May/June 2019 Issue
April 19, 2019

SRPs organize to keep the union strong

Author: Kara Smith
Source: NYSUT United
srp moi
Caption: NYSUT organizer Liz Smith-Rossiter (foreground); Steven Carter, Buffalo Educational Support Team; and Karen McLean, Herrricks TA, visit the home of Carol Ray, Albany Public School United Employees. Photo provided.

When Karen McLean read that NYSUT was hosting a Member Organizing Institute specifically for School-Related Professionals, she was excited.

"I did the MOI last year and it was very rewarding,” said McLean, secretary-treasurer for the Herricks Teachers Association and a NYSUT SRP Advisory Committee member. She enjoyed meeting members on their doorsteps, noting “many said they had never had a NYSUT member visit their home.”

McLean was one of dozens of SRP members who took part in the NYSUT SRP MOI at the union’s headquarters in late March. Participants learned how to develop and communicate their union stories, door-knocking etiquette and best practices, and visited several member households during the two-and-a-half-day training. Back in their districts, program graduates will visit SRP members in their homes to better address their specific issues.

There is no substitute for that kind of member-to-member communication, said Jolene DiBrango, NYSUT executive vice president. “SRPs talking to SRPs about organizing issues is so valuable.”

Brad Jagnanan, a teaching assistant and Henry Viscardi School Faculty Association member, is committed to helping NYSUT retain and recruit new members. “I want to ensure the union stays strong”, he said.

A desire to help fellow members grasp the value of the union is what inspired Mary Beth Nardone to attend the training. The Port Washington Association of Educational Secretaries member says that many people don’t understand what the union does for them.

“When people ask me why the union is valuable, I want to be able to educate them,” said Nardone. “I don’t come from a union family, but I consider the union to be very important.”

NYSUT officers greeted the program attendees and acknowledged the crucial work they do every day.

“Thank you for your day jobs — you are the backbone of all that happens in our schools — and thank you for highlighting union value,” said NYSUT Second Vice President Paul Pecorale, whose office oversees SRP initiatives for the union.

“I believe the MOI has forever changed the face of our union — I’m glad you’re taking advantage of this, you will get so much out of it,” noted NYSUT President Andy Pallotta.

Be a part of NYSUT's Member Organizing Institute!

Member Organizing Institute

Are you passionate about the union? Do you enjoy talking to other members? Join NYSUT’s Member Organizing Institute, a grassroots member-to-member initiative that brings union members into communities to connect with colleagues.