At its meeting on February 10, 2014, the JETA Executive Council unanimously adopted the following resolution on behalf of the leaders of NYSUT currently running for re-election:
Whereas over the past 30 years we have witnessed a shift in the political climate in which we work like never seen before. Teachers and Teacher’s Unions have become the scapegoats of our budget problems in a way never seen. This sentiment has been further aggravated by what is now referred to as “The Great Recession;” however, it needs to be recognized that it has been simmering for a long time; and
Whereas the raises of the 1980’s started to bring us forward to a level of respect that we deserved. Health insurance costs were not on the radar and you never heard complaints about our pensions. During the “fiscal crisis” of New York State in 1991 we actually had a mid-year cut to state aid. We had layoffs, but ducked a huge loss mostly due to a retirement incentive that was offered by the State; and
Whereas this practice of retirement incentives became relatively common throughout the 90’s and helped to mitigate the constant budget issues that seemed to confront us every year. As the stock market soared the retirement system performed well and cost school districts next to nothing. Raises became increasingly difficult to bargain as health insurance costs began to grow like never seen previously. During this period, private sector workers began to lose their defined benefit pensions to defined contribution plans like 401k’s. They also began to pick up a greater share of their health insurance. Throughout this time however, we managed to survive rather well; and
Whereas we lobbied our local legislators in the summer of 2001 and our talking points revolved around how to spend what was estimated to be about a $5 billion surplus. On September 11, 2001 we saw the tragic events that resulted in a loss of more than 3000 of our citizen’s lives. The personal losses are far too great to be quantified and we should never minimize their significance. But it is relevant to point out that in the wake of those events our $5 billion surplus became a $12 billion dollar deficit in New York State. The world changed quickly and drastically in many ways. Yet, we survived; and
Whereas as a statewide union we dealt with budget struggles and layoffs and things seemed to go up and down for a while. Our leader of 33 years, Tom Hobart announced his pending retirement in 2004. It was a shock but we knew we had the experience of 1st vice president Toni Cortese to rely upon. Somewhere around that time she announced that she was leaving for a job with the AFT. Also remember, it was only a short time before that 2nd vice president Walter Dunn also retired. Our current president, Dick Iannuzzi was appointed to replace Walter. Maria Neira was appointed to replace Toni Cortese. At the 2005 RA Dick Iannuzzi was elected and became the second president in the history of NYSUT. We had a significant change in the leadership of the organization in a short period of time. Through these changes, we still survived; and
Whereas Dick immediately had to negotiate his way around the struggles associated with the statewide unification with the NEANY. Those of us who recall know that was not an easy task. Also around the same time there was a national split within the AFL-CIO that resulted in the formation of the Change to Win organization. There now existed a division in the house of labor that impacted us all at our labor councils. Following shortly afterwards was the Great Recession of 2008-2009. An economic event that was unprecedented in the history of not only this nation, but much of this planet. The massive loss of revenues resulted in a massive loss of jobs in the public sector, including more than 30000 teachers in New York State. It needs to also be recognized that this massive loss of jobs caused a massive loss of revenue for NYSUT as an organization; and
Whereas we moved forward and faced Tier 5 in 2010, Tier 6 in 2012. A tax cap, threats to Triborough and LIFO. A perfect storm came upon us from well-organized and well-funded opposition and a Democrat-in-name-only governor. Yet, we survived. We faced Race to the Top legislation from our Democrat-in-name-only president that resulted in APPR and the common core in a wave of reform that covered this entire country. Through all of that we managed to survive and achieve an APPR plan where 80% of the plan is collectively bargained locally. Do we love APPR? Of course not: It has been hard work to bargain something and protect our members at the same time. The hard work continues and it isn’t going to get any easier in public education any time soon. If you don’t believe that you need to pay attention to what has happened in Wisconsin and Michigan. This is the world we live in and New York State is a huge target that is not immune to what is out there. We need to understand the backdrop that colors the decisions that have been made over the last several years. We need to recognize that the leadership of NYSUT has positioned us to be part of the conversation along the way. We need to recognize that we can’t bang the table and say NO and expect challenges to go away. And most importantly, we need to be truthful to our members and not make promises that we know we can’t keep. We must always do what is best for the organization, which means what is best for the diverse membership we represent; and
Whereas we have survived all of the preceding, how is it that leaders within our organization have now acted in a way that will destroy from within what we have all fought so hard to preserve? How is it that leaders who have the voice and power to enact change choose to overthrow 80% of our NYSUT leadership instead of work from within to maintain unity? How is it that the largest local within NYSUT insists it has no interest in “taking over” yet they weigh in with an endorsement before the Unity Caucus has a chance to take a position? There is a call for a need for change. Have they not witnessed the NYSUT that has endured unthinkable challenges? and
Whereas the platform of the Revive NYSUT team choose to use the title “Where We Stand”, taken from Al Shanker’s AFT newsletter. It is borderline offensive that they would hijack something from a figure of unity for this union and use it to promote an agenda that is sure to divide. Maybe they need to read the transcript of the “Keep the Clock” speech from the 1976 Representative Assembly and take a lesson.
“Our organization is a wonderful work of art. It has been put together. If destroyed, it will never be put together again. To each of us goes the responsibility of seeing that it is the clock that survives and not the sledge hammer.”
Whereas the Jordan-Elbridge Teachers’ Association is from a local of less than 200 members. Locals like ours—943 in all–compose 72% of NYSUT. 1158 locals have less than 400 members and constitute 88% of all NYSUT locals.
Resolve that we continue to support the incumbent officers in their bid for reelection to their respective offices within the leadership of NYSUT.
Further resolve that other locals join us in supporting the incumbent officers so that our leadership is not driven by only the largest 2% of locals in this organization.