According to labor leader and civil rights activist Dolores Huerta, unions matter much more than most of us think.
“I think young people are skeptical of unions because they don’t know what unions are,” she explained. “The reason that young people don’t understand about labor is because we don’t teach labor studies in our schools. Young people don’t know how did we get the eight-hour day? How did we get the weekends? How did we get unemployment insurance? Disability insurance? How did we get public education? Social Security? Safety standards? These are the benefits that working people have, that were fought for by labor unions and people who died to get these benefits.”
Huerta is a lifelong activist for workers’ civil rights. Alongside Cesar Chavez, she helped organize the 1965 Delano grape strike, which brought national attention to the plight of farm workers. Through her life, she has remained a strong critic of inequality.
“Working people are the majority of the people in our United States of America,” she said. “Labor unions are the ones that really create the middle class. If we eliminate the middle class, then we don’t have a real democracy, because the majority of people in the United States are workers.
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Property tax levy growth for local governments with fiscal years that close on Dec. 31 will be capped at 2 percent for the 2019 fiscal year, according to State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. This figure affects the tax cap calculations for all counties, towns, fire districts, 44 cities and 10 villages.
"For these local governments, allowable levy growth will be 2 percent for the first time since 2013," DiNapoli said. "Despite the possibility of increased tax revenue, municipal budgets will still be vulnerable to rising fixed costs and potential federal funding cuts. Local officials should proceed cautiously when crafting their spending plans for next year."
The tax cap, which first applied to local governments in 2012, limits tax levy increases to the lesser of the rate of inflation or 2 percent with some exceptions, including a provision that allows municipalities to override the tax cap.
During the 2014 through 2018 fiscal years, municipalities with a fiscal year ending on Dec. 31 had their levy growth capped at less than 2 percent.
For a list of allowable levy growth factors for all local governments, visit: http://www.osc.state.ny.us/localgov/realprop/pdf/inflation_allowablegrowthfactors.pdf
Find out how your government money is spent at Open Book New York. Track municipal spending, the state's 145,000 contracts, billions in state payments and public authority data. Visit the Reading Room for contract FOIL requests, bid protest decisions and commonly requested data.
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Wednesday dealt a major blow to organized labor. By a 5-to-4 vote, with the more conservative justices in the majority, the court ruled that government workers who choose not to join unions may not be required to help pay for collective bargaining.
There was a feeling of strength and unity at the RA in Buffalo this past April. NYSUT and its members came together after numerous victories in a transformative year for many locals. Locals achieved success in asserting political action with a no vote for the Constitutional Convention and in engaging members in anticipation of the Janus decision. NYSUT Executive Vice President Andy Pallotta’s announcement that the Assembly introduced Bill A10475 rallied the Delegates. If approved by the Senate, A10475 would overhaul the state’s current evaluations system and would prohibit state officials from requiring state test scores in teacher rating systems. Pallotta urged Delegates to be proud and strong and continue the fight, “We have to fight and make sure everyone’s with us. We need to start calling and sending faxes and asking members of the Senate, Where are you on this bill?” Pallotta assured Delegates that the new bill preserves the key elements of local control. He explained, “If you have something you like, you can keep it. If you don’t like it, you can create something new.” Use the link to see the full text of Bill A10475.
Delegates’ strength and union pride were praised and encouraged by invited guests.
New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli spoke about the value of public education, “Public education is the pathway to the middle class. It is the door to economic security and a successful life, and teachers hold the key.” DiNapoli warned it is time to fight back against attacks on public employees, on the DeVos agenda, and on those working to dismantle defined benefit plans. He assured delegates, “It is time to stand up, and I will stand with you.” Mario Cilento, President of the New York State AFL-CIO, urged members to build upon the momentum, “Labor is under attack like never before. We have to speak with our members, not to them, so they become educated and then mobilize. If we do this together, with a strategy that makes sense, we will be successful and members will know their voices matter.”
The RA is NYSUT’s annual policymaking convention and it was action-packed. Delegates approved 27 resolutions, five special orders of business and referred 14 resolutions to the NYSUT Board of Directors for further action. One resolution failed. There were a number of resolutions against state testing. Delegates approved one resolution demanding they slow down the rush to computer-based testing calling for the SED to provide research-based studies on the validity of the computer testing. In another testing matter Delegates called for SED and the Board of Regents to adopt a clear policy prohibiting schools from punishing or stigmatizing students whose parents opt them out of testing. Other resolutions were related to higher education, health and safety, pensions/retirement, social justice, political action and civil rights. A full list of resolutions can be found at the ink below.
Note: Some information from this article was gathered from the NYSUT Website.
