May 2, 2015

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UUP seen, heard at NYSUT RA

uupdate 5-4-15

UUP had a high profile before and during NYSUT’s Representative Assembly.

President Fred Kowal joined elected officials, NYSUT President Karen Magee and New York State AFL-CIO President Mario Cilento as a featured speaker at a spirited May Day union rally in Buffalo—held a few hours ahead of the official start of NYSUT’s two-day business and policy-making conference in Buffalo.

At the RA, longtime UUP activist Judy Wishnia was honored as Higher Education Member of the Year, and Kowal introduced a special resolution honoring former member Warren Weinstein, an al Qaeda captive accidentally killed in a January U.S. counterterrorism drone strike. Magee called for a moment of silence in Weinstein's honor.

VPP Philippe Abraham, Treasurer Rowena Blackman-Stroud and Secretary Eileen Landy were elected as NYSUT state delegates to the NEA. They were three of the top four vote-getters in the election; 33 NEA state delegates were elected.

And all five of NYSUT’s statewide officers spoke at UUP’s May 2 breakfast, taking the time to thank UUPers for their support and solidarity. NYSUT Vice President Catalina Fortino lauded VPA Jamie Dangler for spearheading UUP’s campaign to challenge deeply flawed teacher certification tests put in place by the State Education Department and fight threats to change and possibly close teacher preparation programs.

More than 1,800 NYSUT delegates—including 75 UUP members—attended the RA, May 1-2.

In her May 1 keynote speech, Magee thanked UUP for its strong fight against Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s draconian proposals for public higher education. “Together with our brothers and sisters from UUP, PSC and community colleges, we beat back a Hunger Games policy aimed at our campuses, we protected teaching hospitals for future generations; and we vigorously defended the principle that practitioners…should set the standards for entry into their own professions,” she said.

NYSUT delegates approved UUP’s sole resolution, which called for NYSUT to support UUP’s Action Plan, which includes a new student loan refinancing program for recent State University of New York graduates, calls for the state to pay its fair share of the University’s operational costs and promotes a realistic Maintenance of Effort to provide funding for SUNY’s hospitals and collective bargaining.

Between RA sessions, Dangler, Blackman-Stroud and Membership Development Officer Arty Shertzer joined more than 20 UUP members from across the state who volunteered to make calls at a May 2 phone bank for Downstate UUPer Shirley Patterson. Patterson is running in a May 5 election for the 43rd Assembly District seat.

Abraham and Landy joined UUP’s officers and members at the May 1 workers rally, held at noon in Buffalo’s Niagara Square. More than 1,500 unionists attended the rally. ”

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