United Federation of TeachersVariant names
The Teachers' Union (TU) of New York City was organized in 1916 and chartered as Local 5 of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT). Although constrained by the AFT's no-strike pledge, laws against strikes by public employees, the authoritarian and paternalistic policies of the Board of Education, and the resistance of many teachers to trade-union appeals, the Teacher' Union soon won a reputation for militancy. The Teachers' Union not only addressed the bread and butter issues of salaries, pensions and working conditions, but defended pacifist teachers against dismissal during World War I, and opposed loyalty oaths and other assaults on academic freedom in the 1920s and 30s.
Although the TU had organized a substantial number of the City's teachers by the early 1930s, its efforts were undermined by a growing political struggle within its ranks between a left wing dominated by Communist Party members and their sympathizers, and a more moderate group consisting of socialists, liberals and less ideologically inclined teachers. In 1935 the factional conflict came to a head, and TU president Henry Linville, a moderate, withdrew with a majority of the membership to found the Teachers Guild. The TU continued to fend off attacks on its left-wing politics, culminating in a 1940 investigation by New York's Rapp-Coudert Committee, which declared Communist Party membership sufficient grounds for dismissal from the public school system. In 1941 the AFT revoked the Teachers' Union's charter. The Teachers' Union subsequently affiliated with the United Public Workers of America, which in turn was expelled from the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) as a Communist-dominated organization. The TU, weakened by McCarthy-era persecution and the increasingly successful organizing efforts of the rival Teachers Guild (and later the United Federation of Teachers), went out of existence in 1964.
The Teachers Guild, born in the political turmoil of the mid-1930s, addressed the problems of a fragmented workforce, divided into small teachers' organizations representing a multitude of ethnic and religious groups, geographical areas and distinct school levels (elementary, junior high school and high school). To make matters worse, any gains wrung from the Board of Education by teachers' representatives were not legally binding; the unions were often dragged into lengthy court proceedings and lobbying campaigns. In 1941 the Guild, recognized by the American Federation of Teachers, began the long struggle for collective bargaining rights in the New York City school system. A job action initiated by militant leaders of the High School Teachers Association (HSTA) in 1959, gave the Guild an opportunity to demonstrate its commitment to building solidarity among all categories of teachers. David Selden, then the Guild's only full-time organizer (and later president of the American Federation of Teachers), enlisted the help of younger Guild Board members such as junior high-school teachers George Altomare and Albert Shanker. After month-long picket lines at schools across the city, substantial gains were won by the high-school teachers, and bridges had been built which would eventually lead toward merger between the Guild and the HSTA. That merger was effected in March 1960, with Guild president Charles Cogen taking over as president of the newly-formed United Federation of Teachers. Samuel Hochberg of the HSTA became deputy president.
The UFT immediately began its campaign to gain collective bargaining rights, and through talks with Mayor Robert F. Wagner, School Superintendent John J. Theobald, Board of Education president Charles H. Silver, Central Labor Council president Harry Van Arsdale, Jr. and other city labor leaders, won a promise of a collective bargaining election in the 1960-1961 school year. When the Board failed to honor its pledge, a one-day work stoppage and broad support from other unions forced the issue. The election, in which the National Education Association (NEA) and the Teachers' Union stood in opposition to the UFT, was held in December 1961. The UFT emerged victorious as the official representative of the City's teachers, winning almost two-thirds of the votes cast. In 1962 bitter contract negotiations with the Board led to a one-day strike supported by 22,000 teachers; this figure represented 52% of the total and considerably more than the 15,000 who were Guild members.
The UFT's first contract, signed in June 1962, included a $1,000 raise, improved grievance procedures, sick leave, sabbatical leave, and compensation for job-related injuries. Teachers responded by swelling the ranks of the new union, and soon specialized chapters were created to accommodate other categories of school employees (for example, laboratory technicians, school secretaries, psychologists, guidance counselors, and para-professionals) who became part of the UFT. When Charles Cogen was elected president of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), in 1964, he was succeeded by Albert Shanker, who served as president of the UFT from 1964 until 1986.
Albert Shanker was born in New York City in 1928 and educated in the city's public schools and at the University of Illinois and Columbia University. Beginning in 1952 he taught mathematics at Junior High School 126 in Queens and later at JHS 88 in Harlem. As an active member of the Teachers Guild he was instrumental in the merger of unions that created the United Federation of Teachers in 1959-60. After serving as a UFT field representative, editor of the UFT newspaper and UFT secretary, he was elected president of the union in 1964. Albert Shanker's tenure coincided with some of the most challenging times for New York City schools, in an era characterized by rapidly changing demographics, racial conflict, new demands from parents and community-based groups, overcrowded and dilapidated buildings, teacher shortages and citywide fiscal crises.
