Why isn’t my union defending me?

A Letter to Michael Mulgrew, NYC Teacher Union Boss

Below is a letter written by fired NYC Teacher Robert Gladding and sent on October 11, 2022 to the President of the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) in NYC, Michael Mulgrew. I have asked Mulgrew to come on my show at CHD.TV as well as to stand on the steps of City Hall with fired educators just as UFA VP Robert Eustace stood with Bravest for Choice firefighters. Mulgrew has not responded in any way, shape, form or fashion. He is completely radio silent. Robert Gladding is one of the named plaintiffs in Kane v. de Blasio – mk


Hello Michael Mulgrew, 

A year and two months have gone by since your UFT phone town hall meetings that went from “weekly testing” to “mandates” in three short weeks.  I am over the shock, but not the outrage.

Today a case for an injunction to reinstate DOE teachers was heard, and yet again denied.  Despite that a year later, the CDC makes no distinction between the vaccinated and unvaccinated in terms of transmission, and that the private sector is now OK to make their own choice.  And of course wealthy athletes and entertainers have been carved out by the new mayor.  The court fight is not over, just prolonged yet again.  

What I wonder every time this case goes to court, and what I wondered last year as I scrambled to find someone to defend me against the mandates, is “why isn’t my union defending me?”  I adore our legal team from Teacher’s For Choice, the Children’s Health Defense and all the upstanding people I’ve met who are really looking out for EVERYONE.  These are some of the bravest, most engaged, strong hearted people I have ever met.  But “why isn’t my union defending me?”  Why do alternative organizations have to do what should be our union’s job – right from the start?  And as a core impulse, really?  Defend our members, fight for their contractual rights.  Lobby for them.  “Why isn’t my union defending me?” And when I called to try and get a lawyer through the UFT last Fall, do you know the firm they connected me to told me?  “We can’t take a case like that – it would be a conflict of interest.”  “Against who?” “Against your union, our employer.”  “I thought you were helping defend union members against the DOE and the City?” “I’m sorry, it would be a conflict of interest.”  Dial tone. 

“Why isn’t my union defending me?” I remember your words during the late August town meeting being something like “my legal team tells me they can do this – they’ll be medical, and some religious exemptions…”  And the DOE and City DID do it – leaving a wake of disrupted lives, discriminatory actions and flagrant first amendment violations. I am sure it is not news to you that something like 1 in 100 were granted a religious exemption. 

I also have to wonder why what the UFT legal team says about “They can do this” trumps what happens to the actual members of the union whose contract and rights are about to be trampled.  Shouldn’t the question not be – can they do this? But “How can we stop them?!”  

“Why isn’t my union defending me?” 

Going back to that 1 in 100 number.  Do you really think that 99 out of 100 of your teachers, who have been paying your salary, and who are clearly principled human beings willing to stand up against a bully DOE and City over something they believe in, to the hazard of their livelihoods, do you really think 99 out of 100 should be doubted in their ‘sincerely held religious beliefs?’ Surely something registers somewhere that something went horribly wrong in this process, and that a real and engaged union should stand up and fight, even if a majority of said union chose vaccination.  What is holding you back? Because in my understanding, a union is a brother and sisterhood who looks out for each other, even through differences of opinion, even through the melee of mob mentality.  Maybe I am an idealist.  Probably that is why I was shocked for a good long time when the union turned their backs on us.  And I’ve talked to some who got the medical exemptions, now expired, about the places they were sent and conditions they had to deal with. 

“Why isn’t my union defending me?” they wondered.  And now that their exemptions have ‘expired’ (how DOES a medical exemption expire anyway?) they are really feeling “Why isn’t my union defending me?” You certainly know there is nothing in our contract to demand a medical procedure (I’ve looked), and you certainly know that tenured teachers like myself who were terminated with no charges ever told to us and without hearings have been terminated completely against the contract.  

“And why isn’t my union defending me?” 

I submit to you that the union should have been fighting for us all along, but NOW, especially now, when everyone else is back to work – you have an opportunity to turn the tide, to be an upstander once again!  You can’t wait for the courts to make the issue go away.  Many teachers would love to see their unvaccinated colleagues back at work.  Only the politicians seem to care.  At a real people, real New Yorker level, this mandate ‘business’ is over.  So which are you – a real teacher, union member and human being?  Or a politician?  

Go on CHD TV and talk to Michael Kane. 

Stand proudly on the steps of City Hall Wednesday 9 AM so that no teacher in NYC, ever again, has to ask  

“Why isn’t my union defending me?” 


Robert Gladding 

2 thoughts on “Why isn’t my union defending me?

  1. They are not defending us because they are too busy defending the 86 teachers who got CAUGHT paying for phony vaccine cards in Amityville Long Island. Those teachers are still getting paid. 86 got caught; my guess is there are 8,600 who haven’t gotten caught doing the same thing. The UFT, like Mayor Adams, makes sure criminals are defended.


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