NYSUT Communications |

Delegates pass multiple measures directing the union’s course

Each year, RA delegates bring resolutions to the floor that address issues vital to our progress as a union.

This year, delegates adopted 26 resolutions; topics included the promotion of the Equal Rights Amendment and the commemoration of Brown v. Board of Education, as well as community college oversight, book banning, cellphone use in the classroom, AI, Supreme Court overreach, child poverty, paid family leave, paraprofessionals, equity in education, and much more.

First, NYSUT agreed to work with national affiliates to get the Equal Rights Amendment, which was first proposed in 1923, officially published as a 28th Amendment to the US Constitution.

Then NYSUT President Melinda Person welcomed a special guest to the podium, former Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney. “It is long past due,” Maloney shouted to thunderous applause. “One hundred years, not one year more!”

During her career, Maloney championed human rights, healthcare, and education. Maloney was recently featured on a NYSUT poster celebrating Women’s History Month.

Next, delegates passed a resolution to commemorate the Brown v. Board of Education with teacher trainings to dismantle segregation. 

A resolution advocating for increased staffing of paraprofessionals and teacher aides also passed unanimously. “I can’t say how important this is,” said Sandie Carner-Shafran, Saratoga Adirondack BOCES Employees Association retiree. “Our teachers are overwhelmed and many of our teaching assistants are forced into being teachers in the classrooms.”

“I have to say these professionals make the difference in our schools. This is a no-brainer. Please join me in support of this,” said Brian Ebertz, Greece Teachers Association.

Resolutions to support legislation that would improve social media safety and make classrooms climate smart both passed. “We all know that it's darn hot in our classrooms,” Andrew Bogey, Alfred Almond TA said to enthusiastic applause. “We all need cooling systems that are up to date.”

Christopher Kazim, president of Port Chester TA, took the passage of the social media resolution as an opportunity to announce NYSUT’s upcoming Disconnected conference, which will address cellphones and social media and its effects on students. “In an era where phones are everywhere, the impact of these devices on students has never been more critical,” Kazim said.

On higher education, delegates passed a resolution to change the way oversight of community colleges is managed by the state, and a resolution to continue advocacy around SUNY Downstate.

UUP President Fred Kowal praised the union’s successful organizing this year to keep SUNY Downstate open, but noted the fight was not yet over. “Despite the success that we have achieved this year … that is just the beginning of this struggle,” he said.

In response to the June 2023 Supreme Court ban on the use of affirmative action in college admissions, delegates passed a resolution urging NYSUT to uphold equal opportunity for all marginalized groups. “The esteemed members of the Supreme Court, as the saying goes, were born on third base and think they scored a triple,” said Mike Sill, United Federation of Teachers, adding that while the “privileged justices” might not think affirmative action is necessary, NYSUT members know it is.

Delegates also passed numerous resolutions related to educational issues, measures to support the integration of career-connected learning with quality CTE programs and the expansion of CTE programs statewide.

Another resolution addressed the challenges of artificial intelligence. “AI is scary. It’s coming and we know it,” said Jeff Orlowski, president of the Kenmore TA. “We need to get ahead of it and get protections for our students and our teachers.”

Delegates also passed a resolution calling on the US Supreme Court to follow and uphold the law.

Speaking in support of a resolution to encourage teaching and learning about labor in public schools, Laura Franz, president of the Albany Public School TA, recounted the story of Kate Mullaney, an early labor leader whose home is a national landmark. Franz urged attendees to visit the site “because learning about our past is critical to our future.”

A resolution addressing extreme temperatures in NY schools was a ‘hot topic.’ Several delegates rose to speak about the measure, including Samantha Rosado-Ciriello, a member of the NYSUT Board president of the Yonkers Federation of Teachers.

“We all know that in September and June our classrooms are basically ovens,” said Rosado-Ciriello. “We have seen ambulances taking our union members away and taking our students away to the hospital because of heat exhaustion and dehydration. These extreme temperatures do not allow for sustainable learning environments for teachers or students.”

Delegates brought forward two resolutions related to the health and safety of students; one was about preventing swatting and one to improve the healthiness of school meals even as we increase access. Both measures passed.

Members remain concerned about their health plans. A resolution to consider a research-based expert study on a national single health plan and another to monitor Medicare Advantage plans both passed.

Delegates enthusiastically passed a measure to support advocacy, education and legislation to reduce US maternal mortality rates “Racism is a healthcare issue, and when maternal mortality happens, communities are traumatized,” said Janella Hinds, VP for Academic High Schools at UFT. “We can do better, so for the students we teach and the families we serve, I ask you to support this resolution.”

A resolution to support legislation that prohibits book banning was passed to the general approbation of the audience. Florida retiree Ross Stonefield, RC 43 told the hall, “I see every single day what’s happening with banned books in Florida, and I think, ‘Well, it will never happen in NY,’ but as we can see, it is happening in NYS.”

A resolution valuing and honoring arts education and another resolution encouraging education and information regarding NYS paid family leave both passed.

In the wake of the Farmingdale tragedy, NYSUT delegates called for legislation that would require passengers on all buses transporting students to wear seatbelts.

Delegates also passed a resolution calling on NYSUT to continue its fight to end child poverty

All remaining resolutions were automatically referred to the NYSUT Board of Directors.