April 18, 2015

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Kowal re-elected UUP President at Spring DA

uupdate 4-18-15

UUP delegates gave an overwhelming vote of confidence to President Fred Kowal's vision for the union as a bold defender of public higher education, by electing him to his second two-year term in an unopposed vote at the union's Delegate Assembly in Saratoga Springs, April 17-18.

In his remarks during the plenary session, Kowal thanked members for the continued opportunity to serve and invoked Robert F. Kennedy as he acknowledged their impressive advocacy this past budget session.

“Bobby Kennedy once said that only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly,” Kowal told nearly 300 delegates. “We in UUP are the strongest, most committed advocates for SUNY and its students. By actions born of hard work and passion, we are changing the world. Be proud of that, sisters and brothers.”

Landy, Shertzer re-elected

Delegates also re-elected Secretary Eileen Landy, and elected Membership Development Officer Arty Shertzer to his first full two-year term. Shertzer had been elected in January to complete the remainder of Edison Bond Jr.'s term after Bond resigned to take a job outside of SUNY. Landy and Shertzer both ran unopposed.

The DA also brought two new members to the statewide Executive Board: Pamela Malone of Empire State College as a representative of specialized colleges and Kenneth Lindblom of Stony Brook as an academic at large. Lindblom was the victor in the only contested Executive Board seat; he defeated Kim Hartshorn of Plattsburgh, 135 to 116.

Re-elected to the Executive Board were Anne Wiegard of Cortland, Laura Rhoads of Potsdam and Beth Wilson of New Paltz as academics at large; Lori Nash of Oswego as a representative of contingents; and Thomas Hoey of Albany and Darleyne Mayers of Farmingdale as professionals at large.

Around the elections, delegates honored longtime Stony Brook member Judith Wishnia for her decades of service and approved a resolution authorizing a UUP task force to consider eliminating the Winter DA.

Delegates also approved the union's $8.75 million spending plan for 2015-16.

Advocacy ahead

uupdate 4-18-15

Kowal told delegate that the end of the Legislative session will be a time of continued strategy and advocacy for officers, the Executive Board and members at large. The union faces a number of challenges, including the development of strategies to deal with a governor who has displayed open contempt for public education and those who work in it.

UUP did achieve several major victories in the budget, including the Legislature's restoration of Gov. Andrew Cuomo's 18.6 million cut to SUNY hospitals, significant modifications to the governor's performance-based funding plan for SUNY, and lawmakers' rejection of a private equity capital pilot program for SUNY hospitals that would have opened the door to their privatization. The Legislature also scaled back the governor's proposal to suspend or close teacher preparation programs whose students do not meet minimum performance standards on the state's deeply flawed new teacher certification exams, by limiting that punitive measure to graduate programs.

But the state continues to offer essentially flat funding to SUNY, and threats still loom over the SUNY hospitals, teacher preparation programs and faculty governance, with the governor now even dictating curriculum decisions. Ahead for UUP: the negotiation of a true Maintenance of Effort that would fully fund negotiated increases for the union's members.

Kowal encouraged the delegates to carry a message of strength back to their chapters as he promised a continued aggressive defense of their mission to help students.

“Let us all remember that we are unionists,” he said. “We have faith. It's up to us to dare to take on challenges that might seem risky to some. Let us embrace the hope.”

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