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For Immediate Release
December 22, 2020

Statement by United University Professions President Frederick E. Kowal on the approval of a federal COVID-19 relief package

“We are grateful to Sen. Charles Schumer for his staunch support of SUNY and the crucial services provided by UUP members throughout the system, and especially at the three public teaching hospitals, in delivering the necessary COVID-19 relief package. We appreciate his tireless tenacity and the work of Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and a bipartisan congressional delegation for making this aid a reality.

"The Education Stabilization Fund delivers $5.8 billion to New York’s educational institutions. Higher education will receive $1.4 billion and a share of $313 million set aside for the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund. This funding is an important first step in providing higher education in New York with support necessary to weather this pandemic.

“Now, the work falls to the leaders of New York to take up the remaining recovery efforts so desperately needed across the state. UUP and our coalition partners will continue to press New York leaders for an investment in SUNY’s institutions from revenue-raisers in the state budget.

“Our institutions continue to face massive COVID-19-related revenue losses as they struggle to absorb costs associated with keeping our students, our members, and our communities safe. Without more funding, this revenue hole will drive cuts, including the loss of talented academic and professional staff who provide the quality education and support SUNY students deserve.

“From the first days of the pandemic, our members at SUNY’s academic medical centers have placed their own health and safety on the line to provide care to critically ill patients, without hazard pay or other additional compensation to recognize these efforts.

“It is our hope that the $1.6 billion coming to New York state for COVID relief and the additional $1 billion for hospitals and health centers will be quickly distributed to our SUNY hospitals and other hospital networks. We also hope that some part of this funding can be used to provide our members with the hazard compensation these frontline workers so rightfully deserve.

“We appreciate the efforts of Sen. Schumer and our congressional representatives to secure this crucial funding for New York. But this remains just a first step. We anxiously await actions by President Biden to engage Congress on additional aid packages, and we will work diligently with leadership in Albany to take bold action for New York’s future.”

UUP is the nation's largest higher education union, with more than 42,000 academic and professional faculty and retirees. UUP members work at 29 New York state-operated campuses, including SUNY’s public teaching hospitals and health science centers in Brooklyn, Long Island and Syracuse. It is an affiliate of NYSUT, the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association, and the AFL-CIO.


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