ALBANY, N.Y. November 4, 2009 – New York State United Teachers today congratulated Bill Owens on his come-from-behind victory in the 23rd District congressional race, saying his historic election represents a triumph of the concerns of working people over the ideology of the extreme right.
"In the end, North Country residents made a clear choice, sending to Congress a strong voice for investing in public education and health care, and protecting the rights of working people, including the right to join a union," said NYSUT President Richard C. Iannuzzi. "Bill Owens will represent the district well when it comes to having what's needed to get the economy going in the North Country."
NYSUT Executive Vice President Alan B. Lubin said the union was thrilled to be part of Owens' resurgence in the final days, noting that in the 72 hours after Republican Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava withdrew from the race – and NYSUT endorsed Owens over right-wing Conservative Doug Hoffman – more than 300 NYSUT political activists went to work on Owens' behalf.
"Our members came out in droves to work for Owens and to stop Hoffman, an anti-union, anti-public employee candidate of the extreme right," Lubin said. "NYSUT activists made thousands of phone calls for Owens out of phone banks in three NYSUT regional offices in the final 72 hours, reaching a good many of the union's nearly 30,000 members in the 23rd Congressional District."
In addition, Lubin said grassroots NYSUT activists, volunteers with the union's political action committees, flooded Owens' offices to volunteer handing out leaflets and campaign materials. "This was certainly an unusual election," Lubin said, "but our members understood the need for a moderate voice to represent them in Congress. NYSUT members clearly got the word that Bill Owens was the candidate who represented them on the issues they care most about – investing in public schools, colleges and universities and giving workers a fair chance to join a union."
NYSUT, the state's largest union, represents more than 600,000 teachers, school-related professionals, academic and professional faculty in higher education, professionals in education and health care and retirees. NYSUT is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, National Education Association and the AFL-CIO.