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UFT Backs William Thompson In Mayor's Race

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As expected, William Thompson won the endorsement of the teachers union on Wednesday, the first time the union has weighed in during a mayoral contest since 2001. NY1's Courtney Gross filed the following report.

You might say he is at the head of the class.

As expected, William Thompson won the endorsement of the teachers' union on Wednesday.

"Let me speak plainly," Thompson said. "When I'm mayor, I am going to fight day and night to help the teachers of New York, because you're critical to the future of New York."

"We fought this mayor," said Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers. "Our school system has been damaged, but we now need to set the path to make sure we have the greatest school system in this country, and we need a real partner to make that happen."

The much sought after nod is a clear victory for the mayoral candidate, who used to head up the Board of Education.

The Democrat used the opportunity to slam the current occupant of City Hall, who has an icy relationship with the teachers.

"I'm not going to demonize teachers," Thompson said. "We've had enough of that. We've had enough of that."

While the union stands behind Thompson now, it bypassed him during his 2009 run for mayor, deciding not to endorse in the race at all.

"It's a different time, and this union now is in a different place," Mulgrew said.

During his run this time, Thompson has called for more money for classroom supplies for teachers.

He also says the teachers deserve a raise. They have been without a contract since 2009.

"Our teachers deserve raises, and the fact that they've gone for four years without a contract is irresponsible on the part of the mayor," Thompson said.

Many expect the teachers' union to spend a lot of cash on the campaign, pushing Thompson's platform out to voters. Mulgrew, though, would not give specifics when asked about it on Wednesday.

"We analyze the race. This is what we do. We analyze, and then we figure out what we need to do at the right time," he said.

Earlier this week, the current mayor, Michael Bloomberg, warned his potential successor, saying that the teachers' union endorsement does not necessarily give him or her a high grade with voters.

"It's almost the kiss of death," Bloomberg said.

"If I received a kiss from the UFT today, I'm feeling pretty warm and fuzzy," Thompson said.

NY1 caught up with Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott to get his reaction to the teachers' union endorsement.

He was unimpressed.

"They made a choice, and that's their choice," Walcott said. "My concern is the progress we've made over the last 11 years. And some of the things I've heard candidate Thompson talk about concern me, like the other candidates. And I've been very clear about that."

The schools chancellor is not expected to stay on in the next administration.

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