Feb. 24, 2018

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Kowal energizes huge crowd at NYC workers rally

uupdate 2-24-18

Click HERE to watch UUP President Fred Kowal's Feb. 24 speech at the Working People's Day of Action in New York City

UUP President Fred Kowal waited more than two hours to take his turn at the podium to address thousands of sign-waving, amped-up unionists and workers at the Working People's Day of Action rally in New York City.

He made the most of his opportunity when he got the microphone.

Kowal delivered a passionate, fiery two-minute speech that won some of the crowd’s loudest and most boisterous cheers. He punctuated his remarks with a fierce, defiant message to President Donald Trump and Mark Janus—the Janus in Janus v. AFSCME.

“Are we going to let fear win this day?” Kowal shouted, leaning into the microphone. “Are we going to let division win this day? “Are we going to let Donald Trump win this day?

“As a matter of fact, Donald Trump and his corporate friends and Mark Janus can kiss my working-class ass!,” Kowal said, as the crowd erupted in cheers and shouts of approval. “I’m a union man! And I always will be!”

Janus, set to be heard Feb. 26 by the U.S. Supreme Court, claims that it is unconstitutional for unions to collect fair share fees from bargaining unit members who decline to join. The suit challenges longstanding legal precedent that compels these workers to pay fees because they benefit from raises, benefits and representation negotiated and provided by their union.

UUP in the house

UUP joined dozens of union locals, most of them from New York City, that were out in force at the Feb. 24 event in Foley Square in lower Manhattan, one of 28 Day of Action rallies across the country. Day of Action rallies were also held in Washington, D.C., Chicago, and Philadelphia.

UUP members from several chapters, including Empire State College, Old Westbury, Stony Brook and Downstate Medical Center, were at the New York City rally. Three statewide officers—VPP Tom Tucker, Secretary/Treasurer Jeri O’Bryan-Losee, and Membership Development Officer Tom Hoey—were also there, as was former UUP statewide treasurer and Downstate Chapter President Rowena Blackman-Stroud.

uupdate 2-24-18

Members from a number of chapters, including Buffalo State, Buffalo Center, and Fredonia attended a Day of Action in Buffalo Feb. 24. Above, UUP members pose with state Sen. Tim Kennedy (D-Buffalo).

Cuomo’s the big draw

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, flanked by Kowal, NYSUT President Andy Pallotta, PSC/CUNY President Barbara Bowen, and more than 20 other union leaders, blasted Trump in a short but feisty speech that he used to send a strong message of support to unions. Every major New York City television station covered Cuomo’s appearance, as did The Associated Press and the New York Daily News.

“If the Supreme Court carries Donald Trump’s political water, and if the Supreme Court tries to end organized labor, this state will do everything in its power to protect it,” Cuomo said. “As long as I am governor of the state of New York, the state of New York is going to have the back of organized labor.”

Other speakers included New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, AFSCME President Lee Saunders, New York AFL-CIO President Mario Cilento, Pallotta, and Bowen.

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