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Sept. 10, 2016

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UUPers jeer Trump, stand tall in NYC Labor Day parade


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There they were, UUPers more than 200 strong, pulling away from the New York City Labor Day Parade Sept. 10 to gather en masse front of the imposing, jagged Fifth Avenue facade of Trump Tower.

No one was impressed with the skyscraper—which houses Trump’s penthouse residence and the headquarters for his presidential campaign.

Dressed in identical red shirts emblazoned with UUP’s white logo, UUPers instead hoisted “AFT for Hillary” signs and chanted “What a chump! Donald Trump! What a chump! Donald Trump!” They booed the Republican presidential candidate, waving signs and proudly showing their defiance as they scoffed at the Manhattan billionaire and all he stands for.

“Hey UUP, what do you think of Donald Trump?,” Albany Chapter President Bret Benjamin shouted through a bullhorn, eliciting a chorus of boos. “Is Donald Trump a friend to education? Is Donald Trump a friend to workers? Will Donald Trump do anything to help our union?”

“He may own the building but we own the streets!,” said statewide Membership Development Officer Tom Hoey, marching with his wife, and son Max.

On the march

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This is the third year that UUP has taken part in the Manhattan parade, easily one of the largest and most prestigious Labor Day parades in the country.

Thousands of unionists from dozens of professions and trades in Manhattan and from across the state took part in the parade, which started at 44th Street proceeded nearly 20 blocks up Fifth Avenue. Held the first weekend after Labor Day, the parade—organized by the New York City Central Labor Council/AFL-CIO—had everything from floats and marching bands to buses, tractor trailers and heavy machinery.

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“We’re standing with all of our sisters and brothers in the labor movement to show the power of labor, but also to celebrate the work we do,” said Kowal, pictured above addressing members before the march. “All of us, whether its building trades or those of us who are teachers doctors researchers in SUNY, were doing the work that benefits American society. We built this country and were still building it.”

UUP members from chapters across the state smiled and laughed in as they marched in the hot, humid city weather, with temperatures in the high 80s and nearly 100 percent humidity.

A contingent from the New Paltz chapter carried a giant-sized Mother Jones puppet, complete with a drummer and a woman playing the trumpet. Others carried banners and waved signs that said “Fair Contract Now!,” referring to the union’s negotiations for a new contract with the state.

NYSUT Vice President Catalina Fortino joined UUP in the march, which ended as members—chanting “Who are we? UUP!”—walked past the reviewing stand at 63rd Street.


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