March 1, 2018

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Chapters show unity, demand respect in contract protests

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Odalis Hernandez, a Stony Brook HSC Chapter member, powered up the bullhorn and began the chant.

“What do we want?” she shouted to nearly 45 members from the Stony Brook and Stony Brook HSC chapters set to march around the Academic Mall to show their discontent over the lack of a new contract with the state.

“A CONTRACT!” The response was crisp. And it was loud.

“When do we want it?” “NOW!

The scene, above, was repeated by hundreds of UUP members at campuses across the state, all part of a March 1 day of action staged by chapter leaders to protest SUNY’s reluctance to join with UUP in negotiating a fair and equitable contract with the state. The union’s contract expired July 1, 2016—exactly 20 months ago.

Statewide unity

UUP members from Buffalo to Albany and Plattsburgh to Stony Brook took part in campus marches, protests and rallies to send a strong, unmistakable message to SUNY that UUP deserves respect.

Every one of UUP’s chapters participated in the event, a strong, grassroots show of support and unity. The theme: Respect UUP.

“We’ve been without a contract for 20 months, and our members are feeling a lack of respect from SUNY,” said Oswego Chapter President Bill Canning. “We’ve been without a contract long enough.”

“If we don’t raise our voices, no one else will,” said Stony Brook HSC Chapter President Carolyn Kube.

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At the University at Buffalo, Buffalo Center Chapter members, above, were out at 4:30 a.m. to paint the bison statue near the Student Union. They painted the statue white and red, covering it with slogans such as “Respect” and “Fair Contract.” Any campus group can paint the bison between sunset and daybreak as a way of celebrating, making a statement or exercising artistic expression.

Afterward, nearly 200 UUPers—joined by other unions—took part in a contract march and rally on campus.

“They want the contract now,” said Buffalo Center Chapter President Ezra Zubrow. “They are tired of waiting.”

Out and proud

In Oswego, Canning led more than 40 Oswego Chapter members in a brisk morning march around campus. Carrying signs that said “United for a Fair Contract” and “Fair Contract Now,” members stopped in front of Culkin Hall, where Oswego President Deborah Stanley’s office is.

ESF Chapter members shouted chants like “Respect UUP! and “We deserve respect!” as they marched outdoors in the school’s quad area. “We have gone 20 months without a new contract and we’re out here to let folks know that,” said ESF Chapter President Scott Blair.

About 40 minutes south, Cortland Chapter members waved signs at campus entrances as part of an informational picket. Members were out in the morning, noon, and at the end of the working day, grabbing maximum visibility for their event.

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Above, Optometry Chapter members wave signs as they march in front of the SUNY College of Optometry, a high-profile location. The school is on West 42nd Street, right across the street from Bryant Park.

Empire State members in Saratoga Springs sang “Solidarity Forever” and Aretha Franklin’s “R-E-S-P-E-C-T” as cars drove by and honked in support.

ESC Chapter President Pamela Malone led a march that ended with a rally in front of the campus offices. ESC members were joined by brothers and sisters of NYSUT, CWA and other unions, along with staffers from Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner’s office who attended to support UUP’s fight for a fair contract.

In Albany, Albany Chapter UUPers got up early to pass out information to their colleagues as they came to work. Over 200 members attended a chapter meeting and heard an update on contract negotiations. Members, including UUP Secretary/Treasurer Jeri O’Bryan-Losee and MDO Tom Hoey, also gathered for a group photo.

More than 150 Upstate Medical University Chapter members held up signs at a chapter meeting in Weiskotten Hall. UUP VPA Jamie Dangler gave members an update on contract negotiations and answered their questions.

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