Tag Archive for unions

Standing Tall for Public Higher Education

uupdate 2-26-15

In the most important day of the year for public higher education in New York, UUP members turned out in force for Higher Education Advocacy Day to push back against an unprecedented threat: A governor who wants to hijack public higher education funding and the democratic process and public debate that help set that funding in the first place.

“Andrew Cuomo has attacked all of public higher education,” said UUP President Fred Kowal, as higher education leaders and members prepared for a day of meetings with lawmakers Feb. 26 in Albany. “I don’t like to use marshal terms, but we are in a war – a war against the work that we do. We defend the good and the right. The times we face and the challenges we face demand that we be bold.”

UUP leaders spent the day telling lawmakers that this year’s advocacy is not just about asking for deserved funds to be restored to SUNY; it’s about pointing out that the governor – as stated in the new UUP television and print ad campaign –is just plain wrong.

View the ad!



UUP: Loud and Strong in NYC Labor Day Parade


UUP President Fred Kowal said he wanted UUP to march in the 2014 New York City Labor Day Parade to demonstrate the union’s strength to politicians, candidates, unionists and anyone who was watching.

Mission accomplished, and then some.

More than 300 UUP members, along with family members and friends, marched proudly up Fifth Avenue, joining thousands of unionists from New York City and across the state in the parade.

Members fell in behind UUP President Fred Kowal and the union’s statewide officers, chanting and waving signs that said “Speak Up for Workers” and “Labor Works for You.” They smiled, waved and even blew kisses on a sweltering, humid day with temperatures in the mid-90s.

There were no complaints, only gritty determination as members, wearing red UUP shirts, marched 17 blocks up the sun-drenched avenue, handing pencils to parade goers who cheered as they walked past.

“We’re showing our strength, our solidarity, and our willingness to literally take to the streets in defense of the work that we do,” said Kowal. More

New York State AFL-CIO Issues Endorsements for November Elections

AFL-CIO logo

The New York State AFL-CIO has endorsed a slate of more than 200 candidates for statewide, legislative, and congressional seats in November’s midterm election.

The powerful federation, which represents 2.5 million workers and retirees from public and private sector and building trades unions across New York, declined to issue an endorsement for the state’s gubernatorial race at its Aug. 18 endorsement convention. NYSUT has also passed on backing a candidate for governor in November.

UUP and NYSUT are affiliated with the New York State AFL-CIO.

“Our members want a state that prioritizes the creation of good, long-term jobs and strong investment in the public services all New Yorkers rely on,” said federation President Mario Cliento. “ But that only happens if we elect the right candidates to office. Union members from throughout the state will work together in a coordinated effort to ensure that our endorsed candidates, and in turn an agenda that puts workers and their families first, are successful on election day.”

As a union, UUP does not endorse candidates. However, UUP’s statewide officers and more than 20 UUP members were part of a delegation of more than 400 NYSUT members that participated in the endorsement convention, and voted for candidates to endorse.

“We approve of the list of candidates that the New York State AFL-CIO has chosen to endorse, and UUP will work to support those candidates,” said UUP President Fred Kowal.

The federation is backing two statewide candidates, Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli and state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. It endorsed 26 Congressional candidates, 63 state Senate candidates and 147 candidates for state Assembly; it will review endorsements for three Assembly seats after September primaries.

To support candidates, the federation will contact members at home through member mailings, flyers, phone bank operations, and a “labor-to-neighbor” program, where union members visit area members to talk about specific races.

View complete list of 2014 NYS AFL-CIO endorsements for state Assembly and Senate
View complete list of 2014 NYS AFL-CIO endorsements for Congress

Statement by UUP President Fred Kowal on Harris v. Quinn ruling


On June 30, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 on Harris v. Quinn, a long-awaited case that could have gutted unions by barring them from collecting agency fees from non-members.

The case was brought by a group of Illinois home-care workers who refused to pay their fair share of their union’s costs to represent them in collective bargaining agreements. The court ruled that the home-care workers should be considered as “partial public employees,” and not be forced to pay their fair share—known in New York as agency fee—even though they would still be represented by their union.

In essence, these home-care workers would be “free riders,” contrary to the Supreme Court’s landmark 1977 case Abood vs. Detroit Board of Education, which asserted labor’s constitutional right to collect dues and collectively bargain for public workers.

UUP’s ability to represent its 35,000 members isn’t impaired by the Harris ruling, which does not apply to “full-fledged” public employees such as SUNY academics and professionals, teachers, police officers and firemen who work in the public sector.

Strong anti-union forces bankrolled and supported the case. The National Right to Work Committee Legal Defense Fund represented the home-care workers. The Legal Defense Fund is linked with the billionaire Koch brothers, the American Legislative Exchange Council and the Cato Institute, among other anti-union advocates.

Read entire article here.