By the mid-1960s the UFT had more than 50,000 members and was the largest local union in the AFL-CIO. The union responded to changing conditions in the schools by backing the More Effective Schools program, aimed at improving teaching methods in ghetto schools, and other innovative programs. But by September 1967, when contract negotiations with the Board of Education broke down, the teachers were driven to strike to achieve an increase in wages and benefits. In the wake of the strike the union was fined and Shanker sentenced to fifteen days in prison for violation of the state's Taylor Law, banning strikes by public employees. Earlier in the year the city had agreed to implement a school decentralization plan in exchange for increased state funding. The plan, which created three experimental school districts in East Harlem, the Lower East Side of Manhattan and Ocean Hill-Brownsville in Brooklyn, was greeted with enthusiasm by African-American and Latino parents who hoped for a greater voice in their children's education. The Board of Education, on the other hand, was suspicious of what it viewed as an attempt to dilute its authority over the schools; and the UFT feared that community control of schools would undermine teachers' hard-won rights and weaken the union's bargaining power. Bitter head-to-head conflict ensued, resulting first in a walk-out of 350 teachers in Ocean Hill-Brownsville and, in September 1968, a highly effective citywide teachers strike. An uneasy settlement, involving a state-appointed trustee in Ocean Hill-Brownsville and reinstatement of displaced teachers, left a legacy of distrust between the union and some community activists and scarred race relations in the city for many years. Shanker, again sentenced to jail for leading the strike, was lionized by many union members and reviled by political opponents as a power-mad opponent of community rights. In succeeding years he greatly expanded the UFT's membership base to include paraprofessionals, school secretaries and other categories of school employees; and he presided over substantial improvements in the union's benefits package.
In 1972 Albert Shanker was a central figure in negotiating the merger of the AFT and the National Education Association (NEA) in New York State. The resulting organization, New York State United Teachers, brought more than 100,000 upstate teachers into the labor movement and was rare example of close and amicable cooperation between the two major national organizations representing teachers. Shanker later became the first teacher to sit on the Executive Council of the AFL-CIO. In 1974 he was elected president of the American Federation of Teachers. Retaining his position as UFT president for some years, Shanker went on to play a key role in re-establishing the city's fiscal stability after the fiscal crisis of the mid-1970s, and became a staunch opponent of school vouchers, privatization and other measures likely to weaken public education. He was succeeded as president of the UFT by Sandra Feldman in 1986, and died after a long struggle with cancer in 1997.
|associatedWith||Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union.||corporateBody|
|associatedWith||American Federation of Teachers.||corporateBody|
|associatedWith||Bernhardt, Debra E.||person|
|associatedWith||Black Trade Unionists Leadership Committee.||corporateBody|
|associatedWith||Calderone, Mary Steichen, 1904-1998||person|
|associatedWith||Catherwood, Martin P.||person|
|associatedWith||Catherwood, Martin P. (Martin Paul), 1904-1978.||person|
|associatedWith||Coalition for Education in District 1 (Community School District 1 (New York, N.Y.).||corporateBody|
|associatedWith||Cogen, Charles, 1903-||person|
|associatedWith||Cole, David Lawrence, 1902-1977.||person|
|associatedWith||Feinberg, I. Robert (Irving Robert), 1912-1975.||person|
|associatedWith||Filardo, Anne Levine, 1922-2010||person|
|associatedWith||Fortescue, Ann Kranjec||person|
|associatedWith||Hill, James C., 1914-||person|
|associatedWith||Hook, Sydney, 1902-||person|
|associatedWith||Jablonower, Joseph, 1888-1971.||person|
|associatedWith||New York State United Teachers.||corporateBody|
|associatedWith||Parrish, Richard F. (Richard Franklin), 1914-1983.||person|
|associatedWith||Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives.||corporateBody|
|associatedWith||Rustin, Bayard, 1912-1987.||person|
|associatedWith||Sakharov, Andreĭ, 1921-1989||person|
|associatedWith||Sayer, Albert H.||person|
|associatedWith||Seward Park High School.||corporateBody|
|associatedWith||Simon, Fanny, 1903-1989||person|
|associatedWith||Teachers Action Caucus.||corporateBody|
|associatedWith||Teachers Action Caucus (United Federation of Teachers).||corporateBody|
|associatedWith||Teachers Guild Associates.||corporateBody|
|associatedWith||Teachers' Union of the City of New York.||corporateBody|
|associatedWith||United Action Caucus (American Federation of Teachers).||corporateBody|
|associatedWith||Wagner, Robert F. 1910-1991.||person|
|associatedWith||Zeluck, Steve, 1922-1985||person|
|Place Name||Admin Code||Country|
|New York City||NY||US|
|Strikes and lockouts--Teachers|
|Schools--New York (State)--New York|
|Teachers--New York (State)--New York|
|Teachers' unions--Officials and employees--Interviews|