BUFFALO, N.Y. April 27, 2012 - Kressent Pottenger, a member of AFT Local 6420, was awarded NYSUT's Sandy Feldman Leadership Grant, which recognizes emerging female union leaders.
Pottenger, a registrar in the Office of Continuing Education and Public Programs at The Cooper Union in New York City, serves as an area representative in the Professional Staff Union and is also a graduate student in CUNY's labor studies program.
Pottenger has been an active collaborator with New Yorkers Against Budget Cuts - a coalition of local unions fighting against local and state austerity measures. She has also participated in numerous teach-ins and marches affiliated with the Occupy Wall Street movement.
In an effort to bring about a more informed dialogue about labor, Pottenger organized a public program titled, "Do Unions Still Matter?" The event has brought together organizers and professors to discuss the history and state of unions, and what the future looks like for labor.
Named after the late president of both the United Federation of Teachers and American Federation of Teachers, the $2,000 grant is made possible through the generosity of Feldman's husband, Arthur Barnes. Pottenger received the grant in a presentation during NYSUT's 40th annual Representative Assembly in Buffalo. The union's annual policymaking conference was held Thursday through Saturday, drawing more than 2,500 NYSUT members, staff and dignitaries to the city.
Recently awarded a research fellowship at Wayne State University, Pottenger will use the grant to further her work analyzing the organizing tactics and solidarity building strategies of "9to5," a group of women that organized clericals in higher education and eventually organized under SEIU in the 1970s.
"All workplaces should be organized, but it is especially important in schools," said Pottenger. "One of the most important things students of any age can learn is that they should have a voice in determining the conditions of their life and work."
NYSUT, the state's largest union, represents more than 600,000 teachers, school-related professionals, academic and professional faculty in higher education, professionals in education and health care and retirees. NYSUT is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, National Education Association and the AFL-CIO.