May 21, 2015

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ESC Chapter hosts ‘Common Sense Economics’ program

uupdate 5-21-15

Working families will never have economic equality until New York adopts a progressive tax structure.

That was one of many messages delivered May 21 during an AFL-CIO “Common Sense Economics” presentation at Empire State College in Saratoga. Hosted by the Empire State College Chapter of UUP and presented by the Saratoga Area Labor Council, the event—simulcast to seven ESC locations statewide—is designed to raise awareness about income inequality and to build a network of citizens ready to fight for economic policies that work for all Americans.

UUP President Fred Kowal was guest speaker for the program. He cited a few of the hard-fought gains UUP achieved this legislative session, but warned that the challenges posed by ill-conceived economic policies—such as the 2 percent cap on school taxes—will continue to take a toll on working families.

“No matter how hard we work to improve the lives of New Yorkers, we must realize that we’re only nibbling around the edges. Because the reality is, New York’s tax system is grossly regressive,” Kowal said. “Labor has to change the game so that everyone has a fair chance to get a good public education and an accessible, affordable public higher education. This is an issue that can unite us all.”

Kowal’s comments set the tone for the AFL-CIO’s Common Sense Economic program, which uses its area labor federations to train local labor council leaders—who, in turn, develop a network of activists. The Capital District Area Labor Federation was a partner in the Saratoga presentation. Saratoga Area Labor Council President Walt Lynds, Capital District ALF field organizer Will Hayward and CSEA Local 1000 labor education specialist Patty McArdle were the presenters.

Building a network of activists

ESC Chapter President Pamela Malone, above, said the program provided UUP members, labor leaders and advocates the information they need “to play a role in changing the economy for the better.”

“We have an opportunity to stand united with labor and social justice advocates in our communities across the state,” she added. “Please share what you’ve learned with your colleagues, family and friends.”

Malone urged everyone to “start here, start now” by downloading the NYSUT MAC app on their smartphones and signing up for text updates (text UUP to 235246 for AFL-CIO updates and text NYSUT to 38470 for NYSUT alerts). She also encouraged them to sign up for UUP Regional Advocacy Days, set for June 2, June 9 and June 10 at the Legislative Office Building in Albany.

“We can participate in a movement to reduce income inequality, to strengthen our economy, and to promote fairness in our society,” Malone said. “We can engage others in the process and work together. We can unite our voices and our actions and make a difference.”

More than 25 people attended the Saratoga presentation; dozens more participated via webcast at ESC centers in Cheektowaga, Rochester, East Syracuse, Latham, Hartsdale, Manhattan and Old Westbury.

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