Civil and Human Rights Committee

Civil and Human Rights

NYSUT and Civil & Human Rights

social justice

“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,

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, contact Paul Webster, NYSUT director of community outreach, at or 518-213-6000, ext. 6616.

NYSUT’S Social Justice Agenda:

Samantha Rosado-Ciriello, Yonkers FT, Maria Pacheco, Mohonasen TA, NYSUT President Andy PallottaOur 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. (At right: Yonkers FT president Samantha Rosado-Ciriello and Mohanasen TA president Maria Pacheco with NYSUT President Andy Pallotta)

Committee Members By Region:

Capital District:

Jacqueline Berger
Margaret Bouck
Susan Burns
Preya Krishna-Kennedy
Maria Pacheco*
Linda Parker


Adam Piasecki
Tammy Romania


Martha Bilsback


Cordelia Anthony
Rosemary Catanzarti*
Sheila Goldberg
Joshua Hickey
Debra Rothar

New York City:

Rowena Blackman-Stroud*
Zina Burton-Myrick
Christopher Crowe
Sonja Hill
Luther Lohr
Servia Silva


Kathleen Roach
Martha Swan


Angela Spahr

Retiree Council:

Sheila Goldberg
Martin Sommer


Karen Arthmann*
Margie Brumfield*
Michelle Farley
Liz McCheyne


Tom Little
Virginline Woodall


Isabella Bertoletti
Paul Clement
Selina Durio*
Kathleen Lindhom
Kevin McCoy
Dante Morelli
Wendy Palladino
Wayne White*


Mandy Gersten
Diane Gonzalez
Kevin McAllister
Mitchell Polay
Martin Sommer


Jessica Groves
Dawn Townsend

Western New York:

Paula Fink
Serena Kotch *
Daniel Ratel
Eve Shippens
Sally Tripi

* NYSUT Board of Directors member

NYSUT Footer
Our Voice, Our Values, Our Union