NYSUT Executive Vice President Andy Pallotta on Saturday thanked retirees from ED 51-52-53 at an early-morning RA breakfast for their hard work, calling them the stalwarts of political activism for the union.
He told the nearly 100 retirees that the union would need their help to get out the vote for the May 23 special election for a Long Island Assembly seat. The union is backing Christine Pellegrino of West Islip, a political newcomer, reading teacher and leader of the Long Island Opt-Out Movement.
The heavily Republican district presents a challenge but, Pallotta said, he thinks it's winnable and that volunteers eager to help are already mobilizing around the state.
“The K-12 people and the higher ed people got together and formed a tremendous coalition," Pallotta said. "We will depend upon the retirees to get out the vote. You are very relevant.”
NYSUT Vice President Paul Pecorale, whose office oversees Retiree Services, also arrived bright and early to pay his respects to retiree activists: “It’s been my distinct honor and privilege to serve and support our retirees.” He lauded their engagement and involvement in, and knowledge of, the issues important to their union and to retirees.
One by one, retiree leaders reinforced the important roles retirees play in moving the union's agenda forward.
“We are the ones who are carrying the entire show” when it comes to NYSUT's political work, said Florence McCue, an at-large director representing ED 51-52-53.
“There are very few groups of delegates that are up this early for breakfast and we’re one of them,“ said Loretta Donlon, NYSUT Board member and president of Retiree Council 7, referring to the 6:15 a.m. breakfast start time. But that was to be expected, she said, since retirees are characteristically determined to succeed at and are committed to their duties – working to assure a financially secure retirement for all Americans.
Rosemary Catanzariti, a NYSUT Board member representing ED 52, said her group of retirees would make a critical difference in the Pellegrino campaign, whose election could be a bellwether for future races.
And Tom Murphy, a NYSUT Board member representing ED 53, noted that 2017 marks the 100th birthday of President John F. Kennedy, who inspired Americans to join public and community service efforts. “The comparison is stark” to the occupant of the White House today. Retirees are of the generation that remembers when national leaders were inspiring, he said, adding: “Let’s keep the good work up.”