2017 Statewide Election Statements
Delegates to the 2017 Spring Delegate Assembly will be voting for statewide officers and Executive Board members a bit differently this time around.
Constitutional amendments adopted at the 2016 Fall DA extended the terms of officers and Executive Board members from two to three years; other amendments merged the offices of secretary and treasurer, and added an at-large board seat to replace the loss of one officer position.
That means that at the Spring DA, scheduled for May 5-6 in Albany, delegates will cast their ballots to elect a president, secretary/treasurer, and membership development officer to three-year terms. Eight Executive Board seats are for three-year terms; one seat is for a one-year term.
If the membership ratio of academics to professionals remains the same as the present ratio, of the 12 people to be elected, seven must be academics and five must be professionals. If the ratio changes, elections will be adjusted accordingly.
The following are statements and photographs of those union candidates who chose to submit them.
Frederick E. Kowal, Cobleskill
I am honored to ask the delegates at the 2017 Spring Delegate Assembly for your support for my candidacy for President of UUP. I believe that my record over the past four years has shown me to have the energy and commitment needed to face the difficult future ahead of us in the Trump Era. Like never before, UUP needs to build its activist base, garner more political support for our legislative priorities, and develop our political power such that we are able to control our own destiny regardless of what happens in the halls of Congress, or in Albany.
Since I became President of UUP in May 2013, we have seen our union successfully fend off the attempts to close Downstate Medical Center, thanks to the work of our chapter president there—Rowena Blackman-Stroud—and the powerful coalition she brought into being. We have seen UUP become the leading voice in opposition to the ill-conceived teacher evaluation system put in place by SED. We have seen UUP’s policy proposals, from a Green Energy Job Program to a permanent funding mechanism for full-time faculty and staff, from a radical plan to create true transparency in SUNY’s foundations to a long-term reform of health care delivery in Brooklyn, all become central to discussions in the Legislature and in the governor’s office. We have seen UUP become known for its presence in the media like never before, most notably in our now legendary “Wrong!” campaign highlighting the destructive proposals in the governor’s budget two years ago, and in a nationally broadcast mini-documentary about our union’s history and work.
And since the election of Donald Trump, UUP has become a leading voice in the resistance to the most destructive elements of his agenda, both nationally and in the state. I was proud to walk with my sisters and brothers at the Women’s March on Jan. 21. And, as I write this statement, I am proud of the work our union is doing to be a part of the March for Science on April 22.
As we become fully engaged in dealing with the Trump Administration in D.C., I use the challenges posed to offer you my objectives for the next three years if I am elected President of our great union.
First, I will work with our chief negotiator, our Negotiations Team, and our staff to complete the best contract possible in these difficult times. And it will be a contract that addresses longterm issues we’ve faced as a union.
Second, through our legislative work, we will build a foundation for long-term investment by the state in full-time faculty and staff, while also insuring that our SUNY hospitals strengthen and grow.
Third, we will continue to build UUP’s political power through influencing how issues we care about are dealt with, working to elect our friends to office, and growing our expanding state and national profiles.
Fourth, I will work with delegates, chapter leaders, and the Executive Board to continue the hard work of reforming our union’s structure for these difficult times to come. We must examine all aspects of our work and determine if the way we’ve done things for nearly 50 years is the best way of continuing to do them in an era when unions are vanishing and our political economy is splintering into factions which seem to have no capability of working together to solve any problems facing our nation.
It is a tough time to be unionists. But, I remain hopeful and am energized by the challenges we face.
Again, I ask for your vote and pledge to you that my every effort will be directed to continuing to make UUP a union we all can be proud of and one that we all will be determined to defend, no matter what the threat. We will survive. And even more importantly, we will light the way for workers everywhere to a better state, nation and world.
Jeri O'Bryan-Losee, Morrisville
I first became interested in union work, as many of us do, through an issue I encountered with management. This wasn’t a problem I had; rather, a co-worker was being mistreated. With two phone calls, one to my chapter president and one to the statewide vice president for professionals, the problem was fixed. This was something I wanted to be part of, an organization that puts people first and solves problems.
