A collective voice for change, unity
Karen Magee issued a strong call for unity and action, vowing that NYSUT "will be the collective voice they cannot ignore."
"Every voice will matter. Every local will matter, regardless of size or make up. And we will make sure, in the public arena and in the halls of power, that NYSUT matters," Magee said to a standing ovation in her first speech before more than 2,000 RA delegates.
Magee is NYSUT's third president and the first woman to lead the 42-year-old union.
"Seventy percent of our members are women, and I look forward to joining so many of you in reinforcing the message to our next generation of activists that, yes, a woman's place is in her union - our union," she said to loud applause.
Magee noted that the RA's record participation and engagement in the democratic process "is a powerful sign of NYSUT's health."
"Now, brothers and sisters, we need to build on that election energy and use it to mobilize our membership - all of our membership."
Magee said her first days in office will be spent traveling across the state to talk with members and ask them what they want - and need - from their union. NYSUT, she assured delegates, "will be a union driven by our rank-and-file members ... led, not from the top down, but from the bottom up."
Magee, an elementary and special education teacher for 30 years, was president of the Harrison Association of Teachers, a longtime member of the NYSUT Board of Directors and an elected representative to the New York State Teachers' Retirement System Board.
Delegates elected Andy Pallotta as executive vice president; Catalina Fortino and Paul Pecorale as vice presidents; and Martin Messner as secretary-treasurer. Each officer serves a three-year term.
Magee thanked her family for "letting me do what I am passionate about" and her supporters who "voted for our message of change."
She also thanked the outgoing officers for "their many years of tireless dedication to NYSUT and the labor movement," and said she was confident members would now unite in common cause.
"Our shared commitment and passion, supported by solidarity, will carry us forward into a new general of activism," Magee said. "Answer the call, sisters and brothers: "BE THE UNION!"
George Altomare, UFT, leads delegates in "Solidarity Forever" to close the 2014 NYSUT RA. From left, Robert Astrowsky, chair of the Credentials Committee; Secretary-Treasurer Martin Messner; Vice President Catalina Fortino; Vice President Paul Pecorale; President Karen Magee and Executive VP Andy Pallotta.