UUP stands in solidarity against cuts to
state jobs, services
UUP President Fred Kowal delivers a strong message against moves to cut jobs and state services before 700 unionists at a labor rally in Albany.
The Jan. 29 “Save Our Services” rally, organized by the Public Employees Federation (PEF), was held to protest the closures of several state facilities across the state, such as adult and adolescent psychiatric centers and prisons, and the possible closure of SUNY Downstate Medical Center and other state services.
Kowal thanked PEF for standing with UUP to protect the vital health care services provided at Downstate. He told his union sisters and brothers that they serve the people of the state, and issued a challenge to the governor and his agenda to eliminate state services and jobs.
“If you want to build the state, governor, stand with us, because we’ve built it for a future that we and our kids and our grandkids can be proud of, and if you can’t do that, get out of the way and let us do our jobs,” Kowal said, eliciting applause from the union faithful.
Kowal was joined at the rally by a host of prominent labor leaders, including AFT President Randi Weingarten, PEF President Susan Kent, CSEA President Danny Donohue, NYSUT Executive VP Andy Pallotta, state AFL-CIO President Mario Cilento, NYSCOPBA President Donn Rowe and leaders from the SUNY Downstate Coalition of Faith, Labor and Community Leaders.
Weingarten spoke out against renewed efforts toward privatizing state services, like those offered at SUNY Downstate.
“Privatizing and outsourcing have never made a state better,” she said.
While some UUP members were standing in solidarity with their union sisters and brothers, others were getting the training they need to talk with lawmakers about the growing concerns faced by SUNY and UUP.
During a chapter outreach meeting at New Paltz, more than 25 union members were given handouts on the chancellor’s Open SUNY and Seamless Transfer initiatives, and on the new high-stakes edTPA teacher certification requirements. UUP VP for Professionals Philippe Abraham and VP for Academics Jamie Dangler briefly outlined the union’s 2014-15 legislative agenda before stepping into the roles of legislator and UUP advocate, respectively. The two statewide officers have years of experience talking with lawmakers in Albany and in district offices; they were joined in the role-play by New Paltz Chapter members Kevin Saunders and Donna Goodman.
“If we are to defend SUNY and our interests as SUNY faculty, we must make our elected officials aware of our concerns,” said UUP Outreach Committee member Brian Obach, who is spearheading the chapter's outreach efforts. “Outreach volunteers like you play an important role in this process. Your participation as a local constituent of these elected officials is crucial.”
Earlier in the day, Abraham and Dangler met with professionals to discuss the on-call/recall provisions negotiated in the 2011-2016 contract with New York state.