May 01, 2010

Pallotta: Political action key to union mission

Source: RA 2010
NYSUT Executive Vice President Andy Pallotta.

NYSUT Executive Vice President Andy Pallotta.

In his rousing convention debut, NYSUT's newest officer thanked members for past political advocacy and fortified them for the difficult work ahead.

"There is no shortage of challenges," Andy Pallotta said. With real dollar cuts proposed by lawmakers, education is directly under attack. But NYSUT members have never feared hard work.

"Our message is clear — we have strength for service. Yes, we have big challenges, but even bigger opportunities."

Pallotta put lawmakers — the few eagles, and many chickens, vultures and turkeys — on notice: The union has revamped its endorsement process "to rely more on candidate's advocacy, not just voting records and rhetoric."

"We stand up for public education and students from pre-K to post-grad," Pallotta said. "We demand that politicians do the same. And if they don't, we'll remember in November."

Brooklyn-born and educated in public schools, Pallotta taught for 24 years in his home borough and in the Bronx.

On Friday, Pallotta paid homage to the previous NYSUT officers and recognized the successes they achieved.

"For me, these leaders defined excellence in union political leadership."

Now, with public services facing devastating cuts in the midst of the worse economy in decades, how the union defines excellence in political action will determine our future success, he said.

"Rather than allowing the state to step away from its commitment to public education, we need to redouble our efforts to increase investment in our institutions," Pallotta said.

Many NYSUT members are already staunch advocates "who understand the connection between political action and their professions," Pallotta said, recognizing the hard work of Committee of 100 and PAC members, VOTE-COPE coordinators and local leaders.

Thursday, delegates had sent 6,129 faxes to state lawmakers in the Senate and Assembly.

"Excellence in political action is getting your elected representatives to come to your school or college, and getting them to understand what we do every day so they will fight against cuts and advocate greater investment in our students," Pallotta said.