BUFFALO, N.Y. April 27, 2012 - Joan Perrini and Frances Brown, who have more than 80 years of dedicated labor activism combined, were honored as New York State United Teachers 2012 Retirees of the Year during the union's 40th annual Representative Assembly in Buffalo.
Joan Perrini, a retired member of the West Islip Retired Teachers Association and past chair of NYSUT's statewide Retiree Advisory Committee has been an active unionist for more than half a century. Upon joining the staff of Udall Road Junior High School on Long Island in 1960, Perrini quickly became a member of her local teacher association and by the next September was serving as a building representative. She went on to serve in numerous union positions before becoming president of the West Islip Teachers Association - a post she held from 1984 until her retirement in 1998.
Credited with creating contract provisions and language that still remain critical today, Perrini has remained active in retirement fighting to protect the rights and benefits of NYSUT retirees. As president of her areas retiree council, she has been instrumental in building what is considered one of the most active executive board and membership of any retiree council on Long Island. Under her leadership, the council, has been especially active in numerous community programs, such as the Making Strides Annual Walk; Ride for Life and NYSUT's Disaster Relief Fund.
"Joan Perrini is a testament to the fact that today's active membership owes a large debt of gratitude to our retired members. Their commitment to labor and the fight to improve the lives of working people was tireless and unrelenting," said NYSUT President Richard C. Iannuzzi. "The benefits our members enjoy today simply would not have been possible without people like Joan Perrini."
Born and raised in New York City and a graduate of its public schools and of CUNY, Frances Brown served with the New York City Department of Education for 33 years. Her career began with the United Federation of Teachers Para-professional career ladder program, which created a pathway to becoming a teacher. Dedicated to improving student lives and committed to the belief that a strong education has a direct correlation with future success, Brown went on to teach grades four through nine in the South Bronx. She also served 15 years in the UFT's Political Action department.
Brown has remained active throughout he retirement, serving as corresponding secretary of the UFT's retiree chapter, as well as serving various organizations as a volunteer including, the American Red Cross Breast Cancer Program, Youth at Risk programs, The Boys Choir of Harlem and the Mount Olivet Baptist Church. She also has served as a UFT, NYSUT and American Federation of Teachers convention delegate.
Through the UFT Black Caucus, Brown has been involved in the Africa AIDS Campaign and serves as co-chair, working to raise money for African teachers unions for the peer - education and prevention of the disease. She has traveled to Africa, as well, to work personally with the Nigerian Union of Teachers.
Brown also has been active in several AFT efforts to organize teachers and school employees in several areas throughout the United States and has participated in several campaigns in support of education and labor - including most recently the effort to redress the anti-union legislation of the Walker Administration in Wisconsin.
"Frances Brown's work to improve the lives of her students, and her fellow educators both here and, literally, around the world is nothing short of inspiring," said Iannuzzi. "She epitomizes what one person can achieve when passion is combined with dedicated professionalism."
"Joan and Frances represent the very best of our union," said NYSUT Vice President Kathleen Donahue. "Their commitment to education and improving the lives of working families was not limited to their professional life; they have made that commitment their life's work."
More than 2,500 NYSUT delegates, guests and staff were in Buffalo attending the union's annual policy-making convention, which ran Thursday through Sunday at the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center.
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.