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May 22, 2012

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Fighting for FOIL and Downstate


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UUP President Phil Smith, above, urges union advocates preparing for NYSUT's Committee of 100 advocacy day to press for approval of the FOIL bill and take action to save jobs at Downstate's University Hospital in the wake of a restructuring plan.

Smith said the passage of legislation requiring the SUNY Research Foundation and SUNY campus foundations to comply with the state's Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) and the fight to save Downstate's University Hospital—the union's top priorities—are intertwined.

"We need the FOIL bill to unlock what's happening at Downstate," Smith said, explaining that SUNY and Downstate Medical University officials have been very secretive about possible plans for significant job reductions.

"We need to pull out all the stops, because if we leave here without this FOIL bill, what's happening at Downstate could happen at any SUNY campus where they could create foundations to outsource jobs," Smith said. "We need continued pressure."

More than 20 UUP advocates carried that message May 22 as they joined about 400 union sisters and brothers from NYSUT for dozens of meetings with lawmakers.

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During one meeting, UUP Outreach Committee Chair Gideon Dunkley of Downstate appealed to Assemblyman Nick Perry (D-Brooklyn) to stop possible job reductions at Downstate. Perry said he was very concerned.

"I want to stay on top of this issue," he said.

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UUPer Derrik Decker of Fredonia was among those who met with Sen. Cathy Young (R-Olean) during another session with state legislators.

Lawmakers widely expressed support for the FOIL bill, which UUP hopes will be enacted before the Legislature's scheduled June 21 recess.


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