Thursday, April 14, 2011

Excerpts from Early Campaign Bulletins

Early campaign Bulletins resulted from specific issues that arose. They do not represent my platform. The platform can be expected toward the end of April.

From the first ten Bulletins the following are useful for understanding, in part, where I would strive to take UUP as President. Five topics were follow are

1. Michael Moore in Madison, Wisconsin: "America Is NOT Broke"
2. The Revenue Side of the State Budget
3. The Voice
4. A Transparent Union
5. "U.S. Labor against the War -- Withdrawal of Troops" (UUP Policy)


1. Michael Moore in Madison, Wisconsin: "America Is NOT Broke"

Michael Moore: "America is not broke. Contrary to what those in power would like you to believe so that you'll give up your pension, cut your wages, and settle for the life your great-grandparents had, America is not broke. Not by a long shot. The country is awash in wealth and cash. It's just that it's not in your hands. It has been transferred, in the greatest heist in history, from the workers and consumers to the banks and the portfolios of the uber-rich...."
www.truth-out.org/michael-moore-america-is-not-broke68265

Moore is speaking truth, but the mainstream media won't be covering Moore saying that 400 ├╝ber-rich have more wealth than the entire lower half of the U.S. population combined (www.youtube.com/watch?v=wgNuSEZ8CDw).

What could UUP do about this? We should get off the ever-repeated defensive slogan "Save SUNY" we have had for years, the same slogan as state support goes ever downhill! We should move into the offensive with our message. Why not start with a group of SUNY economists voicing a strong UUP message about the state of the State, coming up with a new slogan at the same time?

2. The Revenue Side of the State Budget

UUP policy is that the so-called "millionaires tax" must be retained. This policy is reported to our members in the February/March of The Voice in a p. 8 article. The report ends regarding those high-income New Yorkers by saying, "Delegates directed the UUP leadership to work with existing coalitions to convey to members of the Legislature their support for the higher tax rates".

The same issue of The Voice has considerable discussion of UUP advocacy against cuts to SUNY -- see the three-page article "We're in for the fight of our lives". Yet, in that long article, there is no discussion of advocacy on the revenue side, the "millionaires tax"!

The next issue, the April issue, has only tangential references to the "millionaires tax".

If the state does not have the tax revenues, it cannot well respond to a demand to "invest in public higher education". Or, if it were to do so, it has to come at the expense of others.

This concept of taxing the wealthy should be a simple concept, but it is a concept that needs to be repeated over and over and over. As President, I would ensure that this message is repeated over and over and over.

I would go further and ask economists among us (I happen to be one myself) -- led by a fiscal-policy expert such as our VP-Academics Fred Floss -- to elaborate a position paper on this issue for our members. I would consider a separate mailing to our entire membership in order to educate them on its importance, against the propaganda coming out of the Governor's office (this mailing could be in conjunction with another mailed item, to save postage). These economists could also examine why the New York stock transfer tax is being rebated to the tune of $16 billion annually instead of staying on the revenue state of the state budget where it was from 1905 to 1979. (I am talking about only one or two cents per share of stock sold.)

The March issue of NYSUT UNITED has an elaborate full-page story, "NYSUT to lawmakers: Keep the millionaires' tax". It includes a graph showing the DROP in % taxation for households with incomes higher than $633,000 against any other income group including those in the $16,000-$33,000 range, even if the "millionaires tax" is retained!

Our UUP expose can start with "Wealth in America: Who Gets What and How Wealthy Were the Forbes 400 Richest Billionaires in 2008 Relative to America’s Bottom Half?" (www.clms.neu.edu/publication/documents/Wealth_in_America.pdf). It can also demonstrate how the upper one percent of the American population is taking from the rest of the population (both by legal and illegal means), often acting like bandits. UUP can do more than its share to expose this. Indeed, our 30-second ads could include 5-8 seconds on the revenue side. We could also circulate a portion of Michael Moore's rousing speech in Madison. Put the wealthy on the defensive, for once!

Emphasis on the revenue side goes further to help. If we let the State let millionaires run with the money, then we are not in a position to build a strong coalition with other constituencies in the New York State negatively affected by the state budget. Our potential gain can be perceived as other groups' losses. The only way to build a strong coalition is to fight together for each other, not focus only on ourselves. That approach should be sustained by repeated calls for the "millionaires tax", AND supporting the budgetary demands of others, not merely our own. Of course, we also continue demands for state funding public higher education.

Phil Smith has a statement in The Voice: "we need you to keep doing what you’ve been doing: spreading the word that public higher education must be a priority in New York" (April, p. 3). The statement lacks the vision I am promoting here.

3. The Voice

The Voice
is the only UUP publication going to the membership. Last academic year we had separate issues of The Voice for February and for March. This year the February and March are collapsed into one. Last academic year we had separate issues for December and for January. This year they are collapsed into one. Why I don't know, but it did lead to the LMRDA violation that potential candidates received notification considerably past the deadline for any statements to appear in the April issue. As President I would restore the number of issues of The Voice to what it had been, unless the Executive Board or Delegate Assembly mandates something else. I would ensure full notice for deadlines for candidate statements.

4. A Transparent Union

As UUP President, I pledge to continue participating on UUPAD, the discussion list for UUP activists. I will encourage participation by other officers, also
. Yes, sometimes a President or other officers cannot openly answer a question or make a comment. It depends. Total silence is no option for a transparent union.

Query to other announced officer candidates: If you are elected, will you participate in UUPAD? By now, three years after its founding, you know what UUPAD is. Phil and Eileen, I already know your answer, given that you have been completely silent for the past three years. Fred, would you participate as President or in retaining your current position as Vice-President for Academics? Raul as Secretary, and Ed at Membership Development, would you? (No, I am not asking you take on whatever comes on this list, but rather your basic pre-disposition toward participation.)

5. "U.S. Labor against the War -- Withdrawal of Troops" (UUP Policy)


This is the title of the UUP Position Statement adopted by the DA. It is on pages 8-9 of the latest manual we received at the Winter DA.

UUP was instrumental in getting both NYSUT and AFT to adopt similar anti-war resolutions at their conventions, a very important achievement within the labor movement (cf. what happened during the Vietnam War). However, our membership would hardly know, given the virtual absence of coverage in The Voice.

As UUP President, I would actively promote our membership knowing UUP's anti-war position held over many years and would invite activism. Massive war expenditures are immoral, draining our economy, and strongly benefitting the military-industrial complex President Eisenhower warned against.

Even though the NYSUT convention easily passed a resolution for quick withdrawal from Afghanistan, and the labor movement has an anti-war coalition USLAW http://uslaboragainstwar.org/ which UUP (as one example) joined, it meant nothing when organizing a rally.

The U.S. labor movement is ahead of where it was in the Vietnam era, but it has a long way to go to integrate the anti-war message directly into the labor message.

The labor movement in its practices (paper resolutions are not enough) is letting successive U.S. administrations get away with the military budgets being untouchable, when the U.S. spends about the same about as ALL other countries combined!

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