May 02, 2010

Unionists lining up to support higher ed

Source: RA 2010

As the spring semester winds down, NYSUT's higher education locals know they could face a long, hot summer. And they used their annual RA breakfast as a time of solidarity and preparation for the ongoing fight for funding.

NYSUT President Dick Iannuzzi told the higher ed locals that their K-12 sisters and brothers stand with them.

"When you fight for public higher education, you have the full strength of 600,000 NYSUT members behind you — we are all united," Iannuzzi said.

United University Professions, the Professional Staff Congress and the SUNY community colleges are seeking restoration of $300 million in funding to public higher education.

NYSUT Executive Vice President Andy Pallotta lauded the higher ed delegates for the hard work members have done to keep up the pressure on the Legislature. NYSUT's higher education locals have been relentless this legislative session, turning out by the hundreds for advocacy days and rallies at the Capitol. Pallotta assured them their visibility has made a difference.

"I believe we have made a real impact," Pallotta told the gathering. "They know that no matter where we are, we're never more than a phone call away."

"We have a lot of students coming in to the SUNY system next year, and we will have 7,000 fewer course selections next year than this year," said UUP President Phil Smith. That change means more crowded classes and heavier work loads for the 35,000 academic and professional faculty that UUP represents.

PSC First Vice President Steve London encouraged the members to keep up the fight for funding.

"All that we do here will only be effective if we have a strategy — if our members see that we're part of the public discussion," he said.

Ellen Schuler Mauk, president of the Faculty Association of Suffolk Community College and a NYSUT Board member, also delivered an impassioned message of encouragement.

"We are all in this together," she said. "We're united; we're together; this is a union."