April was a busy month for the NCCFT Executive Committee and Delegates. We have been active on the national level by attending the AFT HigherEd and PSRP Joint Conference and the NYSUT Representative Assembly.
As attendees at the AFT Conference, we were inspired by personal stories and the larger narrative of members’ collective fight against anti-union forces.
During the plenary session we heard from two mothers who became “accidental activists” when their sons were killed by gun violence. Sybrina Fulton (Trayvon Martin) and Lucia McBath (Jordan Davis) were thanked by AFT President Randi Weingarten, for sharing their stories and noted how they turned their anger into “an aspiration for our streets to be safe for everyone, regardless of the color of their skin”. Weingarten cited the AFT’s Racial Equity Task Force and it’s report from last year, noting actions steps to address racism in schools, public work places and in the union.
We spent time in small workshops that covered a plethora of topics including, but not limited to, multicultural and multiethnic education, defending public higher education, campus safety and sexual assault. The “Higher Ed Legal Issues Forum” addressed topics including changes that may affect our academic freedom, intellectual property rights, and freedom of speech. In addition, “Organizing Now”, “Student Debt Clinic” and “Finding Your Voice on Campus” which focused on the importance of sharing member voices through member stories, were other workshops. The session on “Building Union Culture” emphasized that union membership is more than a transaction, it’s more than a contract and services in exchange for dues; it’s engaged members who are at the center of power, change and activism. With utilizing a strategic plan, mapping, goal setting and good communication, unions can insure achieving the best possible outcomes. The union is its members – a collection of people, in the same work place, working together for better working conditions.
The annual RA included the successful passage of three HigherEd resolutions to be incorporated into the legislative agenda of NYSUT:
- Resolution #3: K-12 – HigherEd collaboration
- Resolution #4 – Ending the exploitation and reliance on a contingent academic labor system in education
- resolution #5 – End of garnishment of Social Security to pay student-loan debt