June 03, 2008

NYSUT, UFT earn national honors for services

Source: New York Teacher
Caption: Lorretta Johnson of the American Federation of Teachers holds one of the awards presented to NYSUT and the UFT. From left are Doreen Raftery of the UFT, Karen Arthman of the Rush-Henrietta EA, NYSUT Board member Sandra Carner Shafran, Johnson, NYSUT Board member Shelvy Young Abrams and NYSUT Vice President Kathleen Donahue. Photo by Michael Campbell.

A focus on fitness has earned NYSUT a top award from the American Federation of Teachers, one of its national affiliates.

NYSUT won the Lorretta Johnson Solidarity in Action Award for its 24/7 Let's Go! program. The program was developed by NYSUT's Health Care Professionals Council to help teachers, school nurses and other health care professionals help students and families with healthier lifestyles.

"This 24/7 Let's Go! program brings together the health care professionals, SRPs and teachers to draw attention to children's health issues," said Lorretta Johnson, the award's namesake, who chairs the AFT's support staff council.

She praised the program for "bringing positive community recognition to the union and the members."

Since NYSUT developed the program in 2005, it has distributed more than 100,000 kits. In 2007 the program was endorsed by the American Cancer Society.

The AFT bestowed its PSRP Union Builders Award on the Uniated Federation of Teachers, led by Randi Weingarten, for the New York City local's successful campaign to bring 28,000 home-based child care workers into the union last year.

With NYSUT's help, the UFT waged a two-year campaign to organize the providers, who earn an average of $19,000 a year. The union is negotiating its first contract.

The UFT's Secretaries Chapter won the AFT's Defender of the Public Service award for battling an administration that had farmed out work to unqualified and lower-paid workers.

An arbitrator ruled in March that the New York City Department of Education violated the UFT contract and federal law by giving school secretaries' work to non-licensed personnel.

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