June 5, 2018

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UUP kicks off Contract Information Tour in Cobleskill

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UUP’s last contract with the state listed three zeroes when it came to raises, and stipulated SUNY employees would work two days without pay and seven more that they wouldn’t be paid for until the pact ended some three years later.

UUP President Fred Kowal had a far different story for the more than 70 Cobleskill Chapter members that gathered June 5 to hear Kowal and members of UUP’s Negotiations Team explain the union’s new tentative contract agreement with the state.

“What I can tell you today is there are no zeros, there are no lag days, there are no furlough days, and there are no major shifts in health care costs, Kowal said. “I believe this is a contract that you’ll be happy with.”

Details of the agreement are available on UUP’s Contract Negotiations web page.

The lunchtime meeting, at SUNY Cobleskill, marked the start of UUP’s Contract Information Tour. The tour, which will run through July, will bring members of UUP’s Negotiations Team and its statewide officers to campuses across the state to explain and answer questions about the tentative six-year agreement.

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Negotiations Team member Bret Benjamin, above with Counsel to the President Elizabeth Hough, fielded questions at the meeting. He was joined by Team members Anne Wiegard and Cobleskill Chapter President Bill Tusang. Three statewide officers—Vice President for Professionals Tom Tucker, Secretary Jeri O’Bryan-Losee, and Membership Development Officer Tom Hoey—also attended.

Agreement details

Highlights of the tentative agreement include:

      • 2 percent salary increases each year of the contract, retroactive to July 2016;
      • Inclusion of the state’s Family Paid Leave provision in UUP’s contract—making it New York’s first public-sector union to negotiate the policy;
      • Beginning in 2019, a minimum starting salary for part-time academics at SUNY state-operated campuses for each three-credit course they teach;
      • A new compensation provision that establishes on-base funds, allowing UUP to address salary compression and inequity at campuses statewide;
      • The reestablishment of on-base discretionary salary income increases;
      • Provisions to address hospital on-call and holiday pay; and
      • Access to a yearly grant to help members pay for their child’s education at a SUNY state-operated campuses.

Making history

The six-year pact is the longest in the union’s 45-year history, Kowal said. He called the inclusion of a miminum starting salary for adjuncts “a historic achievement” for UUP. While the minimum isn’t as high as union negotiators had hoped, it’s a provision UUP has been fighting to establish for decades.

“We got the principle in place, so when we go back to the table, we can expand on this,” said Kowal. “This is a major win, and one we can build on.”

Kowal, a former Cobleskill Chapter president who’s taught at the college since 1985, credited the governor and AFT President Randi Weingarten—who spoke with Cuomo on UUP’s behalf—for helping UUP reach the finish line on an agreement.

“The leadership of AFT was crucial in working with the governor to push him to lean on SUNY and make sure we got the best contract possible,” said Kowal, who prefaced his remarks by reminding Cobleskill members of UUP’s public battles with the governor over the last few years. “The governor wanted us to have the best contract possible, and I must give credit where credit is due.”

UUP and the state signed the tentative deal May 23; the union’s Negotiations Committee approved it May 24. Ballots will be sent via U.S. Mail to members Aug. 3; the ratification vote is set for Sept. 5.

If ratified, the contract would take effect immediately and run through July 1, 2022. It would be retroactive to July 2, 2016, which is when the union’s current contract expired; UUP has been without a new contract since then.

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