[ Fighting for you ]

NYSUT Women defend personal, workplace rights


nder the theme “Reset, Revive and Reclaim: Bringing Generations of NYSUT Members Together,” nearly 100 NYSUT Women’s Committee members paid tribute to trailblazing women of the past and charted a course for the year ahead.

Committee co-chairs and event organizers Leslie Rose, Latrice Curry and Marne Brady welcomed attendees, with Rose pledging to “build the bonds of sisterhood” by keeping women’s issues at the forefront. Curry noted there are currently more than 30 regional and local women’s committees and was “excited to continue doing the work of the largest standing committee at NYSUT.”

In a nod to the theme of forging connections between past and present female union leaders, Brady asked “what can I do to make this mountain taller so that the women coming after me can see farther?”

Highlights at the November convening included workshops about protecting reproductive freedom for women and educating members about their workplace rights as women, mothers and mothers-to-be.

Conference attendees heard remarks remotely from Sen. Kirstin Gillibrand who spoke of being one of only a handful of women in the Senate when she was elected, something that has resulted in a lack of strong champions for women’s issues.

“It’s been 100 years since Alice Paul wrote the Equal Rights Amendment … I continue to fight for women’s equality,” said Gillibrand.

“Karen and Jolene built this movement within our union and, although they are not in the room physically with us, they have their hands on our backs,” said NYSUT President Melinda Person of former NYSUT President Karen Magee who founded the NYSUT Women’s Committee, and past Executive Vice President Jolene DiBrango who grew it by encouraging members to form women’s committees within their locals. “I’m privileged to take up this work.”

NYSUT Executive Vice President Jaime Ciffone mused that throughout her more than 20 years as an educator and union activist there have not been enough female leaders within the labor movement. “Our theme serves as a North Star … to achieve the goals of developing more women’s committees, highlighting women specific issues and involving more women in the union,” she said. “Together we are pioneers who will fight through advocacy to fix issues in the workplace, union and political landscape.”

Illustration of three pink and blue feathers with colorful dots on them, two of which say NYSUT Women
Other event highlights included an art moment where participants decorated paper feathers and combined them to create a wall-sized “wing” mural symbolizing that “NYSUT women lift each other up” and a visit to the Kate Mullany House in neighboring Troy. Mullany was an Irish immigrant who organized and led the first all-female Collar Laundry Union in 1864.

To learn more about the NYSUT Women’s Committee, visit nysut.org/women.

high angle view of NYSUT women taking a large group photo