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    • LOCAL ACTION PROJECT: Union outreach program builds stronger locals through member engagement

      Eight-thirty in the morning in the middle of July and there they were — more than 100 teachers and education professionals representing almost 20 local unions— packed inside a large conference room, hard at work.

      They came from all over — Long Island, Buffalo, Northern New York and the Southern Tier — using their summertime not to lounge in the sun and do nothing, but to hone their leadership and communication skills as part of NYSUT’s weeklong Local Action Project.

      With assistance from NYSUT staff, they spent the week discussing ways to build meaningful partnerships within their communities and improve communications and outreach. They strategized on how to boost member participation within their locals. And they examined how to establish effective structures within their unions that would help enhance their workplaces and districts.

      “This is a big commitment … but it’s also a great opportunity,” said Elisabeth Lorentzsen, LAP coordinator for the Lowville Teachers Association in Northern New York. “Just to be able to network is huge. There’s so much value in being able to talk to your colleagues and learn about what worked in their locals, what didn’t, and what they consider to be successful.”

      The annual program — full of workshops and networking— requires a three-year commitment from locals and mixes newcomers with those finishing their final year.

      “We really want to make sure this a community for learning,” said Patrick Lyons, NYSUT’s director of Constituency Programs and Services. “We want first-year locals to learn from those in their second and third year about what has worked for them, and we want those second- and third-year locals to share their wisdom.”

      This summer marked the Lowville TA’s first year at LAP. Lorentzsen, a high school Spanish teacher who also serves as her union’s vice president, said increasing member involvement is what drew her local to the NYSUT program.

      “We needed help in learning how to increase participation in our union,” Lorentzsen said. The local recently negotiated a contract and held an information session to discuss the deal. Of 128 members, “just a handful of people showed up. … We’re looking for resources to educate people to be more community minded, and be more active.”

      local action project
      Patti Antanavige. Photo by El-Wise Noisette.

      The same needs brought the Mohawk Valley Community College Professional Association to LAP three years ago.

      “We’re pretty strong, but having 250 members across two different campuses gets really tricky in terms of making sure everyone is clued in,” said Patti Antanavige, MVCC’s LAP coordinator and the local’s grievance chair. “We wanted to make sure we improved our communications with our members and had a good one-on-one approach. I’m happy to say that three years in, we have mostly achieved that.

      “We took the lesson we learned in year-one regarding one-on-one communication and reorganized our entire representative structure to ensure people were talking with others they were comfortable with, instead of just people in close proximity to their buildings. It was a very big change, but it was an important one.”

      NYSUT Second Vice President Paul Pecorale said it’s vital — especially now that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled public-sector unions can no longer impose mandatory dues on its members — that locals keep their lines of communication open, increase involvement and “talk about what membership looks like.”

      “The people in this room,” Pecorale said of this year’s LAP participants, “understand the commitment to that process and the labor movement.”

      Antanavige, a student support adviser, said LAP gave her local “a really good look at how we operated and how we needed to change.

      “It’s useful to conduct that sort-of introspective research on yourself,” she said. “LAP also gave us the training we need in learning how to plan strategically. It’s been a great program for us.”

      Lorentzsen agreed.

      “We were grateful to be at LAP, particularly in a post-Janus world, so that we can actively engage and inspire as many of our members as possible,” she said. “We’ve learned a lot this week and are looking forward to using that knowledge to make our local stronger.”

      LAP: NYSUT Local Action Project 2019
    • NYSUT members urge vigilance around water

      Water safety is of heightened concern each summer as families, swimmers and hikers head to beaches, creeks, waterfalls and backyard pools to cool off.

      NYSUT members are among those who are on call to protect and educate.

      For others, water safety is an unexpected call to action, as it was this summer for Oneida Teachers Association member Peter Gillander, who jumped into action to rescue a child.

      Gillander was enjoying time with friends at Pixley Falls State Park when he noticed two children struggling in the current at the base of the waterfall. Gillander’s friend Greg Hoag, an off-duty New York State forest ranger, rescued the boy while Gillander rescued the girl, according to reports from the Department of Environmental Conservation. Both children survived.

