ALBANY, N.Y. January 23, 2009 - New York State United Teachers praised Gov. David Paterson's selection of U.S. Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand to fill New York's empty U.S. Senate seat, saying today's appointment "gives New York's working families another forceful champion to voice their hopes for public education and health care in the Senate."
NYSUT President Richard C. Iannuzzi said Gillibrand will build on the excellent work of U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton, who resigned following her confirmation as U.S. secretary of state. "To say that Senator Clinton was a good friend to education, a strong advocate for children, a courageous leader in the fight for health care for all and a staunch ally in the fight to improve the lives of working families does not do her justice," Iannuzzi said. "To put it simply, she was great. We will miss her and know she will be a terrific secretary of state."
Iannuzzi said Gillibrand, in her work with NYSUT members and others in the greater Capital Region, had demonstrated she has the skills to represent New York in the Senate. "We applaud the governor for appointing as senator a person who understands the concerns of working families and who is willing to stand together with NYSUT – and its 600,000 members – as we work to improve public education at all levels and ensure that schools and colleges have the resources to do the job."
NYSUT Executive Vice President Alan B. Lubin noted Gillibrand has worked closely with NYSUT members in her congressional district, and has advocated in Washington, D.C. for issues important to union members. "NYSUT and our new senator each support strengthening public schools by investing in education, ensuring that our colleges and universities serve the needs of students as well as the needs of business; and remaking the upstate economy so our graduates can secure good jobs and stay here. In a field full of superb candidates, Kirsten is a strong choice to serve New York's interests in Washington."
NYSUT, the state's largest union, represents more than 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.