2022 was a remarkable year for our union. Together, we endured tragedies and enjoyed triumphs. Yet, through it all, NYSUT members stood strong in solidarity. If there's one theme that sums up 2022, it's that unity is a force more powerful than division, and our unity as a union gives us strength.
Here's a quick look at just a few major stories from 2022.
In December 2021 and January 2022, NYSUT released the Future Forward report: A detailed prescription for strengthening public education in a world struggling to recover from the pandemic. This was followed by a special edition of NYSUT United outlining these policies with real stories from NYSUT members and their students across the state.
Budget Season 2022
Using the Future Forward report as our guide, NYSUT lobbied for months to secure the funds necessary to pull our schools into the future. In the end, the budget passed was one of the best ever for our schools and institutions of higher education, and a good first step in the right direction for public education in New York.
Take a Look at Teaching: Grow-Your-Own Success Stories
As teacher and SRP shortages made headlines across the country and New York schools posted record-setting vacancies, NYSUT continued efforts to recruit new educators. As part of NYSUT’s ongoing work to support the teaching profession and address the nationwide teacher shortage, our Take a Look at Teaching initiative continued our series of Grow-Your-Own programs across the state. This allowed local unions to create their own clubs aimed at turning students on to careers in the teaching profession.
NYSUT has awarded “Grow Your Own” grants to more than 40 local unions to launch and expand programs to encourage more people to consider a career in education.
Fighting for Community Schools
COVID-19 put community schools on the front burner these past two years, as the pandemic highlighted the central role public schools play in our community and shone a light on the myriad public services they continue to provide. President Andy Pallotta testified before the NYS Legislature about the Community Schools model and its success and lobbied for $100 million in additional funding for the initiative. The resounding success of community schools in Saranac Lake, Buffalo, Elmira and Syracuse got attention this year and prompted union leaders to renew their calls for increased funding so that this model can be more widely adopted across the state.
NYSUT hosted the Community Schools Summit in October where educators came together to learn about the model and how to implement it in their own communities. Meanwhile, NYSUT continued to highlight schools across the state that launched programs featuring elements of the Community Schools model, like a food pantry or a meditation program.
Support for Starbucks Workers United
With Starbucks baristas across the country stepping up their unionization efforts (and the company pushing back with anti-union tactics) NYSUT and other labor leaders got involved with the effort.
End of edTPA
In a big win for the union and aspiring educators, the Board of Regents voted to get rid of the controversial edTPA requirement for teacher certification. During NYSUT’s Take a Look at Teaching summits around the state, numerous students and educators said completing the costly edTPA was so time-consuming and stressful that it ruined the student teaching experience. Now, thanks to advocacy by NYSUT, United University Professions/SUNY and Professional Staff Congress/CUNY, the edTPA’s gone and candidates can spend more quality time with both their host teacher and supervising college faculty member.
This spring, the 2022 Representative Assembly returned to gather in-person. More than 1,500 delegates approved a wide range of resolutions to guide the union’s advocacy in the coming year. Many of the resolutions call for state funding and programs to make NYSUT’s Future Forward initiative a reality.
On Twitter, educators joined us and applauded the successes of Amazon Labor at the 2022 RA.
NYSUT 50th Anniversary
2022 marks NYSUT’s 50th Anniversary as a statewide union. The RA marked the occasion, as did our release of a feature-length documentary about NYSUT’s formation and history.
With major storms devastating parts of the Caribean, mainland US and Western New York, and the outbreak of war in Ukraine, NYSUT members dug deep to support those affected with nearly $200,000 in donations to the NYSUT Disaster Relief Fund.
School Board Elections, May 2022: Public Schools Unite Us
In late 2021 and 2022, well-funded anti-union, anti-public education forces launched the latest wave of their decades-long assault on our education system. Again, educators and our union became the targets of smears, misinformation and intimidation. We all remember the scenes at school board meetings and the demonization of educators in the media.
But in the face of this latest round of attacks, NYSUT members have done what we always have: We pushed back by pulling together. Through the unifying message of our Public Schools Unite Us campaign, educators, students, families and communities came together to counter the divisive messaging pushed by bad actors.