      “It happened so fast. We heard the girl scream,” Gillander said. “There’s a kind of like a ledge. Greg ran along the side of the ledge. I went directly into the water. We basically got to the kids at the same time. The boy had gone under … we couldn’t see him with all the foaming of the (falls).”

      Gillander and Hoag were able to rescue the siblings and help their mom to her vehicle. “I called 911 to let them know what happened and to expect them at the hospital,” Gillander said.

      The mom took the children to Rome Hospital to help prevent a secondary drowning, which can occur from water inhaled that has settled in the lungs — something that many people do not realize can happen hours or even days later, Gillander said.

      Water safety education a priority for union members

      For some NYSUT members, water safety is a professional calling — as it is for the members of the New York State Lifeguards Corps who are trained in rescue and education at the state’s ocean beaches and parks. The 1,000-plus lifeguards are members of United University Professions, a higher education union affiliated with NYSUT. They take on swimmer safety and rescues on Long Island’s ocean beaches and at lakes, rivers, ponds and pools in New York’s state parks.

      Ryan Clark, a social studies teacher with the Bellmore-Merrick United Secondary Teachers, Inc., serves as a professional lifeguard and new president of the Lifeguard Corps. He is in his 23rd year lifeguarding at Jones Beach.

      "There's no more fulfilling outcome...than to pull someone out of the water who wouldn't have made it if it weren't for you," he said.

      The lifeguard teams can log as many as 20 rescues a day, he said, from "simple rescues" of someone panicking to pulling people out who are unconscious. Unfortunately, he said, there are now opiate-related rescues as well.

      One of his strongest tips is to keep small children away from water when they do not know how to swim. "There have been drownings in the bathtub and backyard ponds in addition to pools, lakes and in the ocean," he said. The Lifeguards Corp is working with an organization called End Drowning Now to develop more awareness on this issue, he said.

      The most common mistake that swimmers and non-swimmers make, Clark said, is "being overconfident around the water and not sure of the depth of the water in the pool/by/lake before they go in. "In the ocean, many overestimate their ability to swim in the surf-rip current conditions. It is easy to get disoriented when being thrown around by a large surf and panic."

      For others, water safety is an unexpected mission. In Long Island, Richard and Samantha Specht were both teachers in the Smithtown Teachers Association when their 2-year-old son Rees drowned in a backyard pond. Inspired by the kindness of a local landscaper after the tragedy, the family started a kindness project in their son’s name. The ReesSpecht Life Foundation has since evolved water safety program as well. The Long Island-based water safety programs are provided at no charge to schools, day cares and libraries.

      “We’ve reached 75,000 students since 2013,” said Richard Specht.

      The foundation partners with Safety Swim of Long Island to pay for swim lessons for underprivileged children.

      Since the tragedy, Specht said he learned that children can begin swimming lessons as early as 3 months old. He stresses vigilance, noting that children can drown in a bucket of water, or a toilet bowl.

      Chart: Awareness is key to staying safe in the ocean or any body of water, lifeguards say. Especially important, if you are caught in a rip current, follow the above steps to get out safely.

      Awareness is key to staying safe in the ocean or any body of water, lifeguards say. Especially important, if you are caught in a rip current, follow the above steps to get out safely.

      Water Safety 101

      • Be cautious around the ocean shoreline, rivers and lakes. Cold temperatures, currents and underwater hazards can make a fall into these bodies of water dangerous.
      • If you go boating, wear a life jacket. Most boating fatalities occur from drowning.
      • Prevent unsupervised access to the water.
      • Install and use barriers around your home pool or hot tub. Safety covers and pool alarms should be added as additional layers of protection.
      • Ensure that pool barriers enclose the entire pool area; are at least four-feet high with gates that are self-closing, self-latching and open outward, away from the pool. The latch should be high enough to be out of a small child's reach.
      • If you have an above-ground or inflatable pool, remove access ladders and secure the safety cover whenever the pool is not in use.
      • Remove any structures that provide access to the pool, such as outdoor furniture, climbable trees, decorative walls and playground equipment.
      • Keep toys that are not in use away from the pool and out of sight.

