As they head to the nation's capital, NYSUT members from Buffalo to Bayshore and Plattsburgh to Poughkeepsie are united in purpose — to have their say in the direction and continued democracy of the statewide union.
"We've repeatedly called on NYSUT leaders and members to use their voice — and they've always answered the call," said NYSUT President Dick Iannuzzi. "It's only fitting that 'Voice' — in all its iterations — should be the theme of the 2013 NYSUT Representative Assembly."
Whether it was to "tell it like it is," to speak out against bullying and violence against women, to defend our jobs and workplaces, engage parents and the community or to push back against policies detrimental to those we serve, "NYSUT members continue to raise their voice and keep these important issues in the forefront," Iannuzzi said.
Those critical conversations will continue at the union's annual RA, April 11-13, where delegates will debate and act on 65 proposed resolutions, five resolutions reaffirming existing policy and a proposed constitutional amendment.
One delegate looking forward to that healthy debate is Matthew Reid, a fifth-grade social studies and science teacher and secretary of the New Rochelle Federation of United School Employees.
The policymaking convention, he said, is "very exciting, very informative.
Everybody comes together and discusses hot topics and you hear different viewpoints. Without conflict, nothing good will ever happen."
Tom Matthews, chapter president at SUNY Geneseo and a member of the NYSUT Board, appreciates the opportunity to hear from all the constituency groups NYSUT represents.
"The RA is members from all over the state coming together, sharing and learning," he said. "For those of us in higher education, it's also a chance to talk to our K-12 colleagues."
Resolution topics this year range from supporting a fair funding plan for the state's community colleges to reasonable student-to-school counselor ratios, and pre-K and full-day kindergarten programs.
Resolutions also address a career and technical education pathway, the state's property tax cap, funding for teacher centers and affordable health care for low-income employees. Visit the RA page at www.nysut.org to see the full list.
AFT President Randi Weingarten and NEA President Dennis Van Roekel will offer a national perspective.
Members also will hear from AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler; Mario Cilento, president of the New York State AFL-CIO; state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli; and state Education Commissioner John B. King.