UUP Bulletins

Maintaining Your Health Benefits Due to Retrenchment or Non-Renewal from SUNY

Health insurance is an enormous concern for anyone facing retrenchment or nonrenewal. When you receive a termination notice from SUNY, please contact the campus Health Benefits Administrator to verify the date your healthcare coverage will end and to obtain information on your healthcare options as loss of coverage is considered a qualifying event for enrollment in other options. This Guide to Maintaining Your Health Benefits Due to Retrenchment or Non-Renewal from SUNY includes some of the options that you can choose from to maintain health benefits

Voting and the UUP 2020 Election Website

Even if you think you are already registered, it’s important to check to be certain!

Important Links:

UUP 2020 Elections Webpage:

On this page, you will find information on how to participate in get out the vote efforts in New York and nationally. UUP is partnering with AFT to host “UUP Swing State Solidarity Phone Calls” every Saturday, Wednesday and Thursday, starting this Saturday, Oct. 10. You can learn more and sign up to make calls here. Through AFT, UUP members also have a great opportunity to host “Get Out The Vote Events” and request materials. More information can be found here.

The UUP 2020 Elections Webpage also includes links to key resources including UUP’s 2020 Elections Social Media ToolkitBiden/Harris Talking Points, and information about New York State absentee and early voting.

Election day is less than 30 days away. Please join us in these important efforts.

Spread the word!

All registered voters in New York can request an absentee ballot if they are concerned about COVID-19. If you plan to vote via absentee ballot, plan ahead and request your ballot now! Returned ballots must be postmarked by Election Day.

Choose the voting method that works for you: By absentee ballot, in-person early voting, or in-person voting on Election Day, November 3. Early voting will take place Oct. 24- Nov. 1 in New York.

You can make a difference in battleground states! Mail postcards or participate in phone banking to contact voters for key senate races and the presidential race.

UUP Committee Training

UUP Committee Training will be held Friday, October 16th and Saturday, October 17th. The following is a tentative outline for the two days:

Day One—Friday, October 16 (1PM – 4PM): Committee training to enhance advocacy on issues of concerns for UUP statewide committees. Advancing the goals and agendas of our committees through coalition work.

Friday will include the coalition partners panel, which will be led by chapter leaders and local coalition partners to share their experiences building strong community partnerships and discuss their issue-base campaigns, strategies and actions they have found to be most successful. If you would like to be considered for the issue-based coalition partner panel, please submit your names here no later than tomorrow, October 9 (this date has been extended). All panel decisions will be made by October 10. If you and your coalition partner are selected, you will be provided with additional information to share with your coalition partner on how to join as a panelist for this workshop.

Day Two—Saturday, October 17 (9AM to Noon): Election 2020 and activism

  • NYS Biden Campaign Director Presentation
  • AFT Election Update: Polling, State of the Race, What are we doing to make a difference and Virtual Phone Bank Training
  • Virtual phone banking or texting 

You can register for the two-day virtual event here. Space is limited and registration for this two-day event will close October 13 or when we reach capacity. Login information will be sent to registrants the week of the event.

Letters to Federal and State Legislators

A Message from UUP President Fred Kowal:

Dear Colleagues,

This weekend we received notification from the Governor’s Office of Employee Relations (GOER) that the state is delaying implementation of our 2020 2% across-the-board salary increases for at least another 90 days. The earliest these raises could be paid is January 1, 2021. UUP’s negotiated raises were due to our members on July 1 or Sept 1 (depending on obligation).

This additional delay involves approximately 80,000 New York State employees, including those in UUP, the Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA), and other state employee bargaining units.

UUP’s July/September 2% increase is contractually provided for in the 2016-2022 NYS-UUP Agreement. After being notified by GOER in June of the first delay, UUP filed class action grievances covering the delayed raises as well as delays in implementing increases in minimum salaries scheduled to take effect in 2020. These include minimum salaries for adjuncts. UUP also filed an Improper Practice with the NYS Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) on behalf of residents working in facilities associated with SUNY’s academic medical centers. Given the repeated delays in implementing our negotiated raises, we are considering our entire range of options. I will discuss these with the Chapter Presidents on our call on Wednesday. 

