BTA understands the importance of being politically active. Our Union’s involvement in Legislative Issues and Political Action Committees is vital if we intend to succeed in our constant battle for the good-paying jobs that our members deserve. When our members participate in Labor Walks, lobby days or simply gather together at town hall meetings, we create the foundation along with strong relationships that are essential in lobbying for important legislation.
This type of involvement not only helps BTA’s membership but all other unions and working people alike. When seeking the support of key Political figures, we must first show that we are familiar with the issues in order for them to take us seriously. Once that is established, the most important task of the committee is to be persistent or no official will act on our behalf and that’s where you come in. Elected officials often witness BTA’s members mobilizing in great numbers in support of new legislation or candidate support. BTA instantly recognizes how valuable we are in the political process. When we lobby for laws to protect working people, elected officials are often reminded by their staff of the impact that was demonstrated through our actions. They know that when we care about an issue or a cause, we commit our full support wherever and whenever necessary.
To find out how you can help your union gain a voice in local, state and federal legislation, contact BTA. You can also speak with your building rep or attend a General Membership Meeting and discuss politics there. Remember, when it comes to politics, all politics are local!
Send a letter to your legislator
Click this link to keep up the pressure on all legislators. Here you will find a list of letters that you can fax to your State Legislator, U.S. Legislator, or even the Governor. It's simple! You can also find information about who your elected officials are in your school district and your home district.
Join the Alliance for Quality Education
Founded only in 2000, the Alliance for Quality Education (AQE) has quickly become New York state's lead community-based organization in the fight for high-quality public education. A statewide non-profit, AQE unites a coalition of parents, children's advocates, schools, teachers, clergy, and others.
AQE believes it will take fair funding and smarter spending to support better schools and give every child in New York State a quality education from pre-K to high school graduation. Truly statewide, AQE has active community-based education coalitions in Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, the Capital District (Albany), New York City and Long Island.
Working with all stakeholders, but emphasizing the involvement of parents and youth, AQE combines leadership development, community organizing, electronic activism, extensive media relations, policy work, and lobbying within a cohesive campaign for fundamental education reform. This recipe has successfully made adequate funding to create quality schools for every child a high profile issue throughout the state.
Click here to go to there website http://www.aqeny.org/
Inform yourself about "Triborough"
The Issue: The Triborough Amendment
New York state's 1967 Taylor law was enacted to create a fair process for negotiating contracts in the public sector. The law established basic labor rights for public employees: the right to organize, and the right to collectively bargain wages, benefits, and working conditions. However, in a balancing act intended to level the playing field, the law also took away one labor right that empowers private sector employees: the right to strike. Under the 1967 Taylor Law, strikes by public service workers were deemed illegal, and severe consequences were put in place for any such illegal strikes. This provision, agreed to by workers in recognition of the benefit to the public good, gave New York state unprecedented labor peace and stability in the provision of public services.
Unfortunately, many employers subsequently exploited unintended loopholes in the Taylor Law to create an unfair advantage at the bargaining table. The worst loophole allowed management to stall negotiations until a contract had expired, and then swoop in to unilaterally impose changes in pay or working conditions with no regard for the collective bargaining process or the contract that had been in place.
This tactic burdened public workers with having to renegotiate everything they had earned in an expired contract without the "last resort" action of a strike. Since public employees were not allowed to strike and were subject to severe fines and penalties if they did so, they were left powerless. Management had all the cards and could, and would, negotiate in bad faith without any consequences.
The 1982 Triborough Amendment is what finally leveled the playing field between management and public employees, requiring public employers to maintain the terms and conditions of an expired contract until a new one could be negotiated.
Where We Stand
- Triborough has made New York exemplary in ensuring stability and continuity in providing public services by virtually eliminating the strikes that were so painful both to workers and communities.
- Statistics provided by PERB show that there were dozens of strikes disrupting public services annually in the years preceding enactment of the Triborough Amendment. Public sector strikes, which hit an all-time high of 28 in 1975, plunged after Triborough's passage in 1982. Over the last two calendar years, in fact, there were zero.
- It's not true that keeping a contract in place locks in unmanageable costs. In the average school district budget, for example, the impact of continuing an expired contract is already known by both parties, and Triborough allows the process to proceed with transparency and predictability. Most importantly, it ensures that public services will always be there.
