April 28, 2018

Abraham: ‘Social justice work is union work!’

Source: NYSUT Communications

NYSUT leaders and their locals engage in social justice work on a daily basis, said First Vice President/Secretary-Treasurer J. Philippe Abraham, in the belief “that we must strive to make our world a more just and fair place for all.”

Abraham, who oversees NYSUT’s social justice endeavors, highlighted the union’s all-out effort to help Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands following the devastation of Hurricane Maria.

Complete Remarks

As we mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., we are reminded of his statement that "injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere".

NYSUT leaders and locals engage in activities every day with that very same belief, that we must strive to make our world a more just and a more fair place for all, and that social justice work is union work!

As you just saw in the video, after devastating hurricanes hit Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, NYSUT members opened their hearts, their purses, their wallets and their classrooms.

Donations to NYSUT's Disaster Relief Fund reached almost one hundred fourty thousand dollars.

As someone who was born and raised in the Caribbean, I want to take this opportunity to personally thank my boricua sister, Evelyn De Jesus, whom you just saw in action in the video, for her dedication to the relief efforts through Operation Aqua.

Evelyn, you are an inspiration, Thank You!

Our members got involved immediately after the hurricane hit Puerto Rico and haven't stopped since. Please join me in thanking a few of the hard working leaders and members who have dedicated their efforts to our brothers and sisters in Puerto Rico.

It will take a long time for those islands to recover, and we are committed to sticking with the people of Puerto Rico and the US. Virgin Islands.

I hope you had an opportunity to participate in the two silent auctions being held at this RA by the mighty Women's Committee, and the Civil and Human Rights Committee.

Profits from both auctions will go towards relief efforts in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. Please do what you can to help.

Our generosity as NYSUT members literally knows no bounds!

It gives me great pride to bring to your attention this incredible act of generosity from one of our NYSUT retirees.

Upon her passing, Joan Gallagher, who was a teacher in Pearl River, left at least $64,000 in her will that was donated to NYSUT's Disaster Relief Fund,
because she lived through some natural disasters of her own, and wanted those funds to be used to alleviate the suffering of others faced with similar circumstances.

How's that for what NYSUT members do!

We are delighted to have with us Nancy Liddle, her cousin and executor of her estate.

Nancy would you please stand and be recognized.

Please give her a rousing NYSUT applause to thank her and her family for her cousin's incredible generosity!

Ad lib…

On behalf of the NYSUT Officers and the entire union, I say thank you, thank you, and thank you!!!

I must also highlight our tremendously successful partnership with the American Cancer Society in the fight against breast cancer.

This past year, our members, through the breast cancer walks held throughout the state, raised over seven hundred thousand dollars!

In addition, a native son of our host city, Buffalo, the incredible Coach Cant, Joe Cantafio, raised over $24,000 and placed eighth in the country, and first in New York State in the real men wear pink campaign!

Congratulations Joe!

NYSUT will once again participate this year, with events kicking off in August. Please sign up in your region.

Thank you to all of you within reach of my voice and beyond for what you have done, are doing, and will continue to do to support our social justice agenda and to advocate for acceptance, equality, freedom and justice.

Our recent battles with elected officials in Albany and Washington have only served to galvanize, energize and mobilize our mighty union. Dare I mention the Constitutional Convention …

They brought the Janus case forth to break us. But no weapon formed against labor will prosper as long as we stick with the union.

To say that we live in difficult and interesting times would be an understatement.
It is moments like this that make us realize the value of coalition building.

It is moments like our present state of affairs which make us realize that we cannot do it alone;

It is moments like this that make us realize that we must develop new ways of connecting with others through commonalities in morals, ethics and constitutional values in order to beat back this assault on all that we stand for.
In this battle, we must unite as never before and wear and display our NYSUT "I am sticking with the union" items proudly.

If you have not yet ordered your gear for NYSUT's Our Voice Our Values campaign, I encourage you to do so soon, by visiting www.nysut.org/gear.
(PAUSE)
In closing, I say that these challenges before us have sparked the passions of labor, and emboldened our leaders and locals to stand up, speak out, and be heard as we fight for justice.

To quote children's activist and author L.R. Knost:

"No child is born filled with hate. No child is born crippled by fear. No child is born inflamed by rage. Each life is a chance to make things better. Each generation has a chance to do things better. This is our time, our turn, our chance. Let's do better."

And, so NYSUT, we must fight. We must fight for justice; we must fight for equality; we must fight for our freedom and we must fight for the UNION.

Thank you.

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