August 14, 2012

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Leaders strategize on union biz, endorsements


Plattsburgh Chapter President Dave Curry offers a strategy for union action during an Aug. 13 meeting of chapter presidents and vice presidents at the Hotel Albany.

Curry was joined by, from left, Caroline Bailey of ESF, Tom Matthews of Geneseo, statewide VP for Academics Jamie Dangler, Barbara Warkentine of Maritime and more than 25 others, who came together to discuss union business and prepare for the next day’s NYSUT Endorsement Conference.

The troubling job cuts at Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn topped the business agenda, with UUP President Phil Smith providing an update and explanation of the struggle amid a wave of nearly 400 nonrenewal notices.

“It’s just one blow after another,” Smith said. “And our sisters and brothers at Downstate are at the pointy end of the spear.”

Smith urged chapter leaders to stand in solidarity with their Downstate colleagues by going to to send letters to the governor.

“Help us help our Downstate members in Brooklyn,” Smith added. “This is not just a Brooklyn problem, this is a problem we could face everywhere.”

During the recent AFT Convention in Detroit, UUP convinced its national affiliate to put its financial and political pressure on averting cuts in jobs and services at Downstate. A similar resolution will be presented at the New York State AFL-CIO Constitutional Convention, Aug. 18-22 in New York City.

“We have to get the governor to soften his heart,” Smith said. “The only way to do that is to get all of our partners to bring as much pressure to bear as possible.”

Downstate Chapter VP for Professionals Edison Bond thanked Smith and others for their ongoing support to Downstate members under fire.

“I want to thank everyone in this room from the bottom of my heart for all you have done to help us in Brooklyn, and to remind you that this is coming to a campus near you,” Bond said.

Endorsement process

The chapter leaders were in Albany to take part in NYSUT’s “highly democratic process” to endorse candidates for state and Congressional seats. UUP has the largest number of representatives attending the annual conference.

The UUPers will join their NYSUT colleagues in regional meetings, where they will evaluate candidates’ voting records. Party affiliation is not a factor in the endorsements; support depends on how candidates voted or intend to vote on education and labor legislation. Conference attendees will then make recommendations to the NYSUT Board of Directors, who will further review the candidates before making the final endorsements.

Check back for more information on the Aug. 14 NYSUT Endorsement Conference. A full list of endorsed candidates will be published in the October 2012 issue of The Voice.

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