My union service has moved from member to chapter treasurer and continues in my role as my chapter’s vice president for professionals. At the state level, I serve as co-chair of UUP’s Finance Committee. In this position, I work closely with UUP’s statewide treasurer to administer UUP’s multimillion-dollar budget. I also serve on the statewide Executive Board, acting on behalf of the Delegate Assembly to accomplish the purposes of UUP. Currently, I serve on the Vice Presidents for Professionals Committee and as Executive Board liaison to the Disability Rights and Concerns Committee.
As chapter VPP, my focus has been on training and relationship-building. At one point, Morrisville held the dubious distinction of having 70 percent of our performance programs incomplete. Through a concerted push at labor/management meetings, and the planning and implementation of multiple training sessions, that number will soon reach our goal of 100 percent compliance. One of my important talents lies in triage. Talking to those with questions and issues and directing them to appropriate resources is a valuable part of my skill set. Sometimes they are union-related but, sometimes, it might be an issue that needs to be handled by HR or by the Employee Assistance Program. I believe in open doors and open people, making members feel that they can speak freely and get honest answers and direction.
At campus, my “day” job is the director of science and technology entry programs. I author and execute three New York State Department of Education multiyear grants in excess of $2.5 million. The grants are designed to increase the number of historically underrepresented/economically disadvantaged students pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering, math or licensed professions. The job requires management of programming, personnel and budget to provide services to over 300 students and the oversight of four professional staff, two professional tutors, two student tutors, an administrative assistant and several student workers. The successful execution of these grants requires creativity, planning, programming, goal setting, troubleshooting, and the ability to see all the connections that small details have to the bigger picture—all skills essential for a successful Secretary/Treasurer.
The skill set I have developed through my UUP activities and SUNY job provides me with unique qualities for the post of statewide Secretary/Treasurer. My ability to process and create process, to assist and persist, and to grow with members of the union makes me an excellent fit for this important position. I believe in the work we do at UUP and I humbly ask the delegates of the Delegate Assembly for their support.
For Membership Development Officer
Anne Wiegard, Cortland
The UUP Membership Development Officer should primarily be an organizer, someone who inspires and facilitates activism and solidarity across and beyond our bargaining unit. If I am elected to this office, I pledge to: prioritize organizing; do everything I can to promote the power and effectiveness of UUP; support the work of the Membership Committee, our regional organizers, and the Chapter Action Project teams and chapter leaders on every campus.
I will capitalize on existing relationships, resources, and tools and explore new options for signing up members, and more importantly, for engaging every member in the work of our great union.
I have been an academic delegate since 2005. During my service as a delegate, a chapter officer, an Executive Board member, and a member of two contract Negotiations Teams, I have done my utmost to represent and advance the interests of all our members at the chapter, statewide, and national levels: Attended NYSUT assemblies, AFT and NEA Higher Education conferences, and the UALE Summer School for Union Women; drafted and presented resolutions passed at the AFT Conventions in 2014 and 2016; presented at COCAL international conferences; picketed with workers at Verizon, with locked-out Honeywell and with Momentive strikers; marched in the Labor Day parades at the State Fair and in New York City; co-planned and participated in the national Congressional briefings for Campus Equity Week in 2013 and 2015; performed UUP legislative advocacy and NYSUT phone banking; participated in national advocacy for access to unemployment benefits for contingent faculty that resulted in the Department of Labor’s UIPL 05-17, released December 2016; and nominated five UUP activists who won Fayez Samuel awards.
Many of you know that I have struggled for equity for contingent faculty. I am gratified by what UUP has accomplished in this arena, with constitutional amendments, an increasingly productive Contingent Employment Committee, and publication of the UUP Position Statement on Contingent Employment.
This work and my other statewide service has required creativity, perseverance, compromise, problem solving, strategic planning, articulate communication, and collaboration. Over time, I have discovered that the aspect of union work I most enjoy is organizing. My activism has brought me to a point where I believe I possess the skills necessary to do justice to the MDO office.
I would be grateful for your vote.
