Aug. 11, 2014

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Outreach Committee gears up for busy year

uupdate 8-11-14

Outreach Committee members discuss issues with Secretary Eileen Landy, left, at the union’s annual Outreach Retreat Aug. 10-11. Pictured are Utica/Rome Chapter President Linda Weber, right, and Purchase Chapter President Connie Lobur.

During the meeting, UUP President Fred Kowal urged committee members to recruit new activists to volunteer during this year’s midterm elections. More than 60 members were in attendance.

“The events of the next few months will decide our future,” Kowal said. “We need member activists working for candidates we can depend on and against enemies who would vote against us. This is beyond crucial.”

Expert opinions

On Aug. 11, chapter presidents joined Outreach Committee members to hear from political and community organizing experts.

Political consultant Bruce Gyory, who served as senior advisor for governors Eliot Spitzer and David Paterson, gave his assessment of the state’s political landscape for the November elections.

Veteran activist Billy Easton, executive director of the Alliance for Quality Education, offered suggestions on how to mobilize members.

“Motivate them by saying this is a priority because everything you’ve lived your life for is at stake in this election,” Easton said.

Grassroots organizer and former UAlbany Chapter member Martha Devaney offered tips on successful community organizing.

Outreach Committee members later broke into small groups to discuss UUP’s 2015 Legislative Agenda.


Leaders also urged members to increase their contributions to VOTE-COPE, NYSUT’s political action fund. Jeff Zuckerman, a NYSUT VOTE-COPE consultant, contrasted New York with Wisconsin, a state where public employees’ collective bargaining rights have been sharply curtailed. Members’ dues money cannot be used for political work, which is why contributing to VOTE-COPE is so important.

“The only thing between us and Wisconsin is VOTE-COPE,” said Zuckerman. “We usually get outspent 15-to-1 by corporate interests.”

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