May - June Issue
- School Finance
May 07, 2014

Are you ready for 'Mobilization May'?

Author: Kara Smith
Source: NYSUT United
We're mobilizing in May


NYSUT encourages all locals to participate in or plan May events, particularly during the May 13-17 National Week of Action.

Act now! Register your local's event online for free mobilization materials.

NYSUT kicked off a month of activism with a roar, demonstrating en masse against the corporatization of public education and on behalf of adjunct faculty.

NYSUT's "Picket in the Pines" in Lake Placid was one of many union-led events planned for Mobilization May, a nationwide month of activism launched by the American Federation of Teachers to highlight the value of public services, including health care, higher education and public schools.

"Our nation's public services are the anchors of our democracy," said NYSUT President Karen E. Magee. "We're reclaiming the promise."

NYSUT members and parents picketed at "Camp Philos," a $1,000-a-head education retreat at Whiteface Lodge hosted by Education Reform Now. The union-bashing group, along with its Political Action Committee, Democrats for Education Reform, is run by Wall Street hedge fund managers. It promotes, among other bad ideas, removing teacher unions from any role in shaping curriculum or determining working conditions.

The AFT kicked off the month by celebrating Worthy Wage Day, a national day of action held annually on May 1 since 1987 to raise awareness about low wages earned by early childhood educators, the damaging effects of high teacher turnover on young children, and chronic underfunding in early education.

NYSUT's two largest higher education affiliates - United University Professions at the State University of New York and the Professional Staff Congress at the City University of New York - turned out in force on May 1, known as May Day, the traditional day of labor activism, to support adjunct faculty.

A rally at SUNY New Paltz supported the Mayday $5K Campaign, which advocates a $5,000 minimum starting salary for adjuncts for every three-credit course they teach. UUP has endorsed the Mayday $5K Campaign.

In Manhattan, members of the PSC joined with students from Empire State College's Harry Van Arsdale Jr. Center for Labor Studies for a rally demanding better pay for adjuncts and other low-wage workers. SUNY Cortland UUP chapter members put a copy of the Mayday Declaration in campus mailboxes, and placed posters supporting fair pay for adjuncts on community bulletin boards.

The Mayday Declaration, part of the Mayday $5K campaign, calls for improving wages and working conditions of adjunct faculty. At SUNY Oneonta, UUP chapter members held a May 1 campus meeting for adjuncts and their supporters to discuss long-term strategies.

In collaboration with the National Education Association, the Service Employees International Union and several community organizations, the AFT is also organizing a National Week of Action May 13-17 to mark the 60th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education - the landmark Supreme Court ruling declaring state laws creating racially segregated public schools unconstitutional.

Events kick-off with a May 13 rally on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court under the theme "Educational Justice for All in 2014." A day-long action to boost voter engagement will occur May 17 in cities across the nation.

"Public education and public services nationwide are under attack now more than ever," Magee said. "NYSUT is on the march this month in defense of public service."