Hundreds of NYSUT local union presidents, activists and inexhaustible political junkies are in Albany this week to consider, debate, think and rethink who the union will endorse in upcoming state legislative primaries and the November general elections.
"These are important decisions," said NYSUT Executive Vice President Andy Pallotta, "because our members will follow your recommendations. They know the union will back candidates who support them on issues they care about. And when our members vote, we make a difference."
Of course, with more than 600,000 members, NYSUT is a broad and diverse organization, representing a wide political spectrum. But the endorsement process is designed to reflect the opinions of members' elected representatives.
The process began many weeks ago. Candidates seeking NYSUT's support filled out a survey and sat for interviews with members of the union's Political Action Committee. The PAC made initial recommendations, which are being reviewed exhaustively with local leaders. That's what's happening this week.
Conference participants discuss the candidates' positions and voting records on legislation pertaining to education, health care, labor and more. And they assess the more subjective topics of accessibility and advocacy.
By the end of the process, the conference will submit its proposed slated of endorsed candidates to the NYSUT Board of Directors for final approval.