April 27, 2018

Pecorale: 'Our value is never ending'

Source:  NYSUT Communications
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In a world full of “fake news,” NYSUT Second Vice President Paul Pecorale shared real – and positive – facts with RA delegates during his annual address.

Pecorale, who is also the union’s executive director, said NYSUT continues to deliver exemplary programs and services to members.

“Our value is never ending,” he said. “The truth is out there now. Spread it all over. We stand for and do all this great work and will continue as long as we stay together and ‘stick with the union.’”

Complete Remarks

Brothers and Sisters - In these times of all the negativity out there, let's turn the page and focus on the positive.

In a world full of fake news - Let's talk about what's really happening in this organization of NYSUT that we all know and love.

As NYSUT's Executive Director, I get to oversee the incredibly talented 400 employees that work around the entire state from corner to corner serving you.

Being honored to serve as NYSUT's 2nd VP, I oversee Program Services, under the direction of Patrick Lyons and the talented Department, where we have a multitude of responsibilities that touch all of you in this hall.

The department is committed to delivering union value with every program offering, request for service or information, and in every interaction with every NYSUT member.

In addition to overseeing production of NYSUT's annual Representative Assembly, Program Services also works to develop and administer NYSUT's nationally-recognized leadership training and local union programs - the NYSUT Local Action Project (LAP) and the NYSUT Leadership Institute.

We take a lead role in developing other specialized statewide leadership programs including:

The Professional Issues Forum on Health Care,

Community College Conference,

Health and Safety Conference, and

the School-Related Professionals Leadership Conference.

NYSUT's Program Service also work directly with NYSUT's many different constituency groups - to inform, represent and advance their collective interests within NYSUT, as well as in their respective communities.

Program Services also provides immediate and specialized support and advocacy for members, locals and staff with the situations and concerns of daily life such as health insurance and benefits issues, workplace health and safety issues and individual social service and personal issues.

Union work is also about protecting access to quality and affordable health care.

Health care is a human right!

Our union has invested in the human capital necessary to help its locals benefit from understanding the cost structures of their locally-negotiated health insurance plans.

We are doing this for two reasons.

First, health insurance is the fastest rising cost that public employers face.

Second, the savings that can be achieved by thoughtfully altering plan design can help increase the dollars available on the table in the current 2% property tax cap environment.

As Trump has learned, health insurance is complex.

In negotiations, employers and health insurance consortiums rely on the information provided by insurance carriers.

This is a problem because we know that the carriers care about profits above people.

Our goal, where appropriate, is to help locals learn about their benefits and potential plan design alternatives so that they can work with employers through bargaining and at the consortium level to achieve cost savings and maintain or expand existing benefits.

In many cases, this type of collaboration is a win-win!

NYSUT has invested heavily in staff development and expanding its in-house capabilities to support locals with their health insurance and benefits analyses and negotiations.

We are working to provide NYSUT's Labor Relations Specialists with premium rates to enable comparisons across plans or consortiums for use in negotiations.

In unions, retirees continue to matter.

They have a place here.

We know our retired members are very active and participate in retiree chapter and retiree council, political action and informational activities and in NYSUT Member Benefits.

Our 225,000 retirees stay connected through NYSUT publications, such as NYSUT United and the Retiree Organizer and through your retiree chapter and council newsletters or the dedicated page for retirees on NYSUT's website.

Our Retiree Consultants do a tremendous job, especially in their outreach to new retirees.

Please consider using them for working with your locals and retirees on just about any issue.

We all know our retirees can be incredible resources in our communities.
They show up on picket lines.

They generate awareness about issues of concerns to public education such as state testing.

They visit lawmakers.
They were an incredibly strong resource working for a no vote on the Con/Con.

Our retirees are our strongest group of individuals who get what union value is all about.

And remember to let us know who retires ASAP so we can get our new retirees in our retiree data base.

NYSUT also represents approximately 98,000 School-Related Professionals across the State of New York.

We provide our SRPs with the support and advocacy that they need to advance their professions.
Our union has been working with SRP locals and chapters across the state to fortify their locals and members against the attacks that lie ahead and to help build stronger, more effective locals.

