The following is an open letter from NYSUT President Richard C. Iannuzzi to members in the July/August 2012 edition of NYSUT United.
Dear Sisters and Brothers:
On behalf of all the officers, thank you for your tremendous support and solidarity. Without your support and the work of all our members, the difficulties we face in dealing with these challenging times would be even greater. In traveling around the state and listening carefully to your concerns, the officers have come to understand the myriad of daily demands the current circumstances put upon each of you — whether as leader or member. Your fortitude and professionalism have been truly exemplary!
Unfortunately, in difficult times we too often see our legislators and elected leaders — both sides of the aisle — shrink from their core responsibility to represent the needs of their constituents; and, time and time again they fail to support the work of those who provide for those needs. In so doing, they have turned away from the middle class and from expanding opportunities for others to access the American Dream. Instead, they have succumbed to political expedience and opportunistic politics.
This has negatively impacted all our constituencies, whether we are protecting the scope and practice of health care workers, guaranteeing security for those who have dedicated their lives to our professions, defining conditions of employment for public-sector workers, advocating for full-time positions in higher education while expanding the rights of adjuncts, or fighting against an unfair and devastating tax cap. Yes, economic climate and conditions are partially to blame, but the unwillingness of those in authority to speak up and speak out for workers and those they serve is, ironically, deafening.
Our adversaries, among them groups like the Committee to Save New York, Education Reform Now and Students First, continue to pour millions and millions of dollars into their campaign to discredit the labor movement, and public employees in particular. Sadly, our adversaries find willing or silent partners in every branch of elected state government. The stakes are high. Their strategy is to divide us, and they have achieved unfettered access to free, biased media platforms. It is clear that they will not rest until the voice of organized labor is eliminated from political and public discourse.
With your help, they will not succeed.
Your officers, with guidance from your elected representatives on the Board of Directors, have been deliberate in employing different strategies and relying heavily on our local activists to confront and blunt the impact of our adversaries and meet the challenges we face. While the road has been and will continue to be challenging, it is important for us to remain strong, yet flexible, in order to be able to exploit the opportunities that present themselves. Protecting and, in fact, expanding collective bargaining in the teacher evaluation process and shutting down the media abuse of those evaluations — which will provide protections to each of our professions in time — are two examples of opportunities we have exploited on your behalf.
I assure you NYSUT will continue to fight to protect collective bargaining for all members and to increase state support for the institutions in which you work.
Again, thank you for your continued unity and steadfast support. Indeed, our solidarity is our strength.
Richard C. Iannuzzi, President