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February 4, 2011

Union tells state to ‘Think ahead, invest in higher ed’
UUP members rally at state Capitol, protest SUNY budget cuts

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 invest in higher education and reject the proposed $100 million budget cut to SUNY.

“We say it is time for the state to think ahead and invest in higher ed. It’s time to invest in SUNY,” said UUP President Phillip H. Smith. “It’s time to invest in the future stability of New York and the financial well-being of future generations of New Yorkers.”

Smith said SUNY faces a $100 million cut in its operating budget if the governor’s Executive Budget is adopted. Coupled with $585 million in previous budget cuts to SUNY, the University stands to lose onethird of its state support. Smith said SUNY cannot take any additional cuts.

“We know the state is in a fiscal crisis, but SUNY has borne a disproportionate share of the financial burden,” he said. “It has already been slashed more deeply than any state agency. We say, enough!”

Joining Smith at the rally were NYSUT Executive Vice President Andrew Pallotta and NYSUT Secretary-Treasurer Lee Cutler.

“Investing in SUNY means jobs for upstate; the spin-off effect of having vibrant campuses in places like Cortland, Plattsburgh, New Paltz and Binghamton; where New York students can be educated in New York and stay here to contribute to our state in the future. The draconian cuts proposed in this budget make it nearly impossible for all that to happen,” Pallotta said.

“Everyone is talking about turning around the upstate economy. A strong SUNY system is the absolute best way to fuel the revitalization of our economy,” said Cutler.

“The future of SUNY affects the hundreds of thousands of New York families who are counting on a public college or university to educate their children,” Smith added. “Our economic future is depending on SUNY to educate the workers that employers need.”

Smith also said UUP wants lawmakers to restore the $154 million state subsidy for SUNY’s three teaching hospitals in Brooklyn, Stony Brook and Syracuse that the Executive Budget proposes to eliminate.

“This latest reduction, on top of years of previous cuts, threatens the future of these hospitals and the uninsured and underinsured patients they treat,” Smith said.

Several state lawmakers also spoke at the rally.

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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