Aug 13, 2010

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Difficult decisions at endorsement conference


“We cannot support anyone who supports PHEEIA,” UUP President Phil Smith tells NYSUT’s Presidents’ Conference on Endorsements. PHEEIA is verbal shorthand for the so-called Public Higher Education Empowerment and Innovation Act. UUP vigorously campaigned against the proposal that failed to gain approval in the finalized state budget.

Smith spoke at the Aug. 10 conference in Albany attended by hundreds of political activists from UUP and NYSUT, UUP’s statewide affiliate. Their task: to determine which candidates to support in this November’s election.

The task proved to be difficult, given the late state budget and the resulting cuts in aid for SUNY and public schools. Conference attendees were careful not to support candidates who voted against the interests of the union members.

NYSUT Executive VP Andy Pallotta described the message they need to send to such legislators: “We have to stand strong and say: You have done this to the public education system and we cannot back you.”

The NYSUT Board of Directors selected the final list of endorsed candidates based on the recommendations of its members. The union’s endorsement for statewide races, Congress and the state Legislature not only means campaign contributions, but additional support from the state’s largest union phone-bank operation.

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