2021 Health & Safety Conference

Date(s) | Time

May 21 - 23, 2021



This Event is Open To:

All NYSUT Members

Note: While we encourage you to attend as much of the conference as you can, you have the option to pick and choose which sessions and workshops you would like to attend during the registration process.

Conference Overview

This year’s NYSUT Health & Safety Conference has been constructed with practicality in mind. The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare the disconnect between how we as workers identify workplace hazards and how we ultimately work with employers to remove or control them.

Following what is sure to be an inspiring talk by Professor Richard Wolff on Friday evening, we will dive headfirst into how to establish the systems necessary to address any workplace health and safety concern. You will learn how to identify and document concerns, how to escalate them and ultimately how to hold your employer accountable.

Once this foundation is set, our focus will turn to specific workplace hazards. We have invited leading experts from New York and beyond to teach us about infectious diseases, lead in drinking water, indoor air quality, mental health and more.

For this conference, we strongly encourage that you invite a colleague or two to join you. As a team, you and a colleague will have time to work jointly on your own health and safety action plan. This will be done during “Team Time” and additional questions specific to workplace hazards will be gathered throughout the conference and addressed at our “Problem Solving Clinic”. Both sessions will be guided by NYSUT staff.

Overall, Day 1 is best attended in its entirety. On this day, the courses will build on each other and set the foundation needed for understanding how to utilize the information shared on Day 2.

So please, grab a friend, and review our workshop offerings. We look forward to working with you!

Conference Materials

Prior to the first day of the conference, all participants will be mailed a binder of useful health and safety resources. The contents of the binder will be referenced throughout the conference. One of the resources included will be a workbook that we encourage you to use as a tool. The Workbook will provide information specific to each session, links to additional resources, and space for notes and planning. A digital copy of the entire workbook, as well as the binder, will be made available as well.

Conference Schedule

Friday, May 21, 2021

6:00 P.M. - 7:15 p.m.

Opening and Keynote

Richard Wolff, Marxian Economist and Professor Emeritus of Economics at the University of Massachusetts Amherst

Saturday, May 22, 2021

8:00 A.M. - 9:00 A.M.

Gentle Vinyasa Flow

Nicole Hudson, Founder of WanderFreely, LLC., E-RYT, YACEP, Certified Souluna Life Coach

Read Workshop Description

This Gentle Vinyasa Flow class will focus on building shapes from the ground up and your center out. You will explore how to safely transition through different asana postures from a functional anatomy approach and discover what works best for your individual body. By combining breath and movement, this class will offer you time to slow down, turn inward, and honor what your body needs to relax and renew. All students welcome.

9:15 A.M. – 10:00 A.M.

Opening Session

  • Greetings from NYSUT’s Second Vice President, Ron Gross
  • A Welcome from The Health & Safety Advisory Committee Chairperson, Eric Ramirez
  • Presentation of the Unsung Hero Award

10:00 A.M. – 11:30 A.M.

The NYSUT Health & Safety Assistance Program

Veronica Foley, NYSUT Assistant in Health & Safety and Healthcare and PJ Terkoski, NYSUT Labor Relations Specialist, Nassau Regional Office

Read Workshop Description

Join this workshop to be a part of NYSUT’s latest venture. NYSUT has created a foolproof system rooted in the principles of organizing. The goal of the program is to provide locals with the tools and understanding they need to feel confident when advocating for safe and healthy workplaces.

11:30 A.M. – 1:00 P.M.


1:00 P.M. – 2:00 P.M.

Health and Safety: How to Hold Your Employer Accountable

Veronica Foley, NYSUT Assistant in Health & Safety and Healthcare
Albert Comfort, NYSUT Labor Relations Specialist, Elmira Regional Office

Read Workshop Description

Unfortunately, not every health and safety hazard you confront in the workplace has a corresponding OSHA or PESH regulation that can be enforced.  As a result, it is the goal of this workshop to give you a better understanding of when you can use certain health and safety regulations and when you will need to look instead to best practice and guidance. 

2:15 P.M. – 3:45 P.M.

Putting the Pressure On: Organizing for a Healthy and Safe Workplace

Liz Smith-Rossiter, NYSUT’s Lead Organizer and Deborah Lloyd Priest, NYSUT Labor Relations Specialist, Suffolk Regional Office

Read Workshop Description

Powerful, organized unions have long been able to create better working conditions, change political policy, as well as influence the creation of health and safety laws and enforcement agencies. So, how do we continue their work and improve the health and safety in our own workplace? In this session, we will review and implement the organizing framework to engage and mobilize our members around health and safety issues. We will apply best practices and strategies for collecting and utilizing relevant information, finding optimal long-lasting solutions, and leveraging power to pressure and persuade the employer to work to effectuate change that will improve health and safety in our work environments.


