2021 Application

Deadline: March 1, 2021

Conference: July 12 - 16

To Our Local Presidents

On behalf of the Board of Directors, the NYSUT Officers are pleased to invite you to consider applying to attend NYSUT’s Local Action Project (LAP). NYSUT launched LAP in 1994 to help locals develop internal capacity, increase solidarity and fidelity within the local and establish strong and lasting relationships within their communities. LAP offers you the opportunity to partner with NYSUT in developing a long-term strategic plan to move your local union forward.

Locals selected to participate in LAP through a competitive application process receive training, materials, resources and support from NYSUT throughout their three-year LAP commitment. Teams from each local learn proven strategies to organize the local, to increase member engagement, build community support for key initiatives and achieve results in contracts, elections and more. They do all this while focusing on ensuring the highest quality public education for all students.

We urge you to read this material and talk to your labor relations specialist about how LAP might benefit your local. LAP works! Growing numbers of NYSUT locals, representing every size and demographic, are energized and mobilized as a result of this unique union program.

Andrew Pallotta, President
Jolene T. DiBrango, Executive Vice President
Ron Gross, Second Vice President
J. Philippe Abraham, Secretary-Treasurer

About the NYSUT Local Action Project (LAP)

The Local Action Project is a unique, three-year program developed by NYSUT to help local unions organize themselves to increase member engagement and build community support to achieve results in providing quality public education, contracts, school budget votes and more. LAP has a track record of success in helping locals become highly effective by developing a strategic plan to move your local forward.

NYSUT supports LAP locals every step of the way. NYSUT hosts the all-expenses-paid annual LAP conference and provides training on everything from how to deal with the media to winning school budget votes to electing pro-education candidates. Each “class” of LAP participants enjoys opportunities to network and collaborate with other locals in similar situations. At the end of the three-year LAP experience, graduates share what they’ve learned with other participants.

The LAP experience has value for participants from every category of NYSUT membership: teachers, school-related professionals, health care professionals and members in higher education. Rural, suburban and urban locals, ranging in size from a handful to thousands of members, learn how to win community support for the locals’ work to educate the children in their community. LAP increases locals’ effectiveness by focusing on membership engagement, political action, community engagement/coalition-building and communications.

Frequently Asked Questions About LAP

What is the local union’s commitment?

If you are chosen for LAP, your local union must commit to:

  • Identifying a core team of up to six local activists, including the president or one other local officer, to work closely with their NYSUT labor relations specialist (LRS) to move your local’s LAP agenda;
  • Designating one member of the LAP team to be the LAP coordinator (not the local president);
  • Sending your team to the weeklong LAP summer conference for each of three years;
  • Developing a strategic plan with activities funded by the local as well as with additional funding provided by NYSUT;
  • Implementing comprehensive action planning, including education-based initiatives as part of your LAP plan;
  • Involving members in community engagement;
  • Submitting timely budget and program plans to NYSUT and reporting results; and
  • Formally agreeing to remain in the NYSUT family.
What Do Local Teams Receive?
  • Training in internal organizing and union building, developing grassroots community coalition-building, comprehensive public relations plans and political action campaigns;
  • Technical assistance in designing and developing external and internal communications: social media, email, websites, newsletters, and other publications;
  • At least one member or community survey to assess issues and community attitudes toward the local union;
  • Assistance in developing activities that enhance union visibility and participation in the local and in the community; and
  • Leadership development for members of the local’s LAP team in group process, decision-making,
What are the LAP principles?

LAP’s demonstrated record of success is based on five key components:

  1. Organizing the local
  2. Increasing member engagement and solidarity
  3. Strengthening political action
  4. Expanding community outreach/ coalition-building/community engagement
  5. Improving communications

While focusing on these five principles, it remains the goal of all of our LAP locals to ensure a high-quality public education for all students. As such, educational initiatives that focus on student achievement and professional issues should be part of your LAP plan.

What is the history of LAP?

NYSUT has always encouraged affiliates to organize themselves for action by implementing local political action programs and engaging the community to build coalitions. But, some locals-only focused on these important activities during contract negotiations. Members, parents and community groups might not hear from or about the local union until the next contract or unless there was an emergency.

This situation first became an issue in the 1990s when organized groups of taxpayers harmed by the nationwide economic downturn organized communities to vote down school budgets in record numbers. Organized “TAXPACs” formed to elect school board candidates who sought to cut school budgets by eliminating staff and programs and by targeting unions and collective bargaining agreements with a barrage of anti-union publicity.

