NYSUT’s outreach to new members and young unionists was the highlight of the 37th Annual Community College Conference, where first-time attendees were nearly double last year’s number.
Conference Chair and NYSUT Board Member Kevin Peterman, president of the Faculty Association of Suffolk Community College, said the increase from 18 to 30 reflects the efforts by campus local leaders to encourage members to become more active.
“We did this by making the push and by asking people,” Peterman said. “The new people from our local who are here? I personally asked them.”
Suffolk had five first-time attendees, versus the usual one or two.
The conference theme, “Reframing the Narrative,” was at the center of workshops that focused on union empowerment, organizing and increasing the diversity of membership.
Not all first-time attendees were new members; some, like Holly Wheeler of Monroe Community College, said they responded to an invitation to become more active in their campus local after years of steady, yet passive membership.
“I’m involved with the leadership of the faculty senate, and I have not been happy with the faculty senate, and part of what I have been unhappy with is the faculty senate’s perception of the union,” she said.
Darlene Braunshweiger of Nassau Community College was back for the second time, and said she found the workshops extremely informative.
“You learn a lot,” she said. “It’s very motivating and very rewarding to bring information back to your campus.”