Dec. 1, 2015

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Building membership a chapter at a time

uupdate 12-2-15

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Fact sheet: Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association
Media Coverage: Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association

UUP President Fred Kowal kicked off a series of chapter visits in Brockport Dec. 1 to help chapter leaders reach out to prospective members and get them to sign a UUP union card.

Kowal and VP for Academics Jamie Dangler met with the chapter’s executive board to discuss the union’s membership drive and provide them with videos, palm cards and other tools to recruit fee payers to join UUP.

UUP officers plan to meet with every chapter executive board between now and March 2016 to help them develop membership strategies and to support their efforts to encourage those who have not yet signed a union card to do so.

Secretary Eileen Landy joined Kowal at Dec. 2 meetings at Geneseo and Alfred. Kowal is set to visit chapter leaders at Potsdam, Canton, Plattsburgh, Binghamton, Maritime and Optometry before the end of the month.

“We have to create a culture of membership at UUP,” Kowal told the Brockport members, led by Chapter President Jose Torre. “This is an ongoing effort, regardless of what happens with Friedrichs.”

UUP is awaiting a U.S. Supreme Court decision on Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, which challenges the longstanding ruling that everyone in a public employee bargaining unit must pay dues in exchange for union representation, whether or not they sign a union card.

UUP’s goal is to achieve 95 percent membership by March, and all chapters are developing plans to encourage prospective members to join. Membership at many chapters has already increased.

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Brockport Chapter members said the union’s message on membership came through loud and clear. Dawn Jones, left, the chapter’s VP for academics, said she has noticed that when members become involved in an issue about which they feel strongly, such as UUP’s efforts to reform the state’s flawed teacher certification process, they identify more with the union.

Said Jones, “The real part of this – the joy of belonging to the union – comes with getting involved.”

Dangler told Brockport leaders that adjunct concerns will be key in upcoming UUP contract negotiations with the state. While the union has made many gains for adjuncts, pay levels for adjunct faculty at many campuses have been stagnant for years. Adjuncts form a large percentage of prospective members at most chapters, and the union is working hard to make sure they know their concerns are being heard.

“We’ve probably got the best health insurance for part-time academics of any contract I’m aware of,” Dangler said. “What our members don’t often see is what we have successfully staved off in terms of rollback.”

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