Spreading The Word: Amanda Velazquez

Amanda Velasquez is a labor relations specialist for NYSUT and has been with them for 10 years. She attended St John’s for her undergraduate degree in government and politics. She then went on to law school at the University of Albany. Ever since then, she has been practicing as a labor attorney/advocate. After law school, she worked at a non-profit organization in New York City focused on “non-traditional employment for women”. This was her first experience with union work and inspired what she would later go on to do. In her last year of law school, she got connected with the Civil Service Employees Association’s (CSEA) legal team. Amanda made the decision not to go into the management side of this type of law this was for personal reasons, however, she highlights the importance of managing work as well as the type of work she does. Amanda’s father had a union job working in sanitation, the union benefits were able to boost her hard-working family into the middle class. Unions helped herself and her family in many ways. Amanda currently has 15 clients, which is certainly time-consuming. Some of these clients are [unions at] WCC, Mount Vernon, New Rochelle, FIT, and NYU. She is a higher education specialist for SUNY which is quite different from what she normally gets assigned to do, she says this “keeps her days interesting”. In the private sector, she works with the Winward School, NYU, and Marymount. A day in Amanda’s life varies however, she always has to be very flexible and able to help her many clients. She’ll have at least one meeting per day, likely after the school day ends. These meetings may be for K-12 schools, negotiations, team meetings, bargaining sessions, and grievance meetings. COVID and the use of ZOOM allow for more meetings during the day. An achievement that Amanda is most proud of is when she fought for and saved the jobs of 40 bus drivers in a union school district she represents. This is when all her hard work legally paid off and benefited many people which she represents.