Congratulations, Christine!

We are delighted to announce that Baldwin Reading Teacher Christine Pellegrino won Pellegrino-Family-300x200Tuesday’s special election in the 9th Assembly District.

Running as a progressive Democrat in an overwhelmingly Republican district, her candidacy was a longshot, but she prevailed thanks to tremendous support from NYSUT and other unions. Members from all around (including SWRTA) made phone calls, attended fundraisers, and canvased for Christine to help get out the vote and help voters see why she was the far better candidate to represent working people.

While it’s just a single seat in an Assembly with 150 members, make no mistake – this is a huge victory. It is a victory for teachers who now have a voice within the chamber, and it is a victory for unions – showing that we can still fight the good fight and prevail.

We are very proud of Christine and wish her tremendous success.

Phone Phright?

We frequently ask members to make phone calls to our elected officials, but we know that a lot of you have a great deal of apprehension about it. The following article, from Lifehacker.com, tells you how to get past that initial anxiety and get it done. Direct calls to legislators is one of the most effective tools we have, so please check it out.

 

If you have phone phobia, you’re not alone. (I’m a recovering member of the club myself.) If the situation in this country is making you anxious, calling your reps is both a step toward a solution, and a way to give yourself a small amount of control over something. But you have to be able to actually make the call.

 

Calling isn’t the only way to be heard, but it’s one of the most effective. How do you get up the nerve to call? Cordelia Dillon at Echo Through the Fog has a friendly cartoon guide to talk you through the process. First, you block off some time on your schedule, and keep that appointment with yourself. Then you write yourself a script. The guide suggests some words to use. My own calls tend to follow this format:

Hi, I’m [name], a constituent from [place]. I’m calling to ask [Congressperson’s name] to vote [Yes/No] on [bill] because [reason].

The reason can include a personal story, or just your opinion on the most important thing about the bill. You can even skip that part if you’re not feeling up to it. If there’s no vote coming up, replace that part with “to speak out against [bad thing]” or to co-sponsor a certain bill, or whatever you want them to do. If the member of Congress you’re calling has recently done a good thing, feel free to use this:

 
 

Hi, I’m [name], a constituent from [place]. I want to thank [Congressperson’s name] for standing up for us by [thing they did].

You get the idea. I’ve never had to say anything more than my prepared speech, except to answer a question or two like:

  • What is your zip code?
  • Would you like to leave your full address so we can send you a response?

Say goodbye, and you’re done. I also like to thank the staffer for their time, especially on days I know they’re getting a lot of heat.

Is this sounding a little more doable? Dillon reminds us that it’s okay if you sound nervous. Your job isn’t to put on a perfect performance for the staffer, it’s to get your message through. As she says: “They get a lot of calls, so they don’t have time to judge you for how well you delivered your message.”

Supporting Teamsters Local 812

SWRTA members came out today to lend support to the striking truck drivers and warehouse workers of Teamsters Local 812.  As Clare Rose looks to cut salaries, eliminate pensions, and break their union, we stood up to say that we will not sit on the sidelines when hardworking men and women are having their futures and livelihoods threatened for no other reason than to add to a corporation’s bottom line.