Oct 30, 2009

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UUPers, higher education unionists, rally in Manhattan to fight state cuts


More than 100 UUP members hit the streets of Manhattan to loudly protest extreme higher education budget cuts to SUNY and the City University of New York.

UUPers from Purchase, Farmingdale, Downstate Medical Center, Old Westbury, Stony Brook East and Stony Brook West joined UUP President Phillip Smith and more than 300 brothers and sisters from CUNY, the United Federation of Teachers (UFT), the New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) and students from Hunter College at an Oct. 27 rally in the city’s Upper East Side.

Wearing signs that said “Put Our Money Where Our Future Is” and “It’s Time to Invest in SUNY,” UUPers sang and chanted in a steady drizzle as they paraded to the rally, stopping rush-hour traffic as New York City policeman blocked streets to let them pass. Motorists and passers-by honked and waved to support the unionists, who stretched two city blocks as they marched to the rally site, at the corner of East 68th Street and 5th Avenue at Central Park.

Smith, one of the featured speakers at the rally, had strong words for Gov. David Paterson about his $90 million midyear reduction to SUNY. Smith called the cuts outrageous and said that tens of thousands of college-bound and community college transfer students would be shut out of SUNY due to the cuts.

“These cuts are bleeding SUNY dry, and we can't expect the students to provide a transfusion,” he said as the crowd cheered their approval.

Other rally speakers included NYSUT Executive Vice President Alan Lubin, NYSUT Vice President Maria Neira, Professional Staff Congress President Barbara Bowen, and several Hunter College students.

The rally is UUP’s latest response to protest Paterson’s cuts. On Oct. 21, Smith told the state Assembly Ways and Means Committee that chopping $90 million from SUNY was unjustifiable and a burden that SUNY students would carry in the end.

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