The Building Rep as Organizer
(This workshop is part of the building rep core curriculum)
In these times, internal organizing is probably the most important job
of a union representative. This workshop will help union leaders and
representatives to increase and refine their member engagement skills in
order to build the locals capacity and power. Included will be training
on one-on-one conversations, data collection, leadership identification,
and how to resolve workplace problems using organizing tactics.
Tuesday, July 24, 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM
Nassau Regional Office Conference Center
1000 Woodbury Rd., Suite 214
Woodbury, NY 11797
Members can register for this workshop at the following link:
The registration deadline is Friday, July 20, 2018
Experts from NYSUTs Research & Education Services depart will provide
information and guidance to teachers and teaching assistants dealing
with New York States increasing complex certification requirements.
Following a general presentation, attendees will have the opportunity to
have individual meetings with our presenters to discuss their particular
Tuesday, August 14, 2018
Nassau Regional Office Conference Center
9:00 AM - 12:00 PM
1000 Woodbury Road - Suite 214
Woodbury, New York 11797
Members can register for this workshop at the following link:
The registration deadline is Friday August 10, 2018
Keeping Accurate Membership Records Workshop
One of the things we learned in doing our member re-enrollment campaign this year is that there are often glaring discrepancies between the membership records maintained by locals and NYSUT. Member records errors can result in problems on many levels – locals being assessed inaccurate dues amounts, difficulty contacting members in emergency situations and, perhaps most important of all in the post-Janus era, potential legal liability for your local and NYSUT if dues are withheld from people you thought were members, but in fact aren’t. This workshop will provide training on membership record keeping best practices to help you avoid unnecessary problems and keep your local running at peak efficiency.
Thursday, July 19, 2018
Nassau Regional Office Conference Center
1:30 PM to 3:30 PM
You can register for the conference at the following link:
Registration deadline is Tuesday, July 17th, 2018
On Wednesday, May 23, the GNTA held its annual retirement dinner to celebrate its members as they are about to end their careers and education and are about to start new chapters to their lives. As always, BRC, BCG and SDM building chairs were invited to attend the reception at Westbury Manor as our guests, with thanks for their service to the union.
by Nina Totenberg, NPR
In a case involving the rights of tens of millions of private sector employees, the U.S. Supreme Court, by a 5-4 vote, delivered a major blow to workers, ruling for the first time that workers may not band together to challenge violations of federal labor laws.
Writing for the majority, Justice Neil Gorsuch said that the 1925 Federal Arbitration Act trumps the National Labor Relations Act and that employees who sign employment agreements to arbitrate claims must do so on an individual basis — and may not band together to enforce claims of wage and hour violations.
LAW A 'Yellow Dog Contract' And Other Jabs During Supreme Court Opening Arguments"The policy may be debatable but the law is clear: Congress has instructed that arbitration agreements like those before us must be enforced as written," Gorsuch writes. "While Congress is of course always free to amend this judgment, we see nothing suggesting it did so in the NLRA — much less that it manifested a clear intention to displace the Arbitration Act. Because we can easily read Congress's statutes to work in harmony, that is where our duty lies."
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, writing for the four dissenters, called the majority opinion "egregiously wrong." She said the 1925 arbitration law came well before federal labor laws and should not cover these "arm-twisted," "take-it-or-leave it" provisions that employers are now insisting on.
She noted that workers' claims are usually small, and many workers fear retaliation. For these reasons, she said, relatively few workers avail themselves of the arbitration option. On the other hand, these problems are largely by a class-action suit brought in court on behalf of many employees.
LAW The War Over Confirming Federal Judges Is Heating Up — Again The inevitable result of Monday's decision, she warned, will be huge underenforcement of federal and state laws designed to advance the well-being of vulnerable workers. It is up to Congress, she added, to correct the court's action.
In his oral announcement, Gorsuch took the unusual step of elaborately rebutting Ginsburg's dissent, which is five pages longer than the majority's opinion.
A green light for employers
The ruling came in three cases — potentially involving tens of thousands of nonunion employees — brought against Ernst & Young LLP, Epic Systems Corp. and Murphy Oil USA Inc.
LAW Supreme Court Upholds Individual Rights In 2 Key Criminal Justice CasesEach required its individual employees, as a condition of employment, to waive their rights to join a class-action suit. In all three cases, employees tried to sue together, maintaining that the amounts they could obtain in individual arbitration were dwarfed by the legal fees they would have to pay. Ginsburg's dissent noted that a typical Ernst & Young employee would likely have to spend $200,000 to recover only about $1,900 in overtime pay.
The employees contended that their right to collective action is guaranteed by the National Labor Relations Act. The employers countered that they are entitled to ban collective legal action under the Federal Arbitration Act, which was enacted in 1925 to reverse the judicial hostility to arbitration at the time.
