Chapter members rally the governor for adequate funding
The UUP delegates took time out of their busy schedules at the Winter Delegate Assembly on Friday January 31st. Approximately 400 delegates from the SUNY campuses descended on the capital and braved the frigid temperatures to send our message to the governor and the legislature. The state is in a serious budget crisis and we have to ensure that our message reaches the legislature and the governor. It is imperitive that EVERY VISITOR TO THIS WEBSITE go to UUPINFO.ORG and fax the governor and your local legislator and tell them SUNY is the $olution!!
In this toughest-ever budget battle, UUP achieved some extremely significant gains!
What follows is our first-pass analysis of what's in the more-than 700 page Executive Budget, slated to be enacted sometime tomorrow, Tuesday, 3/31.
-"Fair Share" Tax Reform is included in this Budget and will help stabilize revenue and make the tax system more progressive. An estimated $4 billion will be raised by increasing taxes for those earning $200,000 in adjusted gross income as single payers and $300,000 as joint filers.
-In an agreement that UUP fought extremely hard for, the Budget provides that $75 million from SUNY's unallocated reserves will be available to preserve access to student programs and to protect campus positions, which include full- and part-time faculty and staff.
-The Legislature rejected the Governor's plan to merge The New York State Theatre Institute (NYSTI) with "The Egg."
-The Legislature restored cuts to SUNY's university-wide programs--except for the Levin Institute--by adding back $17.4 million. The Governor's Budget also provides that EOP and EOCs are spared cuts originally proposed by SUNY. In the next few days, I'll send out a list enumerating the above program restorations.
-The Legislature agreed to a $620 increase in SUNY tuition for '09-'10, with 20 percent of it retained for SUNY. The Legislature also provides a new plan for escalating tuition retention in subsequent years allowing SUNY to keep: 30 percent in '10-'11; 40 percent in '11-'12; and 50 percent in '12-'13. This is a significant gain that implements UUP's recent proposal to the Governor, DOB, and the Legislature to phase-in tuition revenues for the benefit of our campuses.
-While the Legislature went along with the proposed $25 million cut to the SUNY hospital state subsidy, the state will use this money to leverage an increase in federal monies for disproportionate share payments (DSH) to these hospitals in the approximate amount of $48 million. More specific information will follow when we fully decipher how the Stimulus Plan and Medicaid Package impact our hospitals. On the positive side, it appears that our hospitals will benefit by some $30 million per year from the Stimulus Plan's "rebasing" program. However, there are potential downsides for our hospitals from the new Gross Receipts (Sick) Tax of 0.35%, and from what appears to be a redirection of federal Graduate Medical Education (GME) dollars. Again more information will be forthcoming, as a clearer picture of hospital funding evolves.
-The Legislature rejected proposals for a Tier V retirement plan for new hires. There was no cut to Retiree Medicare Part B Premium Reimbursement to state retirees; and, there was no cut to state employee retiree health insurance based on years of service.
-The Legislature rejected all proposals for SUNY flexibility.
-There is no provision to seek elimination of negotiated pay increases for state employees or to create a new state employee pay lag.
-In what may well be a "message to SUNY," the Legislature provided an additional $20 million in operating aid to CUNY's senior colleges. Our speculation is that this "add" will restore the reserve funds CUNY tapped in preserving it's programs, access for students, and faculty and campus jobs. SUNY was asked to tap $40 million of its reserves to aid operating expenses, but it chose to pass that amount along to campuses as a cut under the BAP formula.
Overall, this is a very reasonable outcome in the face of very difficult fiscal circumstances. And, in stark contrast to how other state agencies fared, SUNY came out fairly well, indeed!
I want to send my heartfelt thanks to all of you who have contributed so much to UUP's success in these trying times. Did we make it happen? Yes, we did!
Steven Geenhouse Speaks about the "Big Squeeze"
Steven Greenhouse makes his case at the HSC lecture
On March 24 2009, Steven Greenhouse spoke to an enthusiastic audience of HSC chapter members about the declining state of the american worker. Mr Greenhouse, a NY Times labor correspondant and Author of the best selling book "The big squeeze, tough times for the american worker. Throughout the lecture, Mr. Greenhouse held the audience's attention with tales of unconscienable offenses against the working class.
UUP Chapter members join in the Walk for Beauty
UUP Members brave the rain to walk for cancer
Several dedicated UUP members took to the streets in nasty weather to show their support for the "Walk for beauty. This breast cancer walk generates funding for breast cancer research and prevention and ties in with the UUP HSC chapter's mission of supporting a wide variety of community causes.
