GNTA VOTE-COPE Coordinator
John F. Kennedy School
I had the privilege of representing GNTA at the 43rd NYSUT Representative Assembly in Buffalo, NY. This was my second RA and the weekend again proved memorable and, for me, there were several highlights. First, I was proud to see that the LGBTQ Task Force made its debut at the RA’s NYSUT Benefits and Services on Display. The LGBTQ booth had a great deal of traffic, which reflected NYSUT’s long-term support of the LGBTQ community. Another highlight was the speech by New York State AFL-CIO President Mario Cilento, who pledged to stand side by side with NYSUT in the fight against Governor Cuomo’s toxic agenda. He also shared a poignant story of a dinner table conversation in which his daughters grasped the importance of opting out of the state tests in support of their teachers. Lastly, it was uplifting to join other labor groups at the International Workers’ Day rally in Niagara Square in the name of solidarity.
NYSUT members across the state contributed $9,021,490.44 to VOTE-COPE, the most money ever raised during an annual drive. This sounds great until you realize that each billionaire hedge fund donor can contribute that much or more individually. Locally, NYSUT members of Nassau County contributed over $1,000,000. And, drumroll please, GNTA was awarded the June Smith Award, which recognizes locals that contribute an average of $50 or more per member. We did have a successful campaign but I think we could do even better. As discussed at the RA, it remains vitally important that we continue and strive to increase our contributions. This money is used to support pro-education and pro-union legislation. Without our continued contributions locally and across the state, our ability to fight back against politicians seeking to break unions and push anti-teacher agenda is weakened. Worse, we could find ourselves in the same situation as our fellow teachers and other public employees in states such as Wisconsin who have seen their unions defeated and stripped of collective bargaining rights, which would have the same dire effects in our state: an even greater test and punish agenda, the elimination of tenure and the Triborough Amendment, and the continuation of the tax cap.