Employment lawyers were elated. Ron Chapman, who represents management in labor-management disputes, said he expects small and large businesses alike to immediately move to impose these binding arbitration contracts to eliminate the fear of costly class-action verdicts from juries. "It gives employers the green light to eliminate their single largest employment law risk with the stroke of a pen," he said.
Implications for #MeToo
Labor law experts said Monday's decision very likely will present increasing problems for the #MeToo movement, and for other civil rights class actions claiming discrimination based on race, gender and religion. There is no transparency in most binding arbitration agreements, and they often include nondisclosure provisions. What's more, class actions deal with the expense and fear of retaliation problems of solo claims. As Ginsburg put it, "there's safety in numbers."
Yale Law professor Judith Resnick observed that the decision applies to all manner of class actions. "What this says is that when you buy something, use something, or work for someone, that entity can require you to waive your right to use public courts," she noted.
Cornell University labor law professor Angela Cornell expects the number of these litigation waivers to skyrocket now. "What we see is the privatization of our justice system," she said.
A study by the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute shows that 56 percent of nonunion private sector employees are currently subject to mandatory individual arbitration procedures under the 1925 Federal Arbitration Act, which allows employers to bar collective legal actions by employees.
The court's decision means that tens of millions of private nonunion employees will be barred from suing collectively over the terms of their employment.
On November 5 and 6, Jen Snyder, Frank Bua, Luci Legotti and Jeff Bernstein joined more than 700 delegates and alternates at the annual NYSTRS conference at the Saratoga Springs City Center. A quick recap:
Copies of the seminar presentations can be downloaded from the links below:
Remember, the GNTA is your local union -- we are NOT retirement experts. Develop your own NYSTRS account by using the link below. It's easy; you just need your NYSTRS Employee ID number!
Frank , Jen, Jeff and Luci
President: Jim Daszenski
Vice President for Professional Rights & Responsibilities: Jennifer Snyder
Vice President for Administration: Frank Bua
Vice President for Contract Improvement: Kim Semder
Vice President for Professional Development: Elaine Brendel
Treasurer: Maura Carroll
Elementary Director, PreK-2: Sandra Kaufman
Elementary Director, 3-5: Luci Legotti
Middle School Director: Dan Isaac
High School Director: Jeff Bernstein
Building-by-building Breakdown for contested VP, Contract Improvement Seat
EMB JFK LV NHS NMS PV SR SHS SMS V
Kim Semder 39 41 47 84 47 11 32 10 29 7
Tim Madden 10 6 9 21 22 10 7 101 31 0
Jim Daszenski / Kim Semder
Jennifer Snyder / Maddie Dressner
Joan Greenberg / Ryan Nadherny
Jeff Bernstein / Michelle Sorise
Sandi Cooper / Kirsten Kuhn
Luci Legotti (not AFT) / Cindy Pavlic (not AFT)
Michael Norberto / Elaine Brendel
Bill Toto / Bill Ryall (REC)
Pam Fogel / NO ALTERNATE (Paras)
If you want a good history lesson, look no further than the Rust Belt. Beyond the relics of America’s industries are hardworking Americans serving as living reminders of the devastating consequences of what happens when cities and states close a public pension plan. In West Virginia and Michigan in particular, you’ll find two narratives about why pensions matter, especially in today’s economy.
As with any good history lesson, it’s always good to start at the beginning, where more than one hundred years ago some states and local governments began offering pensions to their teachers, firefighters and other public employees. Public pensions play several important roles for these public employees, government employers and taxpayers.
First, defined benefit pensions are a cost-efficient and effective way to provide retirement security to public employees. Employees pool their resources in a professionally managed plan that provides a defined monthly benefit upon retirement and leaves no one individual vulnerable to the whims of the financial markets.
Second, pensions are a proven way to recruit and retain quality workers. According to a recent survey, 82 percent of public employees say their pension benefits are extremely important to them. The 401(k) was created by a provision of the Revenue Act of 1978 as a vehicle to give additional tax-advantaged savings to highly paid executives. At first, it was a little noticed provision outside of the C-suite. In the early 1980s, however, the Reagan administration changed the regulatory interpretation of that provision and allowed much more widespread use of the 401(k). Combined with other laws passed during the Reagan administration that increased the regulatory burden on private-sector pension plans, private companies began shifting away from traditional pensions to 401(k)s. Most cities and states have not followed this trend; however, there are a few exceptions.
In the 1990s, both West Virginia and Michigan closed public pension plans. West Virginia was first, closing its teacher pension plan in 1991. All new teachers were placed in a 401(k)-style defined contribution plan. In 1997, Michigan closed its traditional pension plan for state government employees. What happened next is a warning to other states or cities considering a similar course.
