Nov. 4, 2014

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It's Election Day: Vote!

UUP President Fred Kowal wants all UUP members to vote today.

In a new video, Kowal asks UUPers to consider voting for pro-public education, pro-labor candidates endorsed by NYSUT and the New York State AFL-CIO when they pull the lever today.

"It's most important to realize that voting for candidates who support public ed and unions is important, and it's crucial that at this time, they have our support," Kowal said."So please consider them."

What follows is an editorial Kowal wrote for publication in the Legislative Gazette. The piece ran on Sept. 23.

Please vote in November.

I cannot stress strongly enough how important it is for you, as a union member and as an American, to go to the polls on Tuesday, Nov. 4 and cast your vote.

Do it. Vote.

The right to vote, to freely choose those who will lead us without fear of reprisal, is a right that Americans have fought to gain and defend since this great country was established more than two centuries ago.

When the Constitution was ratified in 1789, only adult white males who owned property could legally vote. In 1869, some 80 years later, Congress passed the Fifteenth Amendment, which prohibited restricting voting rights on the basis of race, color or “previous condition of servitude.”

But it wasn’t until President Lyndon B. Johnson passed the Voting Rights Act that the polls were truly open to people of color. The historic 1965 measure did away with restrictive voting rights laws—such as literacy tests and poll taxes—meant to keep people of color and the poor from registering to vote.

Women won the right of suffrage in 1920 with the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment. That success took decades of protests, picketing and petitions to accomplish; many who devoted their lives to the movement, such as Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, never lived to see women gain the right to vote.

These days, far too many Americans take voting for granted. Many more think that their vote doesn’t matter.

That’s nonsense. With your vote, you have the power to elect candidates who are pro-labor, pro-education advocates who believe in a strong, working middle class and a vital public higher education system.

Before you enter the voting booth, I hope that you will consider pulling the lever for candidates endorsed by NYSUT and the New York State AFL-CIO. UUP doesn’t endorse candidates, but our leaders played a part in selecting candidates for NYSUT to support.

Labor and public education is under attack. The middle class is steadily eroding, the unemployment rate continues to hover around 6 percent, and there are too many low-paying jobs.

We need to elect representatives who support the issues that we support—a vibrant SUNY, union jobs with fair pay and benefits, and a strong working class. That’s why UUP members across the state have been working since late summer to help elect candidates backed by NYSUT and the New York State AFL-CIO.

I, along with the union’s statewide officers, chapter leaders and a group of dedicated volunteers, have joined our sisters and brothers from all over the Empire State in campaigning for candidates in key congressional and state races.

From Buffalo to Albany and Plattsburgh to Stony Brook, we have been going door-to-door, dropping off campaign literature, and putting out signs. Volunteers are working at candidates’ campaign headquarters, coordinating outreach and making phone calls for candidates.

UUP will keep working for labor-backed candidates because we believe in what they stand for. We believe that together, we can achieve positive change.

But it all starts with one word: vote.

If you haven’t registered to vote, register. If you’re registered to vote but didn’t vote in last year’s election or the September primary, make a point to get to the polls Nov. 4.

One vote—your vote—can change the course of history.

Do it.


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