Important Resolutions on Social Justice/Chancellor Search

Colleagues,

At last Friday’s Executive Board meeting, the attached resolutions were passed. Yesterday, they were shared with Chapter Presidents. But given the importance of each of them, I felt it necessary to share them as widely as possible. Please feel free to share them with your colleagues.

One addresses the structural violence directed against communities of color. It focuses on the wide spectrum of challenges that must be met and changes that are necessary for our state and nation to overcome our history of racism and violence. The other, in a similar vein, addresses the departure of Chancellor Johnson, and calls for a nationwide search — one which must aggressively pursue candidates who come from under-represented communities of color. For SUNY to finally begin to address its lack of diversity in administration, faculty and staff, it must start at the top. At a time when New York is quickly becoming a state in which the majority of the population will come from communities of color, this step must be taken. It is long overdue.

UUP Executive Board Resolution on Social Justice

UUP Executive Board Resolution re SUNY Chancellor Position

I urge you to study both resolutions, as they demand much of all of us. There are no quick and simple solutions to the challenges we face. The work awaits us all.

I wish all of you a restful and enjoyable Independence Day Holiday weekend. Please stay safe and stay well.

In Solidarity,
Fred

Push for action in Washington and Albany

Dear Colleagues,

As the Coronavirus crises continue to worsen, with total cases in the US continuing to rise, along with hospitalization rates, and the economy continues to stagnate in the worst recession since the 1930’s, UUP is fighting for every member with non-stop advocacy. We were the first union in New York to advocate on the federal level for aid to states, public universities and hospitals. Our membership generated over 3,000 letters, calls and social media contacts urging our congressional delegation to act. The CARES Act, which passed in March, was just the first step. We need the HEROES Act to become law. The House of Representatives has passed this aid package, but we need the US Senate to pass this bill and for President Trump to sign it immediately! We know that Senators Gillibrand and Schumer stand with us on these issues, but it is important to continue to apply pressure to Senators across the country. UUP led the way and we have now been joined by nearly every union across New York in this work. You can continue taking action by contacting fellow unionists in key states and ask them to contact their representatives in Washington to push for this critical legislation by clicking here. In addition, we must continue to take action through our national affiliate AFT. It is imperative that you take part in these national efforts to add your voice to the broad coalition pressuring the Senate to act for New York and our devastated economy!

Also, UUP has been steadfast in our demand that the wealthiest New Yorkers pay their fair share. During this crisis, the wealthiest in this state and nation have reaped millions while the rest of the people suffer. The economic disparities, and the abandonment of the pursuit of a just society with opportunity and a decent standard of living, are worsening the deep fractures in American society. We are all called to be a part of our union’s efforts to make change. Our state university, our campuses and public hospitals are agents of change, they are rungs on the ladder of upward mobility. New York State must invest in them! Please follow this link to our Legislative Agenda http://uupinfo.org/legislation/revenue.php and send a letter to our state legislative leaders that delivers the message that billionaires and ultra-millionaires have prospered enough and can, and should, pay more to support the essential services and opportunities for all in our society.

After over 3 months of this public health crisis, which is now also an economic crisis, it is more evident than ever that our union must remain united, in a spirit of true solidarity, for us to succeed and be the voice for positive change in our state. I hope you will continue to care for your union family members and support one another. I remain proud and grateful to serve as your president and to be a witness to the great work we do day in and day out — and that we can do going forward, together!

In Solidarity,
Fred

Reply

Forward

July 1/Sept. 1 2% Increases

Dear Colleagues,

We received notification from the Governor’s Office of Employee Relations this afternoon that the state is delaying implementation of the 2% across the board salary increases that are due to our members on July 1 or Sept 1 (depending on obligation). At this time, the state has indicated that these raises will be delayed to Sept 30, 2020, subject to further review at that time. The state has informed us that this is a delay in payment of the July1/Sept. 1 2% increase, not a cancellation of the raise.

The delay of the July 1/Sept 1 2% across the board increase for our members mirrors the delay of the 2% increases that were due to other state employees beginning April 1. It is our understanding that the April 1 2% increases due to the other state bargaining units have also been delayed again to Sept. 30, subject to further review at that time.

As we know, the July1/Sept.1 2% increase is contractually provided for in the 2016-2022 State/UUP Agreement. At this time, we are reviewing all options available to us to assure that the state honors its contractual obligation. This will include filing a state-wide class action grievance challenging the state’s failure to implement the 2% increase on a timely basis.

