August 13, 2009

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New, veteran chapter leaders discuss issues

New Buffalo Center Chapter President Michael Behun makes a point about Gov. David Paterson’s proposed Tier V pension reclassification plan during the Chapter Presidents Meeting in Saratoga Springs. Leaders from 27 UUP chapters attended the two-day session.

A number of new chapter presidents were present at the Chapter Presidents Meeting, a two-day session Aug. 5-6 that included discussions of A./S. 2020, Gov. David Paterson’s proposed Tier V pension reclassification and a call from President Phillip Smith for more local advocacy.

Smith said that meeting with local legislators in their home districts is a very effective way to spread UUP’s message that SUNY budget cuts unfairly harm students and faculty, and will further erode the state’s economy. He said that mid-year budget cuts to SUNY are likely given the state’s grim financial outlook and Gov. Paterson’s recent attempts to close the budget gap.

“We’re going to need everyone’s help,” he said. “It’s going to be a Herculean effort to fight the budget battle, but we’re going to have to fight.”

Chapter presidents supported UUP’s stand against Tier V, which would push the minimum retirement age from 55 to 62 and require employee retirement contributions after 10 years of service.

“The union remains opposed to any inequality in the pension system,” Smith said.

UUP and NYSUT oppose Tier V. CSEA and PEF cut a deal with Gov. Paterson to accept Tier V in trade for assurances of no layoffs for two years and a $20,000 severance offer to employees whose jobs were targeted in mass layoffs Paterson announced in March. The United Federation of Teachers also has a Tier V agreement, said Smith.

Reaching out

Chapter presidents also held a joint session with UUP’s Outreach Committee. During the meeting, Cortland Chapter President Jamie Dangler gave a detailed presentation on her chapter’s outreach strategy, which included tips for other chapters on effectively meeting with legislators in home districts and mobilizing members.

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