December 23, 2008

Activists unite for Vestal vigil

Source: NYSUT News Wire
Caption: Photo by Steve Appel.

More than 200 NYSUT members, community supporters and labor activists crowded outside a Vestal school board meeting at a candlelight vigil in support of aides and monitors fighting for a good contract. They are members of the Vestal Association of School Paraprofessionals, who are a year and a half into their fight for contract justice.

The spirited event focused attention on the broad support the SRP local has received from the parent, political and labor communities. Four Binghamton area TV stations and the Binghamtom Press Sun Bulletin covered the vigil. Local union leader Mary Ann Bynes (pictured), a 25-year Vestal SRP who makes $15,400 a year, and NYSUT secretary-treasurer Lee Cutler were both interviewed at the gathering by several reporters.

Rally speakers included Cutler, Bynes, former NEA/NY president and Vestal teacher leader Connie Eno, Lee Conrad from the Broome County Labor Federation and Broome county legislator-elect Barry Klipsch.

Participants then packed the school board meeting, with SRPs, parents and retired district employees all berating the board for their stalling on the negotiations.

"We are committed to your local in this fight," NYSUT's Cutler told participants. "You deserve a fair contract and a living wage."

- Bernie Mulligan