Spotlight on inequality
NYSUT Vice President Paul Pecorale called income inequality "an outrage" during the "Vote Your Dreams" rally in Albany in September to mark the 51st anniversary of the March on Washington. Photo by Marty Kerins Jr.
NYSUT Communications Awards open for entries
Entry forms are now available for the 2015 NYSUT Communications Awards. The awards recognize outstanding communications efforts, in print and online, used by NYSUT locals and retiree chapters to keep their membership connected and informed.
In-service and retiree chapter winners are honored in nine categories and are eligible for the Best of the Best award for outstanding achievement.
Entry forms can be found at www.nysut.org. Click on NYSUT United at the bottom of the home page and then click on Communications Awards. Deadline for entries is Jan. 5, 2015.
From left, Downstate Medical Chapter President and UUP Treasurer Rowena Blackman-Stroud, NYSUT Secretary-Treasurer Martin Messner and UUP Vice President for Professionals J. Phillipe Abraham march in the annual Labor Day parade in Manhattan.
NYSUT goes solar
In an effort to save energy and dollars, NYSUT offices are being outfitted with hundreds of solar panels.
Systems are now installed and operating at NYSUT headquarters in Latham and regional offices in Buffalo and Syracuse. Pilot systems were installed last year at the Potsdam and Vestal offices and have been operating ever since.
Monolith Solar supplied all the investment capital for the projects in partnership with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA).
"Once installed, NYSUT earns 25 percent of the energy generated by each system as a reduction in our energy bills," said Robert Lesniewski, NYSUT director of finance and administration, who is overseeing the project.
Solar panels are expected to be installed at the Rochester regional office later this fall, and NYSUT is awaiting approval from NYSERDA for the Utica and Kingston regional offices.
To read more, visit www.nysut.org.
NYSUT Vice President Catalina Fortino hands out rulers and helpful education brochures to passersby at the NYSUT booth at the New York State Fair. NYSUT staff and volunteers from central New York locals operate the booth during the fair's run from late August to Labor Day. Photo by Lauren Long
Outsourced school bus driver jobs to return to unit
In a move both sides call a win-win, the Niskayana School District Employees Association voted in favor of an agreement that settles its long-overdue contract, and begins restoring previously outsourced bus driver jobs to NSDEA membership.
NSDEA members also agreed to withdraw an improper labor practice charge filed with the state Public Employment Relations Board after the Niskayuna Central School District outsourced transportation services to First Student Inc. While bus drivers were offered employment with the outsourcing company, it meant an up to 22 percent cut in pay, along with cuts to benefits.
In the agreement, former unit bus driver positions will be restored over a period of three years — up to six driver positions, filled in order of seniority, in the first year and up to 12 positions in 2015-16. This will continue until all drivers who were laid off have received an offer of employment with the district.
NYSUT Labor Relations Specialist Kevin Grossman credits new interim superintendent John Yagielski's willingness to work creatively and collaboratively. "It was out-of-the-box thinking that allowed us to solve this problem with a win-win outcome," he said.
David Byrk, NSDEA president, agrees. "He is willing to talk and that's all we need." Negotiations are never perfect, Byrk said, but during talks both sides seemed to have an eye on the best interests of students, employees and the district community.
"It also allowed us to settle a long overdue contract for all NSDEA members," said Grossman.
— Leslie Duncan Fottrell