April 24, 2023
Energy, resolve hallmarks of Contract Action Week rallies
uupdate 04-24-23

View photos from the rallies on UUP's official Flickr page HERE.

The momentum of UUP’s massive April 21 rally for a new contract at the University at Albany spread to campuses across the state April 24, the first day of the union’s Contract Action Week.

Nearly 30 rallies and gatherings for informational picketing on SUNY campuses from Cobleskill to Buffalo, and Plattsburgh to Stony Brook are slated for Contract Action Week, which runs through April 28.

The events are focused on pushing the state for a new, fair contract for UUP. The union has worked without a new contract since July 1, 2022.

Strong showing in Syracuse

Carrying signs that read “Fair Contract Now,” more than 100 members at Upstate Medical University and SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry marched from their campuses April 24 down Syracuse’s Irving Avenue. They then gathered in front of Weiskotten Hall on the UMU campus for a noon rally that started with sunshine and ended with rain and wet snow.

UUP President Fred Kowal, UMU Chapter President Rich Veenstra and ESF Chapter President Matt Smith spoke at the rally. They were joined by several other labor advocates, including Central New York Area Labor Federation President Ann Marie Taliercio and Julie Searle, vice president of the Greater Syracuse Labor Council. “We’re going to fight for this contract!” Kowal said. “We’re going to fight for what we deserve.”

“A little rain won’t hurt us, but a bad contract will,” said Mindy Heath, who was elected to the statewide Executive Board at the 2023 Spring Delegate Assembly April 22. “We’re here because we need a fair contract. This is collective bargaining. This is what gets it done.”

Shouting in Saratoga

In Saratoga Springs, dozens of UUP members of the Empire State College Chapter and their supporters rallied April 24 on West Avenue in front of the ESC building, as passing motorists honked in acknowledgement of UUP’s fight for a fair contract.

“Look at this! People know labor is in the house,” ESC Chapter President Pamela Malone shouted to the rally participants as they cheered and waved their signs in thanks to the audible support from passersby.

The rally was a lineup of strong advocates for labor and for UUP. In addition to Malone, speakers included Sandie Carner-Shafran, president of the Saratoga Area Labor Council and a NYSUT board member; and Mary Austin, a member of the ESC Chapter Executive Board. Statewide Secretary-Treasurer Jeri O’Bryan-Losee and representatives of Saratoga-area lawmakers and other unions also joined the UUP members along West Avenue.

Malone told the rallying unionists that, “We need the [SUNY] chancellor to hear us,” and she urged them to think of their union colleagues who are still negotiating a new contract with the state. "Our team has been working hard,” she said. “They’re dedicated weeks, time away from family. Let’s send them some love.” The crowd responded with loud cheers.

UUP proud in Oswego

Some SUNY Oswego students stopped in their tracks and cheered. Others, carrying books on their way to Penfield Library on the SUNY Oswego campus, watched, smiled and applauded.

Nearly 100 Oswego Chapter members certainly made their presence felt on campus April 25, marching from the Marano Student Center to the center of campus for a boisterous, noisy lunchtime rally for a new, fair contract for UUP.

Members, wearing matching red UUP shirts and carrying signs that read “Fair Contract Now” and “Higher Ed Workers Need a New Contract,” cheered and answered in turn as speakers such as Statewide Vice President for Academics Alissa Karl led them in chants like "What do we want? A fair contract! When do we want it? Now!"

“You should not make poverty wages if you teach at a public higher education institution in the state of New York,” Karl said, speaking through a megaphone. “No way.”

Members then marched to Culkin Hall, where the college’s president and administration works. They passed the megaphone around, handing it to anyone who had something to say. Members spoke from the heart, sharing stories about why they joined UUP and why it was so important to stick together and speak out for a fair contract.

“The whole point of a union is that the state recognizes when we come up for contract that we are human beings who make this state run, and do it with integrity and dignity,” said Oswego Chapter member Roberta Hurtado. “And treating us like that is the least that they can do.”

Big turnout at Binghamton, Stony Brook

Wearing red UUP shirts and hoisting signs that read “Fair Contract Now,” nearly 100 Binghamton Chapter members marched around campus and rallied April 24 to demand a new, fair contract.

Statewide Vice President for Professionals Carolyn Kube and Chief Negotiator Bret Benjamin spoke to members at the lunchtime rally, titled “Binghamton Block Party for Your Right to a Fair Contract.” Members were hard to miss as they walked across the campus, holding up signs as they followed a member shouting into a megaphone.

At Stony Brook University, nearly 200 UUP members called for a fair contract at an afternoon rally April 24 at the campus’ Academic Mall Fountain. Stony Brook Chapter President Andrew Solar-Greco stood on the edge of the concrete fountain and used a megaphone to address members, many of whom held signs which read, “United for a Fair Contract” and “Fair Contract Now.”

Also April 24, SUNY Alfred members held a virtual rally for a new contract. Several members wore red UUP shirts to pose for a photo that was shared on social media.

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