For Membership Development Officer
Tom Hoey, Albany
Brothers and Sisters, I am again asking for your vote for Membership Development Officer at the upcoming Spring DA. Fifteen months ago, when you elected me as your fifth MDO in a two-year span, we were facing many obstacles, the largest of which was the pending Supreme Court decision on Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association. This threatened the very existence of our union. Luckily, we escaped a bad decision by the Supreme Court with the untimely death of Justice Scalia, which has allowed extra time for us to organize and mobilize. But with Trump’s election, we face new challenges that will test our union.
Much of what I promised in the last election has been accomplished, such as bringing much-needed energy and stability to the MDO office. I have traveled the state with fellow officers and worked with chapter leadership and organizers, which has resulted in record-high membership numbers. Additionally, working with UUP staff, we have produced a redesigned pre-printed membership card and also New Hire Kits for contingent employees. However, there is still a tremendous amount of work to be done. I am looking forward to shaping the final year of our CAP program, helping chapters develop a department/building rep system that for years to come will ensure all new employees sign their union cards.
I have just submitted a grant application for $113,000 to AFT to pay for 20 organizers, who will help find and sign up contingent employees. Having been an adjunct professor for 12 years, I understand the difficulty in locating these members who represent our highest cohort of fee payers. While it is true that no two chapters are alike, working together we can develop programs for chapters to make the union relevant to their unique membership.
Rest assured, I am fully committed to this job. Upon taking office, I was faced with the dilemma of being a statewide officer with no release time. Besides using several weeks of my vacation time for campus travel, I came to the UUP office on weekends to help keep up with all the paperwork and emails that the MDO office entails. Working and living only 10 minutes from headquarters has made the MDO more visible than ever, especially during emergencies and advocacy work.
My commitment to UUP comes deeply from my heart and soul. When my first wife lost her 12-year battle with breast cancer in 2001, I was activated by UUP leadership and guided through a difficult time. There was much work to do, such as chairing the Solidarity Committee and attending Jobs with Justice and the AFT Higher Education Conference, to name a few, leaving very little time to suffer grief. That increased union involvement enabled me to rebuild my life and career and to start a new family.
Now, with UUP facing new challenges, I am ready to serve once again.
For Executive Board
Beth E. Wilson, New Paltz
I am now completing my fourth year on the Board, and I ask for your support as I run for re-election to a third term.
It has been a pleasure and a privilege for me to serve our union at the statewide level over the last four years, as we have been navigating new ways of organizing in response to the many challenges facing us, from the threat of the Friedrichs case to the need to develop a new generation of activists to carry the fight forward.
One of my contributions on the Board was to press for the development of a new policy giving chapters the ability to use social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.), which is now just beginning to be implemented. Without meaningful use of these 21st century means at the local level, I believe we would be cutting ourselves off from the newer cohorts of our membership, and ignoring an invaluable organizing tool.
In terms of my own background, I am currently a nontenure-track lecturer in art history at New Paltz, where I am also the chapter president. I worked as an adjunct there for 13 years before successfully being hired to this full-time line. In addition, I served a year as a full-time professional (interim curator in our art museum during a search), all of which has given me first-hand insight—and deep sympathy—into a wide range of issues and experiences encountered by many of our members.
I pledge to continue to do my best to productively contribute to our ongoing work as a union, and as a force for social and economic justice in the world more generally. I thank you for your consideration, and for your vote!
Paula White, Downstate Medical Center
I am Paula White from the Downstate Medical Center Chapter of UUP and I am writing to ask for your vote for a professional seat on the statewide Executive Board. I have spent the past 12 years as an activist and in dedicated service to UUP and my chapter. I have held several positions at the chapter level, among them delegate, Governing Board member, officer for contingents, and for the past two years, vice president for professionals.
In my capacity as VP for professionals, I have represented members in interrogations and have been successful in negotiating, alongside our chapter’s LRS, lesser sums of monetary penalty, as well as dissuaded members from quitting on the spot.
I also have the privilege of serving on several statewide committees, including: Outreach; Membership; Black and Latino Faculty/Staff Concerns Committee; and as a NYSUT PAC coordinator-at-large.
