Challenges mount within teachers union
Internal tensions are roiling the New York State United Teachers just as public school issues draw heated debate.
Richard C. Iannuzzi, president since 2005 and a former Central Islip teacher, and his executive-board allies appear to face serious challenges in a delegate election April 5.
Michael Mulgrew, as president of New York City's United Federation of Teachers, leads the biggest bloc within NYSUT, a federation of 1,200 union locals whose leaders are delegates. Mulgrew backs a candidate slate looking to oust Iannuzzi's team.
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Karen Magee, who heads the Harrison teachers union, is challenging Iannuzzi. On her slate, Andy Pallotta from the UFT seeks re-election as executive vice president, while Paul Pecorale, president of the Patchogue-Medford Congress of Teachers, runs for another vice presidential slot.
Mulgrew said Friday: "A lot of local leaders came to us and asked if we'd support a change. It's tough being a teachers union president in the last couple of years. We tend to step back on NYSUT elections, [but] people came and said, 'We'd like a change and would like UFT support.' "
"Dick [Iannuzzi] has done his job," Mulgrew added, but "there's so much frustration and anger, especially about all the layoffs . . ."
Iannuzzi said that while he respects Mulgrew's challenges, most of the state's school systems sustained deeper budget cuts than the city, suffering layoffs, while the UFT didn't. Most delegates "are standing behind my leadership team" to have their voices heard, he said.
Iannuzzi on Friday issued a memo that pushed the fight further into the state political arena. In it, he attributed to Pallotta a $10,000 NYSUT campaign contribution to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo -- whose property-tax cap riled the labor group. Iannuzzi said Pallotta had been expected to buy three tickets to a Cuomo fundraiser -- not an entire table as purchased. Iannuzzi announced a new approval process for contributions and called Pallotta's action "highly unusual given the sentiments of our members statewide."
On Saturday, Iannuzzi's board called for removing John King Jr. as state education commissioner, citing a "failed" rollout of Common Core standards.
STAY TUNED. Nassau political insiders expect the recently re-elected third-term Democratic District Attorney Kathleen Ricethis week to announce her candidacy to succeed retiring Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-Mineola).