While we did not agree with, or accept these delays, we understand that the state’s decision is driven by the state budget crisis that has developed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.  To address this crisis, it is critical that the federal government provide desperately needed assistance to state and local governments across the country, including New York.  Given the situation in Washington right now, it is fair to conclude that it’s unlikely that help will come from there before November 3rd. So, it is more critical than ever for New York State to pass an “Ultra-Millionaires’ tax” and a “Billionaires’ tax.” Additionally, we will be increasing our efforts to secure passage of the proposed reinstatement of the Tax on Stock Transfers. This option could generate over $1 billion in the first month! More information on these efforts will be forthcoming.

In the meantime, we need to continue to be heard at the federal level, as well as in Albany. Please take a few moments to send letters to federal and state legislators to press them to take action.

Tell U.S. Senators to pass the Heroes Act

Tell NYS legislators to fund the state’s recovery

Memorandum of Understanding

Below is the text from an MOU. Click HERE to read in the original pdf.

Memorandum of Understanding Between
The State University of New York And
United University Professions Regarding
Mandatory COVID 19 Testing of Employees
In the Professional Services Negotiating Unit

Due to the unprecedented public health crisis presented by the COVID 19 pandemic and the critical need to quickly identify and control the spread of COVID 19 infections on state-operated SUNY campuses, and in the best interest of the entire SUNY community, the State University of New York and the United University Professions hereby reach the following agreement:
1) Effective immediately and continuing through December 31, 2020, all state operated colleges, universities, and hospitals shall conduct testing of Professional Services Negotiating Unit (PSNU) employees who are required to report in person to campus to conduct some or all of their work obligation.
2) The campus will consult with their UUP chapter representatives in development of the testing protocol of the PSNU.
3) Testing of PSNU employees shall be conducted in concert with regular surveillance testing in campus plans required under the Chancellor’s September 3, 2020 directive, no less frequently than testing that occurs for the student population, utilizing self-administered saliva tests, short swab rapid tests, or other short swab tests selected by the campus. If a campus elects to utilize long swab testing employees will not be mandated but may be asked to volunteer for the test. Employees to be tested in each testing cycle shall be selected to best ensure that potential outbreaks across the campus population can be identified.
4) The campus testing plan and associated information regarding how samples for testing are constructed, including such things as the size of pools and the number and demographics (e.g. which departments or units are represented) of employees to be tested in each testing cycle shall be provided to UUP chapter representatives on each campus.
5) Procedures must ensure that:
a. The identity of individual employees selected for testing each week remains confidential and is only accessible on a need to know basis.
b. The testing is conducted in manner which protects the privacy of the employee being tested to the extent possible.
c. The identity of any individual employees who test positive remains confidential to the extent possible.
6) Employees subject to testing shall be tested during their regular work hours. The testing shall be conducted without cost to the employee.
7) Test results shall not be retained in personnel files or other personnel records and shall not otherwise be retained by the campus any longer than is necessary to comply with public health requirements associated with the COVID 19 pandemic or used for any purpose other than compliance with such public health requirements
8) Employees who are quarantined or isolated following a positive test at public health, medical or campus direction shall be allowed to telecommute to the greatest extent possible. If telecommuting is not possible, the employee shall be permitted to use applicable statutory leaves in accordance with state and federal law and leave accruals as contractually appropriate.
9) Any conflict arising from this MOU may be raised by a campus or a UUP chapter representative to the signatories of this agreement, or their designees for prompt response and resolution.
10) This agreement shall expire close of business on December 31, 2020 unless extended by mutual agreement between the parties.

Pre-Retirement Webinar

All UUP members are invited to attend a webinar Tuesday September 15th, from 12:00- 2:00pm.

The instructions to join can be found here. Please do not join the meeting before 11:30am.

UUP is planning to do monthly statewide webinars and splitting the two hour presentation into two one hour presentations so members can attend at lunchtime.  They may also be scheduled later in the day if there is a need. 

Please attend a webinar even if you are not retiring soon, as it is a good way to learn more about negotiated retirement benefits and why we need to keep them in future contracts.  

Stay tuned for more information on future webinars.

Tele-Town Hall Virtual Membership Meetings

As campuses are reopening across the state, UUP has planned regional tele-town hall virtual membership meetings to hear directly from members about their experiences with the reopening process and other COVID-19 related concerns. The regional tele-town halls will provide an overview of the political and economic landscape related to public higher education, as well as an opportunity to hear about the progress that we have achieved together through coordinated member, chapter, and statewide actions to address COVID-19 reopening issues. While the meeting will begin with a brief presentation, the majority of the virtual meeting will be driven by the participants. Participants will have an opportunity to ask questions and share additional concerns that may need to be addressed by UUP at the chapter and/or statewide level.