In the pivotal May school budget voting and elections, NYSUT candidates swept hotly-contested school board races: 60 NYSUT members were elected or re-elected, 86 percent of the pro-education, pro-student candidates were elected, and 99 percent of school budgets passed.
March For Our Lives
In the wake of multiple mass shootings, including at a Buffalo grocery store that took the lives of 10, -- including three NYSUT members -- the nation came together to demand lawmakers take action. Educators and advocates held rallies in Buffalo, Albany and other parts of the state to express their outrage over the continued violence in schools and to call for action.
Members took to social media and made a stand against gun violence alongside elected officials.
To support the Buffalo community affected by the mass shooting there, NYSUT established a scholarship fund to support the family members of shooting victims as well as high school seniors who live in the neighborhood (ZIP code 14208) and are graduating and heading into higher education now and in the coming years.
Combatting Excessive Heat in Schools
As part of our ongoing health and safety initiatives, NYSUT is pushing lawmakers to set standards for temperatures in classrooms. With spring and summer temps soaring, NYSUT members throughout the state submitted stories and videos of their sweltering classrooms to help sway lawmakers.
The Year in Leadership Conferences
This summer, after a two-year hiatus, NYSUT educators came back together for in-person leadership meetings. NYSUT hosted the Local Action Project and Leadership Institute this summer and the SRP Conference this fall. The events brought education professionals together from all over the state to share common ground and learn from one another.
This fall, NYSUT educators came together to celebrate their profession and grow in it. NYSUT hosted the Retiree Contiguous ED 51-53 meeting in September and the Community College Conference and SRP Conference, both in November.
No, really. Sharks.
Student Loan Forgiveness
Despite a tumultuous year for those with student loan debt, one thing remained consistent: NYSUT’s support for our members.
NYSUT hosted three dozen student loan webinars, helping thousands of members navigate their student loans, including Jeff Krautheimer and Eve Shippens.
NYSUT’s advocacy on Public Service Loan Forgiveness has also yielded many policy wins this year. Thanks to union advocacy and action by the Biden administration, thousands of educators finally received Public Service Loan Forgiveness under a temporary waiver available through Oct. 31. The limited waiver enabled educators to count old payments, late payments and payments made through a range of federal loan repayment plans. For years the PSLF has been infamous for denying student loan forgiveness to thousands of public servants, but unions pushed hard for changes.
Then, in August, thanks to union advocacy and the Biden Administration, federal student loan forgiveness became a reality. In September, union activism helped bring about the expansion of the law to include adjunct professors.
But what unions giveth, lawsuits taketh away, and in November pending litigation in federal courts left 26 million Americans who had applied for forgiveness and 16 million who had been approved for forgiveness in limbo. NYSUT continues to hold webinars to keep its members up to date on litigation, forgiveness, and student loan repayment more generally.
Safe Schools for All Report
On the heels of March for Our Lives rallies, NYSUT convened the Safe Schools for All Task Force to study the issue of school violence and make recommendations for how to achieve safer schools. We heard from educators at every level who expressed concern over the uptick in violence, disruptive behavior, and mental health crises among students. In August, after months of meeting, the group announced the release of the Safe Schools for All report, which details safety measures that must be taken by state and national leaders, school districts and educators. The report, and accompanying toolkits, were rolled out to union leaders across the state beginning in September.
Implicit Bias Grant and Trainings
NYSUT helped educators promote social unity and increase cultural awareness with “Sticks & Stones: Understanding Implicit Bias, Microaggressions & Stereotypes,” a series of workshops that raise awareness about the role of implicit bias in classroom dynamics. NYSUT received a $1 million dollar grant in the state budget to expand its implicit bias training program statewide throughout 2022.
This program has been extended through 2023 with a widening series of trainings on offer either directly from NYSUT or in conjunction with school districts.
NYSUT's continuing series celebrated cultures with all-new posters for 2022.
- Black History Month: Historically Black Colleges and Universities
- Women's History Month: Malala Yousafzai
- Hispanic Heritage Month: Jose Ramos
- LGBTQ History Month: Wanda Sykes and Lil Nas X
2023 New York State Teacher of the Year
NYSUT congratulated United Federation of Teachers member William “Billy” Green, a master chemistry teacher in New York City, on being named the 2023 New York State Teacher of the Year by the state Board of Regents. Green sums up his philosophy on education as “the opportunities I can create through great teaching and learning experiences I understand personally have the power to change individuals, families and communities.”
