Dear Sisters and Brothers:
Early Wednesday evening, the New York state Senate struck the first blow in an attempt to dismantle collective bargaining in New York. A bill to strip away the heart of fairness in layoffs -- seniority -- passed the Senate 33-27. All Republicans voted in favor of the bill along with two Democrats, Senators Jeffrey Klein and David Valesky. (Senators Thomas Duane and Owen Johnson were excused.) A "yea" vote was a vote against public employees.
You will hear from some who voted for this horrific bill that it's only a "one house" bill; it only applies to New York City; or is simply designed to "start" a conversation. None of these excuses and lame attempts at disguising the real significance of this vote are acceptable.
Leaving it up to the Assembly, trying to pit city against suburbs, and claiming to use the bill to prod others into action show a complete disregard for the tireless service each of our public-sector members provides.
NYSUT has and will always be willing to be part of any meaningful discussions about continually improving the effectiveness of our members. Our role in last year's Teacher/Principal Evaluation Law demonstrates our commitment to a carefully thought-out process to guarantee an effective teacher in every class. We understand and support the role of performance in employment decisions. But, we also understand the value of experience and the knowledge acquired through practice.
NYSUT will not be part of any scheme to diminish the value of each and every member regardless of her or his years of service. We will not allow a bill that exposes our members to harassment, favoritism and intimidation to divert us from our commitment to defend collective bargaining and the right to organize.
Today's vote has little to do with New York state's economy or that of New York City. It is no more than a cruel attempt to manipulate the law and the collective bargaining process. Those who voted for this bill today have put New York's children at risk by using them as helpless pawns in a perverse political charade to support the mayor of New York City.
Today's shameful vote was motivated by a desire to weaken public employees and their unions. I know that I can count on you -- as you can count on your union -- to use this vote as motivation to redouble our commitment to protecting the rights of every worker -- whether in the public or private sector.
We will not be intimidated.
We will not be manipulated.
We will not be divided.
"I just feel they do a job that needs to be done, and in our country today if you work hard, then you should be able to have a home, be able to save for retirement and you should be able to send your kids to college. Most public employees have to struggle to do those things, and generally both spouses must work."