I cannot, in good conscience, support the Unity Caucus slate in the upcoming NYSUT officer elections. I have been greatly disillusioned with the decision of NYSUT Executive Vice President Andy Pallotta to arrange yet another ouster of a NYSUT president. That decision demonstrates to me a “my way or the highway” style of collaboration that reeks of arrogance and ambition that will undoubtedly further divide our union. It is not at all what I expected or what I voted for when I enthusiastically supported the “Revive NYSUT” slate in 2014
However, that is not why I am supporting Mike Lillis for NYSUT president. My decision to support Mike and the Stronger Together Caucus should not be seen as a vote against Andy Pallotta or the Unity Caucus but rather as a vote for transformational change for our union. Their vision for an activist union, one that actively engages rank-and-file members in building a strong and united organization fighting for our profession, our members, our students and the labor movement with integrity and passion, is the vision I want for the future of NYSUT.
I support Mike Lillis for NYSUT president because he is an informed, articulate and well-respected voice for our profession. He has forged significant coalitions with parents and other activist groups, and has emerged as a leader for those in the pro-public schools movement pushing back against the onslaught of “test-and-punish” policies advanced by so-called reformers and lawmakers. His experience as a local union president informs his thinking and his actions as he knows first hand the deleterious effects that APPR, the tax levy cap, tiers 5 and 6, receivership and a host of other legislative setbacks have had on our profession and our union.
More importantly though, I support Mike Lillis because he is a principled leader and a reasonable person. He is always willing to engage in a respectful - and often lively - discussion with those with whom he disagrees.
I am certain that, in words and deeds, Mike will lead our union with integrity, strength and purpose as we confront the serious existential challenges that NYSUT will face in the years ahead. He is a leader I can trust to do what is right for our members, our profession, our students and our cherished union. I will be urging the delegates from FUSE to join me in supporting him and the Stronger Together slate on April 8.