Dec. 16, 2015
Negotiations Team, Committee hear member concerns
UUP’s contract negotiations process took a major step forward Dec. 16, as the Ad Hoc Advisory Committee reported on members’ priorities to the Negotiations Team and Negotiations Committee.
The Ad Hoc Advisory Committee consists of two representatives—one academic and one professional employee—nominated from each chapter. These chapter representatives are charged with compiling and presenting concerns of their chapter’s membership for consideration as potential UUP proposals.
“I think people are optimistic,” said Philippe Abraham, UUP’s chief negotiator and vice president for professionals, above. “They are working hard to make a difference, and this is very positive. I think we’re off to a great start.”
UUP President Fred Kowal greeted the more than 100 volunteers in the negotiations process and thanked them for their work. He also told them that when he finally signs a new agreement with the state, he will do so knowing that it reflects the best possible effort of all three committees charged with achieving a new collective bargaining agreement.
“The work of negotiating a contract for 35,000 hardworking public servants is the most important work of the union,” Kowal told the gathering. “This is as serious as it gets. We will go forward and we will get the best contract that we can, as long as we work together and are committed.”
Thorough member input
Collectively, member concerns presented during the gathering ranged from system-wide topics such as health insurance costs, salary levels and discretionary increases, and the work conditions and pay levels of adjunct faculty; to more localized campus concerns, such as parking costs incurred by members at off-campus work sites.
The meeting, held in the NYSUT and UUP headquarters building in Latham, followed months of additional outreach to gather member input for negotiations. Members were invited to complete a survey and suggestion form, with the suggestion form offering an opportunity for them to provide detailed anecdotal accounts of employment issues.
UUP also encouraged members to attend and speak up at an open hearing at the UUP Fall Delegate Assembly, and Negotiations Team members conducted chapter visits during the fall semester. Informal consultations with members also figured into the process: Committee and Team members wore name badges with special ribbons at the fall DA, to make it easier for delegates to identify them and engage them.
The Negotiations Team and Negotiations Committee will convene Jan. 19-21, 2016, to review the results of the Negotiations Survey and other member responses, so that they can create a package of negotiations proposals. UUP’s Negotiations Team and state representatives are expected to exchange proposals for negotiations in the spring.
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