August 22, 2013

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Outreach revamped, refocused

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UUP President Fred Kowal, left, discusses a new, ambitious outreach program for the union

Flanked by new Outreach Committee Co-chairs -- Buffalo Center Chapter President Tom Tucker, center, and Stony Brook Chapter President Arty Shertzer -- Kowal emphasized the union faces major challenges.

“We’re under attack, with the threatened selloff of state assets, the expansion of online courses, and the constant attack on Brooklyn’s Downstate Medical Center,” he told chapter leaders and statewide Outreach Committee members during a joint meeting Aug. 19 in Lake George. ““We have to expand our outreach activities at the district level and make sure our advocacy efforts remain strong all year.”

Kowal, Shertzer and Tucker released details about the new outreach initiative, which focuses on local advocacy and divides the state into 13 regions based on current state Senate districts, with each being led by regional coordinators. The goal is to build bases of local activists who will establish coalitions with other groups and engage with state lawmakers in their local offices on a year-round basis. The regional coordinators will meet with chapter presidents and chapter executive boards to coordinate activities and assemble local activists.

“This is a classic membership-building opportunity,” Kowal said. He added that advocacy days in Albany during the legislative session will continue, but will be replaced as the centerpiece of the union’s outreach by local advocacy.

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Underscoring the importance of coalition-building, State AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Terry Melvin delivered an inspiring call to action to the chapter leaders and Outreach Committee members.

“We’re all in this struggle together,” Melvin said. “It’s up to you to stand up in labor as one. We’ve got to start building our allies.”

Looking ahead, the Outreach Committee members brainstormed on issues that could be part of UUP’s 2014 Legislative Agenda.

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