I have never been prouder of my membership on the Board of
Directors of NEA/
On November 12, the NEA/New York Board took a significant step to end the
state of hostilities that has existed for almost thirty years between them and
the New York State United Teachers (NYSUT). By
a roll call vote of 51 to 6, the Board of Directors of NEA/
I had no problem casting my vote for merger.
I have been an outspoken advocate for it since 1982.
Yet, I know that for many of my colleagues on the Board, this vote was
probably the most difficult they have ever made.
Quite a few have had a long history of opposition to merger.
For most, their entire experience of the education union movement has
been in NEA/New York, an experience that has been punctuated by periods of
representation struggles between the two state organizations, struggles that had
a way of demonizing the leaders of NYSUT and sharpening the differences between
the two unions while adumbrating the many more ways in which they are very
similar. In NEA/
Only strong, outstanding leaders who can subordinate their needs to those
of their membership cast votes that may lessen their personal power and
influence. They do so when they see
that something bigger than themselves depends on their vote.
The NEA/New York Board is able to see the future.
They see that there is no longer any reason for two state education
unions, that whatever differences that once existed no longer mean anything to
the vast majority of our membership who, whether NYSUT or NEA New York, face the
same daunting problems in their schools, problems that can be better addressed
by the collective power of a unified education labor movement. They see the
diminishing returns of attempting to finance NEA/
For the first time in more than twenty years of working
for a merger, I am optimistic that it will happen in April.
Our membership has wanted it for a long time.
We know that from a membership survey done a year or so ago.
It has been their leaders who have prevented it.
Now that their leaders have overwhelmingly chosen to embrace the future
and all of the changes it will bring, the job of convincing two thirds of the
delegates to the 2005 Delegate Assembly of NEA/
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