More locals were finding that the traditional role of the union – bargaining and enforcing a contract – and traditional methods of forming one-time, short-term alliances to pressure the school board were not enough. To improve the image of unions and gain member and community support, locals needed to develop a more comprehensive approach to unionism and solidify their role as the educational experts in the community. The NYSUT

The NYSUT Board of Directors approved the Local Action Project as a way to help locals become more effective. Building on early successes in turning around anti-union climates at the local level, LAP has continued to evolve with new programming in areas like social media, website development, community engagement, organizing and social justice to meet the needs of all NYSUT locals.

Since the Janus decision, LAP has expanded its offerings again to ensure that all NYSUT locals are positioned for the future and developing programming and activities to engage more members in the work of the union, including training on leadership development, engaging new employees, and moving rank and file members to become unionists. The program has also expanded offerings to address issues unique to higher education locals, BOCES and school-related professionals. LAP continues to evolve each year based on the recommendations from the LAP teams and NYSUT’s Labor Relations Specialists.

The LAP program exists to help locals deal with the ever-changing landscape of attacks by anti-union, anti-public education forces to diminish contracts, benefits and support for public services, public employees and the institution of public education.

How are LAP local teams funded?
  1. NYSUT partners with locals to provide significant financial support for LAP initiatives. This seed money is provided on a decreasing cost-sharing basis. It is important that locals incorporate LAP activities into their budgets and dues structures to establish self-sufficiency by the fourth year.

  2. After a local is accepted into LAP, NYSUT’s LAP Committee reviews each local’s budget request and will provide up to 50 percent of a local’s approved budget request in the first year, 40 percent in the second, and 30 percent in the third year (not to exceed $30,000 a year).

  3. In the fourth year and thereafter, locals are expected to provide 100 percent of the funds to continue programs they determine work best in building a stronger organization.

  4. Local Action Project guidelines on appropriate budget expenditures are included in this booklet, just ahead of the budget worksheets.

  5. During a local’s three years in LAP, NYSUT will fully fund the local’s participation in an annual summer conference, held over several days in July.

  6. The local is expected to guarantee that a team of five to six members, including the president and/or other officers, will fully participate in each of these summer conferences.

What are the criteria for LAP?

Locals are selected to participate in NYSUT’s Local Action Project through a competitive application process. A local must:

  • Be willing to bring a full team (up to six members, including a local officer) to each of three summer conferences, usually held over several days in July.
  • Make a sustained commitment to activism. To be approved for NYSUT funding, the local’s action plan should include activities in five key areas: organizing the local, member engagement and solidarity, political action, community engagement/coalition-building, and communications.
  • Have a commitment to political action, including a substantial VOTE-COPE drive.
  • Commit to using its Local Assistance and Local Educational Issues Rebates toward the LAP program and to demonstrate other evidence of a financial commitment to LAP, including a dues structure capable of sustaining LAP programming over the long term.
  • Be willing to share experiences and work with other locals to help them develop similar programs.
  • Formally agree to remain in the NYSUT family.
  • Be in compliance with the AFT Audit Guidelines Requirement.

(Further information on these requirements can be obtained from the NYSUT Accounting Department.)

What is the application process?
  1. Complete the application forms below.
  2. Your NYSUT labor relations specialist can answer any questions and help you with the application.
  3. Your LRS’s sign-off is required on the application.
  4. Applications will be reviewed by the NYSUT LAP Committee, and locals will be contacted when a decision has been made. Note: Each LAP local will be required to complete a LAP program accounting form by July of each program year.
  5. Locals accepted into the program will receive additional information on the entire budget process at the LAP summer conference.

Key Dates To Remember

March 1, 2021: Application deadline
March 22, 2021: Locals notified of acceptance
April 2021: Pre-meetings with teams begin
May 2021: LAP teams notified of logistics and travel information
July 12–16, 2021: LAP summer conference at Gideon Putnam Hotel in Saratoga Springs, NY.
Sept. 2021: Budget and narrative due

LAP Budget Guidelines

What can be funded?

The LAP budget committee will concentrate its monetary allocations toward those expenditures that focus a local’s plan on the four key components of the LAP program:

  • Increasing member engagement and union solidarity
  • Strengthening political action
  • Expanding community outreach/coalition-building/ community engagement
  • Improving communications

NYSUT Funding

Year 1 = 50%
Year 2 = 40%
Year 3 = 30%

Maximum Grant

$30,000

The following represents a sample of expenditures by key component areas that have previously been approved by the LAP committee. Please note that this list is by no means exhaustive and should be used simply as a guide. Many activities are applicable in multiple categories and should focus on educational initiatives whenever possible.