The regional meetings will begin at noon and take place over a two-week period beginning the week of September 15. The campuses have been divided up into six regions, as the questions and answers may differ based on the region that the campus is located within. If you are a member at Empire State College, please sign up for the region closest to your location.

September 15 – Western NY (Alfred, Brockport, Buffalo Center, Buffalo HSC, Buffalo State, Fredonia, & Geneseo)

September 16 – Capital District (Albany, Cobleskill, Polytechnic Institute, & System Admin.)

September 17 – Central NY (Binghamton, Cortland, Delhi, ESF, Morrisville, Oneonta, & Upstate Medical University)

September 22 – Long Island (Farmingdale, Old Westbury, Stony Brook, & Stony Brook HSC)

September 23 – Hudson Valley/Metro-Downstate (Downstate Medical Center, Maritime, New Paltz, Optometry, & Purchase)

September 24 – North Country (Canton, Oswego, Plattsburgh, & Potsdam)

We will always be stronger when we are engaging one another and advocating together for our common future. I encourage you to join your colleagues and participate on the tele-town hall for your region by registering here. Information on how to log-in to the event will be sent to registrants the week of the tele-town hall. Log-in information is individualized.

UUP is standing strong in the face of the greatest challenges we’ve ever encountered. I’m looking forward to hearing from as many of our union siblings as possible as we continue to fight for safe, healthy communities and a better SUNY for all!

UPDATE: UUP News Release

UUP Tells Lawmakers SUNY Reopening Plans Are Inadequate

Please read the 7/28/20 UUP News Release in the pdf link above.

Letter from UUP President Fred Kowal

This letter from UUP President Fred Kowal to Chairman Tisch, Dr. Laursen and Mr. Megna outlines UUP’s continuing concerns regarding SUNY’s reopening plans for the Fall semester. Most notably, the absence of plans for baseline testing of students and faculty as they return to campus or surveillance testing thereafter.  This letter also points to the resistance showed by a growing number of campus administrations to embrace the telecommuting agreement. Please take a moment to read through this letter.

Call for SUNY to convene a virtual public hearing soon – July 2020 – to discuss guidance in reopening SUNY campuses

Find more information and sign the petition here!

UUP is Hosting a Virtual Town Hall

Members will be able to gain insight on the current situation, and ask questions regarding funding for New York, including Higher Ed, hospitals and healthcare.

To register, please email Celine Mell (UUP Legislative Coordinator) at cmell@uupmail.org.

Voluntary Reduction in Work Schedule (VRWS) Program

A Message from UUP President Fred Kowal:

During this coronavirus crisis and the severe budgetary situation that has resulted from it, some of our members have been asking for a way to assist with protecting the jobs of our more vulnerable contingent colleagues. 

The Voluntary Reduction in Work Schedule (VRWS) Program is an existing program that can be used to achieve this.  The VRWS program allows interested employees to elect to voluntarily reduce their salary and professional obligation on a temporary basis.  VRWS work reductions generate campus savings in salary costs which can be used to mitigate the need for budget-driven staff reductions — in particular, the non-renewal of contingent employees.  

Many campuses have typically used VRWS exclusively as a means to assist employees who are anticipating parenting leaves. We have heard that some campuses are having difficulty thinking about how it might be used otherwise. The VRWS Program is not limited to use for parenting leaves. 

UUP is actively advocating that SUNY campuses liberally approve employee requests for VRWS for this upcoming year and that campuses utilize the savings to reduce contingent staff reductions that may otherwise prove to be necessary in the current fiscal crisis. 

This document provides a brief description of how the VRWS Program works.

These are challenging times which require us to utilize all the tools at our disposal to protect our most vulnerable colleagues. The VRWS option, among others, will continue to be pursued aggressively with the leadership of SUNY and must also be pursued at every campus where we work.

AFL-CIO Workers First Caravan for Racial and Economic Justice

The AFL-CIO is organizing a Workers First Caravan for Racial and Economic Justice to take place largely on June 17.

It is a massive national day of action to confront the three crises facing America: a public health pandemic, an economic recession and social upheaval caused by institutionalized violence against people of color. By joining this event we will be joining thousands of union members and allies taking to the streets to urge Congress to pass the HEROES Act, a COVID-19 relief package that would make sure every worker retains their health insurance, paycheck and more.

