NEW YORK, April 11, 2008 — A Delaware County couple were recognized Friday from the floor at the statewide convention of New York State United Teachers.
Kay and Steve White of Sidney — president and chief negotiator, respectively, of the Delaware-Chenango-Madison-Otsego BOCES Teachers Association — were heralded for their leadership and unwavering commitment to their 150-member union local.
The couple were praised, in particular, for their work in trying to resolve a long-running contract impasse during the summer of 2006, despite their own personal hardships caused by severe flooding and the deployment of their son to Iraq.
During his State of the Union speech, NYSUT President Richard C. Iannuzzi recalled meeting the Whites at their home as the couple stood ankle-deep in mud in rooms with watermarks four feet high.
"Steve was tearing down walls and Kay — well, Kay, with some help from her friends — was trying to salvage negotiations notes for their next bargaining session," Iannuzzi told approximately 3,000 delegates. "They never stopped serving their local, even while their home was in ruins… even while their son Sean was on his way to Iraq."
After 30 months of hard bargaining, the contract impasse was finally resolved on Jan. 31. But that's not all the Whites had to celebrate, Iannuzzi noted. Sean White returned home safely from Iraq.
The Whites story exemplifies "what real leaders experience every day," said Iannuzzi, who added the couple serve as models for the "quiet, but decisive, leadership we all strive for."
The Whites were Iannuzzi's guests to the NYSUT annual Representative Assembly, which began Thursday in New York City and runs until Saturday. It is the union's highest policy-making body.
NYSUT represents more than 585,000 teachers, school-related professionals, academic and professional faculty in higher education, professionals in education and health care, and retirees. NYSUT is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, National Education Association and the AFL-CIO.