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Published in Print: January 5, 2005, as Teachers’ Unions in New York State Take Steps to Merge

Teachers’ Unions in New York State Take Steps to Merge

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Another pair of teachers’ unions has taken preliminary steps to unify—this time in New York state.

Leaders of New York State United Teachers met last month to talk about a possible merger with the National Education Association of New York, but no decision was made, according to Dennis Tompkins, a spokesman for NYSUT.

“A number of issues are still to be resolved,” Mr. Tompkins said. The board of directors of the American Federation of Teachers affiliate plans to take up the matter again when it meets later this month.

The NEA of New York’s board of directors overwhelmingly approved—in a 51-6 vote in November—a document that outlines the principles of a merger between the two state affiliates.

That document, “Fundamental Beliefs to Create a Single State Union,” is the result of several months of work involving leaders of the two state unions.

The issue will now go before the NEA affiliate’s delegate assembly, which will convene in April. NYSUT ’s representative assembly will also be held that month.

Member Benefits

If the proposal gains approval from the NYSUT board—and from the representatives of both unions—a constitution and bylaws will be written. The new organization would begin working in 2006.

A press release from the NEA of New York says that the board members’ decision was largely based on the benefits that unification with NYSUT would bring to the members, such as additional services, lower dues, and more clout with the state legislature and the state education department.

Also, according to the “beliefs” document, no staff members would be laid off if the merger went through, and NEA of New York members would still be served by their local UniServ representatives, who advocate for teachers if issues with their districts surface.

The idea of a single statewide union first received support in 2003, when members of the NEA affiliate indicated 3-1 in a survey that they were in favor of the merger.

The NEA of New York has roughly 400,000 members in more than 240 affiliates across the state. NYSUT has about 500,000 members, 140,000 of them in New York City.

Although a merger between the two national teachers’ unions failed in 1998, mergers have taken place at the state level. In 1998, the NEA and AFT affiliates in Minnesota unified into Education Minnesota.

And in 2000, the Florida Education Association was established, and the two union affiliates merged in Montana.

Vol. 24, Issue 16, Page 10

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