While we did not agree with, or accept, we understand that, the state’s decision is driven by the state budget crisis that has developed as a result of the COVID 19 pandemic. To address this crisis, it is critical that the federal government provide desperately assistance to state and local governments across the country, including New York. This support is provided in the federal HEROES Act which has passed the House of Representatives but has yet to be taken up by the Senate. Just as we asked members to advocate to pass the CARES Act, we are also asking members to advocate for passage of the HEROES Act. Additional specific information about what our members can do to help will be available next week.

In Solidarity,
Fred

Fighting Racial Injustice

Colleagues,

As educators, health care professionals, and unionists, we cannot be silent to the continued injustices against people of color in our country. We must condemn racist violence like that which led to the death of George Floyd. We mourn for his family, for the pain of their loss and the way he was stolen from them.

We stand with our students, patients and members affected by these injustices and with peaceful protesters across the country demanding justice. They are also demanding change targeting racist institutions that do not reflect the ideals of a society that claims to believe in equality and justice for all.

UUP has a long history of commitment to social justice, and we stand steadfast by that commitment today. I released a statement last week that can be found here.

UUP will join the digital Mass Poor People’s Assembly & Moral March on Washington, the largest digital gathering of poor, dispossessed and impacted people, faith leaders, and people of conscience, organized by the Poor People’s Campaign on June 20, 2020. You can find more information and RSVP here. The Poor People’s Campaign has developed a digital toolkit with sample posts, graphics and more ways to amplify the event.

Our national affiliate, The American Federation of Teachers, has joined the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and hundreds of other organizations in sending a letter to Congress demanding it create a federal standard for when police officers can use force, prohibiting racial profiling, and ending a program that provides surplus military supplies to local law enforcement, including school police. Learn more here.

UUP encourages all our members to be part of the solution as we move forward together. There are many ways to stand in solidarity, but we’ve compiled a list of upcoming events and solidarity actions here:

Upcoming Events:

June 4, 2020- 3 PM: The New York State Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic, and Asian Legislative Caucus will host Press Conferences at 3 pm in Albany, Bronx, Brooklyn, Buffalo, Long Island, Manhattan, Queens, Rochester, Staten Island and Syracuse in support of New York State Police Reform. Learn more here.

June 4, 2020- 9 PM: The Poor People’s Campaign is hosting a Moral Fusion Student Fellows Digital Town Hall on Thursday, June 4 at 9 pm via Facebook Live. The event will feature students and recent graduates talking about the impact of campus closures, police violence, the economic crisis, and COVID19, and demonstrate the importance of organizing and mobilizing for June 20. Join at facebook.com/anewppc/

June 6, 2020- 12 PM: CNY Black Lives Matter March. Where: Homer-Cortland NY, The Village Green- Courthouse Park. When: June 6, 2020- 12 PM. Why: To fight for equality for all. Please wear black. Signs are welcome and encouraged. Masks are required. Absolutely no violence will be tolerated. For more information follow @cny_blacklivesmatter on Instagram.

June 8, 2020: NYSUT Virtual Vigil. More details coming soon.

June 20, 2020- 10 AM: UUP will join the digital Mass Poor People’s Assembly & Moral March on Washington, the largest digital gathering of poor, dispossessed and impacted people, faith leaders, and people of conscience, organized by the Poor People’s Campaign on June 20, 2020.

Masks should always be worn when in public and social distancing should be practiced when possible. Members should consider their own health and only attend if they are comfortable doing so.

Solidarity Actions:

Encourage active discussion of issues of race on your campus. In union meetings, classes, and other events, provide time to discuss racial injustices on your campus and work together for collective change. Make sure students, faculty and staff of color are leading these discussions.

Stand with students. Our students are committed to social justice, and we should be joining and supporting them in peaceful protests. Reach out to student groups on campus, especially those which are led by students of color, and ask how UUP can help.

Phone Banking and Text Storming with the Poor People’s Campaign. Sign up for a 30 minute training and learn more here.

Sign the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers’ online petition demanding justice here.
Sign the Color of Change petition to end violent policing against black people here.
Consider making monetary donations to:

The NAACP Legal Defense Fund, which supports racial justice through advocacy, litigation, and education.The Poor People’s Campaign, which supports people coming together to confront the interlocking evils of systemic racism, poverty, ecological devastation, militarism and the war economy, and the distorted moral narrative of religious nationalism.

Visit the Education Minnesota webpage, which includes actions to take, anti-racism resources and other organizations to consider donating to.

Please keep us updated on any actions on your campus and in your community that we can help amplify and suggestions for additional organizations members should consider supporting by emailing Amy Sheldon at asheldon@uupmail.org. This is a collective problem that requires a collective solution. We will keep a resource page active with this information.

