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Some 150 new local NYSUT leaders are gathering this week at union headquarters for an intense three-days of training, learning ways to support their members and strengthen their unions.
Welcomed Monday by NYSUT President Karen Magee and Vice President Paul Pecorale, the new local presidents wasted no time getting to work as they settled in for a wide-range of workshops and discussions covering NYSUT's governing structure, the variety of programs provided by the union to its members and the far-reaching communications services available to assist them in effectively leading their locals.
The new leaders, who toured the state Capitol while in Albany, also heard from NYSUT Executive Vice President Andrew Pallotta who spoke on the importance of ensuring the union's voice is heard as part of the state's political and governing process. Further illustrating that point was Vice President Catalina Fortino, who explained to the local presidents the work NYSUT's Research and Educational Services department does with the state Board of Regents and the commissioner of education.
NYSUT Secretary-Treasurer Martin Messner also met with the local leaders to discuss critical management issues, including budgeting in times of crisis, federal reporting requirements, cash management and internal financial controls.
This year's conference, dubbed "Building Strong Locals," comes at a critical time for NYSUT and the nation's public-sector union movement as the U.S. Supreme Court prepares to hear the Friedrichs vs. California Teachers Association case that would allow "free riders" to receive union services without paying for them. Strength at the local union level is expected to be the key component to the long-term health of the nation's labor movement.
The New Local Presidents Conference is scheduled to end Wednesday afternoon.