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CONTACT: Mike Lisi (518) 640-6600
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July 20, 2012

UUP: SUNY Downstate layoffs threaten health care services, local economy

The decision to lay off dozens of workers at SUNY Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn, including 54 members of United University Professions, threatens the health and economic well-being of thousands of Brooklyn residents, according to the local leader of the union representing 3,300 Downstate employees.

“These layoffs will impose unnecessary pain on the thousands of residents of Central Brooklyn who rely on Downstate for vital health care services,” said UUP Downstate Chapter President Rowena Blackman-Stroud, who fears that the layoffs affecting temporary and part-time employees are just the tip of the iceberg. “We understand this is merely the first wave of what could be as many as 1,000 layoffs. You cannot possibly slash the payroll and continue to deliver life-saving health care services that many residents cannot access elsewhere.”

Blackman-Stroud also said the layoffs spell the start of a devastating downturn to the neighborhood’s economy.

“The job losses announced today and more we believe are on the way will devastate Brooklyn’s already weak economy. More families will lose their homes to foreclosure, more small businesses will shut down, and the borough’s already high unemployment rates will skyrocket.”

Blackman-Stroud urged Gov. Andrew Cuomo to intervene to stop any and all layoffs at Downstate, and is asking Brooklyn’s state legislative delegation to seek the governor’s involvement.

“Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said job creation was one of his highest priorities. I don’t understand how the state can take action to reduce employment in this economically distressed area—we need more jobs, not fewer jobs in Brooklyn,” Blackman-Stroud said.

Downstate is a major academic medical center for health education, research and patient care—and is the only public teaching hospital in Brooklyn. It serves Brooklyn’s 2.5 million residents, as well as patients from Staten Island and Queens.

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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