New union-negotiated advances
in salary, benefits
and working conditions
are improving the lives of educators
and support staff — as well as bringing
in desperately needed new hires.
The value of union membership
doesn’t end with the paycheck.
Union leaders, guided by NYSUT’s
core values — good jobs; affordable,
high-quality health care; strong
public schools; a strong and vibrant
democracy; and a society free of
discrimination, bigotry and hatred —
fight tirelessly for contracts that support
members and their families.
Here are a few examples of powerful
union-won gains across the state:
The Fairport Transportation
Association settled a contract significantly
improving the salaries of bus
drivers and attendants.
The local union, led by Ron
Rutherford, was stymied from attracting
new hires by starting salaries
for drivers of $14.50 an hour, and
$12.50 an hour for attendants. Pay
will now be $18 an hour for drivers,
and $15 an hour
to use federal
so that drivers
will receive an extra $2 an hour for
three years; attendants will be paid an
extra 25 cents hourly for three years.
“They were one of the lowest-paid
bus driver groups in Monroe County,”
said Sheila Sullivan Buck, NYSUT
labor relations specialist. “They were
Two new bus drivers have signed
up since the pay was raised, she said.
New drivers were previously paid
only $100 to attend a mandatory
30-hour training. Now, they will be
earning the new hourly rate for the
The Malone Federation of
Teachers, a 250-member local led
by Nathaniel Hathaway, negotiated
language protecting members from a
workload increase due to COVID-19.
Malone is located about a half hour
from the Canadian border.
Union advocacy provided SRPs
in Lyons with a well-earned boost.
deal with staff
and low pay,
said Janice Bailey, president of the
Lyons Support Staff Association, a
Central New York union of 58 clerical
staff, custodians/cleaners, TA/aides,
monitors, cafeteria workers and
Previous salary negotiations were
for a three-year contract with 2.9
percent plus 70 cent increases each
year, but now the support staff will
see a salary increase of 6 percent plus
$2 this year, with the next three years
at 2.9 percent plus 90 cents.
The Rome Teachers Association
negotiated an MOA with the district
recovering excess premiums paid
in 2020 — more than $350 per
individual premium payer. Excellus
BC/BS had notified the Madison
Oneida Herkimer Health Insurance
Consortium they were reimbursing
districts — not individuals —
for excess premiums paid during
the pandemic when doctor visits,
elective procedures and outpatient
treatments were severely curtailed.
The local union’s vigilant health
insurance committee alerted officers,
led by President Rob Wood, who
then negotiated with the district
for the funds. As a result, teachers
received an 8.75 percent reduction in
their premiums for the year.
During the last contract negotiations
for the Schenectady FT,
President Juliet Benaquisto bargained
for more time during new
teacher orientation to talk about why
unions matter and what they do. In
the past, the union would get less
than half an hour to speak to new
teachers out of three days of orientation.
This year, the SFT had two
hours to provide breakfast and union
information to 100 new teachers.
Benaquisto told them how salary
schedules, health insurance benefits,
advocacy for reasonable class sizes
and planning time all come from
“There are great benefits that
come with their contract, and it’s only
good as long as we continue to stay a
strong union,” she said.