AFT Vice President
Shelvy Young Abrams is the elected chairperson of the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) paraprofessional chapter, representing 23,000 members in New York City. She also serves on the executive committee of the New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) board of directors and is co-chair of the AFT women's rights committee.
Abrams began her career as a classroom paraprofessional in 1968, working in a Title I reading program. She quickly became active in the union at her school and was elected as the UFT paraprofessional representative in 1970. She later gained the title of Manhattan borough coordinator and, in 1982, was elected as first vice chairperson of the paraprofessional chapter, while working as a part-time staffer at the UFT. In 1998, Abrams started full-time work at the UFT, focusing on paraprofessional issues.
Abrams is a member of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance New York Chapter (APLA), the AFT black caucus New York State chapter, the UFT women's rights committee, the AFT PSRP program and policy council, and the New York City Central Labor Council. She also is national vice president of the Coalition of Labor Union Women. Abrams served on various NYSUT committees and task forces prior to taking a seat on the executive committee of the NYSUT board of directors in 2006. Abrams has worked throughout her career to represent the interests of paraprofessionals, especially in the areas of workplace safety. Her work helped launch the UFT Workers' Compensation Project, which assists members who have been injured on the job, and she has been a major force in the UFT's Safe Secure Schools campaign, which includes training on preventing workplace violence injuries, school safety plans, student discipline codes and procedures for reporting incidents.
She has won numerous awards over the years. One of the most recent honors given to Abrams was the "Not for Ourselves Alone: The Sandy Feldman Outstanding Leadership Award," named in honor of the former AFT and UFT president who succumbed to breast cancer in 2005. The award recognizes the contributions of women to the education union movement. Abrams also is a member of the Make-a-Wish Foundation.