April 2011 Issue
March 18, 2011

Locals in Action: United Federation of Teachers

Source: NYSUT United

United Federation of Teachers

Harlem resident Candace Frazer tells TV viewers in New York City that any educator layoffs will make class sizes soar.

Produced for the United Federation of Teachers, the 30-second spot urges the mayor to start listening to New York City's parents and communities.

"I don't know what Mayor Bloomberg's agenda is, but he should stop playing politics with our kids. And start listening to us."

The ad ran in March on networks in the New York metropolitan area during some of television's most popular shows.

Bay Shore Classroom TA

Union leaders used some savvy negotiating skills to gain a unique win/win benefit that improves members' physical and mental health. Bay Shore CTA President Darlene Darch said the 600-member union purchased a three-story building for a union office several years ago. The union office is on the first floor; the union rents out a back storage building to a tent rental company.

In an effort to cut expenses for outside maintenance, landscaping, snow removal and cleaning, the union bartered a second floor apartment in exchange for work. As union leaders got to know the young man, who worked as a personal trainer at a local gym and was attending college for physical education, he mentioned he hoped to some day open his own training studio.

After much thought and discussion, union leaders agreed to let him renovate the third-floor space and pay a reasonable rent. In return, he has opened a fitness studio and gives deep-discounted training rates to school employees.

"We feel this is a unique benefit we offer our members, while helping them relieve stress and improve their health," Darch said. "For us, it's been a win/win negotiation."

Maine-Endwell TA

If all's well in Endwell, and in Maine, it very likely has something to do with the teachers. The 254-member Maine-Endwell Teachers Association in Broome County donates money to help purchase food for a meal delivery program to needy families.

Started by one of its own members, Rachel Murat, the program, called M-EALS, serves about 60 families within the school district.

The TA in this small, rural local also coordinates a book drive for "Read Across America," a year-round reading motivation and awareness program created by one of NYSUT's national affiliates, the National Education Association.

META president Melissa Spierling reports that during the past five years, the local union's book collections have resulted in the donation of more than 10,000 books to needy organizations in the Maine-Endwell region and across the state.

Retiree Council 43

NYSUT retirees in Florida recently joined forces with area union members in a fight to "keep our public voice in public policy."

Deb Peterson, president of NYSUT Retiree Council 43, and Maxine Knisley, RC 43 membership chair, attended the Awake the State rally at the Brevard County School Board building in Melbourne, Fla. The women represented RC 43 as well as the Space Coast Teacher Retirees In Florida Unit.

"It was wonderful to join forces with so many. We face layoffs, program cuts and an attempt to dismantle collective bargaining," Peterson wrote. "We face a governor who wants to cut $4 billion from the budget, eroding our progress in education, health care and social services.

"Everything we believe in and have fought so hard to achieve is on the table ... or should we say the chopping block."