Scores of member activists traveled to NYSUT headquarters this week for the 2016 New Local Presidents Conference. Highlighting the many services and supports available to leaders through NYSUT was the focus of the event, which also featured presentations from NYSUT President Karen Magee, Executive Vice President Andy Pallotta, Vice Presidents Catalina Fortino and Paul Pecorale and Secretary-Treasurer Martin Messner.
Magee advised attendees to embrace delegation and to ask for help when needed. “Remember, the officers and staff are here to help — we work for you — so don’t hesitate to reach out.”
Jill Skelly and Lois Peck-Elhilow, co-presidents for the North Bellmore Teachers Association, hoped to gain insight about statewide union activism, particularly concerning the proposed state constitutional convention, which will appear on the 2017 ballot.
“So many people have no idea how dangerous a constitutional convention could be — literally every aspect of the state constitution could be changed,” said Peck-Elhilow, who stressed the importance of working with like-minded groups to get the word out about the dangers of the convention.
“We’re here to learn more about statewide trends and the issues impacting teachers,” said Geoffrey Maliszewski, who will co-lead the Galway Teachers Association with Melanie McDonald in the fall. “We’ve always been involved in our union, but this is our first time leading.”
Sharon Stone, president of the Minerva Teachers Association, highlighted small locals. “We have lots of small schools upstate doing really innovative things to remain viable,” said Stone, who represents 23 members in the 125-student pre-k-12 district. “We want to stay on NYSUT’s radar.”
Conference workshops offered budgeting tips for local leaders; an overview of the work being done by NYSUT’s Legal, Communications and Member Benefit and other departments; and information about constituency programs, community outreach and working with the statewide union’s regional staff offices.