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Local News

September 3, 2013

Labor Day 'a symbol' for local UUP

Labor Day, though a working holiday for UUP members at SUNY Oneonta on Monday, was also a day of celebration. 

After a decade of advocacy, the local United University Professions Oneonta Chapter recently won a change in the calendar that marks Labor Day 2014 as a day off, when no classes will be held.

“We’re looking forward to the celebration that people will have next year,” William Simons, UUP chapter president, said Monday. 

The observance of Labor Day with the day off recognizes the hard work and dedication of employees and their need to be appreciated and to have time for rejuvenation, Simons said. 

“Labor Day should never go by unacknowledged,” Simons, a history professor, said.

UUP has about 800 members, including faculty, computer and information technology staff and library and other professionals working in admissions, alumni, career placement and residential life, among other offices.

SUNY Oneonta enrolls about 6,000 students. Of 493 faculty, 259 are full-time and 243 are part-time, officials said, and the staff numbers 654 employees.

At Hartwick College, a private liberal arts and sciences school in Oneonta that enrolls about 1,600 students, classes start today.

Simons said unions have contributed to the economic strength of the United States and helped set safety conditions and wage standards of workers. Labor Day is a time to reflect on those accomplishments, he said, and UUP works not only on its agenda but toward the greater good of society.

“Labor Day is a totem — it’s a symbol of workers,” Simons said.

Labor Day grew from the labor movement and gained first governmental recognition though municipal ordinances passed in 1885 and 1886, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

The first state bill was introduced into the New York Legislature, but the first to become law was passed by Oregon on Feb. 21, 1887. During that year four more states — Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York — created the Labor Day holiday. 

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