On a broader scale, I have advocated at the local and statewide levels for increased funding for SUNY, support and funding for our health sciences centers, and for equity in the workplace. I have also fought alongside my chapter president, local faith leaders, NYSUT officers and UUP statewide officers to keep Downstate Medical Center public and its doors open for our members and the community we serve. It is a privilege to be appointed to serve on the current Negotiations Team, a responsibility I take very seriously. To this end, I have visited several chapters with our chief negotiator and members of the Negotiations Team during our fact-finding phase. We gathered members’ input on issues affecting their work life, such as permanent appointment, on-call/recall, salary inequities and health benefits. These visits helped us to realize that we are all experiencing the same kind of pressures and inequities, whether we work in Buffalo or in Brooklyn. It also served to reinforce my commitment to advocate for the best possible contract for all of the 37,000 members of the bargaining unit.
As a union, we will always face challenges and we must be ever vigilant to the threats against labor. We must engage our elected officials at the statewide and local levels and urge them to support increased funding for SUNY’s state-operated campuses, support for our health sciences centers, and for workplace equity.
I humbly ask for your vote for a seat on the statewide Executive Board, and I pledge to do everything I possibly can to continue to serve the membership with dedication and integrity.
Patrick Romain, Albany
My UUP brothers and sisters, can I count on you for your support?
Unions are being attacked nationwide. It is our duty as unionists to take a stand and fight for fair wages, adequate health care coverage, and numerous other benefits which were gained through the actions of our predecessors in the labor movement. Now more than ever, we are in need of experienced leadership. I am seeking your vote to serve as an at-large member of the statewide Executive Board.
Currently, I serve on the statewide Outreach Committee and as the statewide co-chair, of the Opportunity Programs Committee (EOP/EOC).
In the past, I served in the following statewide committees: co-chair EOP; co-chair Affirmative Action, Task Force on Pay Equity, Legal Defense, Finance, Black Faculty and Staff Association.
During my tenure in UUP, I have served as the Albany treasurer and Affirmative Action chair. I took the lead to sign up members for VOTE-COPE. I have also participated in the following activities: NYSUT RA; AFT Civil and Human Rights; Black, Puerto Rican, Latino and Asian Caucus; Somos el Futuro conference. I have been extremely active in our advocacy efforts.
I humbly ask for your vote, so that I may continue to assist in making our union stronger through the Executive Board.
Please vote Patrick Romain for Executive Board.
Laura Rhoads, Potsdam
Sisters and Brothers,
I seek your support for election to the statewide Executive Board at our Spring Delegate Assembly in May 2017. We face many challenges as public-sector unionized employees and the challenges have only grown. We continue the fight, however, as the largest higher education union in the country, and our solidarity will keep us strong. Walking the picket line for our brethren in Waterford, N.Y., in December 2016 reminded me why we continue to march for all of labor.
As a member of the UUP statewide Executive Board, I have the opportunity to represent all of you: professional and academic, permanent and contingent, current member and active retiree. My experiences at a smaller campus allow me to share ideas and contribute to the board discussions. I have served on the board and stand with the officers and other board members as a body that represents you, the member.
At the campus level, I have been the Potsdam Chapter president, so I have many experiences with member issues and dealing with management through the Labor-Management process. At the statewide level, I am an academic delegate for Potsdam, and have served as a committee member for the statewide Grievance Committee (current co-chair), Legal Defense Committee, Task Force on Workplace Violence, and the Strategic Planning Group. I previously chaired the Task Force on Academic Member Recruitment. I am a member of the joint labor-management committee on Affirmative Action and Diversity. These activities have strengthened my knowledge about the union and, at the same time, have allowed me opportunities to participate in its functions.
I have appreciated the strength of the union to protect our collective bargaining rights and will work diligently for my union sisters and brothers in the upcoming term.
Darleyne Mayers, Farmingdale
My name is Darleyne Mayers and I am a member of UUP Farmingdale. I would consider it a privilege and honor to continue to serve as an Executive Board member. I would like to continue to work for you in this capacity. And I would like you to vote for me.
Our union is a diverse body that includes educators, health care providers and professional employees. And because of this, our union is a very strong union. I recognize the importance of maintaining its effective organization in spite of the ongoing attacks that are affecting our livelihoods, and values. I am committed to making our union a continued success by providing sound contributions to the decisions made by the board.
