July 15, 2016
UUP, state exchange contract proposals, open negotiations
With a year’s worth of preparation to back their efforts, the UUP Negotiations Team met with the state July 15 to exchange proposals and begin the bargaining process for a new contract.
UUP Chief Negotiator Philippe Abraham, second from left, shakes hands with Joe Bress, the state's chief negotiator at the morning meeting at The Desmond Hotel in Albany. UUP President Fred Kowal is at left; Michael Volforte, interim director of the Governor's Office of Employee Relations, is at right. Liesl Zwicklbauer, SUNY's assistant vice chancellor for employee relations, is at Volforte's left. UUP's Negotiations Team is standing behind them.
“It’s the most important work that we at UUP do throughout the entire year,” UUP President Fred Kowal said as the two sides assembled in a hotel conference room. “I think we’re all after the same thing – what can best benefit the services we all provide.”
With that, the two sides signed copies of the ground rules for negotiations, and began their work behind closed doors.
The UUP Negotiations Team, above, and Negotiations Committee have spent the past year soliciting input from members in a complex process designed to capture as complete a picture as possible of members’ concerns. The Negotiations Committee, which includes a representative from each UUP chapter plus an additional part-time academic and part-time professional, approved the contract proposals in April. That was followed by a round of campus meetings and then presentations by the Ad Hoc Advisory Committee, which solicited their colleagues’ input on negotiations priorities.
Abraham, UUP’s vice president for professionals, has promised periodic updates during the talks, even though specifics will remain confidential.
“Every round of talks is different,” he has told members. “Obviously, our goal is to get the best agreement possible for our members.”
In addition to the Negotiations Team's chapter visits last fall and reports from presentations by the Ad Hoc Advisory Committee, members of the Negotiations Team and Negotiations Committee obtained input from members through a survey, discussions at UUP gatherings such as the Delegate Assemblies, and reports from UUP statewide committees. While not every individual concern can become part of negotiations, Abraham has assured the members that every concern has been weighed.
The union’s five-year contract with the state expired July 1.
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