Union membership is key to building the middle class

To the Editor:

Thanks so much to The Altamont Enterprise and reporter Noah Zweifel for the article “102nd Assembly: Finneran, Tweed compete for Dem backing.” I truly appreciate that the article was well written, informative, and fair. As one of the candidates mentioned, I want to expand on some of the information.

Zweifel truly represented me on so many issues, of special note the utility rate cases; the public needs to be much better informed how utilities use the money from their bill payments and the article came through loud and clear on my stance.

One factual correction is that no part Ulster County is included in the 102nd Assembly District for this election, although it was until maps were recently redrawn; in fact, the incumbent Chris Tague’s website does not include the revised map but the older one, in this current session he still represents that little bit of Ulster. I actually wish part of Ulster were still to be included as it would add a little blue to this extremely red district!

While the article mentions me as “former member of the Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter’s executive committee” (I was termed out and may be running again next year), I would like to mention that I am very proudly a life member of the National Sierra Club, having accepted an invitation from former president Carl Pope about a decade ago.

Regarding my current work on the Atlantic chapter, I am co-chair of the Atlantic Chapter Gas Action Team, working on efforts to get natural gas, methane, eliminated from infrastructure due to climate and toxic impacts locally, regionally, and globally.

I also serve on the agriculture committee, where our current major issues are focused on PFAS [Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances] and “bio solids,” also known as sewage sludge, on farms and in food, and we work on being certain sitings of renewables don’t negatively impact farms and food production.

The legislative committee is another committee I’m involved with. We peruse bills, especially those of environmental concerns, and we consider recommendations to and from the Atlantic Chapter staff regarding memos of support, action letters, and lobbying legislators at the capitol, in their local offices, and via phone and Zoom.

I’d like to take this opportunity to address an area of my platform not discussed with the writer nor mentioned in the article, that of union involvement. As a teacher, I was very active as a member of the New York State United Teachers local Coxsackie-Athens Teachers Association (CATA). I worked on the Vote Cope campaign and electoral initiatives, phone banks for instance, and informed members of candidates’ platforms. I also spearheaded CATA’s newsletter.

Most importantly, I was elected and served as the CATA building rep at the high school where I was able to represent members in meetings with administrators, supervisors, and the board. Highlights: I was able to save one member’s position, and saved another member’s salary.

I was also a member of the local sheet metal workers when I was a welder prior to teaching. I believe union membership is key to building the middle class and hope to be able to legislate and support bills protecting workers rights to organize.

I could wax on forever regarding more issues, but will close with primary and campaign information. The primary is being held on June 25. Early voting starts on June 15, the same date for new voter registrations and polling places and other information can be found at /">https: . My website is https://finneranforassembly.org.

Thanks again to Noah Zweifel and The Altamont Enterprise for the excellent article about the primary campaign; I hope it inspires Democrats in Assembly District 102 to get out and vote in the primary!

Mary Finneran


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