media
November 08, 2007

Labor journalists report on rebuilding of New Orleans

Source: New York Teacher

At a labor media conference where dozens of journalists ventured into the streets of New Orleans to report on the plight of working people, NYSUT staffers brought home seven top media awards:

In the International Labor Communications Association contest open to hundreds of unions in North America, NYSUT won the following awards:

New York Teacher

a) first place for general excellence;

b) first place for general excellence, front page (a Feb. 16, 2006, cover story, coincidentally, about rebuilding in New Orleans);

c) first place for news story (a Jan. 16, 2006, article about the political threat to public employees' defined-benefit pensions);

d) third place for news story for a Dec. 7, 2006, article about academic improvements in East Meadow; and

e) honorable mention for the cover for the Jan. 16, 2006, pension article.

NYSUT Web site (http://www.nysut.org/) --

a) third place for general excellence; and

b) third place for best design.

"We take pride in getting out the union message effectively and reporting on issues that matter," said NYSUT President Dick Iannuzzi, who has spearheaded initiatives to improve the union's Web, video and print offerings since he was elected to lead the statewide union 2 1/2 years ago.

Rebuilding

In the 26 months since Hurricane Katrina ripped through New Orleans, the Crescent City has struggled to rebuild.

Reeling unions in New Orleans are the institutions that focus most clearly on working people, despite rebuilding plans devised by many authorities that seek to marginalize the labor movement -- including mass firings of teachers and the hope that the United Teachers of New Orleans, led by charismatic President Brenda Mitchell, would go away.

ILCA (of which NYSUT is a proud member) has put a spotlight on the struggles of working people in a proud city coming back from the brink. ILCA's October convention featured an ambitious plan to send dozens of labor journalists from all over North America to report on the plight of construction laborers, transit workers and educators in the streets of New Orleans.

See the photos and articles at http://www.neworleanslabormedia.org/.

UTNO has come back strong, regaining the right to collective bargaining earlier this fall. "Teachers are idealists," Mitchell told the visiting labor journalists. "They want to come to work without being exploited."

UTNO had 4,700 members before Katrina; it has rebuilt itself to 1,125 members as of October.

Meanwhile, dozens of schools in New Orleans remain shuttered.