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sticking with our union
Oct 19

Community college faculty convene around ‘union moments’

Almara Khan, a database administrator at the Fashion Institute of Technology, shared with her United College Employees colleagues her “union moment.” Prior to starting work at the New York City college, she weighed two job offers. She accepted the FIT offer, even though the salary was initially less, because she did not want to work in a stressful environment. She has since been promoted, and says “I am a wife of a very caring husband and a mother of two lovely children. Thanks to the UCE of FIT-negotiated benefits and services, I am able to balance life between my career and family, giving me peace of mind.”

The UCE publishes a “union moment” each week in its online union newsletter, which keeps members up to date on changes in work, contracts, union solidarity building, social justice activities and other union events. The community college union also recently worked with NYSUT to conduct a survey to discern adjunct faculty issues and problems.  Members are also being encouraged to post “I’m sticking with our union” in workspaces around FIT.

“Every time a UCE officer comes across a workspace that is declaring the employee is a proud union member, we're going to take a picture and post the photo in this newsletter. Just identify the workspace as yours, and we'll come down with a “Union Strong” gift for you,” said Roberta Elins, president of the UCE, sharing several ways to gain traction with union identification.

“We are all better off if we are union strong,” said Kevin Peterman, president of the Faculty Association of Suffolk Community College. “The only way to advocate and negotiate is to show your local is union strong.”

Ideas on building solidarity, union strength and continuing to push back from anti-union forces will be key motivators in this weekend’s 40th annual NYSUT Community College Conference. Union leaders are charging into the event with enough union-strengthening tools to stock solidarity hardware stores across the state.

Among them: how to better serve adjuncts; how to address women’s issues in the union; how to reclaim the promise of racial equity in education and in the community; members rights and responsibilities in Title VII and IX; how to strengthen local unions with member surveys; and how to collaborate for LGBQT solidarity.

In the last decade, there has been a shift to hire more and more adjuncts, said Peterman, who believes it is because of continued underfunding of public higher education.  “Unions have made it a top priority to highlight the plight of adjuncts and negotiate better pay, better job security and better working conditions,” he said.

The NYSUT conference will feature many sessions dealing with adjunct issues. The conference, conceived by the late Lou Stollar, former president of the UCE of the Fashion Institute of Technology, is a place for community college union leaders to learn, recharge and share strategies on topics ranging from contracts to speaking with faculty about why it’s worth being a union member.

“The first thing is to listen to members,” Peterman said. “Communication, collaboration and commitment are very important as well. Face-to-face conversations are they key, and union leadership needs to reach out and not overwhelm potential advocates.”

The FA has 100 percent of full-time faculty as members.

“We have some faculty who taught at other higher ed institutions in non-union states and they know first hand the benefits of having a union,” Peterman said. “We tell new faculty that they are lucky to be in New York because it is a pro labor state.”

Of the 1,475 adjuncts, 86 percent are members and Peterman said the local union is in the process of visiting the nonmembers to discuss the importance of membership.

Nonmembers will not have the protections to which members are entitled, including legal defense and representation services, assistance with discrimination claims, unemployment appeals, workers compensation claims, etc.  Also, they will not have advice and representation when questioned by an administrator will not be able to vote in union elections nor the rights to purchase or maintain endorsed member benefit products and services.

majority leader flanagan
Oct 16

Fired up yet? Volunteer to phone bank!


Volunteer to phone bank with your NYSUT colleagues to support pro-education and pro-labor candidates!

Download the schedule and find a location near you!

Now we know what Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan really thinks.

In a recent radio interview, Senator Flanagan complained about NYSUT's efforts to fight to defend educators, saying we're one of the “forces of evil” fighting for reform in Albany. That's right: he thinks we're evil. That must be why he and his colleagues chose to turn their backs on educators so they could cozy up to Wall Street billionaires and the charter industry.

DOWNLOAD THE SCHEDULE (PDF) and take action to volunteer for NYSUT phone banks... and help RETIRE John Flanagan as Senate Majority Leader!

Senator John Flanagan has consistently opposed and blocked key initiatives and investments that could have helped strengthen public schools, while at the same time working to undermine and threaten the rights and financial security of working people.

Now, by grossly insulting hard-working, dedicated educators all across the state, Senator Flanagan has made it clear that as long as he remains the Senate Majority Leader, educators and working people will never get a fair shake. But you and I can do something about that.

DOWNLOAD THE SCHEDULE (PDF) and take action to volunteer for NYSUT phone banks... and help RETIRE John Flanagan as Senate Majority Leader!

We are now just weeks away from the November election, and we can be the difference in the outcome! Will you help?

In solidarity.

