November/December 2020 Issue
October 18, 2020

NYSUT fights back!

Author: Ned Hoskin
Source: NYSUT United
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stop the cuts
Caption: Albany student Jude Caton was one of several speakers at a NYSUT event at the Capitol calling for more funding to stop devastating budget cuts. Photo by El-Wise Noisette.

When lawmakers don’t deliver, NYSUT’s legal, field, health and safety, and other experts help local unions find solutions

For months, as the economy slid down the pandemic pipe, New York State began withholding 20 percent of aid to school districts and public colleges and universities, adding a measure of hopelessness to what was already a challenging and complicated year.

Efforts to pass a second COVID-19 stimulus bill in Washington were — and remain — stifled by the Republicans in the Senate and White House. State lawmakers and the governor seemed to have no solutions.

Desperate school officials started prematurely slashing budgets and laying off teachers and staff.

The union was scrambling for a way to stop the cuts! In September, NYSUT President Andy Pallotta decided to sue the state to stop it from holding back money for schools, seeking the release of funding withheld in July, August and September — and an injunction against future withholdings and delays of payments.

“At this point, a lawsuit unfortunately is the necessary next step to compel our leaders to do what’s right: Fund our future and stop these cuts,” he said.

The lawsuit got big results, fast.

The very next day, the state division of the budget committed to deliver the September school aid payment and hold off on further cuts until after the presidential election.

NYSUT celebrated the success but noted that much remained to be done. “That’s all great,” Pallotta said, “but it doesn’t change the fact that we are seeking the release of funds withheld from previous months, and funding for public higher education and health care, too.”

As the lawsuit works its way through the courts, the union continues its Fund Our Future advocacy campaign in the Legislature to avoid mid-year cuts and restore the funds that have been withheld.

Fighting for members

With help from NYSUT’s legal department, program services and field services, local unions have been pulling out all the stops to force districts and employers to do what’s right to protect workers and students all over the state.

The articles below show just a few examples of how the statewide union is working with local unions to push back when employers ignore important health and safety requirements or fail to provide adequate accommodations for at-risk employees.

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