Ora Bouey from HSC School of Nursing receives AFT Living the Legacy award
HSC President Kathy Southerton with award winner Ora Bouey
Ora Bouey from the Shcool of Nursing has received the AFT's Living the Legacy award for 2008. Ora is currently an academic delegate to the UUP delegate assembly and has been a long-time UUP and nursing activist. As part of the continuing celebration of the 150th anniversary of women's rights in the United States, the AFT Women's Rights Committee presents "Living the Legacy Awards" to AFT women members who have:
Provided leadership and demonstrated interest in issues of women's rights;
maintained multiple decades of involvement in local, state and national AFT affiliates;
worked in the trade union movement;
acted as mentors, coaches & role models for other women; and
been recognized as a leader in her own community.
Participate in Member Interest Survey
For the first time ever we are using a web-based survey to collect data on member interests. Our chapter has the opportunity to hve lunch and learn seminars presented by Liberty Mutual presented to our members at the dates and times and at the locations our members would like. Please participate in the process so that all of our members can be served. Please participate in the survey and come to a seminar chosen by you, the members. The survey can be found here
Funding Crisis Update
The UUP "Action Plan" for calling attention to the $109M spending caps on SUNY has been gaining a lot of attention. I'm sending you some links to
recent news articles, plus some other information that shows our plan has gained a lot of traction.
In today's Buffalo News, there's an OpEd piece by me on the effect of DOB's plan on the state economy. You can see it here:
I also have on my desk two important letters. The SUNY Alumni Legislative Caucus has sent a letter to Gov. Patterson asking him to "ensure a fair
and reasonable outcome for SUNY" in the DOB plan. And, another letter signed by nearly 30 legislators (both Democrats and Republicans) are
asking the governor to "reconsider the $109M mandated cuts" to SUNY.
The NYSUT "Committee of 100," which numbers nearly 900, did a fantastic job of talking with legislators about the need to protect SUNY during their
visit to the LOB last Tuesday. Naturally, many of your UUP colleagues were there as part of that "committee" and played a prominent role in making
our case. My personal Thanks! to all UUPers who were there.
Our ad in nearly 20 newspapers across the state has generated nearly 6,000 faxes to the governor. And our Facebook page has almost 2,000 SUNY
students gathered in a "virtual rally" (meaning they, too, are sending faxes).
The UUP Delegate assembly was held on May 1-3 at the Desmond Hotel in Albany. The assembly was attended by almost 300 delegates representing all of the chapters throughout the state. It was a banner assembly for Stony Brook HSC in that Carolyn Kube was elected to the statewide executive board, Ed Drummond was recognized for his work and dedication to affirmative action and this website won an award.
Carolyn Served for the past 2 years on the UUP negotiations team and has been actively involved with womens and family leave issues on the statewide level for several years. In addition she serves as the chapter representative to the statewide part-time concerns committee. At the chapter level, she is the elected part-time concerns officer and chairs the local committee. She also serves locally on the greivance, professional issues and membership committees. Ms Kube will be a valuable voice at he statewide level for the chapter.
Former president Edward (Ed) Drummond was recognized at the delegate assembly as well for his tireless efforts to ensure that affirmative action was alive and well at Stony Brook as well as throughout SUNY. Ed remains a devoted champion of this cause and was able to make a significant difference over the years. Although Ed has retired from his position at SUNY he is very much an active member of the chapter and should be a role model for future leaders. His presence on campus is missed but luckily his activism and devotion to affirmative action and unionism remain and hopefully he will be around to mentor those members that want to make a difference in the future.
Finally, this website won an honorable mention for best website in the 2008 journalism contest. As the webmaster, I appreciate the acknowlegment of the work that goes into maintaining the site on a regular basis to keep it relevant. But most of all I owe thanks to you, the members, I know that you appreciate a reliable source of information, so... this ones for you!
UUP kicks off first chapter blood drive
Bloodbank director Dennis Galanakis and pheresis nurse Nina Usher flank UUP president Phil Smith during his donation to kick off the UUP blood drive
Bloodbank donor coordinator Jennifer Peace displays a blood drive poster as Phil smith donates
The first, of hopefully many, UUP blood drives in cooperation with the University Hospital Bloodbank kicked off today with UUP statewide president Phil Smith donating the first unit. Phil was greeted in the bloodbank by Jennifer Peace and director Dennis Galanakis. After the customary questions and administrative formalities, Phil began his donation to help support the blood needs at University hospital.
Phil Smith is a frequent blood donor, albeit not so far from Albany. He is in complete support of what the chapter is trying to accomplish and wholeheartedly supports blood donation.
