the crude and coarse persona, the macho buffoonery, the bullying of the membership, the skeletons in the closet, the clear contempt with which he's held by elected officials (after all, Bloomberg scammed him in 2009, and Cuomo uses him as an errand boy)... all suggest to me that he is not likely to complete another term as UFT President.
Michael followed that comment up with the following comment about Mulgrew's Unity caucus's hold on power on a Diane Ravitch post about the UFT-controlled state union, NYSUT, endorsing ed deformer/charter fan/voucher proponent Jeff Klein for re-election this November:

Endorsing an oily bottom-feeder like Klein is just part of Unity’s workaday world. NYC teachers who’ve been around for a while probably have not-so-fond memories of the UFT leadership giving its annual John Dewey Award to Republican governor George Pataki, and then stabbing Democratic gubernatorial candidate and long-time UFT ally Carl McCall in the back some years ago. It’s typical behavior on their part.

After all, this is an organization that continues to endorse Mayoral control of the schools (except when the Mayor tries to rein in charter schools, in which case they silently stand by and allow him to be knee-capped by Cuomo/Moskowitz), did nothing to keep Bloomberg from buying an illegal third term and then gave him a de facto endorsement in 2009, takes pay-offs, er, investments, from Gates and Broad, supports Common Core and the testing regime that motivates it, as well as test-based teacher evaluations. The hostile takeover of public education would have never, ever, had the “success” it found if Weingrew had not accepted its premises.

Unity often appears invincible, given their choke-hold on power and the frequent cleverness with which they manipulate it, but everything runs it’s course, and these people have been enjoying their one-party state, and the double pensions that accompany it, for more than half a century. Unity Caucus is literally the last of the great political machines.

However, Unity Caucus is trapped in a dilemma: it fattens off the apathy and demoralization of it’s grossly manipulated membership, yet that very same apathy and demoralization inevitably lead to the weakening of the union, which ultimately endangers their hold on power.

The stronger they appear, the weaker they in fact are.

Michael Mulgrew can threaten to punch us all in the face – everyone, that is, except Andrew Cuomo, whom he kneels before – but he is now widely seen as a joke and embarrassment, and it’s hard to maintain monolithic power when your ostensible leader is a literal punch line.

Like the Communist Party in East Germany, which it ironically resembles in its inner “Democratic Centralist” workings, Unity will continue to be invincible, until it isn’t.

As Michael noted in the comment on the Mulgrew speech post, Mulgrew's buffoonery, the skeletons in his closet, the contempt elected politicians (and now other union leaders) have for him, the bullying of the members - these are starting to add up.

Now with the police unions actively taking aim at Mulgrew and savaging him in the papers, you have to wonder just how much more it takes before Mulgrew is given his walking papers.

These union leaders need calm and quiet to do their sell-out job without the rank-and-file noticing what they're doing.

Clearly nothing Michael Mulgrew does is calm and quiet.


  1. The Unity Machine is a tough one to break. The sad fact is that it is the TEACHERS who are the cause of this mess as they voted for him or did they did not vote at all. I know tons of teachers at my school who did not vote in the last election. Teachers in the trenches are so demoralized that they have become apathetic due to frustration with the way things are going. I tell them how things were so much better 20 years ago when I started teaching. The DOE let teachers do their jobs and pretty much had a hands off approach. Now, the UFT and the DOE operate like the Mafia with secret back door meetings that screw everybody. Sad state of affairs for sure.

    1. I agree w/ you about the Unity Machine - hard to get rid of them with the grip on power that they have. But Mulgrew - eventually he may be seen as a liability by the powers that be and pushed out. He's having that kind of summer.

  2. Not as though Lynch is not seen as a buffoon also.Ever read "Thee Rant:- you might like to have a look see to gauge the regard in which he is held.Always kind of wished we hsd yhat kind of on which to vent out spleens.But teachers are too worried about their reputations to do that.Even BATengages in some nifty self- censorship.Priscilla S, is that you I'm talking about?

    1. Yes, I have heard that. But most cops have different temperaments than most teachers. That's why they rant about him on their forums but outside of a few of us in the UFT, there's little criticism of Mulgrew from the R&F.

  3. The only way Mulgrew doesn't serve another term is if he is kicked upstairs to the AFT. But there is no heir apparent - Leroy Barr?

    1. They managed to find Karen Magee at NYSUT - even though few had heard of her before. If Randi thinks Mulgrew is too big an embarrassment even for her, she'll find a way to shiv him. Just the way she did with Iannuzzi at NYSUT.

  4. Amy Arundell or Michelle Boden, who already fell on her sword for Mulgrew. Randi will drop Mulgrew faster than those Unity cards go up in unison at a DA if she thinks he is a liability.

    1. I agree - he serves so long as Randi wants him to. If she wants him gone, he'll go.

  5. Michaels comment on Arthur's blog was removed. Bummer. I was looking forward to it,

    1. Thanks for letting me know that, Sean. I thought Michael made excellent points in the comment. But I always think Michael makes excellent points.

  6. People are starting to realize we got stuck with a terrible contract. Everything Mulgrew and crew do from now on is a diversion from that.

    1. I don't think may people who heard Mulgrew threaten to punch anti-CCSS people in the face thought it was a diversion from the contract.

      I also don't think people who saw Mulgrew help engineer the NYSUY putsch that dethroned Iannuzzi just as he was getting aggressive against Cuomo and put the compliant Karen Magee in his place as a diversion.

      And I don't think people see this Sharpton march as a diversion.

      It's all part of the same problem - the UFT leadership believes it has impunity to act any way it wants and nothing will ever happen to them.

      So far, they've been right.

      But maybe that will change in the future.

      We'll see.

      It's clear that more and more people are realizing how terrible the union leadership is.

      Now we'll have to see if the anger gets to be enough that people take action.

  7. Go over to the UFT's FB page. Teachers are furious and letting Mulgrew know it. Many of us are pulling our COPE money. Mulgrew is a bully and an opportunist who is dividing unions in the city and there is a petition going around to get him out. He doesn't speak for most of the teachers he's supposed to represent.

    1. Someone else told me the FB page was full of angry comments and the flyer for the march was taken down from the FB page.

  8. I'm going to play half-devil's advocate here: the UFT protesting police brutality and the militarization of law enforcement is a good thing, that aligns us with the communities we serve, but is fatally flawed by being associated with the execrable hoaxer, slanderer, demagogue, tax and business deadbeat, and political whore, Al Sharpton.

  9. That was my first thought, too. My second was, even though I might support the "march" in theory, I would never attend an event that was organized or supported by Mulgrew (what if they gave a war and nobody came?)

    1. Yes, I have difficulty with that as well.

    2. If the union leadership is actually doing the right thing, rather than just emitting empty sound bites, then we should support it. O

      Of course, being "led" by Al "The Wire" Sharpton, who shakes down the UFT for fifty grand per year, does not constitute the right thing.

      Let's not throw out the baby with the bath water: however inept/misguided/corrupt (take your pick, or mix'n'match) the leadership may be, the union (not those who run it, but the union) is a precious thing, to be defended at all times.

      Mark Twain's statement about patriotism is appropriate for our attitude toward the union: we should support the union always, and the leadership when they deserve it, rare though that may be.

      That said, though I think he UFT should publicly oppose police violence and the militarization of law enforcement, and be willing to take to the streets to do so, I won't be present at any event led by Al Sharpton.

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