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CONTACT: Mike Lisi (518) 640-6600
Lisi’s cell number: (518) 944-9528


June 2, 2010

UUP, other unions, successful in blocking furloughs

United University Professions and other public employee unions have blocked the forced furloughs of state employees.

U.S. District Judge Lawrence Kahn issued a preliminary injunction on May 28 against the governor’s plan that would have required most state employees to take one unpaid day off every week, until a state budget was passed.

Judge Kahn agreed with UUP that the furloughs are unconstitutional because they violated the prohibition barring states from passing legislation that impairs contract obligations.

In his ruling, Judge Kahn wrote, “Plaintiffs have met their burden of showing that the permanent 20 percent loss in salary and wages that the furlough plan’s effects constitute irreparable harm.”

“We’re gratified with Judge Kahn’s decision granting our request for a preliminary injunction,” UUP President Phillip Smith said. “This ruling declaring the furloughs unconstitutional upholds our members’ rights as outlined in the legal and binding contract that UUP negotiated with the state in good faith.”

Joining UUP in the successful litigation against the furlough plan were the Civil Service Employees Association, Public Employees Federation and the Professional Staff Congress.

Noting that the governor is seeking to impose layoffs in the wake of the defeat of his furlough plan, Smith questioned why the governor continues to target state employees when he might better spend his time negotiating a new state budget.

“It seems to us that rather than consuming his energy developing a layoff plan that wouldn’t take effect until Jan. 1, the governor should be devoting more of his energies toward reaching agreement on a new budget with the Legislature,” Smith said,

Smith also suggested the governor consider other options to layoffs and budget cuts.

“Instead of seeking to balance the state budget on the backs of hard-working, dedicated UUP members and other unionized state employees, we urge the governor to look at the alternatives we’ve suggested to help close the budget deficit, such as a temporary additional 1 percent tax bracket for those whose annual taxable income is more than $1 million.”

UUP is a part of the coalition called A Better Choice for New York, working together with the Fiscal Policy Institute and New Yorkers for Fiscal Fairness to present proposals to help the state resolve its fiscal crisis.

A list of the coalition’s proposals can be found here

UUP is the nation's largest higher education union, with more than 42,000 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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