January 10, 2014

Union pioneer and activist Ruth Dworkin dies

Source: NYSUT Newswire

Ruth Dworkin, a longtime union activist and leader from the Yonkers Federation of Teachers, died Jan. 3. She was 89.

ruth dworkinIn 1962, Dworkin began her elementary teaching career and quickly became involved in the union, serving as a building rep in 1965. Two years later, she was elected elementary vice president and served in that position until her retirement in 1989. Notably, she served on the interim board of directors during the merger of UTNY and NYSTA. She was NYSUT At-Large Director for Districts 51, 52, 53 until 2011.

Dworkin was the first full-time staff director for the YFT. She was the point person for the legendary $6 million job security arbitration, meeting with every affected teacher and nurse to secure their proper monetary reimbursement from the district. She served as long-time editor of The Yonkers Teacher, on the Teacher Center policy board and on every negotiating team during her time as vice president.

Her union involvement continued after her retirement from teaching. She was first vice president and president of NYSUT Retiree Council 15-16. She stayed on as YFT grievance co-chair for 15 years after retirement. Dworkin attended NYSUT and AFT conventions for more than 40 years.

Perhaps her most important contribution was her eagerness to mentor and support those following in her footsteps. From YFT presidents to rookie building reps, all benefited from her advice and tutelage.

In 2010, Dworkin received NYSUT’s prestigious "Not for Ourselves Alone:" The Sandy Feldman Outstanding Leadership Award for her tireless union involvement. Ruth was predeceased by her husband, Lawrence, and their daughter, Susan Levering. She is survived by her daughter, Nancy D. Miller, (Jerry Miller), son Greg (Denise Kaiser), son-in-law Les Baltimore, and grandchildren Lisa and Geordana Weber, Beth and Sam Baltimore, and Larry and Stephen Dworkin.

In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to: VISIONS/Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired, the Susan Levering Social Justice Endowment at Adelphi University, or the American Lung Association.