Monday, April 25, 2011

Platform for UUP President


W H Y?

UUP has been traveling downward in terms of member participation and effectiveness. It hit a new low when the President directed a Vice-President to be policed by a third officer when out of the office, an act absolutely unacceptable.

While active in UUP for thirty years, I have stayed apart from United Caucus politics and have supported term limits. I bring needed fresh leadership into our union, with the experience and determination to be a very effective leader.


1. The Revenue Side of the State Budget

If the state does not have the tax revenues, it cannot respond to a demand to "invest in public higher education". The concept of raising taxes on the wealthy should be a simple one, but needs to be repeated over and over and over.

I would go further and ask economists among us (I happen to be one myself) to prepare a position paper and consider a separate mailing to all members, against the propaganda coming out of the Governor's office (to save postage, this mailing could be in conjunction with another mailed item). These economists should also examine why the New York stock transfer tax (a few cents per share of stock sold) is being rebated to the tune of $16 billion annually instead of staying on the revenue side of the state budget where it was from 1905 to 1979. (Detailed flyer is available upon request.)

Our UUP exposé can start with "Wealth in America: Who Gets What ….” It can demonstrate how the upper one percent of the American people take from the rest (both by legal and illegal means). It can include a graph showing the drop in percentage taxation for households with high incomes, even if the millionaires tax is retained!

Some of our 30-second ads could focus on the revenue side. We could also circulate a portion of Michael Moore's rousing speech in Madison. Put the wealthy on the defensive!

If we let the State tax millionaires at lower rates (or no taxes at all) than those below, then we are not in a position to build a strong coalition with other constituencies in the New York State. 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.

2. Defend SUNY as a System

Members are quite un-informed about the flexibility proposals and private-public partnerships. Outstanding investigative work concerning UB 2020 legislation could have been undertaken by UUP. We lucked out with investigative reporter Buck Quigley’s study The Great UB Heist written for Buffalo’s ArtVoice. He offered a clear, cogent analysis concluding that the real business of UB 2020 is not the public interest, but rather business itself, “the State University of New York at Buffalo is controlled by a handful of powerful, wealthy Western New Yorkers. Through legitimate board appointments, they enjoy a stranglehold on the various UB foundations, which are now self-perpetuating bodies, electing members from within, operating completely beyond state and public oversight.”

UUP itself should be doing such investigative work for issues concerning SUNY. We can draw in students, even offer stipends for their research work with us. We should work intimately with other unions, most especially the Professional Staff Congress of CUNY to defend public higher education.

Part-timers, Adjuncts, Contingents

These represent some 34% of SUNY faculty, yet here and elsewhere in the U.S. their employment conditions are often unconscionable in terms of low salary, job insecurity, lack of advancement opportunities, or even office space. UUP must commit that the next contract include their interests for acceptable salary minimums and improved conditions.

4. A Transparent Union

As President I would restore the two issues of The Voice that have been eliminated this year, unless the Executive Board or DA mandates something else. I pledge my own continued participation on UUPAD, the discussion list for UUP activists, and will encourage participation by other officers, currently quite rare or even non-existent. Sometimes officers cannot openly answer a question or make a comment, but total silence is no option for a transparent union.

I would encourage chapters to create discussion lists off SUNY servers and to create Facebook pages. I would fully comply with LMRDA disclosures rules.

5. Job Loss, Workload Increase, and Discrimination

The UUP President needs to go personally to all campuses with members facing job losses (e.g., Albany, Brooklyn HSC, Buffalo HSC, Morrisville, New Paltz, System Admin.) and join in solidarity with members and chapter leaderships. We need to fight speedups with realistic performance programs and evaluations, using the grievance process as necessary.

Attacks on academic freedom must be fought with grievances brought up to arbitration decisions (UUP has not done this for 30 years). Discriminations must be aggressively addressed, as done on the UB campus after the Provost recommended promotions to many men who did not have backing from the highest faculty review body, while denying many women who had that faculty body’s recommendation.

6. AFT and NYSUT Dues

UUP should provide in The Voice a detailed report in plain English on AFT and NYSUT dues paid by UUP members out of their UUP dues. After all, these dues are estimated at $4,865,073 and $8,554,861, respectively, for the current fiscal year ending August 31, 2011 (2010-2011 Budget of the UUP Treasurer). There are direct and indirect offsets but a full report in clear English needs to go to members. Replies should be invited and the DA should carefully consider them.

7. My Salary as President

As UUP President, I could pocket some $50,000 additional salary relative to my campus salary. As described in my postcard mailed to Delegates on April 19, I will ask the Treasurer to reduce my two summer months salary to one-half pay, and will not request a living allowance. While in the office of UUP President, I pledge $25,000 of donations annually, to targets corresponding to UUP positions, to be documented at the May DAs; e.g., Link scholarships would receive $5,000 yearly. Details are on the April 21 blog.

8. “U.S. Labor against the War” (UUP Policy)

As UUP President, I would actively promote our members knowing UUP’s anti-war position held over many years and would invite activism. Vast war expenditures are immoral, drain our economy, and benefit the military-industrial complex President Eisenhower warned against.

Even though the AFT and NYSUT conventions passed resolutions for quick withdrawal from Afghanistan, and the labor movement has an anti-war coalition USLAW UUP has joined, no AFT, NYSUT or UUP publications mentioned these anti-war positions.

The U.S. labor movement has a long way to go to integrate the anti-war message directly into the labor message even though the U.S. spends 43% of the global total on the military (

PAUL ZAREMBKA: Professor of Economics, SUNY at Buffalo (since 1976); NSF grantee; Senior Research Officer at ILO, Geneva; general editor of Research in Political Economy (since 1977); Fulbright-Hayes Teaching awardee; UUP Delegate since 1981; UUP Chapter President and Grievance Officer for Academics; listed in many biographical dictionaries including Marquis Who’s Who in America; recent keynote speaker, “The National and Global Impacts of Economic Crisis”, 37th Eastern Community College Social Science Assoc. Conference, March 31-April 2, 2011.

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