Civil and Human Rights Committee

Civil and Human Rights

NYSUT and Civil & Human Rights

“As we seek to build a greater labor movement, one of the cornerstones of our commitment to social justice is to ensure that all workers and communities are treated fairly, with dignity and respect, irrespective of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender and gender identity or expression, religion or place of birth.”

— J. Philippe Abraham,
NYSUT Secretary-Treasurer

The charge of the NYSUT Standing Committee on Civil and Human Rights is to advance the union’s efforts to promote equity and social justice. The committee addresses civil and human rights initiatives and social justice issues facing members and their communities. Its recommendations are forwarded to NYSUT’s Officers and Board. The committee coordinates efforts with civil and human rights committees of the AFT and NEA, as well as the AFL-CIO and other organizations.

The committee’s advocacy has led NYSUT to take action on key social and human rights issues. Over the decades, our collective involvement has resulted in positive outcomes for many initiatives such as:

  • Dignity for All Students Act (DASA)
  • Repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)
  • Disaster Relief for hurricane, flood and earthquake victims
  • Border Witness Delegation Trips
  • Tipped Wage Increase in NY
  • Recognition of Civil and Human Rights Heroes
  • Anti-Bullying Legislation and Training
  • LGBTQ Rights
  • U.N. International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women
  • Anti-Human Trafficking and Sex Trafficking Laws

The committee supports NYSUT’s actions on:

  • Women’s Rights
  • Wage Equity
  • Domestic Abuse
  • Hunger and Poverty
  • Justice for Farmworkers
  • Immigration Issues
  • DACA
  • DREAM Act
  • Environmental Justice
  • Fairness and Equity in Educational Opportunities
  • Fair Trade
  • Child Labor
  • Retirement Security and Protection of All Safety Nets
  • Human Rights and Social Justice Education
  • Global Rights to Free Public Education
  • Socio-Economic Equality
  • Public School Services for Students with Physical Disabilities
  • Racial Inequality
  • More Access to Affordable Public Higher Education
  • Health Care Access
  • Rights of the Innocent

The committee aims to address these issues in the future:

  • School to Prison Pipeline, Juvenile Justice, Criminal Justice Reform
  • Eliminate the Stigma of Mental Health and Promote Resources/Access to Benefits
  • Real Life Skills for Students with Physical and Emotional Disabilities
  • Raising Awareness and Fighting Against Voter Suppression
  • Holocaust Remembrance and Genocide Prevention
  • Religious Freedom; Ability to Worship Freely
  • Common Sense Economics
  • Next Generation Title IX
  • Human Rights Conference
  • Prosecutorial Misconduct

NYSUT members interested in having their local union become involved in social justice issues can visit the resources section of the social justice page at To submit ideas to the committee, email

NYSUT’S Social Justice Agenda:

Social Justice

(From left, Laura Franz, president Albany Public School Teachers Association; Kewsi Burgess, APSTA member; J. Philippe Abraham, NYSUT secretary treasurer; and Jolene DiBrango, NYSUT executive vice president, at a NYSUT event celebrating Black History Month.)

Our agenda promotes equal access to society’s opportunities, thereby empowering people to have choices and control over their own destiny. This agenda stems from the belief that injustice and oppression in other communities and nations directly impacts members of the labor movement. The premise behind this agenda is that a socially just world affords individuals and groups fair treatment and an impartial share of society’s benefits.

This agenda holds that a fundamental responsibility of labor leaders is to stand in solidarity with the oppressed and fight to ensure that every individual enjoys basic human rights. A social justice agenda is more than token charity; instead it is a strategy that transforms individuals and communities.

Committee Members By Region

Update: February 2022

Capital District

  • Susan Burns
  • Sandra Carner-Shafran
  • Laura Franz
  • Jessica Jakobe
  • Dawn Kaminsky
  • Preya Krishna-Kennedy
  • Pamela Malone
  • Maria Pacheco
  • Patrick Romain


  • Dora Leland
  • Elizabeth McCheyne
  • Adam Piasecki
  • Stephanie Roby


  • Martha Bilsback
  • Lauren Forstbauer
  • Shawna Newkirk-Reynolds
  • Candice VanDyke


  • Cordelia Anthony
  • Deborah Falzarano
  • Barbara Hafner
  • Miriam Hanan
  • Richard Newman
  • Allison Noonan
  • Gregory Perles
  • Jennifer Snyder
  • Mary Willis

New York City

  • Isabella Bertoletti
  • Rowena Blackman Stroud
  • Zina Burton-Myrick
  • Benjamin Carr
  • Natasha Christensen
  • Paul Clement
  • Sonja Hill
  • Lohr Luther
  • Cecelia McCall
  • Silva Servia


  • Temnit Muldowney
  • Martha Swan


  • Angela Trombley


  • Karen Arthmann


  • Selina Durio
  • Louisa Eiermann
  • Michael Eiermann
  • Jennifer Houston
  • John Mansfield
  • Dante Morelli
  • Wendy Palladino
  • Debra Rothar
  • Robert Verbeck


  • Nicole Capsello
  • Jacqueline Hayman
  • Thomas Little
  • Virginline Woodall


  • Jacqueline Baker
  • Lynn Leoni
  • Robbyn McCauley
  • Florence McCue
  • Mitchell Polay
  • Sandra Ramsey
  • Marty Sommer

Western New York

  • Patrick Braunscheidel
  • Daniel Ratel