NYSUT Retiree Council 45
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  1. For most of her life, Natasha Christensen, Monroe Community College Faculty Association, flew under the radar.

    As the child of Taiwanese immigrants, “It was assumed that I was law-abiding, studied a lot, followed rules and people didn’t look at me as a threat,” said Christensen, a professor of sociology.

    That changed with the pandemic, when some Americans unfairly blamed and attacked Asians due to the virus. “I went from freely navigating to being scared to live my life and teach what I’d spent the last 35 years of my life studying,” she said.

    Christensen’s experience isn’t unique. In the wake of the pandemic, violence against Asian Americans is on the rise in America.

    NYSUT’s Civil and Human Rights Committee opened their virtual meeting to members Wednesday to learn more about the issue and discuss solutions. NYSUT Secretary-Treasurer J. Philippe Abraham hosted the event.

    “An injustice against one is an injustice against all,” Abraham said. “Only by raising awareness and increasing education can we combat the growing attacks on our Asian brothers and sisters.”

    Christensen joined with Preya Krishna-Kennedy, Bethlehem Central Teachers Association, to explore the historical roots of racism and violence against Asian Americans, and help participants raise awareness within their communities. Discussion topics included the wide-range of diversity within the Asian community, America’s history of cultural bias and hate crimes against Asians and many


  2. Roslyn school nurse Beth Schroeder was handling two 911 emergency calls Monday — one for a mental health issue, while another student was severely crashing on a new diabetic regimen.

    She called it a typical day and used the story as a diorama to explain to lawmakers at NYSUT’s Health Care “Lobby” Day why a school nurse is needed in every building.

    “Reinforcement is needed for all our children,” said Anne Goldman, head of NYSUT’s Health Care Professionals Council and a United Federation of Teachers vice president overseeing the Federation of Nurses.

    The Capitol is still closed. But NYSUT nurses showed up in force via Zoom to thank lawmakers for passing safe staffing legislation that is still awaiting Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s signature, and explain why other proposed NYSUT bills benefiting patients and students need support. At their core, each bill is about safe staffing in other areas: a school nurse needed in every building; more school counselors, psychologists and social workers needed in each district; and the need to end mandatory overtime for home care nurses.

    The pandemic has deeply etched the need for safe staffing in hospitals.

    “Loved ones were passed to us in the dark of night…we’ve witnessed the horrors of this time,” said Goldman.

    NYSUT President Andy Pallotta spoke about the pandemic,

  3. The first thing on the agenda for the NYSUT Higher Education Policy Council this week had to be put off for half an hour.

    There was no getting around it; the main topic of discussion was down in Greenwich Village building solidarity on the picket line with striking New York University graduate students.

    When outgoing Professional Staff Congress President Barbara Bowen finally popped in to the online meeting, no one was surprised.

    “Of course you were on the picket line where you prefer to be,” said Roberta Elins, the president of United College Employees at FIT and chair of the policy council.

    “Since 2000, Barbara has been an incredible advocate for not just her union but all union members,” Elins said. “You have always been happiest with a megaphone in your hand.”

    Bowen, a recipient of NYSUT’s higher education member of the year award earlier this month, did not run for re-election this spring after 20 years.

    “Barbara, you’re a fighter,” said NYSUT President Andy Pallotta. “You always have those dukes up, and it’s been an honor to work alongside you…

    “We haven’t always agreed, but we always come back to the same place, fighting for our members and those they represent.”

    “You never back down, and you’re a role model for all the labor movement and especially for female leaders,” said Jolene DiBrango, NYSUT executive vice


  4. ALBANY, N.Y. May 10, 2021 — New York State United Teachers issued the following statement today regarding the adoption of the state Board of Regents’ policy statement on diversity, equity and inclusion in New York state schools:

    “We applaud the Regents for their continued dedication to strong diversity, equity and inclusion policies and practices that, with community input and support, can help school districts better support every student academically, socially and emotionally. In particular, the Regents’ commitment to recruiting and retaining a diverse workforce aligns with NYSUT initiatives. We believe it’s critical to encourage students of color to consider a career in education and support educators of color, especially early-career educators, through professional development. We look forward to continuing our work with Regents Chancellor Lester Young, Commissioner Betty Rosa and the entire board on these issues.”


    New York State United Teachers is a statewide union with more than 600,000 members in education, human services and health care. NYSUT is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association and the

  5. A vital underpinning of the workplace is the health and safety of employees, a fact that has become starkly evident throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

    NYSUT will be devoting much of its biennial Health and Safety Conference, to be held virtually May 21–23, to tackling existing problems in the workplace and preventing future ones.

    Richard Wolff, a professor of economics at New School University and professor emeritus at the University of Massachusetts, will kick off the conference. Wolff has devoted his career in both academics and public speaking to understanding the economic system as it involves the workforce and the impact of unions on the workplace.

    If every workplace had a health and safety committee, Wolff said, the committees could — and should — demand provisions. Masks and PPE should be purchased and stored safely for the next viral or bacterial outbreak, as well as proper equipment for testing.

    “We have to make sure these are lessons we don’t forget,” he said.

    When COVID-19 struck, the nation endured a shortage of vital personal protective equipment for frontline workers, from health care and education professionals to grocery clerks and bus drivers.

    Additionally, testing was not available.

    “This is outrageous…It took us precious months,” Wolff said.