April 27, 2018

Abraham: No dues hike - and we're ready for challenges

Source:  NYSUT Communications
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NYSUT RA delegates were asked to approve a constitutional amendment keeping state dues flat for the third straight year which, according to Secretary-Treasurer Philippe Abraham, “will provide for sufficient organizational resources to deliver stellar services to our members and will also provide funds to counteract the many attacks our professions face.”

Abraham, who also serves as the union’s first vice president, acknowledged that some “tough and unpopular decisions” have had to be made for the union to remain fiscally strong and responsive.

“This is our defining moment,” he said.

Complete Remarks

It is an honor to stand before you as NYSUT’s First Vice-President and recently elected Secretary-Treasurer.

As Secretary-Treasurer, I know that I have an immense responsibility as a fiduciary to safeguard and protect the financial assets of this organization.

I must also balance the financial needs of the organization against the realities that our members face.

As a result the NYSUT Officers, the NYSUT Executive Committee, Board of Directors and Financial Review Committee all agree that now is not the time to raise NYSUT’s dues.

Tonight, the delegates will be asked to approve a constitutional amendment which will keep the state dues flat for next year.

Fiscal year 2018-19.

It will be three consecutive years that NYSUT has been able to keep state dues constant.

This will provide for sufficient organizational resources to deliver stellar services to our members and will also provide funds to counteract the many attacks our union will face.

We have built a rainy day fund that will help us weather the storms in the coming year which will help to shield the organization from the near term financial challenges.

These resources will allow us time to assess the effects of a negative Janus decision.

As responsible stewards of our finances, we need to prepare for a potential decline in dues revenues as a result of an unfavorable Supreme Court decision.
A decision that could have a financial impact on all public sector unions including NYSUT.

Even your own local union may feel this blow.

How can we lessen the impact?

First, continue the one-to-one conversations about the benefits of belonging to the union.

Secondly, re-card members and non-members too.

Your efforts have been exceptional and will be the key to making the bond between members even stronger.

While no loss in dues-payers is an honorable goal, we must be realists.
We have anticipated the impact of the Janus decision and we are prepared to adapt to a world where agency fee may be deemed unconstitutional.

With your help, we will survive and thrive in the coming years.

As a leading labor union and the nation’s largest state teachers union, you all know that we are extremely fortunate to have exceptional staff delivering valued services to members and we are committed to protecting their future as well as yours.

In my role as a NYSUT Officer, I am fortunate to work closely with incredible professionals who are dedicated to the mission of this organization.

From accountants who diligently track members’ funds and the unions expenditures ...

To member benefits reps who deliver quality programs ...

To our Field and Headquarters staff who work to make sure that the needs of all NYSUT stakeholders are met.

NYSUT is a great place to work.

This is the other key to our success: Our service to members, our advocacy on the issues that matter most to them; and our responsible stewardship of their dues dollars.

We are at a pivotal point in this organization’s history.

We have been proactive in preparing for this moment.

We have reduced spending.

We have strategically filled vacant positions, resulting in significant personnel cost savings.

We are working collectively with our staff unions to address the health and long-term sustainability of NYSUT’s staff retirement plans.

We are developing a strategic financial plan to adapt to the ramifications of an unfavorable Supreme Court decision.

I have observed the NYSUT Officers and Board of Directors making tough and sometimes unpopular decisions.

But we have witnessed the power of local leaders like you having real and engaging conversations with rank and file members, building a stronger, more powerful union for all of us.

It is through all of these experiences that we have hope for NYSUT.

Actually, it is more than just hope – we are confident about this organization’s power and its future.

This is our defining moment.

We will be the ones to shape our destiny – not our enemies.

We will be the ones who continue to fight for our members and their rights – not those that try to diminish the work that our members do.

We will be the ones to distinguish between what is right and just for our students and patients, not special interest groups.

It is our unity and strength that is both the secret to our future success and a weapon against what is unjust.

Our unity is the key to NYSUT’s future.

Together we are the future of NYSUT and I stand here privileged to serve you, the members of this great organization.

Thank you and God bless you!

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