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Aug. 8, 2018

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UUP members stand tall at NYSUT endorsement conference


uupdate 8-8-18

Click here to view the NY AFL-CIO's 2018 endorsements

Click here to view NYSUT's 2018 endorsements

UUP members claimed a strong role in NYSUT’s endorsement conference Aug. 7-8, as excitement grows about what could be the most important midterm election in recent memory.

More than two dozen UUP members spent two days immersed in discussions, strategy sessions and spirited debates—first, in a planning session organized by UUP Aug. 6, and then at the standing-room-only Endorsement Conference at The Desmond Hotel in Albany Aug. 7. The NYSUT Board of Directors released its list of endorsements on Aug. 8.

Pictured above (left to right) are statewide Secretary/Treasurer Jeri O'Bryan-Losee, Plattsburgh Chapter President Kim Hartshorn, Downstate Chapter President Rowena Blackman-Stroud, and New Paltz Chapter President Beth Wilson.

Rookies and veterans

UUP’s contingent ranged from first-time attendees and new chapter leaders, to experienced political observers of regional politics who brought their knowledge to Albany. All said they came prepared to make their case for candidates across a range of party affiliations and levels of experience who best supported public higher education and union values.

The nonpartisan endorsement conference stresses participation, frank discussions and collaboration with K-12 unionists, all toward the greater goal of helping candidates who most closely espouse union values.

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“I think it’s a phenomenal process, so open and democratic,” said UUP President Fred Kowal, above with statewide VP for Professionals Tom Tucker, left.

This was the first endorsement conference for Joe Germani, chapter president at Purchase, and he described it as an education. He was impressed by the knowledge that New Paltz Chapter President Beth Wilson brought to the mid-Hudson Valley regional meeting they attended.

Although they were the only two higher education members in the room, “we were able to get our points across; you do get an idea that your voice is being heard,” Germani said.

Wilson said she benefited from participating in the Hudson Valley Area Labor Federation, where UUP New Paltz retiree Donna Goodman is a vice president. The ALF, as it’s known, helped Wilson get to know candidates before the endorsement conference.

“I would love to see all of the UUP chapter presidents get more involved with their regional labor councils,” she said.

A political week

The endorsement conference couldn’t have come at a more interesting time, landing in the middle of a week when the national political scene burst with news.

Among the developments: the arrest of Western New York Rep. Chris Collins, a pro-Trump, anti-labor Republican who hoped to see the Affordable Care Act repealed. Collins' indictment could make a solidly Republican district suddenly competitive, given the uncertainty about his future. House Speaker Paul Ryan promptly stripped Collins of his seat on the Energy and Commerce Committee.

An unexpectedly close House race in Ohio’s 12th District, which should have been a slam-dunk Republican win, added to the excitement. As of Wednesday afternoon, the razor-thin race still had not been called.

And Missouri voters tossed out an anti-labor right-to-work law that would have undercut private-sector unions but had not yet gone into effect.

The anti-labor sentiment that has fueled the right-to-work movement is one of the most compelling reasons for unionists to vote in the midterms, NYSUT President Andy Pallotta and state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli told the audience at the kick-off of the endorsement conference.

“This is a special endorsement conference, because it is the first one since the Janus decision, which is a grave threat to the labor movement,” Pallotta said, referencing the U.S. Supreme Court’s June decision in Janus v. AFSCME Council 31, which overturned the agency fee system. “But I stand here today filled with hope and optimism.”

DiNapoli invoked not only the Janus decision, but the presidency of Donald Trump, who has just appointed the ultra-conservative Brett Kavanaugh as his nominee to the Supreme Court. Said DiNapoli, “The hard lesson from 2016 is elections do have consequences.”


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