Archive for United University Professions

Times Herald-Record Editorial: Conflicts at SUNY New Paltz Cry Out for a Real Leader

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A place that once offered a prime example of good town-gown relations has suffered yet another blow with a conflict over the role the SUNY New Paltz president is playing as a board member of Central Hudson Gas & Electric.

Donald Christian was appointed to the board in the spring, about the time that another controversy was growing, this one over a request for large tax breaks from a company that wants to build housing for students, faculty and staff.

Now, just in time for students to return and start paying attention, the president of the college teachers union has said that both the lack of information about the president’s board appointment and some of the explanations that have been offered add up to what appears to be “a serious conflict of interest.”

It starts with money. Board members are paid, but Central Hudson as a private company does not have to disclose the amount. You would think that Christian would be comfortable with revealing the size of the paycheck, especially since he said he intended to establish a scholarship endowment with the money. Instead, he referred questions to the company, which refused to answer. That might work well for private corporations, but not for public institutions dedicated to the free and open exchange of ideas.

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Read entire editorial here.

SUNY New Paltz President Slammed for Board Appointment

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NEW PALTZ — The president of SUNY New Paltz’s teachers union has charged that SUNY New Paltz President Donald Christian’s appointment to Central Hudson Gas & Electric’s board of directors constitutes “a serious conflict of interest.”

Peter Brown, president of the local chapter of the 900-member University United Professions union also criticized Christian for refusing to say how much money the Central Hudson position represents.

“It’s clearly a conflict of interest, serving on a privately owned utility’s board whose only interest is in maximizing profits while also being president of a public institution which needs to minimize its energy consumption.”

That energy bill, Brown said, amounts to roughly $2 million a year.

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Read more of Jeremiah Horrigan’s article in the Times Herald-Record here:

AFT Demands an End to Exploitation of Contingent Faculty

aftThe American Federation of Teachers (AFT), UUP’s national affiliate with 1.6 million members, issued a strong call for “ending the exploitation of contingent faculty.” At SUNY New Paltz, fully half of the teaching faculty are contingents, with over 200 part-time adjuncts and some 70 full-time lecturers.

In a series of resolutions passed at AFT’s convention, meeting July 11-14 in Los Angeles, AFT demanded pay equity for contingents, including compensation for class preparation time and office hours. Further demands include:

• Equitable access to employee benefits;

• Access to and compensation for opportunities for professional development;

• Meaningful job security, including job security comparable to tenure, long-term academic appointment contracts or certificates of continuing employment, which guarantee the presumption of rehiring;

• Opportunities for career advancement, including conversion opportunities to full-time, tenure-track positions;

• Enforceable standards for the timely notification of teaching appointments;

• Protections for academic freedom, regardless of tenure status; and

• Full inclusion in and compensation for participation in all institutional work, including service, research and governance.

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Statement by UUP President Fred Kowal on Harris v. Quinn ruling

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On June 30, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 on Harris v. Quinn, a long-awaited case that could have gutted unions by barring them from collecting agency fees from non-members.

The case was brought by a group of Illinois home-care workers who refused to pay their fair share of their union’s costs to represent them in collective bargaining agreements. The court ruled that the home-care workers should be considered as “partial public employees,” and not be forced to pay their fair share—known in New York as agency fee—even though they would still be represented by their union.

In essence, these home-care workers would be “free riders,” contrary to the Supreme Court’s landmark 1977 case Abood vs. Detroit Board of Education, which asserted labor’s constitutional right to collect dues and collectively bargain for public workers.

UUP’s ability to represent its 35,000 members isn’t impaired by the Harris ruling, which does not apply to “full-fledged” public employees such as SUNY academics and professionals, teachers, police officers and firemen who work in the public sector.

Strong anti-union forces bankrolled and supported the case. The National Right to Work Committee Legal Defense Fund represented the home-care workers. The Legal Defense Fund is linked with the billionaire Koch brothers, the American Legislative Exchange Council and the Cato Institute, among other anti-union advocates.

Read entire article here.