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A look ahead to the UFT’s leadership election

In the midst of publicly trading blows with the mayor over pay raises and suing the Department of Education, teachers union president Michael Mulgrew is up for election.

Appointed to the post last summer by the United Federation of Teachers’ executive board, Mulgrew’s shot at a three-year term will be decided by the thousands of paper ballots the American Arbitration Association will count on April 7. Like his predecessors, Mulgrew will have to work harder to drum up any interest in the election than to win it.

While school closings have left many UFT members feeling angry and vulnerable, the union’s rekindled war with the DOE and Mulgrew’s aggressively worded emails and speeches have made him popular among the UFT’s largest political group, UNITY caucus.

“He’s fighting back and it really increases his popularity,” said Peter Goodman, a longtime UFT member. “I think he’ll win overwhelmingly, but he won’t come anywhere near the percentage she [Randi Weingarten] got,” he predicted.

In the spring of 1999 when now-AFT president Randi Weingarten first ran for president, she got 74 percent of the vote, the lowest she’d receive during her 11-years as UFT president. In the last election in 2007 she got 87 percent of the vote.

Mulgrew is running opposed by Jamaica High School chapter leader James Eterno, who spoke out against the school’s closure and is part of ICE, a rival caucus within the union. In total, there are 89 open positions — 78 on the union’s executive board and 11 officer slots — candidates can run for.

The most hotly contested seat is not the president’s, said Norm Scott, a union activist. High school teachers get six seats on the executive board which are fought over by UNITY and ICE. Candidates for these seats and others on the executive board have to submit petitions with at least 100 signatures by February 11.

More details about the UFT election are below: