A lifetime of pioneering service to her union has earned NYSUT retiree-activist Sheila Goldberg national recognition as the AFT Retiree of the Year.
Goldberg's career as a unionist goes back to 1960, when she became the first non-tenured teacher to join the local in the Plainedge School District in 1960.
She shares the co-presidency of Retiree Council 17 with John Cooney, and she has been president of the Plainedge Retiree Chapter since 1995.
She has also headed Nassau County's fundraising walk for breast cancer research for a decade — an effort that has raised nearly $1.2 million.
"When it comes to retirees, political action, workers' rights, civil rights and social justice, Sheila Goldberg is the conscience of the union," said NYSUT Vice President Kathleen Donahue, who presented Goldberg's award to her in Washington, D.C., earlier this month.
Goldberg says the recognition she received from the American Federation of Teachers stands for the entire group of active NYSUT retirees — the people she calls "the daytime union."
"We're able to do things during the day that in-service people can't possibly do," Goldberg said. "That's the key: making a difference. I didn't want to teach anymore, but I did want to make a difference."
Goldberg was named NYSUT's retiree of the year in 2005.