      Source: American Red Cross


    LTA Blog

    Stand Up For What All Kids Need







    Gov. Andrew Cuomo's proposed budget for 2015-2016 lays out a punishing anti-public education agenda that attacks teachers and hurts students.

    Rather than provide what all kids need, the governor is pushing a Billionaires' Agenda that would decimate the state's public schools. His "my-way-or-the-highway" budget would:

    • hold school aid increases hostage;
    • woefully underfund the state's K-12 and higher education systems;
    • more than double the weight of standardized tests;
    • make permanent an undemocratic tax cap that has wreaked financial havoc on school communities;
    • eliminate funding for teacher training;
    • launch a back-door voucher plan that would siphon funding away from schools most in need;
    • underfund public higher education by tying funding to campus "performance" rather than enrollment;
    • smooth the way for the privatization of SUNY's five hospitals;
    • destroy prep programs for future teachers;
    • and fail to fully address the student debt crisis.

    Simply put, Gov. Cuomo's proposed budget - which serves the interests of his billionaire backers - is an attack on public education that fails to address what all students need.

    Things you can do right now to fight back.

    Every NYSUT member is needed to defend public education and the teaching profession from Gov. Cuomo's Billionaires' Agenda.

    Tell the governor to stop scapegoating... stop teacher bashing and focus on what #AllKidsNeed.

    Here's your to-do list.

    Take action on this week's campaigns.

    The latest actions will always be right here in the No. 1 spot.

    Call your state senator. Now.

    • Stop what you're doing and call your state senator with this message: stand up to the Governor's "Bigfoot" tactics and defend our outstanding New York public schools!
    • You can look up the number at the NYSUT Member Action Center.

    Sign up for MAC text alerts!

    Take 10 seconds and sign up for MAC text alerts on your phone!

    Here's how: Text the word "NYSUT" to the contact number 38470.

    Sign the petitions.

    Call out the governor.

    • Invite the governor to visit your class to learn what #AllKidsNeed. Tweet out an invite directly at him and be sure to include his Twitter handle @NYGovCuomo and the hashtag #InviteCuomo if you want your tweet to be seen and heard.
    • Not on Twitter? See step 8.

    Get connected to the MAC.

    • BY TEXT. Get real-time text messages about urgent news and actions by texting the word NYSUT to the number 38470.
    • BY EMAIL. Subscribe to the NYSUT Member Action Center email alerts for updates on this campaign. If you're registered via email as a NYSUT MAC e-activist you'll also be the first to know about upcoming rallies, protests and more.
    • BY APP. Download the NYSUT MAC App for your iPhone or for your Android phone. Be sure notifications are enabled to receive alerts on new action items.

    Get connected on Facebook.

    Get connected on Twitter.

    • Join Twitter and follow @NYSUT to be part of the social media army.
    • Once a day (or as often as possible) tweet your thoughts on what #AllKidsNeed - more science labs, music and art classes, school libraries, smaller class sizes and more. We're reminding the governor to focus on what matters! Follow the conversation in real-time for some great examples from parents and educators.

    Share the poster.

    Wear the button.

    Take part in community forums.

    • Keep an eye on nysut.org/allkidsneed for information on upcoming NYSUT-sponsored Community Forums to Save Public Education in every region of the state.

    Talk it up.

    • Get the conversation going - online and offline. Read "Where We Stand" and use it to craft social media messages, send letters to the editor, and brief friends and colleagues.
    • Circulate and share print materials and videos.

    Support "Take Action Tuesday."

    • Mark your calendar to support NYSUT's "Take Action Tuesday" every week. Be on the lookout for updates.

    Learn more at www.nysut.org/allkidsneed.


    Last Updated (Tuesday, 03 March 2015 16:10)


    Member Alert Program




    There are so many member benefits, that it can be hard to keep track of them all.
    The NYSUT Member Benefits MAP (Member Alert Program) email blast service keeps you informed through a brief email message every three weeks.
    You can join MAP on the NYSUT website, at http://www.nysut.org/49.htm

    Last Updated (Friday, 15 November 2013 16:58)


    Nysut Action Center Mobile App




    NYSUT action center now has an app for smartphones that makes it very easy to take action. It is available in the app store for free.

    Last Updated (Friday, 15 November 2013 16:38)

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