The following represents a sample of expenditures by key component areas that have previously been approved by the LAP committee:

Increasing Member Engagement and Solidarity
  • Tenure reception
  • Welcome back teacher/parent reception
  • Service recognition event
  • New-member programs
  • Surveys
  • Branding with union-made products
  • Increase opportunities to volunteer
  • Promotion of LAP program
  • Enhancing cohesiveness among unit members
  • Building representative training
  • Member Mapping/Outreach
Expanding Community Outreach/Engagement and Coalition-Building
  • Involvement in open-house and other activities
  • Engagement with the area labor community
  • Participation in events sponsored by community organizations
  • Engagement in youth events/activities, especially if connected to public education
  • Pro-active displays of education initiatives
  • Publicize members’ contributions to student success
  • Engagement of the community around education issues in your district
  • Social justice initiatives
Strengthening Political Action
  • Member voter registration drives
  • Activities with school board and PTA
  • Improved VOTE-COPE drive
  • Budget vote and board/city/county elections
  • Outreach to pro-education voters

These activities include almost everything except electoral matters. Passing school board budgets and ballot initiatives, for example, are not considered electoral activities (even though the public votes on these matters).

 

Improving Communications
  • Process to communicate directly with members
  • Expansion or creation of member and community newsletters
  • PR activities, outreach to media
  • Bulletin board projects
  • Website design/expansion
  • Parent/member outreach
  • Highlight the role of education in the community

Please note that this list is by no means exhaustive and should be used simply as a guide. Many activities are applicable in multiple categories and should focus on educational initiatives whenever possible.

In addition, please remember that when purchasing any products or materials for distribution that have been approved within the guidelines of the LAP program, they must be union-made and made in the USA. Please note: There are restrictions on the percentage of the local LAP budget that can be used for member meals and giveaways.

What CANNOT be funded?

Below are some of the expenditures that fall under these categories and have been disallowed by the NYSUT LAP Committee. This list is not exhaustive. Your team may propose something that the committee has not encountered and may deem an unacceptable expenditure. In this event, we will make every effort to contact the local or your labor relations specialist for clarification before deciding not to fund the budget item in question. The “miscellaneous” section below lists expenditures that have been disallowed by the LAP Committee but do not fall into one of the four broad categories cited above.

The committee has also been known to make limited exceptions when a normally disallowed expenditure is part of an innovative activity that meets the goals of LAP and of the local. This is why you are strongly encouraged to consult with your LRS and to provide a rationale for your proposed expenditures as they apply to both your local’s and the organization’s LAP objectives.

Local Action Project guidelines state LAP funds cannot be used for the following categories of expenditures:

Member Giveaways and Meals

Budget dollars allocated to giveaways and meals for members of the local cannot exceed the following:

  • 1st year locals = 25% of the total LAP budget
  • 2nd year locals = 20% of the total LAP budget
  • 3rd year locals = 15% of the total LAP budget
Member Participation in Local Union and NYSUT Activities
  • RA
  • Pre NYSUT RA Local & Retiree Council Presidents Conference
  • Local Action Project Summer Conference
  • ED Meetings
  • AFT workshops and conferences
  • Governance meetings and elections required by local’s constitution and bylaws
Scholarships
  • Students
  • Members
  • Members’ family members
  • Community Scholarship Fund
Stipends for Members
  • Historian
  • Chamber of Commerce Liaison
  • Retiree Liaison
  • Office Assistant
Furniture and Equipment
  • Office space
  • Office furniture
  • Office supplies: binders, stamps, envelopes, etc.
  • Television sets
  • Displays
VOTE-COPE

Giveaways associated with VOTE-COPE contributions are prohibited.

Political

Contributions to or expenditures for state or federal candidates.

Miscellaneous
  • Food drives
  • Membership fees/dues
  • Lottery tickets
  • Contract publication
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Donations

If you have any questions regarding the funding of certain initiatives, please contact your LRS or Jennifer Kaseman at 800-342-9810, prior to submitting your budget document.

LAP Application

Grant Agreement

NYSUT local grant award dollars are dedicated solely for the betterment of NYSUT locals and members. In order to adhere to these fiduciary principles, all locals receiving any grant dollars from NYSUT must formally commit to remain affiliated with, and members of, NYSUT for a period of ten (10) years following the date the grant award is distributed. Upon acceptance into the LAP program, local leaders must complete a Grant Award Agreement declaring that the local will remain affiliated with NYSUT for ten (10) years. Failure to formalize this commitment will result in removal from the LAP program.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding this requirement, please contact Melinda Person, NYSUT’s Executive Director at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

IMPORTANT!

Your complete application will be shared with your NYSUT Labor Relations Specialist (LRS), who may be in touch with you to review aspects of your application.

TIP: Many locals ask their LRS to collaborate in the process of filling out the LAP application. Labor relations specialists are knowledgeable on what information is needed.

Application Form