New delegates to this year's Representative Assembly were urged Thursday to be a voice for their members and use their position to affect positive change within the statewide union.
"NYSUT has gone through a lot of transition and is now in a place of great strength, and that great strength is because of you," NYSUT President Dick Iannuzzi said. "We have to have you here because you are the voice of the rank and file. There is no way we can connect with 600,000 members without people like you."
Patrick Lyons, NYSUT's assistant to the president, told the new delegates they have the opportunity to play an important role in developing union policy, imploring them to take an active role in committee meetings and the resolution process.
Lyons also urged the new delegates to use the RA as a platform to network politically, strategically and socially.
"When you leave here (to return home) I hope you bring back with you the notion of solidarity and a "collective we,'" said NYSUT Vice President Maria Neira. "There is no one else out there who is going to do it for us." Recalling how daunting a first RA can be for a delegate, especially those who are attending alone, NYSUT Secretary-Treasurer Lee Cutler urged the rookies to take a chance at this year's convention.
"We're all in this together," he said. "Some of the friends I made at my first RA I made because I took the risk of going up to them and simply saying, "Hi. I'm Lee.'"