4:00 P.M. – 5:00 P.M.

Team Time

Join NYSUT staff from your region to plan your own campaign for escalating health and safety concerns. You will be afforded the opportunity to discuss specific action items and goals.

Sunday, May 23, 2021

8:00 A.M. - 9:00 A.M.

Mindfulness for Everyday Life

Mickie Brown, Rn, HN-BC Clinical Manager for Education, Mindfulness and Patient Well-Being Selikoff Centers for Occupational Health, Mount Sinai Medical Center, New York, NY

Read Workshop Description

This workshop will focus on what Mindfulness is and the practical applications in everyday life. Mindfulness is an ancient practice that is immensely practical for the frantic nature of our world today. You will learn practices to implement throughout your day to enhance presence and decision-making skills.

9:15 A.M. – 10:15 A.M.

Health and Safety Labor-Management Meetings: How to Find a Resolution

Moriah Olsen, NYSUT Labor Relations Specialist, Tarrytown Regional Office

Read Workshop Description

There are several factors to consider when preparing for health and safety labor-management meetings. It is important that you look at the make-up of your team, any advanced training your team members might need, information that you should request from the employer, laws and regulations that might apply and other factors that will give your team strength at the table. We will cover these topics and more in this session.

Indoor Air Quality and COVID-19

Nellie Brown, Director of Workplace Health and Safety Programs, The Worker Institute, Cornell University

Read Workshop Description

Controlling exposure to COVID-19 in the indoor environment requires attention to engineering controls such as ventilation. Attention to HVAC is important in addressing indoor air quality, but even more crucial in reducing exposure to airborne disease.

10:30 A.M. – 11:30 A.M.

Reflections on a Pandemic Year: What have we learned about protecting workers from COVID-19?

Mark Catlin, Industrial Hygienist, Former Occupational Safety & Health Director, SEIU

Read Workshop Description

This presentation will review key elements of infectious disease transmission and control in workplaces, drawing on the experience of labor unions across North America during this pandemic and from the past. Mark will describe important historical debates between organized labor and infectious disease agencies and employers which impact worker protections today. These debates include airborne transmission, the hierarchy of controls and respirator programs, vaccination policy and the role of employers and workers. Looking to the future, Mark will discuss opportunities for improving infection control policies at the national and state level and on the ground in workplaces.

Chemicals in the Workplace and Your Rights

Rossana Coto-Batres, Executive Director, Northeast New York Coalition for Occupational Safety & Health

Read Workshop Description

The Hazard Communication standard is a cornerstone health and safety regulation. It is enforced by OSHA and the NYS Public Employees Safety and Health Bureau. In this workshop, you will learn how to use this regulation to ensure your employer is protecting you and your colleagues from exposures to hazardous chemicals.

11:45 A.M. – 12:45 P.M.

Problem-Solving Clinic

Nellie Brown, Nellie Brown, Director of Workplace Health and Safety Programs, The Worker Institute, Cornell University
Veronica Foley, Assistant in Health & Safety and Healthcare, NYSUT
PJ Terkoski, NYSUT Labor Relations Specialist, Nassau Regional Office, Liz Smith-Rossiter, NYSUT’s Lead Organizer

Read Workshop Description

The clinic will feature panelists who will field questions from the attendees and propose solutions for specific health and safety problems.

1:00 P.M. – 2:00 P.M.

"5 is the New 15": How lowering the state action level for lead in school drinking water can protect more students and staff

Josh Klainberg, Senior Vice President of the New York League of Conservation Voters

Read Workshop Description

The clinic will feature panelists who will field questions from the attendees and propose solutions for specific health and safety problems.

Mental Health, Resiliency, and the COVID-19 Pandemic

Read Workshop Description

In this session, we will discuss the foundational aspect of mental wellness. As professionals and community members, it is crucial that we understand how to approach the topic of mental wellness. We will discuss the language to use when having conversations about mental health and how to create a network of support.

2:15 - 2:45 P.M.



If you have any questions about the 2021 Health & Safety Conference, please send them using the form below. We will get back to you shortly.