In mid May, NYSUT launched its ongoing initiative to Support School Staff, aimed at supporting and engaging School-Related Professionals, the backbone of our public schools. It includes a new, dedicated web presence at SupportSchoolStaff.org.
“These unsung heroes ensure the safety, health and security of our children, yet they face many challenges in the workplace,” said President Andy Pallotta. “With 100,000 SRP members, we knew we could accomplish so much.”
The first item on the agenda: Encourage the Legislature to pass bills critical to protecting SRPs and the students they serve, and to ensure due process and fairness on the job.
Little more than a month later — after letter-writing, in-district visits with lawmakers, a special advocacy day in Albany, and even an ice cream giveaway right outside the Capitol — NYSUT SRP members have much to celebrate as most of that legislative agenda passed both houses of the legislature.
- One new law will require school districts to implement workplace violence prevention programs the same way they are mandated for other public employers. It is a common sense way to identify weak spots in school safety plans and to address those issues before violence occurs.
- Another allows school buses to be fitted with cameras on their “STOP” sign arms. The cameras would capture the image and license numbers of scofflaws — who pass buses 50,000 times a day in the state — and bring them to justice.
- Lawmakers passed a bill that gives SRPs a statutory claim to seniority rights when schools reduce staff due to layoffs.
- Another ensures that paraprofessionals become members of the City Teachers’ Retirement System automatically upon employment.
NYSUT’s SupportSchoolStaff.org website sheds greater light on these changes and provides an outlet for SRPs to share how these issues have impacted them and their students.
“These legislative wins are exciting,”said NYSUT Second Vice President Paul Pecorale. “But we encourage all to visit the website as this initiative continues to organize and engage SRP members in new and creative ways that will grow the union.”
SRPs represented by NYSUT include teaching assistants, teacher aides, school nurses, secretaries, clerks, IT professionals, custodians, cleaners, bus drivers, bus monitors, mechanics, food service employees, security personnel, groundskeepers and many others.