April Issue
April 02, 2014

Locals in Action

Source: NYSUT United
Penfield teachers Chris McGovern and Sue Mietus prepare items for donation to the food shelf.
Caption: Penfield teachers Chris McGovern and Sue Mietus prepare items for donation to the food shelf.

Penfield Education Association

The Penfield Education Association adopted six shelves at the Penfield Ecumenical Food Shelf and donations from members are pouring in.

The new initiative was sparked by the union's involvement in the NYSUT Local Action Project, a community outreach/coalition building initiative. The adopt-a-shelf idea was the brainchild of PEA secretary and second grade teacher Liz Brown. Through her efforts, each of the six schools in the district was assigned a much-needed item to collect. The pantry provides baked goods, canned goods and fresh produce. Every other month, PEA members volunteer to deliver the collected items to the food pantry.

For more info about the food shelf, visit penfieldecumenicalfoodshelf.org.

Katonah-Lewisboro District Teachers Association

Controversial school superintendent Paul Kreutzer, who'd been hired by the Katonah-Lewisboro school board in 2011 after a "secret search," was forced out of his post in January after a long campaign by the Katonah-Lewisboro District Teachers Association calling for his ouster. The local issued a six-page "vote of no confidence" against Kreutzer in December 2012 for personal and professional misconduct.

Kreutzer was the only school superintendent to stand on the steps of the Wisconsin state capitol with Gov. Scott Walker when Walker led a movement to repeal collective bargaining rights, said Katonah-Lewisboro DTA President Sandra Grebinar. Educators held a large rally to protest Kreutzer's appointment when it was first announced in May 2011. "Our NYSUT family in Westchester and Putnam joined us," Grebinar said. After his hire, the union's Executive Board worked tirelessly in unity to stay on the case to track his record.

"We made sure we reacted to every single thing that happened," said Grebinar, who credited a core group of unionists from her local that worked steadily on the campaign. "He was hired to break our union and break our contract and he did neither," she said.

United College Employees of FIT

United College Employees of FIT want the fashion world to remember that the Triangle Factory fire is more than a tragic chapter in their profession's history – it's something that still happens in many parts of the world and can be prevented.

The NYSUT local at the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan recently sponsored a conference on garment factory safety, co-chaired by UCE members Paul Clement and Daniel Levenson Wilk. The conference followed fires in garment factories in Bangladesh that killed more than 1,200 workers.

"We were talking about the Triangle fire in 1911, and we're still having these tragedies today," Clement said.

UCE supports the Remember the Triangle Fire Coalition, which plans a memorial to the 1911 Manhattan fire that killed 146 garment workers. UCE members participated in the coalition's annual March 25 commemoration, and this year carried banners about the fire made by FIT students.

Local President Roberta Elins said that instilling a sense of social justice and corporate responsibility is part of an FIT education.

"We must ensure that when FIT graduates are in decision-making positions, they make the decisions that will afford all workers a safe work environment and a living wage," Elins said.

Utica Teachers Association

If an apple a day keeps the doctor away, an apple from a local orchard can bring the community together.

Members of the Utica Teachers Association, led by Cherie Grant, gathered recently to support the American Heart Association's annual America's Greatest Heart Run & Walk. UTA members distributed apples from locally owned and operated Twin Orchards to the thousands of participants at the heart walk. The Utica TA is a 2003 graduate of NYSUT's LAP program.

Is there a local union project, outreach effort or event you'd like to see featured in NYSUT United? Local leaders should send information to united@nysutmail.org. Include LIA in the subject line.