NYSUT Vice President Kathleen Donahue told how the union defends the voice and hopes of every constituent group from what too often is constant attack.
“We are the favorite targets of those who want to tear down public education and health care for their own personal gain,” she said. “We are all the targets of the 1 percent, but we fight back with one voice!”
Donahue said unionists are targets because “we act collectively rather than individually; because we are the voice for social change and justice; and because, along with building public education, we built the middle class.”
That middle class, with workers in small and rural locals and in urban areas, includes School-Related Professionals — the 91,000 NYSUT members who work in classrooms, hallways, lunchrooms and buses.
“They are the first to have their positions eliminated because of reductions in state aid and a repressive property tax cap,” Donahue said.
Retirees, who number 200,000 in NYSUT’s ranks, are targets too, because affordable health care and retirement security are under attack, Donahue said.
“The wolves of Wall Street are howling at the door and want to get their claws on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid and turn them into private programs for private gain,” Donahue said. “NYSUT protects retirees in bargaining, in the courts and in the legislative halls.”
NYSUT also mobilizes its retirees to take on the false rhetoric on the insolvency of Social Security, which is raising the program’s retirement age and cutting benefits.
Health care professionals, such as the visiting nurses, are targets too.
“Our 14,000 health care professionals work in institutions that are targets for consolidation, downsizing and privatization,” she said.
NYSUT used its collective voice to help enact the Safe Patient Handling Act and prevent the closing of SUNY Downstate Medical Center. The union is also actively promoting health and safety on the job.
“Safe workplaces cannot be an afterthought,” she said.
“Every day we are the union! Today, tomorrow and every day forward, we are NYSUT,” she said.