In a gracious and polite letter, AFT President Randi Weingarten asked Mayor Bloomberg to apologize for likening the New York City United Federation of Teachers to the National Rifle Association:
January 6, 2013
Mayor Michael Bloomberg
New York, NY
Dear Mr. Mayor:
There are times when we say things in the heat of the moment that we regret. I hope that is the case with the comments you made on Friday during your radio show comparing the NRA with the UFT. They were offensive and way over the line. I strongly urge you to apologize to the thousands of UFT members and their leaders for making such incendiary and insensitive remarks—especially coming on the heels of the tragedy in Newtown.
You know full well that UFT members and other school employees do everything they can to make their schools safe and secure places so that children can learn and thrive. As educators, they take a solemn vow to keep their students safe. The instinct to protect, to serve and to love children is at the core of every educator and school employee. That’s why it is so disturbing and beneath the dignity of your leadership to compare educators or their union to the NRA—a group that promotes allowing terrorists to own guns; lobbies state legislatures to allow concealed guns in elementary schools, day care centers and on college campuses; and has worked closely with ALEC on getting 26 state legislatures to adopt shoot-first laws.
The educators, custodians and school secretaries of Newtown are members of the AFT, including three who died or were injured protecting children from this unspeakable tragedy. I have spent several days in Newtown with educators, parents and members of the community since that awful day. One of the first things I did was call the president of the UFT, Michael Mulgrew, on the day of the killings to ask for UFT’s assistance in helping to provide grief counseling to our Newtown colleagues. The UFT was one of the first organizations on the ground to provide these vital services, and the help is ongoing.
Mr. Mayor, we have worked together for many years. We have enjoyed a relationship based on mutual respect and being honest with one another. Whatever collective bargaining differences you currently are facing with the UFT—and during our time working together we had many ups and downs—it is neither appropriate nor responsible for you to compare the UFT with the NRA.
No one has taken on the NRA more aggressively than you, which also is why your radio comments were so disturbing. It undermines the great work you have done on gun safety to draw this comparison. For all these reasons, I ask you to make a public apology.
President, American Federation of Teachers