As we continuously educate ourselves, I encourage you to read “How to Make this Moment the Turning Point for Real Change” by President Barack Obama here and visit the resource page on obama.org here.

In solidarity,
Fred

Continued Federal Advocacy Actions

UPDATED Social Media Toolkit- Pass a new COVID-19 mitigation package that provides crucial support to New York State (1)

Colleagues,

Our advocacy efforts continue to expand and I want to thank all of you who have already stepped up to be a part of them. Together we have sent over 1,700 digital letters to our federal representatives. Additional contacts are also being made through phone calls to representatives from UUP members across the state. UUP is on the forefront of these efforts, and we are continuing to work with our statewide and national affiliates on this important advocacy work.

But we can and must do more. Congress is set to return May 6th to negotiate the next federal aid package, so it is time to ramp-up our communication. I have set a very ambitious goal for us: 10,000 contacts to New York’s Congressional Representatives through digital letters, phone calls, social media, and other means, by June 1st to stress the importance of federal aid for New York.

In order to broaden the size and impact of our advocacy, we have made a minor change to our Action Network letter so that non-members, family, and friends can also contact their representatives in support of New York State. Please continue to encourage everyone that you are in touch with to send a letter, so we can ensure our message is heard. Here is the link to the letter for your convenience to send to your network of family and friends. https://actionnetwork.org/letters/uupcovid19letter/

We have also updated the social media toolkit for the letter and attached it here. In addition to sample posts sharing the letter on your social media pages, the updated toolkit now includes sample messaging to share the letter with other community groups you may be involved with. We’ve also included posts that will allow you to tag representatives directly to express our message and the Twitter usernames for all New York representatives. Please use this in your continued social media advocacy.

SUNY is the lifeblood of so many communities, and together we can utilize all of our coalitions to ensure New York State and SUNY receive the significant resources that only the federal government can deliver at this time.

Thank you for your continued work on this important advocacy. And please take care of yourselves … Stay well!

In solidarity,
Fred

UUP slates member tele-town halls; sign up now!

UUP is your union, and your union wants to know what you think about the coronavirus, the economy and public higher education.

That’s why UUP has scheduled four tele-town halls in May, which will allow members to share their thoughts in online foruma with union leaders in a safe way that adheres to New York’s social distancing rules and guidelines.
The tele-town halls will be held at:

11 a.m. on Thursday, May 7
3 p.m. on Wednesday, May 13
6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, May 19
11 a.m. on Thursday, May 21

The tele-town halls will include brief presentations on the overall economic perspective of the state and the country as well as an overview of higher education funding trends in New York state and nationwide. Afterward, discussions will be opened to members for a solution-driven discussion.
“We are always be stronger when we engage each another and work from the grassroots,” said UUP President Fred Kowal. “If there is a “best” way to face these unprecedented times, I am certain that together, UUP members can and will develop that strategic plan.”

Click HERE to sign up for and participate in one of the tele-town halls.

Log-in directions will be sent to participants the week of the tele-town hall selected. Members are asked to choose just one tele-town hall to allow as many members as possible to take part.

UUP Tele-Town Halls

Colleagues,

Nothing is more important than carrying the voices of our membership forward in this difficult time. Our advocacy efforts are multiple and on-going, and I extend a heartfelt thank you to the dedicated members who have sent letters, made phone calls and joined our social media campaign to protect SUNY and the work UUP does.

We will always be stronger when we are engaging one another and working from the grassroots. In this vein, we are scheduling a series of tele-town halls, which will include a brief presentation on the overall economic perspective of where we are as a state and as a nation, as well as an overview on New York State and national public higher education funding trends. The presentation will then be opened up to our members for a solution-driven discussion. If there is a “best” way to face these unprecedented times, I am certain that together UUP members can and will develop that strategic plan.

The tele-town halls will take place on the following days:
May 7, 2020 at 11:00 AM
May 13, 2020 at 3:00 PM
May 19, 2020 at 6:30 PM
May 21, 2020 at 11:00 AM

In order to hear from as many members as possible, we are asking participants to choose just one date to join in on the conversation. To participate, please register here: https://uuphost.org/myuup/Registration/TOWNHALL/Register.php
UUP | Legislative Town Hall Sign-up
United University Professions.
uuphost.org

Please follow the registration link and sign-up to attend one of these events. Information on how to log-in to the event will be sent the week of the tele-town hall. Please share information about the tele-town halls as widely as possible.

Your entire statewide team is eager to hear from you!

In solidarity,
Fred