Rules of (community) engagement
Using a new approach to community engagement, union locals are building partnerships with their communities.
IT WAS THE THREAT to the very existence of the State University of New York Downstate Medical Center that brought faith leaders, the community and labor together over the past year. In 2011, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state Legislature targeted the hospital—a Brooklyn, N.Y., institution that serves 400,000 patients a year—for downsizing, privatization or possible closure.
Prompted by the governor’s proposal, the New York State Public Employees Federation (PEF), an AFT affiliate that represents 700 workers at the medical center, and the United University Professions (UUP) chapter at Downstate, which is also an AFT affiliate and represents 3,300 of the hospital’s faculty and staff, immediately began working with the community to save the hospital.
The result has been a thriving coalition that has rallied, lobbied state legislators and conducted informational picketing.
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