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April 27, 2010

Retiree Member of the Year: Irwin Yellowitz

Source: RA 2010
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Irwin Yellowitz
Professional Staff Congress

Few members, retired or active, can match the lifelong, dyed-in-the-wool commitment to trade unionism of Irwin Yellowitz. The values of the movement are the organizing principle of his life. An activist, leader and scholar, Yellowitz has devoted his academic and political life to advancing a vision of engaged, enlightened, socially committed unionism - a unionism that embraces both professional and manual workers.

Awakened to the importance of union representation by the experiences of his mother working in the garment industry, Yellowitz attended City College and eventually went on to become a professor and a major scholar of American labor history.

His first union leadership role at CUNY came before the founding of the PSC. He became an activist almost as soon as he became a professor. After the PSC was founded in 1972, he was elected its vice president for senior colleges from 1973 to 1985 and helped lead the fledgling union through the historic NYC fiscal crisis.

As chair of the PSC Retirees Chapter, Yellowitz sought to make the chapter more active within the PSC at large, and he succeeded. Building on that activism, he successfully argued for adding retiree representation to the union's executive council. The delegate assembly representing all the union membership enthusiastically accepted the change.