It marks the first time in NYSUT’s 45-year history that a New York City educator is its leader.
“I believe in being relevant, resilient and, above all, relentless,” Pallotta said to assembly delegates outlining his vision for the 600,000-member statewide union. “We will never quit fighting for those we serve or for each other.”
Pallotta worked for 22 years as an elementary school teacher at PS 32, Bronx, and later became the UFT District 10 representative. Since 2009, he has served as NYSUT’s executive vice president overseeing its legislative and political action initiatives.
He succeeds Karen Magee, who announced in February that she would step down at the end of her term to lead a project of the American Federation of Teachers and New York’s AFL-CIO focused on fair wages, education opportunities and women in leadership roles.
Addressing the delegates, Magee said of Pallotta, “He’s always the first one at the picket line, the loudest voice at the rally, and a key voice in negotiations at the capital.”
Pallotta said NYSUT will “move forward, speaking with one voice — a voice that raises up the concerns of working people everywhere.”
Those concerns were also discussed at the UFT breakfast the prior morning, when UFT President Michael Mulgrew upbraided school privatization advocates including education secretary Betsy DeVos.
“They are liars,” he said. “They will hurt children. They will destroy communities. And in the end, they will take no responsibility.”
Mulgrew rallied the UFT delegation to defend public education and health care. “We are one in the fight, the fight to protect our profession, to protect our children, to protect our patients,” he said.
NYSUT’s two-day annual RA, held in New York City this year, is the union’s highest policy-making body. In addition to electing a leadership slate, the 2,100-plus delegates approved 35 resolutions. The delegates also reaffirmed the union’s commitment to defeat the Nov. 7 referendum on whether to hold a state constitutional convention.
NYSUT bestowed its highest honor, the Albert Shanker Award for Distinguished Service, on Alan B. Lubin, a former UFT vice president who went on to serve as NYSUT’s executive vice president for 17 years. Lubin, who led NYSUT’s political action and legislative operation, worked with Shanker and considered him a mentor.
Stewart Cohen was named one of two Retiree Members of the Year for his fierce advocacy and political activism on Florida’s west coast. In the last election cycle alone, Cohen’s network of 57 activists made 3,000 telephone calls and sent 1,500 emails.
Delores Johnson and Geraldine Swanson, both members of the UFT’s Retired Teachers Chapter, were among the recipients of NYSUT’s community service awards.