We continue to support the expansion of the online professional development courses available through the NYSUT Education and Learning Trust and has been working to expand its outreach to SRP locals and chapters to increase utilization.

Our union value can also be witnessed in our proud representation of more than 15,000 professionals in public and private health care settings, including but not limited to school nurses, hospital and community nurses, physical therapists and occupational therapists, guidance and school counselors, social workers and speech and language pathologists.

These members are represented by the NYSUT Health Care Professionals Council.

This dynamic committee has been hard at work in planning the Professional Issues Forum on Healthcare just last week.

The council spent some time talking about Narcan the treatment of known opiod overdose. The conversation revolved around an aggressive campaign for awareness and the resources necessary for usage to help combat this incredible war on the opiod crisis.

NYSUT's Annual Health Care Advocacy Day, May 8, 2018, marks the culmination of the weeklong celebration of National Nurses Week, May 6-12, and National School Nurses Day, May 9.

In order to maximize the recognition of these dedicated and caring professionals, NYSUT develops and distributes materials to locals and members on nysut.org.

The Annual Health Care Advocacy Day brings together the members of NYSUT's Health Care Advisory Committee, local leaders and members, as well as the health care professionals from other unions and organizations, to earnestly lobby state legislators on the many important issues facing health care professionals by telling stories of their daily work with patients and students in need.

NYSUT's health care advocates will continue to lobby for nurse recruitment, retention and loan forgiveness programs;

minimum nurse staffing standards in hospitals and a nurse in every school; and

cultural awareness and competency training in health care issues.

Since our many locals vary in size and needs, the Small and Rural Locals Advisory Council focuses on highlighting and advocating for the unique labor, funding, enrollment and other issues facing them and their districts; issues such as addressing teacher retention and consolidation to representation at our RAs.

We continue to see an alarming increase in the number of members who require assistance with personal or professional crises.

Last year, hundreds of members called their union for help with family issues, alcohol or drug issues, dealing with a disability, or to help a loved one find care and support.

NYSUT's Social Services department continues to provide free confidential referrals, as well as advocacy and support services for members and their families who are dealing with personal and professional crises.
NYSUT offers personalized service by a licensed professional who can address concerns by strategizing about resources that are either available through the union or in the community.

Has your school or hospital had problems with construction debris?

Safety drill compliance issues?

Temperature in the classroom problems?

We also provide vital health and safety assistance to our locals, responding to 350 plus requests for assistance in the past year for mold, indoor air quality, temperature concerns, safe cleaning procedures, etc.
We trained more than 900 members through NYSUT Education and Learning Trust, paid for under our Department of Labor safety and health training grant.

Through the NYS Department of Labor grant NYSUT secured, we are supporting a trauma-informed school approach project with Capital Region BOCES.

We are now working with the Onondaga-Cortland-Madison (OCM) BOCES, the Washington-Saratoga-Warren- Hamilton-Essex (WSWHE) BOCES and Fraser School in the Syracuse City School District on the same project.

The Parkland, Florida school shooting, another school tragedy that has horrified our nation, prompted Program Services staff to collaborate with the Legislative department to assess and advocate for proposed state legislation related to school security and safety.

A major focus of our continuing advocacy is to eliminate the exclusion of public schools from the state workplace violence prevention law - this law protects all public employees in the state except for those working in K-12 schools.

As you all know, we have embarked on an aggressive one-on-one campaign over the course of the last year.

It all started with the Con-Con fight last November and has since morphed into a recommit campaign.

Great work by Field and Affiliate Services Director Jonathan Rubin our regional staff directors and talented field staff - CWA, LSA and PSA - have gotten our recommit effort off to a terrific start.

Their leadership, along with yours, will continue to make our members say that phrase that we all want to hear "I'm Sticking with the Union".

We all know the attacks on each and everyone in this room will never end, but the positive message that we should heed is - WE are UNION.

Our Value is never ending!

The truth is out there now.

Spread it all over.

NYSUT is the one entity that negotiates for all of our members on a state level.

We stand for and do all this great work and will continue as long as we stay together and Stick with the Union.

As stated by one of our "Not for Ourselves" award winner Nadia Resnikoff - We have a lot to be proud of, a lot to work for and I am grateful to play a small part.

Thank you.

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