School is in session this week for nearly 150 NYSUT members through the union’s Local Action Project.
Participants from locals ranging from the Penfield Education Association and the Kenmore Teachers Association in western New York, to the Malone Federation of Teachers in the North Country, to Port Jefferson Station and Sachem Central TAs on Long Island are investing a week of their summer for intensive union training at Saratoga Springs, just north of NYSUT headquarters.
They will hear from state AFL-CIO President Mario Cilento, AFT Human Rights Director Eric Zachary, United Faculty of Miami Dade College President Mark Richard and Nick Unger of the national AFL-CIO’s health care campaign, along with NYSUT officers and staff. While those speakers provide perspectives on state and national issues, members also learn from each other on what works locally during daily sessions.
NYSUT Vice President Kathleen Donahue oversees LAP and notes that locals selected for the program make a minimum three-year commitment as the training becomes more specific each year to a local union's needs. All told, 22 locals will participate this year.
Since 1997, LAP has brought together local unions to learn proven strategies developed to increase member participation, build community support, close the achievement gap, and to achieve success in contracts, budget votes and other homegrown issues. This will be the third year the Saratoga community has hosted LAP and also the third year that participating locals from across the state will bring donations from home to contribute to the Franklin Community Center's food bank.