YOUR UNION, YOUR VOICE: It's important to participate in the NYSUT RA. Here’s how to make it happen.

Your statewide union is a powerful force dedicated to amplifying members’ voices and achieving members’ priorities. Your voice matters! To combat the proliferating attacks on unions and member rights, it takes every member, every day to BE the union!

NYSUT’s highest governing body is the Representative Assembly, comprising delegates from across the state who meet to set the union’s course for the following year.   The NYSUT RA is:

• A forum for debating and discussing policy issues and resolutions with leaders and delegates;

• An opportunity for on-site collaboration on political actions, elections and budget votes;

• A place to hear from state and national leaders on key issues affecting your professions;

• Essential to the union’s democratic process.

Here are some ways for locals to reduce costs of sending delegates to the RA:

• Launch a VOTE-COPE campaign (if your local doesn’t have one) and

• Use your VOTE-COPE rebates to fund RA participation

• Take advantage of discounts through NYSUT Member Benefits on car rentals

            • Form a council of locals.

Your local’s Labor Relations Specialist can provide help accessing these options.

Meanwhile, the single best way to afford the expense for locals and delegates is to build it into your annual budget — see below.

Here are frequently asked questions about ways to ensure your local is represented at the NYSUT RA, which will be held in 2016 from April 8-9 in Rochester.

Q:  Why can't NYSUT fund all of the delegates to attend the RA?

A:  NYSUT cannot treat one local or delegate differently from any other local or delegate.  It would be cost prohibitive for NYSUT to fund all of the delegates from all of our almost 1,400 locals.

Q: What does NYSUT do to keep RA costs down?

A: NYSUT annually assesses RA expenses, seeks multiple quotes for room rates and services and is vigilant about reducing costs wherever possible.  Cost-cutting initiatives have included bringing production of RA materials in-house, reducing costs for materials, eliminating unnecessary stage design, shifting video production costs in-house, and conducting rigorous cost comparisons for potential RA locations.  The union negotiates quantity discounts on room rates and arranges for cost-effective options for meals and special events.

Q: How can locals realistically expect to send multiple delegates to the RA?

A: While many locals do budget for RA participation by their full allocation of delegates, a local need send only one delegate to convey the full voting strength allocated to that local. 

Q:  What is the best way for locals to pay for delegates to represent them at the RA?

A:  The best way for locals to fund a delegate is to set a budget request, explain the importance of participation in the governance of the union to the members and ask the members to fund the cost within their local union dues structure on a bi-weekly basis.

 For example: For less than the cost of a cup of coffee per week:

 (1) 100 member local @ $1 per member biweekly period = $2,600

                                    --  OR  --

(2) 50 member local @ $2 per member biweekly period = $2,600

Q.: What is the process for forming a council of locals?

A: Locals with no more than 100 members in the same NYSUT Election District are entitled to form a council of locals to elect and send common delegates to the union's annual policymaking convention. Councils can total up to 300 members in all. Again this year, the NYSUT officers expanded the time period allocated to form councils of locals, in order to help all locals send delegates. We urge ALL locals to use whatever means necessary to participate in the democratic process by which our union operates.

For more details on forming councils of locals, refer to the 2016 Convention Call at www.nysut.org/RA.

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