October 6, 2011
Wall Street marches are nothing new for Michael Mulgrew. In May, Mulgrew and his predecessor at the United Federation of Teachers, Randi Weingarten, marched with thousands from City Hall to Wall Street in protest of a budget deficit that threatened to lay off more than 4,000 teachers.
Last night, Mulgrew and members from the UFT were back in the familiar setting. This time, they were in a 15,000-people march that was part of Occupy Wall Street. After meeting at Foley Square for a rally, where leaders from more than a dozen unions spoke (Here’s Mulgrew’s complete speech), the crowd chanted, sang and danced its way downtown to Liberty Square, where a smaller contingent has taken up residence for the last two weeks.
GothamSchools was there to capture some scenes from the march (before the violence and arrests broke out) and to speak to teachers about why they attended. Some said they were there to experience a historic moment. Others said it was to lend support to their union.
“Our union has stood for social justice,” said John Bartley, a teacher in Queens. “It’s not about our union only protecting our own people.”
Mostly, people said they thought the country’s wealthy did not shoulder enough of the tax burden and wanted change. Mulgrew was more specific. With more cuts to the city’s Department of Education expected, Mulgrew said he wants New York State to extend the so-called “Millionaire’s Tax,” a surcharge on people who make more than $200,000 and families that make more than $300,000, before it expires at the end of the year.