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CONTACT: Don Feldstein or
Mike Lisi (518) 640-6600
Feldstein’s cell number is (518) 461-0275

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

December 28, 2011

UUP sues state, seeks health insurance hike reversal


ALBANY
United University Professions, the union that represents academic and professional faculty at the State University of New York, today filed suit in federal court in Albany against the state of New York to reverse a health insurance rate increase affecting UUP’s nearly 4,000 retired members. An extra two percent increase in the contribution retirees pay toward their health insurance premium was unilaterally imposed by the state in October. Retirees, who had been paying 10 percent of the cost of their health insurance premiums for individual coverage and a 25 percent share on family plans, were surprised to learn their premiums would be larger than expected.

“The state’s action to unilaterally raise the level of contributions retirees pay for their health insurance is unconstitutional, arbitrary and capricious, and amounts to a breach of our contract,” UUP President Phil Smith said. “It’s totally wrong to saddle our retirees who are on fixed incomes with this unexpected increase in their health insurance costs.”

The lawsuit charges the higher health insurance rates are unconstitutional because the state’s action violates a federal law barring states from impairing contracts. The suit also alleges breach of contract and that the action was arbitrary and capricious, since it extended a change intended for retirees not covered by a union contract. UUP’s retirees have contractual protection.

UUP’s suit asks the court to rescind the state’s increase in the contributions retirees pay toward their health insurance. The legal action includes the governor, the state Department of Civil Service and NYSHIP.

“These individuals served the public with distinction for years, only to be ambushed by such an increase, “Smith said. “These retirees, who are our friends, neighbors and relatives, had no choice in this decision and did nothing to deserve this unwarranted attack on their financial well-being.”

The added two percent contribution the state ordered retirees to pay comes on top of premium rate increases annually imposed by health insurance carriers.

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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