The UUP blood drive is taking place 5/12, 5/13 and 5/16 and those interested in participating can call 444-donate to schedule an appointment. In addition, all units collected through the UH donor room stay at UHMC and are utlized by our patients.
intent is to eventually sweep the money into the general fund thus adding another mechanism of closing the budget gap. This is however an extremely flawed plan that could have devastating effects on the SUNY campuses as well as the teaching hospitals. The end result could be loss of jobs, losses in university programs, reduced faculty and increased class sizes with less professorial contact.
Each member is ureged to send the faxes and voice our outrage at this devastating and ill conceived plan.
On Wednesday March 26 NYSUT Labor relations specialist William Capowski along with Statewide Vice President For Professionals, John Marino addressed a full room of UUP members regarding management of their careers. The topics for the day were performance programs, evaluations, the evaluation review process and the promoton process. Two sessions were held to educate as many members as possible. As John Marino so aptly put it "Knowledge is power.".
NYSUT SPECIALIST ADDRESSES BOARD
NYSUT Health & Safety specialist Wendy Hord addresses the chapter executive board regarding issues of internal air quality. Ms. Hord was invited to speak to the board to inform them of air quality problem causes and solutions. This in response to recent air quality issues in the HSC and hospital. Ms Hord's one hour talk was very enlightening and informative.
ORP Law to be implemented
As you know, in last year's Legislative Session, a bill was passed reducing the payroll deduction of the 3% Optional Retirement Program (eg. TIAA-CREF, etc.) by 1% per year for members having ten (10) or more years of service. That implementation is due to take effect in April '08. The full implementation will occur over a three-year period; payroll deductions will go from 3% down to 0%.
We just got word back from Office of the State Comptroller regarding the payroll bulletin date, and the date actual reductions will hit eligible paychecks: Quoting from the note from the OSC: "The payroll bulletin is expected to be issued within the next three weeks. We anticipate implementation in paychecks dated 4/2/08."
This means that eligible employees (i.e. those with 10 or more years in the ORP will see a 1% increase in their take-home pay as of the above date. It's my understanding that when members with less than 10 years of service hit that mark deductions will automatically be reduced to 0%.
Phil Smith, President UUP
Bill would grant state workers the right to sue their employer
By LAUREN DARSON
Legislative Gazette Staff Writer
Mon, May 7, 2007
In 1938 New York passed its first laws strengthening workers’ rights. Since then laws have been adopted to protect workers who become disabled from exploitation, but these labor laws exclude one major employer: the state.
New York state exempted itself from four major labor laws, making it virtually impossible for workers to sue the state for compensation or for violations of labor laws. Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton, D,WF-Ithaca, said the state has gotten away with these exemptions for too long and has dodged many lawsuits.
“History has proven that states’ rights has too often meant states’ wrongs. Let us not return to the good ole days that were really not so good for many, many Americans,” said Lifton.
Lifton’s bill (A.7653) would amend The Fair Labor Stands Act of 1938, The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, The Age Discrimination of Employment Act of 1967 and The Family Medical Leave Act of 1993 to waive the state’s sovereign immunity so workers can sue the state for damages due to violations of these laws.
The laws protect workers from abuses by private sector employers, but not by the state because nine years ago the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in separate cases that lawsuits against a state by its residents should be settled within the state and attempts to pass federal laws changing that would exceed Congress’ power. As a result, the Supreme Court left the decision to waive immunity to these labor laws up to the states, and New York decided to immune itself, creating disparity among New York employees.
“Private businesses are subject to those laws — an individual can sue their employer for discrimination. But right now in most states employees can’t sue their employer for these violations if their employer is the state,” Lifton said. “This is a contradiction and an injustice that should not continue.”
Lifton was joined by several other Assembly members who co-sponsored the bill. Assembly members Michelle Titus, D-Queens, Susan John, D-Rochester, and Steven Englebright, D-Setauket, said the bill should be enacted in order to protect all workers, young and old, able bodied and disabled.
“The Civil War is over and all citizens should have equal rights,” said Englebright, who chairs the Assembly aging committee.
John said the state should be held accountable for its actions and should be held to the same standards as private sector employers.
“We have to make sure that New York state treats her employees with the same respect that we expect from other employees,” said John, who chairs the labor committee.
Lifton’s bill is being supported by the United University Professions union, which represents 32,000 academic and professional faculty at State University of New York’s campuses. UUP said Lifton’s efforts should be commended because state employees’ rights should not be continuously violated.
“Shielding state government from such lawsuits is an injustice and makes state employees second-class citizens. State employees are denied the means to enforce their rights under these laws,” said William Scheuerman, UUP president.
