April 10, 2017

Locals honored for shining light on social justice

Source: NYSUT Communications
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Caption: Retiree Council 15 member Ken Kurzweil and Malone Federation of Teachers' Angela Spahr spread the word about the importance of supporting fair trade products.

The field was bountiful for NYSUT’s new award to recognize local unions that have put their feet and their minds to work for social justice and human rights. The Ken Kurzweil Social Justice Recognition Award was created at the 2016 NYSUT RA to honor the longtime activist from the Bedford TA and member of NYSUT’s Civil and Human Rights Committee.

Kurzweil’s stewardship showed the value of action, whether it be an event or sitting down and listening, said Paul Pecorale.

“Social justice is union work,” said Kurzweil, speaking to delegates. As an activist, he said it has been an honor “working with beautiful people who want to make the world a little more just.”

“You and your local can make a difference in the world,” he said, imploring unions to “please become a flea for social justice,” in reference to Marion Wright Edelman’s explanation that even a small flea can irritate a big dog.

Sharing the honor of being first-ever award recipients are locals from Bronxville to the North Country’s Massena to western New York’s Williamsville. Members of 14 honored locals shine the light on the value of purchasing Fair Trade products, championing women’s issues, fighting for wage equity, combating hunger and poverty, opposing child labor, showing labor solidarity, favoring fair and unbiased immigration reform, advocating for educational justice and upholding LGBQT solidarity.