February 2011 Issue
February 08, 2011

RA: Setting the course for NYSUT's future

Author: Bernie Mulligan
Source: NYSUT United
Caption: NYSUT's Kathleen Donahue reviews proposed resolutions with NYSUT staffers Christina Gasner and Bob Carillo. Photo by Betsy Sandberg.

Three thousand elected delegates from around the state will gather in New York City at NYSUT's 39th annual Representative Assembly April 7–9 to set the course for the union's future.

"The RA is NYSUT's annual policy-making assembly, and the resolutions process is the democracy of the union in action," said NYSUT President DIck Iannuzzi.

"Each year hundreds of locals, large and small, whether they're attending the RA or not, submit resolutions for consideration by the delegates," he said. "Every NYSUT local and Retiree Council has the opportunity to submit resolutions that will help set the tone and direction for our union in the coming year."

Delegates spend hours debating and discussing proposed resolutions, proposed amendments to the union's constitution and bylaws, and other new business, before voting to adopt, amend or defeat them.

NYSUT Vice President Kathleen Donahue oversees coordination and compilation of the hundreds of resolutions submitted.

"The volume and quality of these resolutions is a good measure of how engaged our members are on the issues of the day," said Donahue. "They look at the challenges we face and propose practical action steps for us to take."

In recent years, resolutions sponsored by delegates have generated action on a variety of issues. Last year, for example, delegates voted to support NYSUT principles for K-12 and higher education. The principles provide a framework for addressing the challenges members face in this difficult period.

There are 62 resolutions submitted this year for delegates' consideration, dealing with issues from educational policy and funding issues to a range of human and civil rights matters.

"This is a massive undertaking, but it's at the heart of the union's work," said Donahue.

A copy of the resolutions will be posted March 1 on www.nysut.org.

In addition to acting on resolutions and amendments, RA delegates will elect the union's leaders.

The five statewide offices — president, executive vice president, two vice presidents and secretary-treasurer — are all up for election this year, as well as 38 at-large directors' seats, representing statewide constituencies, and 48 Election District director positions, representing geographic areas.

Awards for outstanding service in each NYSUT constituency — SRPs, health care, higher education and retirees — will be presented by Donahue's office.

Local union presidents and Retiree Council presidents have a special conference prior to the RA. They will be updated on issues facing the union and hone the skills needed to meet them.