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Union History Exhibit Opening August 31

Union History Exhibit Opening August 31


As SUNY Cortland celebrates its sesquicentennial, the labor union for faculty and professional staff will mark its own 45-year milestone with an historic exhibition to show how organized labor has shaped the state university system and the campus community.

The Cortland chapter of United University Professions (UUP) will display union documents, images and artifacts that chronicle the chapter’s history from 1973 to the present in the exhibition “We Are UUP: The University’s Union,” starting on Friday, Aug. 31.

These include a large ring of members circling the courtyard between Old Main and Miller Building in 1976 to protest stalled contract negotiations, images of the union picketing in Albany to “Save SUNY” during the severe budget cuts of the 1990s, and volunteer union members helping register students as new voters in the early 2000s.

The exhibition, in the lobby of the Student Life Center at 8 Pashley Drive, runs until Friday, Sept. 21. Beginning Sunday, Aug. 26, the Student Life Center will be open weekdays from 6 a.m. to midnight and weekends from 7 a.m. to midnight.

Supported by the local chapter, the statewide UUP and a grant from the SUNY Cortland Sesquicentennial Committee, the exhibition is free and open to the public.

Jamie Dangler, a Cortland chapter of the UUP member, rallies with fellow members and union rep Dennis Selzner in Albany to protest the severe budget cut proposals in this archival image. In the above left image, faculty and staff plead for improved part-time labor conditions during the 1980s.

In conjunction with the exhibit opening on Aug. 31, the UUP Cortland Chapter will conduct its annual Welcome Back Members Gathering for its 900 members from 3 to 6 p.m. on the lawn between the Student Life Center and Lusk Field House.

“The exhibit is intended to strengthen the social and political bonds that unite the campus community, to promote coalitions that take positive initiatives in our community, and to raise awareness of the larger contributions made by the labor movement as a whole,” said chapter President Joe Westbrook.

The UUP bargaining unit represents over 37,000 SUNY academic faculty and professional staff, Westbrook noted.

Many Cortland chapter activists have served important roles in UUP governance, including statewide officer positions, he said.  Some have been elected or appointed to offices in the state affiliate, New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) with 600,000 members. Others are active with the national affiliates, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) with 1.75 million members, and National Education Association (NEA) with 3 million members.

“We are pleased to be able to share some of our union’s proud history,” Westbrook said. “Many members of the Cortland community are simply not aware of what UUP has achieved, not only for SUNY employees, but also for all New Yorkers through its support for measures that ensure SUNY remains affordable and accessible for all students.”

For more information, contact Westbrook at 607-753-5517 or