April 07, 2009

Cutler: Social justice a key concern for statewide union

Source: RA 2009

NYSUT's commitment to social justice issues continues to grow.

Lee Cutler, NYSUT secretary-treasurer, outlined the statewide union's social justice agenda in a Saturday RA address. "Business as usual would not be an appropriate description of the goings-on at NYSUT these days," said Cutler in remarks punctuated with applause. "We are putting social justice front and  center."

The fact that social justice issues are now included under the umbrella of the secretary-treasurer is proof, said Cutler. "The change allows our work to progress in a methodical, meaningful and effective way," he explained.

Key goals of the union's initiative are empowering and providing a voice for the oppressed. "We realize that a temporary fix, while essential and important, does not fundamentally change the system that oppresses," said Cutler. "Dignity is not achieved without voice and control over one's destiny."

Examples of NYSUT's invigorated social justice agenda include the union's first-ever social justice summit; its heightened involvement with the New York State Labor-Religion Coalition and the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network; and the union's active Civil and Human Rights Committee.

NYSUT demonstrated its commitment to social justice at the RA by contributing $5,000 in box lunch sales to a Buffalo area food pantry; donating $5,000 to the Southern Alternatives Agricultural Cooperative; donating $5,000 in relief - raised by passing the hat - to families impacted by the Friday tragedy in Binghamton; passing a resolution encouraging locals to conduct annual food drives; and passing a measure eliminating dues for laid-off members.