Greetings Everyone and I hope this finds you well and looking forward to our upcoming February recess!
Last week, Gary and I attended the Long Island President's Council Winter Meeting. This is a group of Teacher Union Presidents from Nassau and Suffolk.
This year, there was a lot of discussion about 2 topics. The lifting of Covid restrictions including mask mandates, and NYSUT's endorsement of Governor Hochul. We believe the lifting of Covid restrictions is going to happen in the very near future. This will include not only masks but other protocols as well, since as Dr. Lohman pointed out in his presentation last week, they are all connected. We are here to support all of our members throughout this time and understand that there are many varying perspectives surrounding these changes. My priority has always been to keep everyone safe and support all members with whatever their needs are, whether that was obtaining vaccines last year, or providing weekly testing this year, neither of which falls under our union responsibilities, but were ways to support all members and therefore became my priorities.
As for NYSUT's support for the Governor, some members have objected to that endorsement and as a result, wanted to stop contributions to Vote Cope. Many large unions endorsed her, because of her favorable positions on labor issues, including CSEA, NYPD, FDNY, the Hotel Trades Council, United Steelworkers, and more. Andy Pallotta, NYSUT'S president was at our meeting and spoke about that decision.
Just so everyone understands, NYSUT's endorsement is a result of her actions and commitments to our profession, not to our personal beliefs. We all have them, and we can all vote accordingly on election day. NYSUT has over 650k members. That's a lot of personal beliefs!! They endorse candidates who support us as teachers, public education, and labor issues.
Folks, this is our livelihood. Don't get so comfortable that you feel any of it is owed to you. An anti-union governor could quickly, negatively impact every aspect of our jobs. Just ask Wisconsin teachers.
From Andy Pallotta, here are just some of the reasons that NYSUT is supporting her, and keep in mind, they have not endorsed a governor in 15 years. They never endorsed Cuomo. Gov. Hochul has made the following policy commitments to help educators in our state:
- Fully fund Foundation Aid, which is the critical funding all schools require to provide educators and students with the support they need to teach and learn. This year’s budget includes a $2.07 billion increase in year-to-year funding (7%); $1.6 billion increase in Foundation Aid (8%)
- Expanded TAP to include part-time college students
- Simplify and speed up the complicated certification process
- Provide schools with appropriate staff, such as social workers, school psychologists and counselors, to provide for the social-emotional needs of our students
- Help address the teacher shortage, both immediately and in the long term. This will help fill the many gaps that exist in staffing — gaps that are stretching our current teacher force too thin
- Work to boost levels of school support staff, such as bus drivers and aides
- The restoration of foundation aid alone is critical to school districts being able to preserve programs and staff, especially as the emergency funds they were given for Covid relief are diminishing.
Vote Cope is a completely optional contribution. Approximately half of your contribution comes back to MITA to be used locally on things like our red shirts that we give out, or events that we sponsor, etc. The rest NYSUT uses to fund a wide variety of things related to political action in support of our profession.