NYSUT President Questions Astorino's Labor Record

NYSUT President Questions Astorino's Labor Record

NYSUT President Questions Astorino's Labor Record
July 16, 2014

New York State United Teachers President Karen Magee and Republican gubernatorial nominee Rob Astorino share roots in Westchester County, where he is the county executive and she was a longtime teacher, but those local ties may not help Astorino win the union’s support.

NYSUT has criticized Gov. Andrew Cuomo for his support of teacher evaluations and some of his other positions, while leaving open the possibility that it will not endorse him for re-election. Yet Magee was quick to raise concerns about Astorino as well.

Magee was an elementary school and special education teacher in the Westchester County town of Harrison for nearly 30 years before becoming the president of NYSUT, and her time as a local union leader overlapped in part with Astorino's tenure as county executive.

“We had some labor issues, obviously, between the labor movement and the county, and I knew him in relation to that,” said Magee, referring to a years-long dispute between Astorino and the Civil Service Employees Association. “I did not, do not, know him in any way on how it would relate to education policy. He wouldn’t have that role in Westchester County.”

An Astorino spokeswoman noted that seven out of the eight public employee unions in Westchester County endorsed him during his campaign for county executive.

So far, no unions have endorsed him for governor.

Last week, Astorino announced a new “Stop Common Core” ballot line. Astorino would not elaborate on what alternative he would propose to replace the standards if he were elected. He also said he would not release an education plan until September, leaving NYSUT, whose endorsement conference is in mid-August, with little information about what his approach to education as governor would be.

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Ashley Hupfl