May 2016 Issue - Dignity for All Students Act, Labor Issues
May 27, 2016

In-district lobby days cover broad agenda

Author: By Ned Hoskin
Source: NYSUT United
Student Shaho Shwani of North Syracuse meets with Sen. John DeFrancisco, R-Syracuse, in his district office. Photo by Phil Cleary.
Caption: Student Shaho Shwani of North Syracuse meets with Sen. John DeFrancisco, R-Syracuse, in his district office. Photo by Phil Cleary.

Accompanied by union members and students, NYSUT PAC coordinator Phil Cleary of the North Syracuse Education Association conducted in-district lobby days in May with Assemblyman Gary Finch, R-Syracuse, and Sen. John DeFrancisco, R-Syracuse.

"Both were productive," Cleary reported. The focus with DeFrancisco was the tax cap and its implications for school funding. "We regularly discuss eliminating the supermajority requirement for override," he said.

Cleary includes students as interns in political action activities to encourage their growth as civic activists. The meetings included members from the Solvay Teachers Association and the Baldwinsville TA.

May 19–20, local leaders and members — and students — visited with their elected state representatives in district offices to push the NYSUT legislative agenda for the remainder of the 2016 session.

The union is still working to:

  • Repeal the receivership law and provide sufficient funding for further development of community schools.
  • Reform the tax cap law by, among several proposals, allowing districts to raise levy limits to 2 percent without a supermajority vote and prohibiting negative tax levy limits.
  • Demand transparency of the charter industry, to give officials who audit charter schools access to the records of education management organizations.
  • Oppose backdoor voucher schemes, which divert hundreds of millions of dollars from the state budget to fund private schools.
  • Create a public higher education endowment for SUNY and CUNY; reinstate a real maintenance of effort for SUNY and CUNY four-year campuses; and achieve a CUNY pay bill to provide long overdue salary increases for Professional Staff Congress members.
  • Pass the Safe Staffing for Quality Care Act; the NYSHIP health care buyout; and safe drinking water in schools.
  • Pass the Gender Expression Non- Discrimination Act (GENDA).