An open letter to NYSUT members and their Representative Assembly delegates.
February 24th, 2017
Dear Sisters and Brothers,
We’d like to take this opportunity to speak directly to NYSUT members and their representatives as we prepare for the 2017 NYSUT Representative Assembly in April. Every three years, your delegates to the RA meet to elect the leaders of our union including executive officers and members of the NYSUT Board of Directors. Like many NYSUT members who run for leadership positions in their local unions, we, the undersigned candidates, will be running for elected office at this year’s RA – a bid to represent our members on the state and national levels.
This is a critical time in our union’s history. Our union faces many threats including judicial challenges to our right to organize and support our union, national right-to-work legislation which aims to strip your right to due process protections, and an anti-public school/anti- labor administration in Washington led by a billionaire heiress, Betsy DeVos, who thinks your experience and hard work doesn’t make a difference in our schools and universities.
In spite of the dangers ahead and the enemies aligned against us, we strongly believe that offering members different and competing views on matters such as governance, structure and organizational vision is important. In short, we welcome contested elections as a healthy sign of our union democracy.
What’s worrisome, however, is the trend towards negative campaigns that have plagued elections in recent years. Last year’s presidential election, in particular, was awash with personal attacks and character assassinations that had nothing to do with the issues that matter most to voters. Photoshopped pictures of candidates and sarcastic memes might make good fodder for social media, but these tactics do nothing to promote the truth. And in NYSUT’s elections, they would do nothing to promote solidarity or strengthen our union.
Furthermore, our members can see right through the hyperbole and conjecture. They are more informed and more connected than ever before. They know what matters, and they deserve better.
To that end, we make this simple pledge to NYSUT’s members and their RA delegates as we prepare for NYSUT’s Representative Assembly. We invite others to do the same and join us in a clean campaign and honorable election.
Our Promise for a Clean Campaign and Honorable Election
- We promise to campaign on issues, not hollow accusations and fear mongering.
- We promise to refrain from personal attacks that disparage fellow members and/or their local unions.
- We promise to not repost/retweet such attacks on social media, within internal communications, or in the press. Although these attacks might win “retweets” or “likes”, the end result is to harm our union, making it easier for our enemies to inflict damage on us and present us as weak and divided.
- We promise to ask the same of others. We’ll ask our supporters to run a clean campaign and refrain from personal attacks.
That’s it. It’s simple. We know what’s best for our union, and together we can run a clean campaign and honorable election. We are mindful that all opponents in NYSUT elections are all dedicated unionists who care deeply about the union. From Plattsburgh to Painted Post, from Buffalo to the Bronx, we have more in common than we have differences. It is in that common ground that we will forge a stronger and more unified NYSUT for our members – a more powerful union prepared for the future.
We take the responsibility to lead on this and on all matters seriously, and we invite all other candidates for NYSUT elected office to join us by taking this pledge.
In hopes for and committed to a respectful campaign,
J. Philippe Abraham