July 21, 2023

Union summer: LAP program empowers locals to serve their members, community

Author: Molly Belmont
Source:  NYSUT Communications
LAP 2023
Caption: LEAPING INTO 'ACTION'. Local union leaders from the Edgemont Teachers Association are in their first year of NYSUT's Local Action Project, a three-year program that helps local leadership develop the tools they need to take on member recruitment, retention, team building and political action. Photo by El-Wise Noisette.

Think of it as a bootcamp for unionists.

NYSUT’s Local Action Project helps locals improve their function and performance. Union members come together from all over the state to Saratoga Springs, where they hunker down for a week to devise a tactical plan for overcoming the stumbling blocks that prevent them from accomplishing their vision. The three-year program helps local leadership develop the tools they need to take on their biggest dilemmas, which include member recruitment, retention, team building and political action.

This past week, six first-year locals, five second-year locals and seven graduating third years came together to move their locals forward.

David Zupan, president of the third-year Carmel Teachers Association, said that LAP has helped them establish schools as central to the community. “We are an integral part of the development of the children and the future of the towns. By having these conversations over the course of these summers and then putting them into action, we’ve been able to draw more positive attention to our union and education.”

This is Natalie Simmons’s first year at LAP, and she said it is just what her local, the Columbia-Greene Special Support Services Federation, needed to reinvigorate its membership. At LAP, her team is working on becoming more visible in their community. “We’re learning how having a brand matters, so that people can show pride in their union,” Simmons said.


LAP - 2023

Patrick Weiler, Lowville TA, said LAP has been vital to helping their new leadership team get their bearings. “We got a lot of tools for organizing and member engagement,” Weiler said. LTA struggles with member engagement, but through LAP they were able to organize a series of events that strengthened their following.

LAP workshop topics included campaign planning, communications, new member outreach and articulating a vision.

“The dedicated work of locals like these are what keeps our union strong, said Ron Gross, NYSUT second vice president.