02/24/2011 12:00 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Teachers Union Spends Millions On Parties, Dinners, Coffee

The Daily News today is drawing some attention the The United Federation of Teachers' spending. Namely, that they spent $1.4 million on a 50th anniversary celebration, $514,000 on caterers and $114,870 for coffee supplies last year.

These expenditures come at a time when nearly 5,000 teachers could be laid off, and another 1,000 teaching positions could be cut through attrition.

But it's unclear if these expenses are out of the ordinary for large organizations. The UFT has 200,000 members.

UFT President, Michael Mulgrew, said the money was spent to benefit its members.

"I'm not going to apologize for spending money to service our members," Mulgrew said. "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 union threw a goodbye party for Mulgrew's predecessor, Randi Weingarten,at the Tribeca Grill for $8,339.

"Mayor Bloomberg came and I tried to get him to pay," Mulgrew said. "Wouldn't do it."

The spending figures emerge a week after UFT members were kicked out of an Albany restaurant when they raised a stink over a $1,800 tab.

The union's "Golden Jubilee," for the 50th anniversary in March was attended by 2,500 members.

From the Daily News:

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 union recouped $125,000 by charging members $50 a person to attend and also brought in $275,000 in donations at the event. All told, the UFT spent about $1 million for the party.

"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.