1) What is the RA?
NYSUT's Representative Assembly is the union's highest policy-making body, except for a membership referendum, that directs the union's priorities for the coming year.
2) How often is it held?
The statewide union's convention is held annually in the spring.
3) Where does it take place?
The RA this year is April 7–8 in New York City. The convention typically alternates among New York City, Buffalo and Rochester.
4) Who attends?
All NYSUT members are welcome to attend the annual RA, but only duly elected and reported delegates, usually numbering about 1,800, can debate and vote on proposed amendments to NYSUT's Constitution and Bylaws, proposed resolutions and other business, including election of the union's officers and Board of Directors.
5) How are delegates selected?
Each local or council is urged to elect delegates and alternates. Locals with fewer than 125 members each can form a council of locals for the exclusive purpose of electing common RA delegates.
6) Where do the amendments and resolutions come from?
Amendments to the NYSUT Constitution and Bylaws are proposed by the NYSUT Board of Directors or by no fewer than 100 members drawn from at least five NYSUT Election Districts.
Resolutions can be submitted by the NYSUT Board or any local or retiree council. Once properly submitted (deadlines for both amendments and resolutions are set each year) resolutions are organized by topic and assigned to the appropriate NYSUT RA resolutions committees for consideration at the RA.
NYSUT convention resolutions committees include: Civil and Human Rights, College and University, Educational Issues, Health Care and Workplace Safety, Legislative/Political Action, Organization, and Pension and Retirement.
Delegates usually debate and discuss about 75 resolutions or more during the RA's general sessions. Once passed by RA delegates, a resolution remains in effect for four years.
7) Besides setting NYSUT's policiesfor the year, what else takes place?
At the RA, NYSUT officers issue their official reports. The RA is also an opportunity for dignitaries and labor and political leaders to address the statewide union directly. Delegates have heard from U.S. presidents and senators, state and city elected leaders, union leaders from the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association, the state AFL-CIO, even the president of the United Mine Workers, to name just a few.
NYSUT also honors the recipient of the prestigious Al Shanker Award, members who receive the union's constituency awards for exemplary service, community service awards, the New York State Teacher of the Year, and recipients of "Not For Ourselves Alone": The Sandy Feldman Outstanding Leadership Award and Sandy Feldman Leadership grant.
8) How often are NYSUT officers and NYSUT Board members elected?
Delegates elect the statewide union's five officers every three years. Members of the NYSUT Board are also elected every three years.
9) How can I find out what happened at the RA?
You can follow all the proceedings at www.nysut.org/RA; on Twitter using the hashtag #RA2017; on Facebook at www.facebook.com/NYSUTUnited and in the May issue of NYSUT United.
10) How can I become more involved?
You can learn a lot about NYSUT's democratic process by attending the RA or talking to your local union president about becoming a delegate. You can find out more about the resolutions that were passed on nysut.org and in NYSUT United, and choose to get involved in some of the initiatives.
Above all, knowing how your statewide union makes decisions based on input from your representatives can be transformative.