It’s official: the delegate assembly for the city’s powerful teacher union, the United Federation of Teachers, voted Monday to endorse Scott Stringer for New York City mayor.
The vote was part of a four-month UFT vetting process by union members of all the candidates running for the city’s 2021 elections. Out of the 40 candidates running for mayor, the union chose 12 to ask in-depth questions on education policy during five mayoral town halls.
Over 12,000 union members took part in the town halls after which they were surveyed on who they would vote for based on the candidates’ performances, according to a union spokesperson. In addition, over 14,000 UFT members submitted comments on potential candidates on the union’s political action website.
The endorsement comes days after the CUNY educators and staffer union, the Professional Staff Congress, voted to rank Stringer as their top choice for mayor followed by Dianne Morales and nabbed an endorsement from the Working Families Party.
In a press conference set up after the vote from the union’s highest decision-making body was cast, UFT President Michael Mulgrew said the delegate assembly voted 90% for Stringer and expressed confidence that the current comptroller could lead the city as mayor given his political experience and long-time relationship with the union.
“We know that as a school system and as a city we will be facing unprecedented challenges and we are going to need someone who can get the job done, someone who knows what a school system is going to need, someone who knows about the housing crisis we have, someone who knows about the devastating effects homelessness has on this city,” said Mulgrew. “We have to have someone who has a proven record of always getting things done. Understanding what needs to be done at this time has really driven us at this moment.”
The endorsement comes at a critical time for Stringer who has dropped to third place in polls–behind fellow candidates Andrew Yang and Eric Adams–in the 2021 race for mayor. One of the recent polls, conducted by NY1 and Ipsos, said Yang had captured 22% of the vote while Adams had 13% and followed by Stringer with 11%.
Mulgrew reminded reporters and educators at the press conference that Stringer has come up from behind before, once during his campaign for Manhattan Borough President and again during his run for comptroller, and that with the UFT’s support he would take home the election.
“In the end it is how we are here and how we are serving the people of this city and that is what we need now more than ever. So it is my pleasure to offer the endorsement to Scott Stringer from the United Federation of Teacher’s 2021 mayoral race,” said Mulgrew. “Mr. Stringer, do you accept?”
“Do I accept? I thought you would never ask,” Comptroller Scott Stringer joked in response after Mulgrew passed him a microphone to speak at the Monday night announcement which took place virtually and in-person at UFT headquarters at 52 Broadway. “I want to thank New York City teachers for this very, very important endorsement and I want to thank UFT leadership, the people that went through this process and put us all through our paces to make sure that the issues you have championed are the issues the next mayor must be aligned with.”
During a UFT-hosted mayoral town hall last month, Stringer was one of two candidates that read the union’s five-point plan on a pandemic recovery the other being Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams.
“This is the most consequential mayoral election in a generation because we are going through a crisis that we have simply never confronted before,” Stringer said. Stringer, the father of two boys in public school, added that he could say from personal experience that those who have struggled the most during the pandemic have been the city’s children. ” I have a totally new appreciation for the teachers who risk their lives and made sacrifices to keep our kids home.”
Stringer promised parents and teachers that as mayor he to turn the nation’s largest public school system “into the very best education system” for all public school students regardless of family income, living situation, or neighborhood.
Now that Stringer has won the UFT endorsement, thousands of union volunteers will serve as a campaign auxiliary force for Stringer by taking part in phone banking and member-to-member outreach.
Stringer shrugged off questions concerning his rankings in the polls confidentially telling reporters that “this race is just getting started.” “I’ve been known to close strong, this union closes strong and I promise you the race of your lifetime,” Stringer added.