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April 27, 2010

Higher Education Member of the Year: Iris DeLutro

Source: RA 2010
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Iris DeLutro
Professional Staff Congress

"The most important thing is the love we bring to the work" - that was Iris DeLutro's response when asked about what she does in the union. She understands love as a revolutionary emotion, and cannot imagine doing union work without it.

Her professional work as a senior counselor at the City University of New York unites many of the different constituencies NYSUT represents - teachers, paraprofessionals, higher education faculty and professional staff.

In 25 years on staff at CUNY, DeLutro has focused on expanding the opportunities for working people to gain a college degree - first in the Labor Education and Advancement Program (LEAP) at Queens College, and now at the Joseph H. Murphy Institute for Labor Education at the CUNY Graduate Center.

She has been an active member of the PSC since the early 1990s, when a group of unionists at Queens College came together to fight the budget cuts. She was brave, being a member of the professional staff in a faculty-dominated group, and being a Latina leader in a profession where people of color are still underrepresented. She has worked within the union for greater visibility for professional staff.

In negotiations, DeLutro has championed and protected professional staff titles. DeLutro stood up for many professionals who had felt for years like second-class citizens. She ushered in "a new day."