- What is true is that, in a mature collective bargaining relationship, both parties work together to solve problems, not create them.
- Triborough creates a stable environment that allows for both sides to negotiate in good faith and expedite successor agreements. In fact, even in districts where there is an impasse, there is typically no disruption in services and schools remain in session. Triborough is a major factor in ensuring such constancy.
- Public workers gave up the right to strike in recognition that labor peace serves the public good, and, in expectation, that they could bargain on a level playing field with management. Keeping a contract in place until a new one is negotiated honors that promise to public servants.
- Public workers want stability, not crisis. Triborough has been critical in ensuring that the delivery of vital public services - most especially the education of our children - is not disrupted by protracted labor disputes.
Inform yourself about "Pension: Tier VI"
New PensionTier Takes Effect
For Service Rendered Beginning April 1, 2012
Chapter 18 of the Laws of 2012, signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo March 16, creates a new benefits structure (Tier 6) for members who join a New York State public retirement system on or after April 1, 2012. Additional details are available on the Headlines and 2012 Legislation pages of our Web site at nystrs.org.
Generally, when a new tier of membership is created, NYSTRS receives a flurry of applications from those who wish to establish membership before the new tier takes effect. Be advised that in order for a new employee to be enrolled as Tier 5 the following must occur:
She/he must render service before April 1, 2012; and,
An Application for Membership (NET-2) must be notarized on or before the date service is rendered.
Part 2 of the membership application must be completed by the employer and signed by an authorized school official. The date service was first rendered must be entered in this section. The application also must be signed by the member and, as noted above, notarized. Applications are subject to audit and, if found to be submitted improperly, the member will be reclassified under the appropriate tier.
Membership will be established as Tier 6 for part-time employees whose applications are notarized after March 31, 2012, and who have not had employee contributions to the Retirement System deducted from their earnings.
For more information regarding new memberships, please refer to Section 1: Membership of the NYSTRS Employer Manual found on the Employers page of our Web site. Also from the Employers page, select Employer Tutorials and watch the interactive presentation "Mandatory/OptionalMembership."
Any additional questions on this topic should be directed to the System by calling(800) 348-7298, Ext. 6190.
Inform yourself about "Tenure"
- Tenure does not guarantee a teacher a job for life: New teachers serve a three-year probationary period, during which time school officials have an obligation to carefully evaluate that teacher's job performance. If after three years - some 550 school days and, perhaps, more than 2,500 classes - the local school board votes to grant a teacher tenure, it simply means that the teacher is entitled to a fair hearing before a neutral third party if there are allegations of incompetence or wrongdoing.
- Due process is a basic American right: The protections of tenure are a basic right enjoyed by all Americans. It includes the presumption of innocence until proven guilty and the right to a fair hearing. Tenure is also not unique to the teaching profession. State and municipal workers - including police officers and firefighters, as well as union members in the private sector - also have due process protections very similar to tenure. And, they earn those protections in less time than teachers.
- Tenure helps to ensure stability in the classroom: What would happen to teachers without tenure? Teachers could - and would - be fired for virtually any reason or no reason at all. It's not at all hard to imagine teachers being dismissed because they failed the daughter of an influential businessman, or because the school board president's nephew needed a job. What would stop a school board from dismissing a veteran teacher at the top of the pay scale - and replacing that teacher with a first-year teacher - simply to save money?
- Tenure helps to protect academic freedom: Tenure protects academic freedom the way the First Amendment protects freedom of the press. It is born out of the basic realization that teachers can engage their students in a free exchange of ideas only if they are protected from arbitrary dismissal for doing so. Without the protections of tenure, teachers could face dismissal for supporting the "wrong" political candidate or for legitimate lessons on controversial subjects in the news.
- What about the cost and length of tenure proceedings: That argument really doesn't hold water. In September 1994, the Legislature - working with NYSUT and the state School Boards Association - streamlined the tenure law to provide for a fairer, faster process that still protected teachers' due process rights. The reforms have been successful, shortening the length of most cases and encouraging settlements in countless others - before there are full-blown hearings. While some critics point to lengthy cases that go to full hearings, the real story is how many cases are settled quickly, with little cost to districts, often before charges are even filed.