Download endorsement list (PDF)
ALBANY, N.Y. August 21, 2012 — New York State United Teachers today announced endorsements in nearly 200 state Senate and Assembly races, backing incumbents and challengers the 600,000-member union believes advocate for working families while fighting against policies that would harm students, their public schools and colleges, and organized labor.
NYSUT’s Board of Directors voted to issue the endorsements after a three-day, intensive endorsement conference in which political activists reviewed two years of voting records for incumbents, while also heavily weighing the working relationships that union leaders — on the local, regional and state levels — have built with their elected representatives.
“We are living in extraordinarily complicated political and fiscal times. That was certainly reflected in the passion and resolve expressed by activists during our discussions,” said NYSUT President Richard C. Iannuzzi. No single vote served as a litmus test. Instead, “Activists sorted through the ‘bad votes’ on Tier 6, record budget cuts and the undemocratic property tax cap, but they also weighed the important ‘wins’ — balancing votes that legislators cast on the millionaires’ tax; killing a proposed $250 million competitive grant program for school districts; dramatically increasing funding for SUNY, CUNY and community colleges; and protecting the privacy of teacher evaluations. These are votes that helped students, teachers and New York families, and can serve as building blocks for a better future.”
NYSUT Executive Vice President Andrew Pallotta said the grassroots endorsement process — in which local union presidents and political activists make recommendations to the NYSUT Board of Directors — served as a sounding board for members’ deep disenchantment over painful budget cuts and layoffs that are jeopardizing years of progress in New York’s public education system. He noted when schools open next month, they will be operating with $1.1 billion less in state support than in 2008-09, as well as some 35,000 fewer teachers and paraprofessionals helping students learn.
“Voting records are just one way to measure a candidate’s support for the issues our members are concerned about,” Pallotta said. “We also looked hard at whether or not an incumbent or challenger is an outspoken advocate for public education and if a senator or Assembly member enjoyed excellent relationships with local leaders and are willing and able to use the bully pulpit of their office to appeal to the public on issues important to NYSUT members.”
Pallotta noted that many of the more than 300 political activists attending the three-day political meeting expressed deep dissatisfaction with some Assembly and Senate members — in both political parties. “While NYSUT is looking forward to better times, and for places we can repair and rebuild relationships, too many activists have ‘had enough’ and, not only refused to endorse some incumbents, but want to throw the full weight of the union behind select challengers. For them, Albany is not working. They see student programs slashed, class sizes increasing, schools being shuttered and their colleagues thrust onto the unemployment line.”
NYSUT’s Board of Directors endorsed in 43 of the 63 state Senate races. The union is backing 34 Democrats and nine Republicans. The union chose not to endorse in 20 races. In the Assembly, NYSUT is backing 102 Democrats and 16 Republicans, while remaining neutral in 32 races. In some races, the Board may review its decision not to endorse after the September primary.
Pallotta said candidates earning a NYSUT endorsement would benefit not only from financial support, but from “feet on the street” — the efforts of thousands of volunteers operating the state’s largest phone bank operations; handing out literature, attending rallies and strongly supporting candidates who support the issues they care about: quality public schools, colleges and health care for all New Yorkers.
NYSUT, the state’s largest union, represents some 600,000 classroom teachers and other school employees; faculty and other professionals at the state’s community colleges, State University of New York and City University of New York, and other education and health professionals. NYSUT is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, National Education Association and AFL-CIO.
Download endorsement list (pdf)
This portion of the website is paid for by VOICE OF TEACHERS FOR EDUCATION/COMMUNICATIONS ON POLITICAL EDUCATION (VOTE/COPE), with voluntary contributions from union members and their families, and is not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee.