June 24, 2014

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Workgroup takes on membership development

uupdate 6-24-14

Statewide MDO Edison Bond, Jr., center, speaks at a June 24 meeting of the Membership Development Organizing Work Group. Stony Brook HSC President Carol Gizzi and Oswego Chapter VPP William Canning are also pictured.

How to effectively grow and activate UUP’s membership and sustain that growth into the next decade were tasks considered by workgroup members during the meeting, its first. The four-hour session was held at UUP’s offices in Latham.

The group is working on compiling a set of recommendations to increase UUP’s active membership. Those recommendations will be sent to UUP’s statewide officers and then to the Executive Board for review.

“UUP has more than 35,000 bargaining unit members and is the nation’s largest higher education union.

Led by Bond, the panel talked about ways to recruit agency fee payers—workers who haven’t signed a union card but pay a mandatory fee for collective bargaining representation and administration. Agency fee payers cannot vote in union elections or on collective bargaining agreements negotiated between UUP and the State of New York.

“There is definitely room for improvement here,” Bond said.

Unions across the country are focused on increasing active membership in light of Harris v. Quinn, a court case out of Illinois that could severely weaken unions by prohibiting the requisite collection of agency fees from nonunion members. The case contends that states cannot force nonunion workers to pay union fees because public sector bargaining is political speech.

A decision is expected in June.

The workgroup is made up of Bond, Gizzi and Canning, as well as Empire State College Chapter President Pamela Malone, ESF Chapter VPP Caroline Bailey, Cortland Chapter Secretary Anne Wiegard and Executive Board member Jen Drake; and Buffalo Center Chapter MDO Kenneth Kern.

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