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January 30, 2009

UUP rallies to save access to SUNY and its hospitals

Chanting, “1-2-3-4, don’t shut SUNY’s doors” and “2-4-6-8, help our students graduate,” more than 300 members of United University Professions and their statewide affiliate NYSUT rallied at the state Capitol in Albany urging the state Legislature to amend Gov. Paterson’s proposed state budget and provide additional funding to prevent the doors of SUNY from being closed to thousands of qualified students.

“SUNY is suffering under the weight of massive budget cuts, with many campuses limiting future enrollments, cancelling classes that students need to graduate, and not replacing departing full-time faculty,” said UUP President Phillip H. Smith. “Especially in this time of economic stress, students need access to an affordable, quality public higher education now more than ever. Unless more state support is made available, thousands of students will find the doors to SUNY closed.”

The demonstrators also called upon lawmakers to reverse a steep $25 million cut in the state subsidy for SUNY’s three teaching hospitals in Brooklyn, Stony Brook and Syracuse and substitute it with a $40 million increase.

“SUNY’s hospitals are at the breaking point after years of prior underfunding,” Smith said. “Without additional funding, the uninsured and underinsured – whose numbers are increasing as the ranks of unemployed swell – will have nowhere to turn for life-saving treatment.”

Smith also urged lawmakers to change the proposed budget to allow UUP members to receive their negotiated 3 percent salary increase this year.

“The governor’s proposal to deny us our agreed-upon pay raise is nothing less than a breach of our contract,” Smith said. “We will not let the budget be balanced on the backs of our members.”

NYSUT President Richard Iannuzzi also spoke at the rally, saying that a greater state investment in SUNY is essential.

“Even in these recessionary times, SUNY must be well-positioned to help New York lead the way in developing innovative technologies in emerging fields,” Iannuzzi said. “For New York to take the lead in transforming to an economy with an emphasis on cutting-edge technology and energy, SUNY campuses must be positioned to play an important role in preparing students for careers in these fields.”

UUP is the nation's largest higher education union, with more than 37,000 academic and professional faculty and retirees. UUP members work at 29 New York state-operated campuses, including SUNY’s public teaching hospitals and health science centers in Brooklyn, Long Island and Syracuse. It is an affiliate of NYSUT, the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association, and the AFL-CIO.


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