There will be caravans across all 50 states and Puerto Rico will be participating in solidarity actions as well. In Washington, D.C., a 1,000 car caravan will make its way through the city. The D.C. caravans begin in Arlington VA and Silver Spring, MD.  At both of these staging sites a team will be present to assist in placard distribution and provide each driver with the route that will be followed to the Capitol.

Currently in New York State there are caravans in the following cities: Buffalo (June 17), Albany (June 14), and Kingston (June 20). The NYS caravans require you to bring your own signs. More information on the timing and location of all planned caravans can be found here.  

Resolution of Support and Action

The executive committees of UUP, CSEA and Faculty Senate have come together to author a joint resolution in support of our students, our college and our community during this important national moment. 

 Please click here to view the resolution.


Saturday, June 6 — 11 AM- 2:30 PM — Trinity Park (Trinity Pl, Plattsburgh, NY)

“Details: Please come join friends and family Saturday. We will be protesting injustice in the legal system and the lives of Black Americans. Please come support your black friends and family and the entire community because they need help the most right now. We need to stop racism now, not tomorrow, not ten years from now, we need to stop racism now. We will be telling past experiences and taking a walk from Trinity Park passing the police station and back to Trinity Park. Come show your support. BLACK LIVES MATTER”

RSVP on Facebook here

A Message From UUP President Fred Kowal


 As educators, health care professionals, and unionists, we cannot be silent about the continued injustices against people of color in our country. We must condemn racist violence, like the violence that led to the death of George Floyd. We mourn for his family, for the pain of their loss and the way he was stolen from them.

We stand with our students, patients and members affected by these injustices, and with peaceful protesters across the country demanding justice. They also call for change, targeting racist institutions that do not reflect the ideals of a society that claims to believe in equality and justice for all. 

UUP has a long history of commitment to social justice, and we stand steadfast in that commitment. Last week, I issued a statement condemning the racist violence that led to George Floyd’s death. You can read it here

On June 20, UUP will join the digital Mass Poor People’s Assembly & Moral March on Washington, the largest digital gathering of poor, dispossessed and impacted people, faith leaders, and people of conscience. You can RSVP and find more information here.

The Poor People’s Campaign, the march’s organizer, has created a digital toolkit with sample posts, graphics and more ways to amplify the event.

Our national affiliate, the American Federation of Teachers, has joined the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and hundreds of other organizations in sending a letter to Congress demanding it create a federal standard for when police officers can use force, to prohibit racial profiling, and to end a program that provides surplus military supplies to local law enforcement, including school police. Learn more here

UUP encourages our members to be part of the solution as we move forward together. There are many ways to stand in solidarity; a list of events and solidarity actions are below:

June 4: The New York State Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic, and Asian Legislative Caucus will hold 3 p.m. press conferences in Albany, Bronx, Brooklyn, Buffalo, Long Island, Manhattan, Queens, Rochester, Staten Island and Syracuse in support of New York state police reform. Learn more here

June 4: The Poor People’s Campaign will host a Moral Fusion Student Fellows Digital Town Hall at 9 p.m. via Facebook Live. Students and recent graduates will talk about the impact of campus closures, police violence, the economic crisis and COVID-19; they will also discuss the importance of organizing and mobilizing for the Mass Poor People’s Assembly & Moral March on Washington June 20Join at facebook.com/anewppc/.

June 6: CNY Black Lives Matter March, noon at Durkee Park – The Village Green in Homer. The march is being held to fight for equality for all. Please wear black. Signs are welcome and encouraged. Masks are required. Absolutely no violence will be tolerated. Follow @cny_blacklivesmatter on Instagram for more information.

June 8: NYSUT Virtual Vigil. More details coming soon.

June 20: UUP will join the digital Mass Poor People’s Assembly & Moral March on Washington. The event starts at 10 a.m.

Masks should always be worn in public and social distancing should be practiced when possible. Members should consider their own health and only attend events if they are comfortable doing so.

Solidarity actions:

  • Encourage discussion of issues of race on your campus. In union meetings, classes, and other events, provide time to discuss racial injustices on your campus and work together for collective change. Students, faculty and staff of color should lead the discussions.
  • Stand with students. Our students are committed to social justice, and we should join and support them in peaceful protests. Reach out to student groups on campus, especially those led by students of color, and ask how UUP can help.  
  • Take part in phone banking and text storming with the Poor People’s Campaign. Sign up for a 30-minute training session and learn more here
  • Sign the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers’