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Welcome to the new school year

Welcome to the 2017–18 school year. I hope you took time out of your schedule to do exciting activities, see family and friends, go on vacation or do a little bit of each! However you spent your summer, I hope it was productive and relaxing.

I want to update you on a few issues concerning the members of our union chapter that are under discussion. I also want to let you know about a New York Teacher article featuring one of our very own audiologists and tell you about things you can do to help defeat the referendum question on the Nov. 7 ballot about holding a state constitutional convention.

  1. Update on negotiations with the DOE: I am delighted to announce we have made a breakthrough in our negotiations for a new audiology position with the Department of Education. I'd like to thank the UFT for its amazing support of our chapter through this process. Discussions will continue this year until all details are finalized, and I will be in touch again when I have more information for you. I know this issue means a great deal to our chapter so I am happy to share this great news with you.
     
  2. Fighting for hearing screenings: New York is now the only large city in the country that doesn’t have a hearing screening program for children in public schools. I want you to know that we continue to speak with the Office of School Health about implementing such a program. The success of some of our students — especially for hearing-loss prevention and treatment — depends on it, and yet we still encounter resistance, despite recommendations from many organizations to have a screening program. We will continue to make the case for school screenings, and I encourage you to speak out with us and make your voice heard on this very important matter.
     
  3. Audiologist featured in the New York Teacher: It's always great to share the great work that audiologists do and this month, I'm happy to announce that our colleague Robert Otero was featured in the “What I Do” column of the Sept. 7 issue of New York Teacher.

As we embark on another year, we have a lot of work to do as unionists. New Yorkers go to the polls on Nov. 7 to vote on whether to hold a constitutional convention. It is vital that we vote “no” on this issue. Anti-union forces are committed to destroying our pensions as well as our right to organize and collectively bargain. Tell your family and friends to join you at the polls and vote “no!”

Read more about why we must vote down a constitutional convention »

Watch this video about the dangers of a convention »

Public employee unions are facing an enormous challenge this year: The Supreme Court has agreed to hear the Janus v. AFSCME court case that seeks to debilitate unions by declaring fair-share or agency fees unconstitutional. These fees cover the costs a union incurs representing and providing services for people who do not choose to belong to a union.

As we brace for this decision, we need every single one of you to remind your colleagues about the benefits of belonging to a union: a defined-benefit pension, employer-paid health insurance, due process rights, tenure, a grievance process, and a voice in how schools are run. Unions, through our voluntary donations to COPE, also provide us a place at the table in Albany as well as at the City Council.

Sincerely,

Susan Kavanagh
Audiologists Chapter Leader