NYSUT Vice President Kathleen Donahue tipped her hat to NYSUT's many constituencies during her address on Saturday. From School-Related Professionals and retirees to professionals in health care, BOCES and higher education, she noted the important and unique contributions each brings to the union and those they serve.
Acknowledging the value of the work we do is important in the face of denigrating attacks against public employees and educators, she said, "Today, I want to take time to talk about those union members who I work most closely with."
The work of SRPs is vital to meeting the needs of students, she said. The bus drivers, custodians, food service workers and many others who provide for the daily needs of students - all work hard to tackle and solve problems head on. "I couldn't be more proud of the work they do," she said.
Speaking of retirees, who she called "the daytime union," Donahue asked delegates to get to know the retirees in their region and learn from them. "Retirees preserve our past while protecting our future," she said. "Every person in this room owes an enormous debt of gratitude to our retirees."
And while health care members devote their lives to the compassionate care of their patients, they know how to fight. "These members go toe-to-toe with legislators to advocate for safe patient handling and safe staffing levels to ensure quality patient care," said Donahue.
She also noted that while widespread geographically, BOCES members face the unique challenges of their varied worksites collaboratively. "They are the greatest advocates for some of our neediest students," said Donahue. "We are proud to call them our sisters and brothers."
Donahue also saluted the work of the union's higher education professionals. "From threats to SUNY Downstate Medical Center and challenging working conditions for adjuncts, they have stood strong," she said. "Hats off to them for helping generations of students achieve the American Dream of higher education."
Acknowledging ongoing attacks from those seeking to shatter and defeat the union, Donahue stressed the importance of working collaboratively to keep NYSUT strong. She also praised the hard work of union programs and staff who provide members with the assistance they have come to rely on.
"We are all ordinary NYSUT members doing extraordinary things," she said. "Together, we can change the world!"