NYSUT 50th Anniversary

A Documentary Film

NYSUT: The First 50 Years

The story of one of America's most powerful labor unions


A Documentary Film

NYSUT: The First 50 Years

The story of one of America's most powerful labor unions.

About the Film

This is the story of NYSUT: New York State United Teachers.

NYSUT: The First 50 Years is a documentary film covering the origins of the union representing more than 600,000 people who work in, or are retired from, New York’s schools, colleges, and healthcare facilities. 

The documentary features stories told by the people who were there at some of the biggest moments in NYSUT history; from the first organizing drives to the merger of NYSTA and UTNY to form NYSUT,

and from early strikes to unifying all teachers across the state. The film is a detailed, touching look back at the history of the union, and looks ahead to what the next fifty years will hold.

Watch the Film

Watch the Shorts

NYSUT Origin Story

Around tables at the University Club in Albany and at a representative assembly in the Catskills, NYSTA and UTNY leaders work out a deal on a merger, uniting teachers across the state to form a new organization: NYSUT.

Keep The Clock

Facing a fight for its very survival, Al Shanker delivers the most famous speech in the history of NYSUT: the “Keep the Clock” speech. Following the speech, most locals decided to stay with NYSUT instead of splitting away with the NEA, preserving the union for generations to come.

Beyond Teachers

NYSUT looks beyond teachers to improve the working conditions of other workers in the state, from education paraprofessionals to faculty and staff at colleges, to nurses.

Bargaining Story

NYSUT member Tony Bifaro relates a story on the early challenges teachers faced from districts while exercising their legally protected collective bargaining rights and how strength in unity overcame threats and obstacles in their way.

Political Activism Under Attack

Under attack from the New York State Legislature and Conservative Party member Charles Jerabek, New York teachers organize politically for the first time and raise over $600,000 to fight for their causes in Albany. These are the roots of today's VOTE-COPE.

Con-Con Fight

As New York state proposes a constitutional convention that could open up teacher pensions to cuts, NYSUT rallies public support to defeat the proposal by an overwhelming margin at the ballot box.

Call Out Cuomo

The remaining NEA-NY locals come together to work out a merger with NYSUT, uniting all teachers across the state under one banner 160 years after New York’s first educational association had formed.

The Next 50 Years

Looking ahead to the next fifty years, NYSUT examines unity, challenges, and what is on tap for the future of the union in New York state

What Does NYSUT Mean to You?

Through the generations, our union has touched the lives of millions of New York State educators and their families. The work of a union is done on the individual, local level and yet affects policy on the state and national levels. More than anything, it's a collection of remarkable, passionate people dedicated to the union cause and to quality education for all students.