March 20, 2016

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UUP launches Chapter Action Program

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UUP President Fred Kowal set the tone on the first night of the union’s Chapter Action Project training session in Cooperstown, March 17-20.

“Organizing and building membership isn’t the work of a chapter president or a membership development officer, this is work for all of us to do,” Kowal said. “For too long those words have been spoken but not meant. They are meant now. This is the next step.”

More than 50 volunteers—many of them new activists from chapters across the state—came together for the four-day seminar to learn how to organize nonmembers and activate new members. Modeled after NYSUT’s successful Local Action Project, CAP is a three-year initiative designed to help UUP shift to an organizing culture, which began last year.

Through CAP, union activists will receive intensive training to build a chapter-based structure to recruit and engage new members and activists. This will aid activists with advocacy and political action locally and in Albany, and help them create coalitions with students, unions and other organizations.

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“CAP was an amazing success,” said statewide Secretary Eileen Landy, who coordinates CAP for the union. “The energy was palpable and the enthusiasm contagious.”

She continued: “Out of this process, a nucleus of activists across the state will build on this foundation over the next three years.”

Landy said members from 15 chapters took part in the training; members from 14 chapters walked away with plans to recruit members on their campuses.

Labor relation specialists shine

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Landy lauded the group of NYSUT labor relation specialists assigned to UUP, such as Tara Singer-Blumberg, above, who led training sessions on member participation, communications, developing community partnerships and ways to more effectively engage in political action. Tom Kriger, a former UUP staffer who works as research and education director for North America’s Building Trades Unions, also addressed activists.

“The LRSs’ did a fantastic job,” Landy said. “It is from their work and their skills that these teams received the tools necessary to accomplish the tasks set before them.”

“We’re here to reach the next generation of dedicated unionists,” said Morrisville Chapter VP for Academics Michael Loudis. “We’re here to develop a true culture of unionism.”

A second CAP seminar is set for the fall; it is slated Oct. 27-29 in Cooperstown.

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