01.31.2011 0

NY Daily News: UFT spends millions on dinners, parties, parking, coffee as thousands of teachers face layoffs

  • On: 02/28/2011 09:41:42
  • In: Big Labor

    ALG Editor’s Note: In the following featured story from the New York Daily News, Douglas Feiden exposes how the United Federation of Teachers wasted $1.4 million on a 50th anniversary party while 5,000 city teachers in the union face termination:


    UFT spends millions on dinners, parties, parking, coffee as thousands of teachers face layoffs

    By Douglas Feiden

    As nearly 5,000 city teachers face the ax, their union shells out millions of dollars on feasting, boozing and partying, the Daily News has learned.

    Free-spending United Federation of Teachers brass last year spent nearly $1.4 million for the UFT’s 50th anniversary gala at the Hilton – complete with a movie, a book and a paperweight.

    Records show they:

    • Ponied up $514,000 to 16 separate caterers.
    • Dropped $278,417 on the annual Teachers Union Day ceremony at the Waldorf-Astoria.
    • Bought $6,100 in gift baskets from a lower East Side candy store – and plowed $179,000 into training retreats at a Connecticut resort boasting golf, scuba diving and aqua aerobics.

    In one amazing feat of spending, they shelled out $114,870 for annual “coffee supplies” at their five offices across the city – paying the Coffee Distributing Corp. on Long Island $324,000 over three years, records show.

    And while most New Yorkers spend hours trying to find a parking space, the UFT rents 25 slots in Brooklyn’s Renaissance Plaza Garage for members at an average annual cost of $75,000 over three years.

    “I’m not going to apologize for spending money to service our members,” said UFT President Michael Mulgrew.

    “These people are heroes dedicated to making a difference in the lives of our children. They never get the respect they deserve. A cup of coffee, a bottle of water and a few parking spots is the least we can do for them.”

    The $284,078-a-year union boss got a little more than coffee when he took the reins in August 2009: The UFT feted him with a $6,400 “Welcome, Michael” party at a Brazilian steakhouse.

    Mulgrew describes it as dinner for 130 union members, most of them volunteers, that came to barely $50 a head.

    Three months later, the union bid farewell to his predecessor, Randi Weingarten, with a goodbye bash at the Tribeca Grill. Price tag: $8,339. “Mayor Bloomberg came and I tried to get him to pay,” Mulgrew said. “Wouldn’t do it.”

    Drawing from an annual honeypot of $126 million in members’ dues, the union last year flung open the spigots even as it took fire for protecting dismal teachers and fighting reforms.

    “These are wasteful, fantastic and outrageous expenditures, and they learned their profligate ways from the government spenders they negotiate with,” said Sol Stern, a Manhattan Institute scholar and veteran education advocate.

    Not Paris, but it is the Hilton

    The spending orgy comes to light a week after after The News disclosed that cops bounced 24 rowdy UFT reps from an Albany eatery after they caused a ruckus over an $1,800 tab – and the modest size of a $40 gourmet quail.

    Turns out over-the-top spending and a party-hearty culture is a union trademark.

    Documented in the UFT’s 2010 annual report to the U.S. Labor Department are details of the union’s “Golden Jubilee,” a gala bash last March that drew 2,500 members of the “UFT family.”

    It cost to $679,246 for the event at the Hilton New York.

    To mark the milestone for posterity, a CUNY TV Foundation crew was paid $220,000 to film the documentary “UFT: Celebrating 50 Years,” and all attendees got a DVD.

    The UFT paid a printer $262,406 for a special book and anniversary journal. Paperweights emblazoned with the UFT logo cost $46,333. Balloons, $20,000 for entertainment and other expenses brought the tally to $1.4 million, filings show.

    The UFT says it recouped $125,000 by charging members $50 a head, and donations from vendors and advertisers brought in an additional $275,000. Bottom line: That left the UFT out $1 million for the gala.

    “We’re very proud of the work we’ve done in 50 years as a union, and it deserved to be celebrated with dignity and respect,” Mulgrew said.

    Copyright © 2008-2023 Americans for Limited Government