[ Fighting for you ]

Delegates elect Melinda Person as NYSUT President

Carl Korn


ife-long education advocate and activist. Policy expert and union political director. Ironman triathlete. Mom to four young children.

portrait image of Melinda J. Person smiling and wearing a black and white polka dot blazer and white blouse while leaning her elbow on low pillar
El-Wise Noisette

NYSUT President Melinda J. Person

To that partial yet still exhaustive list of accomplishments, add a new title for Melinda J. Person — fifth president of the nearly 700,000-member New York State United Teachers.

Delegates to NYSUT’s Representative Assembly elected Person to a three-year term as president on April 29. She succeeds Andy Pallotta, who retired after two full terms.

Person hit the ground running with clear goals for the union, including continuing NYSUT’s fight against the misuse of standardized tests; championing more funding for public education at all levels; and extolling the value of educators — and the profession. A first victory was helping to secure a $2.6 billion increase in Foundation Aid.

“I have a lifelong passion and commitment to public education,” Person said. “I’m going to be using my voice to advocate for the policies, programs and dollars that our members need to meet the awesome responsibilities they face on the job. And you’re going to see me fighting to ensure that all our members are respected and that teaching remains an enticing and sustaining career choice.”

More immediately, Person said she would be visiting classrooms and marshalling the union’s members — and political power — to fix the state’s inequitable pension tiers, address the teacher shortage, and reform the state’s teacher evaluation system.

Internally, Person said members can expect to see NYSUT working to grow by organizing more locals in the public and private sectors, including workers at hospitals, libraries and in charter schools.

“The climate for organizing is the best it has been in a long time. People see that unions give workers a voice in the workplace and help them win better wages, benefits and working conditions. We’re going to be meeting with workers who want to organize and join with us to build collective power on the job.”

In her 16 years at NYSUT, Person was instrumental in creating the Member Organizing Institute, which has trained more than 500 members around the state to organize their colleagues around union values. The project was highly successful in mobilizing, engaging and retaining members following the U.S. Supreme Court’s adverse ruling in the Janus case.

She also initiated the Member Action Center which connects members to their elected leaders and facilitates grassroots lobbying around key state and federal legislative issues and proposals. Person also led the creation of NYSUT’s Pipeline Project, a member-candidate program which trains and works to elect NYSUT members to elective office. Just last month, more than 75 NYSUT members won election in local school board races.

Read more at nysut.cc/melindaperson.