May 31, 2023
In memoriam: Benita Roth
uupdate 05-10-31

UUP mourns the loss of statewide Executive Board member Benita Roth, who died May 27 after a brief illness.

Roth was a longtime UUP member who served as Binghamton Chapter president and Vice President for Academics. She was also a member of UUP’s Negotiations Team. At her campus, Binghamton University, she was a sociology professor at Binghamton University and director of the university’s Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies program.

“Benita served our union and its members with passion, intelligence and commitment as a Chapter President at Binghamton and on the statewide Executive Board,” said UUP President Fred Kowal. “I truly enjoyed working with her, as I found her insights and her ability to cut through to the heart of challenges we face so refreshing. She was funny and enjoyable to work with and spend time with. I will miss her.”

“We are all grieving her loss,” said former Binghamton Chapter President Sean Massey.

Bret Benjamin, who leads the Negotiations Team as UUP’s chief negotiator for a new contract with the state, said that Roth was a dedicated, determined unionist with toughness, wit, conviction and a devotion to those in need.

“In her final email to me, Benita wrote, ‘the union is life to me,’ and she urged me and the other members of the Negotiations Team to ‘roll it on, roll it on!’ I find this deeply moving,” Benjamin said. “As she faced her last days—obviously an intensely personal time of introspection—she found comfort, strength, and meaning in solidarity, in the collective union struggle for a better world. She recognized that the labor movement, to which she had given so much, was bigger than her, bigger than any of us. It now falls to all of us to honor Benita's memory and her legacy.”

Several UUP Executive Board members who knew and worked with Benita also shared their condolences.

“Such a sad moment,” said Executive Board member Idalia Torres. “I will miss her wit, her honest questions and refreshing perspective, her humor, and definitely her union spirit.”

“I really enjoyed her wisdom and humor on the Executive Board,” said Executive Board member Bekkie Bryan. “Rest in peace and power, Benita.”

“She was a strong leader whose time was cut too short’” said Executive Board member and Upstate Medical University President Rich Veenstra. “May she rest in peace.”

A celebration of Roth’s life will be held in Binghamton at a later date.

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