Thomas Y. Hobart, Jr., '60

Thomas Y. Hobart, Jr., '60

Thomas (Tom) Y. Hobart, Jr., received his Bachelor of Science in Industrial Arts Education from Buffalo State College in 1960. Since undertaking his first union position as a building representative in 1964, Tom’s career as a union leader has spanned five decades. In 1969, he was elected president of the 3,700-member bargaining unit representing the Buffalo Teachers Federation. Two years later he was elected president of NYSUT’s predecessor organization, the New York State Teachers’ Association. In 1972, he and the president of the United Teachers of New York led talks that resulted in the merger of the two unions.

In 1973, Tom became NYSUT’s first president and was re-elected 16 times serving 34 years until his retirement in 2005. Under his leadership, the NYSUT grew from 100,000 members to more than 540,000 members – the largest state federation in the American Federation of Teachers.

Tom was active with numerous professional organizations. He was a member of the Board of Directors of the National Education Association and served as vice president of the American Federation of Teachers and a member of the AFT Executive Committee for more than 30 years. He also was a vice president and member of the Executive Committee of the New York State AFL-CIO. Tom served on various state and federal boards relating to union activities and/or education and chaired the Public Employees Benefit Fund, a 70,000 member health service provider, from 1975-1991. He also was a labor delegate to many state, national, and international conferences and labor exchange programs.

Tom also volunteered many hours to public service, at both the state and national level. He served on the Board of Directors of the United Way of New York State for many years and was elected chair in 1999. He was named to the Board of Governors of the United Way of America (2001) and served on the New York State Service Council of the American Red Cross (1996.) In 2003, he became the founding chair of the American Labor Study Center.

During his long career, Tom received many awards and recognitions, including the Italian-American Labor Council Four Freedoms Award (1990); the Union Label Award of Merit (1981); the Good Scout Award (1992), presented to those individuals who exemplify in their daily lives the ideals of the Boy Scouts of America as expressed in the Scout Oath and Law; the Ellis Island Medal of Honor Award (1997), and the Buffalo State College Distinguished Alumnus Award (1988.) At his retirement, NYSUT named its state-of-the-art headquarters and conference center in suburban Albany the Thomas Y. Hobart Jr. Office Building.