After closing the pension plan, two things happened in both states: the cost of the plan increased dramatically and retirement security for employees plummeted. As plan costs skyrocketed in West Virginia, the state began studying its options.
In 2003, West Virginia found that providing a pension to teachers cost taxpayers half the amount of a comparable 401(k)-style plan. After 15 years, West Virginia reopened the pension plan for new teachers and gave teachers in the 401(k) plan an option to switch into the pension plan. Over 78 percent of teachers switched to the pension plan.
Michigan, too, has seen plan costs increase and funding levels decrease. But worst of all, Michigan is forcing its state employees to retire into poverty rather than providing a modest, reliable defined benefit. This year marked twenty years since Michigan closed its pension plan in favor of a 401(k). In January, the state Office of Retirement Services reported that the median account balance of employees in the 401(k) plan is just over $37,000. The average balance is slightly higher at $77,000. A lifetime annuity would give a Michigan social service worker retiring at age 65 just $400 per month in retirement income.
Recently our organization, the National Public Pension Coalition, released a report titled "Why Pensions Matter." In recounting the history of defined benefit pensions in the private sector and in states like West Virginia and Michigan, the report finds that traditional pensions offer a superior retirement for working families. Cities and states began offering public pensions not just to provide retirement security for their employees, but also so they could recruit and retain quality employees. As the private sector moved away from traditional pensions, inequality in retirement wealth grew.
The experiences of West Virginia and Michigan demonstrate that the same thing happens in the public sector. For both taxpayers and public employees and retirees, pensions matter.
Bailey Childers and Tyler Bond work for the National Public Pension Coalition.
ALBANY, N.Y. March 7, 2017 – Hundreds of public education activists from New York State United Teachers are set to flood the Capitol Tuesday to press for a far greater state investment in public schools and colleges – and for the wealthy to do their fair share to pay for it.
Nearly 600 classroom teachers; college faculty and professionals; and other educators will fan out beginning at 9 a.m. Tuesday for meetings with their local legislators. The volunteer lobbyists will press for a $2.1 billion increase in school aid, the same level of funding called for by the Regents; a strong, multi-year investment in SUNY, CUNY and the state’s community colleges; and restoration in state subsidies to SUNY hospitals, among other union priorities.
To fund these essential programs that benefit students and help grow the state’s economy, NYSUT is calling for the extension – and expansion – of the so-called millionaire’s tax to bring in about $5.6 billion in new state revenue. In addition, NYSUT activists are calling on Albany to close the “carried-interest loophole” that solely benefits hedge-fund managers and private equity partners, while costing taxpayers some $3.5 billion a year in tax revenue that could be used to expand programs that support students and middle-class families.
“There’s a choice to be made this year – providing tax breaks to millionaires or funding public education and supporting middle-class families,” said NYSUT President Karen E. Magee. “By extending and expanding the surcharge on the state’s highest earners and closing the carried interest loophole, the state can gain billions of dollars in new revenue to fund public education and health care. We believe that’s the right choice for New York State – and that New Yorkers agree with us.”
“Wall Street financiers shouldn’t get preferential treatment on their taxes,” said NYSUT Executive Vice President Andrew Pallotta. “Their income should be taxed the same as income earned by retail clerks, nurses and elementary school teachers. For too long, the wealthy elite have exploited the carried interest loophole to avoid paying their fair share in taxes, and that has deprived public schools and colleges of the funding they need. This year, Albany must act to close this loophole and make our tax system fairer and more progressive.”
In addition to school aid, Pallotta said, the union’s volunteer activists would also press lawmakers to maintain and fully phase in the Foundation Formula, while again highlighting the negative impact of the state’s tax cap on schools. NYSUT’s lobbying agenda for Tuesday, Pallotta said, also includes calling on the Legislature to repeal the state’s receivership law and, instead, invest more in community schools; fix the state’s broken system of testing and teacher evaluations; and fully fund Teacher Centers.
Show your support for NYSUT activists taking action at the Capitol today by taking action at the MAC! https://t.co/G5UEtgjfVj pic.twitter.com/Lgk7DCSzMW
The Senate has scheduled a vote today at noon to confirm President Trump's controversial nominee for Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos. Ms. DeVos, a billionaire and major donor to many of the very Senators who will vote to confirm her, is an outspoken advocate of privatizing public schools and instituting a voucher system. In fact, all of her children attended private school, if you can believe that. The current pre-vote tally has the Senate deadlocked in a 50-50 tie, in which case VP Pence would be called in to break the tie -- something that has NEVER happened for a President's Cabinet-level nominee. That ought to tell you something. Not going down quietly, Lakeville teachers decided to wear black today to protest DeVos's nomination. GO LAKEVILLE!