NYSUT Communications |
Saturday May 04 2024 11:23 AM

Tony Cruz, Higher Education Member of the Year

“My first conscious thought was rhythm. To this day, I’m still a drummer.” Movement, cadence and melody are all familiar concepts for Tony Cruz, a self-described lifelong musician. That passion didn’t end when he entered the classroom. If anything, it only makes him a stronger teacher and union leader.

“I infuse my music into my classes,” said Cruz, noting that he teaches students in his English classes how to use simple punctuation to inject their writing with musicality, inflection — and to create prose that sings. “So when I tell students that their papers don’t sound right, I’m talking about what vocabulary are you using and what are you doing with punctuation.”

Cruz is almost as passionate about the union. A past member of the Teamsters, IBEW Local 3 and the American Federation of Musicians, Cruz is now president of the Orange County Community College Faculty Association. His dedication to the union — and solidarity — was built on the picket line during the Broadway strike. “When workers unite that’s where they have power, and that’s what unionism is,” Cruz said. He carried those lessons with him and still relies on the power of solidarity — members marching together to the beat of the same drum — to make progress at the bargaining table and beyond.

“I am a proud eternal unionist and always will be. As long as I can help someone, and fight for what is right and fair, I’ll do that.”