NYC teachers union chief calls critics ‘idiots’ who should ‘shut up’ at town hallAugust 5, 2021
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United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew called union critics “idiots” who should “shut up” during a town hall with members this week.
The pugnacious labor boss lashed out at those who have accused the UFT of obstructing classroom activity in the nation’s largest school system.
“Right away, people always love to jump on the teacher unions,” he said on a conference call with thousands of members listening in. “Oh, the teacher unions are against mandates. It’s all about them. It’s not about the kids.”
Union factions opposed the reopening of schools last summer, arguing that COVID-19 conditions had not sufficiently eased and that the DOE was not taking adequate precautions.
Mayor de Blasio delayed the new academic year by a week amid escalating opposition from the UFT.
The union also initially balked at changing a controversial rule that automatically shuttered any school with two or more COVID-19 cases.
But Mulgrew argued Tuesday that his group — which reported 74 coronavirus-linked deaths — gamely handled coronavirus upheaval and should be commended rather than condemned.
“When we had to set up remote teaching which was not our responsibility we went out and did it,” he said. “When we opened up schools in a pandemic before there was even a vaccine we went and did it. So I will fight with all of those idiots when they start that crap.”
Mulgrew said critics are unaware of the challenges teachers face on the ground in their buildings.
“Until then, they need to shut up,” he said.
The union chief said he rejected assertions that his members are pushing for a remote learning option this year to avoid coming into classrooms.
“That’s what we see is going on out there,” he said. “They’re trying to use these different issues against us. The teachers only want remote and they don’t care about the kids. The teachers just want to run around and they don’t care about the kids.”
Mulgrew touched on a range of issues ahead of the fraught new academic year during the address, and urged teachers to be flexible in their demands given the onset of the delta variant.
Despite repeated assurances from City Hall that there will be no remote option for students this year, Mulgrew was more circumspect.
“Come September, I fully expect us to be open,” he said. “Whether we’ll have a remote option or not I’m not sure right now.”
He also reminded teachers that they will be eligible for medical accommodations again this year — but won’t be able to work from home if approved.
Last year, roughly 20,000 teachers — or 27 percent of their total — received medical waivers and were able to work remotely.
“Some will get approved and some will not,” Mulgrew said. “But a medical accommodation does not mean work from home. Okay? I’ve been straight with everyone on that for quite some time. Last time, that’s what it meant. It’s not going to mean that this year.”
Mulgrew also expressed concerns over possible overcrowding at schools unable to operate at full capacity given the continuation of social distancing mandates.
Mulgrew said the DOE has reported that only 50 schools will not be able to host all their kids in that scenario as of now — but that he suspected the figure was far higher.
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