Inflation Reduction Act
The passage of the Inflation Reduction Act had major and demonstrable benefits to NYSUT members, students and families across New York.
General Election 2022: Celebrating Our Successes and uniting union power
Understanding that our many union victories come only through hard work and unity, NYSUT members turned out to elect scores of pro-public-education candidates who won state and congressional seats throughout New York this November. The scale of union efforts was staggering: NYSUT members made 127,412 phone calls, sent out 338,904 texts and knocked on thousands of doors in concert with the AFL-CIO. The statewide union also sent out 236,087 mail pieces and published a stand-alone voter guide. Union muscle helped drive Gov. Kathy Hochul’s gubernatorial victory, led to wins in the Senate and Assembly and helped pass the Green Bond Act.
“I think [Gov. Hochul]’s right in thanking labor," said NYSUT President Andy Pallotta. "In the last couple of weeks, when people saw what was going on in the polls, we knew we had to kick it into gear even more.”
These victories didn’t happen by accident. They required the hard work of NYSUT members on the ground and they underscored the vital importance of voluntary contributions to VOTE-COPE.
Making Strides Against Breast Cancer
This October marked NYSUT’s 20th anniversary of its partnership with the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer events. We celebrated the anniversary by highlighting events across the state, and some of the champions who have made our fundraising efforts for this cause so successful. To date, NYSUT and its members have raised more than $16.6 million to fight breast cancer.
NYSUT Women’s Committee Brings Needed Attention to Alzheimer’s Disease
Since its founding, the NYSUT Women’s Committee has prioritized women’s health as a key issue, and this November’s annual meeting turned the spotlight on Alzheimer’s Disease.
Safeguarding the Rights of LGBTQ Individuals
NYSUT renewed its commitment to fight for high-quality public schools that are safe and free from hate and discrimination. In June, NYSUT and its members celebrated Pride month across the state. In October, members of NYSUT’s LGBTQ Committee charted their path for the year ahead and developed resolutions for the statewide union’s RA. The committee’s resolutions will center on topics including transgender rights and improving the school climate for LGBTQ educators and students. Acknowledging the difficulty of the struggle, union leaders exhorted members to stay strong and keep fighting to safeguard the rights of LGBTQ individuals.
NYSUT Legacy Fund
New for 2022, the NYSUT Legacy Fund allows locals, chapters, retiree councils, or individual NYSUT members to honor hometown union activists with a contribution in their name to the NYSUT Legacy Fund. This year, we honored nearly 40 recipients.
NYSUT Peer Support Line
NYSUT launched the Peer Support Line, a free service available through NYSUT Member Benefits. The confidential helpline -- staffed by trained in-service and retired individuals who understand the unique professional and personal challenges of NYSUT members -- provides answers, resources, and empathetic support when members need it.
First Book / Reading Opens the World events
Throughout the latter part of 2022, NYSUT worked hand in hand with the American Federation of Teachers and its Reading Opens the World initiative to run several events across the state to get books into the hands of students. These events took place in communities statewide, from Long Island to Rochester, with thousands of books given away at each event.
In December, the AFT reached its goal of distributing more than one million books at Reading Opens the World events nationwide
The Work of the Union Goes On, Day in and Day Out
Through all of our initiatives, the core work of the union went on every day of the year: Local unions negotiated and settled contracts, many of which brought major increases in pay and benefits for our members. We also continued to add to our strength in numbers by organizing new unions in key areas and sectors.
The Union Marches On
2023 is upon us and the work of the union continues. Our upcoming legislative agenda is packed with items our members most want and need:
- Addressing retirement Tier 6 reform
- Advocating for community schools
- Pushing for needed resources to support our students, especially as our schools and communities recover from the effects of the pandemic.
Our Public Schools Unite Us campaign will continue to push back against division, anger and misinformation by emphasizing unity, transparency and community.
Thanks to every NYSUT member: What you do is important and valued. Your union will always be here for you.