April 2013 Issue
March 27, 2013

NYSUT voices: Why unions matter

Source: NYSUT United

We asked a broad range of NYSUT members about what being a union member means to them. As you read their responses, one thing is clear — the collective voice of unions is the engine for change.

Bob Ladouceur, teacher

Being in a union (Ogdensburg EA) "makes me feel I have people in place, not only at home in my local, but in other locals, at NYSUT headquarters, with the officers, with the Local Action Project and with the Representative Assembly... Knowledge is power, and we get that knowledge from having all those resources at our disposal."

Barb Coogan, union leader "I have been the public face of this fight, but I know we are all in this together, because that's what it means to be in a union — never having to stand up alone." She's been engaged in a three-and-a-half year struggle to organize a union at the Buffalo United Charter School.

Margaret Corbett, retiree

"Union strength represents future security for you and your family," said the Rome Teachers Association retiree.

Corbett, a former music teacher, retired in 1996 with a pension and health insurance benefits through her district. Her husband, after 37 years on the job, saw his private-sector union weaken and was left with a tiny pension and no health benefits in retirement.

Bernard Washington, SRP

Washington was inspired by the late LuAnn Coleman, who was a school-related professional and Syracuse TA member. Coleman showed him "what it meant to help and serve your fellow workers. Unions fight for workers' rights and to make sure words in contracts are upheld."