Andrew Pallotta
NYSUT President

Oct 15

NYSUT’s Pallotta: Sen. Flanagan “must be getting desperate”

ALBANY, N.Y. Oct.15, 2018 — New York State United Teachers President Andy Pallotta responded to Sen. John Flanagan’s attack today on “The Capitol Pressroom”:

“Sen. Flanagan must be getting desperate if he’s saying that more than 600,000 educators are forces for evil. He had a chance to stand with teachers by reforming the state's broken testing and evaluation system but instead he chose to cozy up to Wall Street billionaires and the charter industry.”

srp union value
Oct 12

School-Related Professionals are 'fighting for our union'

School-Related Professionals who drive buses, serve food, clean buildings, and serve as secretaries and security personnel will gather this weekend in Albany for NYSUT’s statewide professional development conference, at which they will welcome 59 newcomers and another 150 returning members.

And when they do, they’ll learn about a new state law providing them with enhanced employment protections that aim to prevent unfair terminations. The legislation ensures workers now receive due process, and have the right to union representation, as well as written notice of all charges brought against them.

Covered under the new law are members working in transportation, clerical, food service, buildings and grounds, and other SRP titles. Previously, public-sector labor-class employees only had these rights if they were included in collective bargaining agreements.

Those attending this weekend’s conference will also be reflecting on NYSUT’s successful summer and autumn campaigns to keep members in the union and attract new hires. Since the Janus Supreme Court decision allowing people to opt out of paying mandatory dues despite enjoying the benefits of union membership such as collective bargaining, NYSUT members have been out visiting colleagues and explaining to them why it’s worth sticking with their union. It’s this type of grassroots organizing that leads to stronger workplace rights, such as the new legislation guaranteeing due-process protections.

“I had great experiences talking with members. It was almost life changing. We are a phenomenal group of people,” said Claudia Leone, a member of NYSUT’s SRP Advisory Committee and a Brocton TA who knocked on doors in Chautauqua County this summer to speak with fellow SRPs.

“I met a lot of hardworking SRPs. Some single moms, some working two jobs to make ends meet,” she said. “I met a cafeteria worker raising her grandchildren. It was very emotional for me talking with these women.

“It’s tough for a lot of people. We have to bring everyone up.

Being in a union helps workers have a collective voice to call for being paid a living wage, workers’ rights on the job, and job security,” said Leone, a teaching assistant who learned Braille to help a visually impaired student with homework assignments, review sheets and testing.

Leone said the experience of going out and speaking one-on-one with members this past summer was not her first rodeo: she also did so before the 2017 Constitutional Convention vote.

“I keep wearing out shoes,” she said with a chuckle. “It’s a good cause we’re fighting for. It’s our livelihood. We’re fighting for our union. And we’re connecting with our members.”

“Never forget,” said Kimberley McEvoy, chair of the NYSUT SRP Advisory Committee, “that being in a union secures a safer working environment, benefits, salary, how many hours a day we work, and workers’ rights.”

A member of the Rondout Valley Federation of Teachers and SRPs, McEvoy said, “I’m proud to say we’re a 100-percent local, including all 9 new SRP’s who became union members.”

McEvoy, who works in her district’s business office, said this weekend’s conference — providing important professional-development credits and resources such as coursework through NYSUT’s Education and Learning Trust — is just another example of what the statewide union offers its members.

SRPs also will be donating books this through this year’s conference to the Syracuse City School District, as well as raising money for the NYSUT Disaster Relief Fund, which helps members in need.

“Overall,” said McEvoy, “the conference is a chance for union sisters and brothers to share strategies, education and community.”


Twitter Moments

Oct 11

NYSUT 2019 award nominations must be submitted by December 3rd

Award nominations for the following NYSUT awards are due by December 3rd.

Submit nominations for these 2019 NYSUT Awards:

  • 2019 NYSUT Constituency Awards Nomination Form
  • "Not for Ourselves Alone" Sandy Feldman Award Nomination Form
  • Sandy Feldman Leadership Grant Application
  • Community Service Award Nomination Form:
    • Community Service by Local Union
    • Community Service by Individual Member or Members
  • NYSUT Life Line Honor Roll Nomination Form
  • Ken Kurzweil Social Justice Recognition Award Form

Download forms here.

Oct 11

NYSUT commends UFT on tentative contract agreement

ALBANY, N.Y. Oct. 11, 2018 — New York State United Teachers today congratulated the United Federation of Teachers, its largest local affiliate, on reaching a tentative agreement with New York City on a new contract.

“Strong unions deliver for their members,” said NYSUT President Andy Pallotta. “There’s no doubt about the UFT’s power in successfully advocating for higher pay, affordable health insurance and better conditions for teaching and learning. This tentative agreement says clearly, ‘It pays to be a union member.’ On behalf of NYSUT’s officers and all its members, I congratulate President Mulgrew and the UFT leadership on reaching this tentative agreement, which recognizes the incredible job educators do on behalf of the city’s students and public schools.”

New York State United Teachers is a statewide union with more than 600,000 members in education, human services and health care. NYSUT is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association and the AFL-CIO.

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