I would like to continue being a member of the hard-working and productive board as one with a voice that will represent everyone. The UUP theme of solidarity is something that I do not take lightly. During the past two years, our board has been working, through our efforts to build coalitions and foster stronger relationships, with organizations that have similar interests, and I believe this must continue. Here is my experience—I am a member of the executive board on the chapter level and have been involved in various activities for more than 10 years that includes chairing the Outreach Committee, and the Grievance Committee for Professionals. I have served on the Executive Board, and I am hoping that by listing some of my direct actions, you will find it impossible not to vote for me again.
I am presently co-chair of the statewide Affirmative Action Committee, where we have helped every chapter implement an affirmative action union committee, and assisted chapters with issues and concerns. And I am also a member of the newly formed EOP/EOC standing committee.
In addition, I have done the following: Former chair of the statewide EOC Concerns Committee, which is now a standing committee and is combined with the EOP Committee; former member of the statewide Outreach Committee, and participated in campus visits to meet with legislators; coordinated my chapters’ participation in EOP/EOC Day in Albany—this year more than 60 students from Farmingdale State College attended the event; developed and participated in voter registration drives on Farmingdale’s campus, where more than 100 students signed up to vote; participated in phone banking for presidential elections and statewide elections; represented Farmingdale State College as a member of its CAP project team, where members attended training and developed action items for the Chapter Action Project; helping to coordinate a women’s history event, and re-enactment of department reps; former member of the Task Force on Pay Equity Based on Race; former member of the Task Force on Emerging Issues of Diversity; joined the Momentive picket line with fellow union members in the middle of winter for more than two hours in 12-degree temperature; participated in Labor Day parades and a March on Washington; member of the recently created standing committee, Black & Latino Faculty/Staff Concerns Committee.
I want to continue to serve on the board, where we will continue to work as advocates for our students, our patients and our institutions through coalitions and activities at the chapter and statewide levels.
I am asking for your support to re-elect me, Darleyne Mayers, to the Executive Board. An independent thinker with integrity and fortitude who will use my skills to serve UUP.
Rebecca Bryan, Cortland
Hello Sisters and Brothers,
My name is Rebecca Bryan and I am running for an academic seat on UUP’s statewide Executive Board. I moved to New York three years ago and immediately looked up the local union leaders on my campus. After doing so, I became part of my chapter executive board, joined the Teacher Education Task Force, and was elected as chapter secretary and statewide delegate in the spring of my first year. I continue to serve UUP as Cortland Chapter secretary, delegate, serve on the Membership and Teacher Education Task Force committees, CAP team co-leader, NYSUT and AFT delegate, and one of the 10 state-wide organizers. However, my passion and labor story begin earlier in California with the California Faculty Association.
As a CFA activist, I was a delegate and junior faculty representative, which was an officer position on our campus designed to meet the needs of tentative, untenured faculty. During this time, I organized membership drives, rallies, informational pickets, flash mobs and was a strike vote coordinator. I was a delegate to the local labor council and worked on GOTV and ballot-measure fights by setting up phone banks and precinct walks in solidarity with all of labor.
On campus, I taught colleagues and students a flash mob. We successfully flash mobbed the academic senate, annoying the campus president while uniting the faculty. Our organizing efforts were ongoing and always in preparation of larger actions. These included a successful two-day strike in the CSU system. We built the momentum and support to be able to close a Northern and Southern California State University campus with plans of rolling strikes throughout the system to bring the administration back to the table for bargaining.
I understand that New York cannot strike and bargains very differently; however, we need our members to be involved, not just card-carrying members. The life of labor may very well depend on it. We can no longer afford to spend Delegate Assemblies solely on resolutions and reports. It is time to make the ask of delegates to plan events and actions, set goals, and activate members. I believe I offer many of the skills and experiences required to lead, as we work to change the culture of our union from transactional to transformative. I would like to be part of this shift in culture to build the capacity of UUP through real “chapter-roots” activism.
Now is the time to be what Fred Ross calls a “social arsonist,” which is a good organizer that goes around setting people on fire. I would be honored to serve on the Executive Board and help light up our union.