VP, Professional Rights & Responsibilities
There has been a lot of talk about democracy lately. In GNTA, we have worked really hard examining, discussing, and communicating our decision making process. We have read, re-read, distributed, and discussed the GNTA constitution and bylaws and looked closely to assure that we were following the intent of the language. In the areas where the language was vague or inconsistent with practice, we brought the discussion to the Delegate Assembly and made the necessary changes.
At this year’s NYSUT Representative Assembly meeting thousands of elected delegates, like myself, put our private lives aside for two days to travel to Rochester to meet and discuss, debate, and vote on proposals for NYSUT’s legislative program. This is work that delegates take seriously and are proud to do. It has been said that decisions are made by those who are in the room.
This democratic process is followed by political organizations large and small. NYSUT, New York State United Teachers, is a political organization that represents members from all over the state. It is important to recognize that this organization represents members from Great Neck and other Nassau County locals, but also members from northern and western New York, and the large rural areas of the state. NYSUT also includes New York City, the United Federation of Teachers, which represents the members from all five boroughs. It is important to know that the membership from the cities in NY, including Syracuse and Buffalo, have more delegates than the rest of the state combined.
Our Executive Board has been asked to be more transparent with process and to communicate more frequently with the membership. This is happening within NYSUT as well. We are living in unsettling times where each of us feels the need to protect everything that is ours and to fight for all we deserve. When these issues are brought to our elected delegates for discussion, decisions are made. This is what democracy looks like. This is the procedures we follow at our monthly Delegate Assembly, and this is the process that is followed at the NYSUT Representative Assembly.
The democratic process does not guarantee that we always get our way, but the process assures that every vote counts. We take this responsibility very seriously. We are there in the room for each discussion and we are present when the question is called. When a voice vote is too close to call we yell louder. When a hand vote is taken, our hands are held high. When that is too close to call, and we need to stand to be counted, we stand proudly. It doesn’t always feel like we are getting our due, but we have to be in the room to be counted.
As we go to the polls on May 17th and again on November 8th, we should remember that “This is what democracy looks like!”