Monday, January 9, 2017
It takes more than just a shiny apple to satisfy the city’s teachers union, which is spending member dues at a furious pace.
The United Federation of Teachers has blown through millions of dollars on fancy catered meals, tens of thousands of dollars on Yankees and Mets tickets, and big bucks on trips to destinations like Orlando, New Orleans and Las Vegas, records show.
Overall, the UFT boosted annual spending by more than $13 million in its fiscal year ending June 30, 2016 — from $168.7 million to $182.1 million, matching the entire budget of the city of Albany.
That includes the generous salaries of top UFT brass. Seven UFT staffers make more than $200,000 a year, and six of those exceed the $227,000 salary of Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña.
Union boss Mike Mulgrew, for example, got a 3.8 percent pay hike and earns $283,804 — more than Mayor de Blasio.
Sixty-five staffers’ salaries cleared $150,000, nearly double the $80,000 to 85,000 salary of veteran teachers with 10 years’ experience.
And the big salaries are bolstered by pricy perks.
More than $3 million was spent on events catered by famous restaurants, while $1 million-plus was spent for member-training retreats at the Hilton Westchester in Rye, which describes itself as “country club cool.”
Mulgrew and other UFT staffers also paid thousands to attend conventions on union business and career and technical-education meetings, including $27,224 spent at the DoubleTree Hilton in Orlando, Fla. a union spokesman said.
Its membership increased last year from 180,145 to 187,157, thanks in part to new teachers hired under de Blasio’s universal pre-K program.
That membership increase led to a 5 percent increase in revenues, from $143 million to $151 million. Each member pays $56 twice a month in dues. The union also gets money from grants and rents on its properties.
Other than the perks, much of the union’s spending aims to protect its political clout. Donations to community and advocacy groups jumped from $2.3 million to $3 million, a report filed with the US Labor Department said.
The union gave $207,977 to ACORN, New York Communities for Change, which opposes charter schools, as well as $10,000 to Bertha Lewis’ Black Institute.
A pro-charter school group slammed the spending.
“It’s no wonder that, just before Christmas, the mayor went along with the teachers unions’ new performance-evaluation plan that will eliminate the last independent check on teacher performance,” said Jeremiah Kittredge, CEO of Families for Excellent Schools.
Mulgrew defended the spending.
“We are proud of every nickel we spend on — and on behalf of — our members,” he said.
”Defending public education is increasingly expensive.”