[ Fighting for you ]

Pallotta to retire as NYSUT president

Andy Pallotta speaking at event
By Carl Korn



or so many of life’s big moments, timing is everything.

After leading the union through the Great Recession; winning a no-holds-barred battle against a sitting governor; defanging a test-and-punish evaluation system; spearheading a ‘no’ vote on a Constitutional Convention; cementing NYSUT’s inner-strength after the Janus decision; and helping to keep students and members safe during a deadly pandemic, NYSUT President Andy Pallotta looked around, took a deep breath and concluded: It was the right moment to retire.

“We’ve accomplished so much. Thanks to the strength and commitment of our members and leaders, NYSUT is in a much, much better place,” Pallotta said. “There will always be challenges. That’s the nature of politics. Still, I felt like this was the right time to pass the torch.”

Pallotta, a former elementary teacher in New York City, has spent more than 37 years in public education. A former United Federation of Teachers chapter leader in the Bronx, Pallotta was first elected NYSUT executive vice president in December 2009 as the union fought a pitched battle against layoffs and beat back proposals for vouchers and more charter schools.

After winning the presidency in 2017, Pallotta set to work building member involvement and political outreach. Under his leadership, NYSUT created the highly successful Member Organizing Institute and re-energized the Member Action Center in order to expand the union’s political potency. He also started the union’s Pipeline Project, which encourages and trains union members to successfully run for political office.

Pallotta’s efforts have paid off with record-breaking contributions to VOTE-COPE, the union’s voluntary political action fund, as well as near-unanimous passage of school budgets and electoral wins for NYSUT members in every corner of the state.

“We’ve completely flipped the narrative. Today, educators are viewed as heroes and dedicated public servants. There is tremendous respect for the profession and the important work that we do in our classrooms and on campuses. Legislators want to partner with us — and draw from our knowledge and experiences ­— as we tackle issues affecting public schools and our higher education institutions.”

Pallotta noted progress toward fixing the state’s wildly inequitable pension tiers and, this year, finally attaining full state funding of the Foundation Aid formula. Still, he acknowledged that more work remains to be done on a variety of education and labor issues.

Pallotta said winning a New Deal for Higher Education remains a top NYSUT priority as the adoption of the state budget — and his final Representative Assembly as NYSUT president — grows nearer.

When he hands over the gavel at his final RA on April 29, Pallotta plans to travel and spend more time with his family, including his grandchildren. He will continue to volunteer and be involved in the union movement.

“Our nearly 700,000 members are united. In a nation and a world that seems increasingly divided, we are together as one union. That’s something I worked hard for and I’m proud of,” Pallotta said.

“As I step away, I see only bright days ahead for NYSUT and the labor movement.”