Lifton said she is working with Senate Republicans to have the bill introduced in the Senate, and she expects the bill will be brought to the Assembly floor on May 21.
Hospital Privitization Update
The New York Times
May 10, 2007
Legislators Ask to Revise Plan for Hospitals
By NICHOLAS CONFESSORE
ALBANY, May 9 - The Republican and Democratic leaders of the State Legislature said Wednesday that they wanted Gov. Eliot Spitzer to reconsider a plan approved last year to close, merge or shrink dozens of hospitals across the state.
The comments by Joseph L. Bruno, the Senate majority leader, and Sheldon Silver, the Assembly speaker, came during and after a public meeting that Mr. Spitzer convened to identify legislation that might win approval before the end of the legislative session in six weeks.
While they disagreed on some other issues, Mr. Bruno and Mr. Silver appeared to agree when it came to hospital closings, an issue so contentious and polarizing in Albany that lawmakers created a commission to handle it.
Last year, that commission - formally called the Commission on Health Care Facilities in the 21st Century - proposed a sweeping reorganization of the state’s hospitals through closings, mergers, downsizing, the elimination of some services, and the addition of others. The plan elicited sharp criticism from hospital executives and local elected officials, who pledged to fight it. But Mr. Spitzer, then the governor-elect, said he supported the plan, and the State Legislature, despite some grumbling, allowed it to take effect.
On Wednesday, however, Mr. Bruno said the commission’s recommendations were up for reconsideration. “We have to look at the ramifications of what we did and correct it,” he said. “We’re governing here on a daily basis. You don’t govern once a year.”
Mr. Silver said that his members were unhappy with some of the recommendations of the commission, and that it “should not be the end-all and the be-all.”
He also said that key Assembly lawmakers were in discussions with the state Department of Health regarding modifying some of the commission’s proposals, for example, by keeping open some hospitals that would have been closed and by reconfiguring some mergers so that other hospitals could continue to offer specific kinds of care.
Some of the hospitals under discussion, Mr. Silver said, are in Buffalo, Syracuse, Stony Brook and Brooklyn. Ultimately, he said, the Legislature would need to approve a new law for some of the changes.
“The governor has indicated we should have these conversations with the Health Department and go forward and see what we can do,” Mr. Silver said.
But at a news conference later in the day, Mr. Spitzer suggested that those discussions were fairly limited in scope. “I don’t think the Berger commission recommendations will be reversed or revised,” he said, referring to the commission by the name of its chairman, Stephen Berger. “The issue now is implementing the Berger commission recommendations in a way that shows sensitivity to the communities affected in terms of the continuity of care, in terms of the financing of institutions and job retention that is affected thereby.”
Mr. Spitzer and leaders of the Legislature did find some common ground.
They agreed to tackle a law on where to build power plants, legislation to overhaul state authorities, and Mr. Spitzer’s proposal to have healthier food at schools. But the meeting, though cordial, also betrayed lingering disagreements over some major issues and legislation, not limited to hospital closings.
As he has often done in the past few weeks, Mr. Bruno again made clear - somewhat impatiently this time - that he did not share the governor’s top priority, stricter campaign finance laws.
“I would recommend we move past that because it’s going to bog us down,” Mr. Bruno said.
Later in the day, Mr. Spitzer, however, held a news conference with government watchdog groups to renew his call for campaign finance changes.
One of Mr. Bruno’s own priorities, reinstating the death penalty for those who murder law enforcement officers, in turn got a lukewarm reception from Mr. Silver, who said that the state’s past experiment with capital punishment was a failure. But the areas of agreement, if overshadowed by the disagreements, were still significant.
Absence of a law on the location of power plants has made it impossible to build new ones for years, despite New Yorkers’ growing appetite for electricity.
And the state’s secretive public authorities have been an enduring source of scandal, waste and fraud.
The leaders also spoke about the need to overhaul the Wicks Law, which requires school districts and others to hire at least four contractors for big construction jobs, a rule that many school officials say drives up building costs.
Mr. Spitzer also said he would look with Mr. Bruno for ways to provide more capital investment upstate. Later in the day, the governor and the Legislature announced completion of a long-awaited economic deal under which Sematech, a major consortium of semiconductor and nanotechnology companies, is setting up a headquarters in Albany in exchange for $300 million in state assistance.
But not before a few barbed lines were traded about Albany’s climate, political and otherwise.
“Look at the sky today; it’s a gorgeous day out there,” Mr. Spitzer said after urging Mr. Bruno to pass a campaign finance bill. “It’s going to rain tomorrow,” Mr. Bruno replied.
