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July 15, 2010

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Message from the President


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Dear members,

On May 10, state legislators passed an emergency spending bill necessary to keep the state operating until a new state budget is approved. Tucked into that weekly bill was Gov. David Paterson’s plan to furlough unionized state employees one day per week until the state budget is passed.

Many UUP members are impacted by the furloughs, which begin Monday, May 17.

I am disappointed and frustrated over this turn of events. But know this: we will fight this unlawful act with all administrative and legal means at our disposal.

Our attorneys have filed a temporary restraining order as part of a lawsuit in Federal Court today to block the furloughs. We will also file a contract grievance and an improper practice charge to protect our members.

We will not stand still for this blatant breach of our contract.

Last week, I reached out to the governor’s office and asked to speak with Gov. Paterson about alternatives to the furloughs. A staff person from the governor’s office told me today that Gov. Paterson is not interested in negotiating alternatives right now, despite his public claims to the contrary.

That’s what we know.

Waiting for details

What we don’t know are details on how SUNY will implement the furloughs. SUNY has been silent on that. What we can tell you is once furloughs begin, members who are told by their managers to take a mandatory day off should comply with that directive. Otherwise, members should report for work.

Some state workers have been asked to sign waivers, which, in essence, would give employers permission to furlough them. Do not sign anything!

Also, there have been reports about Gov. Paterson offering to pull the furloughs if unions give back their pay raises. The governor has not spoken to us about this.

Soon, we will post a Q&A page on the UUP website with detailed information about the furloughs. For your information, here's a list of how every legislator voted on the furlough plan. Please check the website (http://www.uupinfo.org) frequently for updates and more information.

Remember in November

Fighting the furloughs isn’t just a courtroom battle. This is everyone’s battle.

That’s why I’m calling on you, as UUPers, to renew your union activism on a local level. Visit your legislators and tell them what you think about the furlough plan.

Or go to our Call To Action page on the UUP website and send a letter to your legislator to fight the furloughs.

If your legislators voted against the furloughs, thank them. If they voted for the furloughs, tell them we at UUP know how they voted and that we’re hopeful they’ll do the right thing next time; lawmakers must approve the furloughs each week to keep the plan active.

Tell them this: we will remember in November.

Spread the word to students, parents, businessmen and other unionized workers in your area that the furloughs are illegal and breach our contract with the state. Organize rallies, marches and other public events to let lawmakers know that we will fight the furloughs in court, on our campuses and in our communities.

It is time to sound the clarion call. Together we will fight the furloughs and stand tall for our members and as a union.

In union,
Phil

 


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