May 5, 2019

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UUP delegates step up at NYSUT RA

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UUP delegates were seen and heard at the 2019 NYSUT Representative Assembly in Albany.

UUP members served on committees and worked to register delegates. They stepped up to microphones to debate resolutions, took part in a special town hall meeting with a presidential candidate, and voted for dozens of policies that set NYSUT’s course into the future.

And the representatives—including the more than 60 UUP members in attendance—resoundingly adopted a UUP-sponsored resolution dealing with gender designation. The RA was held May 3-4. Above, Stony Brook HSC Chapter member Tina Manning, center, casts a vote in a committee meeting. UUP statewide Secretary-Treasurer Jeri O'Bryan-Losee is behind her, right.

Membership Development Officer Tom Hoey spoke during the Organization Committee and again at the general session in support of a resolution for NYSUT to create a task force to consider a separate dues category for adjunct faculty in SUNY and CUNY.

“Many of our adjuncts work at two and three different campuses just to make ends meet,” Hoey said. “It’s not right to ask them to pay dues to each (local).”

UUP statewide Vice President for Academics Jamie Dangler chaired the College and University Committee; Downstate Medical Center Chapter delegate Henry Flax served as secretary and Stony Brook Chapter delegate Charlie McAteer as timekeeper.

A handful of UUP members went to the mic to speak against the U.S. Department of Education’s proposed rollbacks to Title IX regulations. They supported a resolution to “publicly oppose” efforts by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to undermine the long-established anti-discrimination and sexual violence protections.

Both resolutions were later adopted by the full delegation.

Dangler was one of four current and past UUP officers to attend the NYSUT Higher Education Council meeting held prior to the start of the RA. Dangler, O'Bryan-Losee, Vice President for Professionals Tom Tucker and former statewide treasurer Rowena Blackman-Stroud discussed a range of issues affecting higher education, including the effects of austerity budgets, the student debt debacle, and signing up adjuncts as union members.

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And NYSUT President Andy Pallotta and the rest of NYSUT’s officers—Executive Vice President Jolene DiBrango, Secretary-Treasurer (and UUP member) Philippe Abraham, and Second Vice President Paul Pecorale—greeted UUP delegates at UUP’s RA breakfast May 4. Pallotta, O'Bryan-Losee and UUP President Fred Kowal, above, addressed delegates at the breakfast.

Strength in numbers

Organizing, engaging and signing up new members was the theme of Pallotta’s May 3 address to delegates, and was echoed by AFT President Randi Weingarten. The state and national leaders said unions are stronger than ever, despite the unprecedented efforts to destroy them.

Empowering members is how unions will continue to thrive, which is why AFT revamped its endorsement process to include a series of town hall meetings with presidential candidates, she said. U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio was at the RA to answer questions posed by a select group of NYSUT members, including UUP statewide Executive Board member and NYSUT Director Pamela Malone.

Ryan outlined the challenges the country is facing, from climate change and a “racist criminal justice system,” to environmental pollution and health care concerns. “Maybe it’s (as simple as) just a kid from Steel Country who has to get into the White House to fix the damn mess that we’re in,” he said. “Maybe that’s what it will take.”

UUP resolution adopted

Under the resolution sponsored by UUP and discussed during the Civil and Human Rights Committee, NYSUT will support legislation that establishes the gender-neutral gender designation of “X” on state-issued birth certificates and legal documents.

NYSUT will also back legislation allowing individuals to change their gender designation on state-issued birth certificate and legal documents; applicants must provide a notarized affidavit stating the change is to affirm their gender identity.

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