Advocacy groups for New York state’s higher education system and the state and city universities of New York applauded Gov. Eliot Spitzer and the state Legislature on their efforts to provide the system with the “best” budget they have seen in years.
The state Legislature agreed with Spitzer’s Executive Budget proposal to increase funding for SUNY’s operating budget by 6.6 percent to $143 million and CUNY’s operating budget by 4.6 percent to $71.8 million, but with an added bonus: an additional $17.5 million for SUNY’s operating aid and $17 million for CUNY’s operating aid.
“By providing additional funding in operating aid, increasing aid to community colleges and increasing funding in several other areas, the New York state Legislature and governor continue to show their commitment to public higher education,” said Casey Cannistraci, spokeswoman for SUNY.
Spitzer and the Legislature provided fiscal stability and modest growth for the university system, said Cannistraci, but if a supplemental budget is submitted, SUNY administrators hope they consider pumping more capital funding into higher education for construction and renovation of SUNY’s campuses.
The budget also provides funding to sustain the Empire Innovation Program, which helps to attract more researchers to SUNY and increases research dollar revenue.
There are no tuition increases in the final budget, but that could change in the near future depending on the suggestions of a higher education commission created by Spitzer. The commission was created this year to find a way to better fund public higher education in the future. The commission will most likely implement a rational tuition policy or an annual incremental tuition increase, according to Spitzer.
“The executive’s budget proposes no funding cuts for the university, and provides us with a firm foundation upon which to build. We will be reviewing the results of the state budget negotiations with the college presidents [this] week as we plan for continued enrollment increases at CUNY,” said Michael Arena, spokesman for CUNY.
The United University Professions, a union representing 32,000 SUNY faculty, said it is pleased with the budget because it has not seen this amount of funding for the public universities in years, saying the state took notice of their need for more full-time faculty.
“Overall it’s what we think is the best higher education budget in a generation. Most of the increase was added in Gov. Spitzer’s original budget. We’re obviously glad it was approved basically on-time because our members and the SUNY campuses know what funds are coming their way,” said Don Feldstein, spokesman for UUP.
The union and SUNY and CUNY representatives spoke at joint budget hearings months ago to discuss their need for hundreds of new full-time faculty in order to provide a better education for their students. According to the UUP, state-run universities would have to hire 2,000 more full time faculty members to catch up to the student-to-professor ratio they should be at.
This past year, CUNY has hired 69 full-time professors, but has hired 1,577 part-time adjuncts, which is a 25 percent increase from past years. Meanwhile, SUNY has hired about 200 full-time faculty members.
Despite the increase in funding this year, SUNY and CUNY have only seen an increase in funding for the past two years and still have catching up to do in order to be as well funded as it was in the past. In 1990 the state provided about 75 percent of SUNY’s budget, but now it only funds about 51 percent, according to UUP. Spitzer is hoping the higher education commission will help to develop a plan to help fund the institution without having the burden placed on the state.
Funding for the Tuition Assistance Program was not cut in this year’s budget and the Legislature made changes to the program to allow students to take up to 24 credits a semester and it will pay for a remedial course as opposed to before.
“We’re quite happy with the recognition on the part of the Legislature and the governor that TAP is very important to the students and to the economy. That has always been our main goal, to keep TAP a strong one,” said Ellen Hollander, president of the Association of Proprietary Colleges, a union that lobbied the Legislature earlier this session to make these changes.
Increasing TAP awards was not included in this year’s budget making it the seventh year that TAP has not been given extra funding.
“It’s not like TAP covers their tuition bill, we represent students who work, support families and take out loans in addition to TAP. We’re disappointed about that aspect of broadening TAP. We’re not keeping up with the rising cost of education, TAP is covering a smaller and smaller part of tuition. As TAP stays the same education tuition continues to rise,” said Hollander.
Others like the Commission on Independent College and Universities said they too were disappointed about the lack of extra TAP funding.
“Like a lot of things in life there are some wins and some losses. We have gone seven years without receiving any increase in TAP,” said Abe Lackman, president of the commission.
Lackman said that the union will continue their fight to increase TAP and hope that after eight years without a TAP increase, the state will catch up to inflation rates.
United University Professions is the union representing nearly 30,000 academic and professional faculty on 29 state-operated State University of New York campuses, plus Central Administration, Empire State College, and the New York State Theatre Institute. The women and men who make up UUP educate the next generation of workers and leaders. They also engage in groundbreaking research and provide invaluable service to their communities.
United University Professions. HSC L5-572 Nicolls Rd, Stony Brook, New York, 11794-8553. (631) 444-1505. For questions about this web site, contact the webmaster, Bruce Kube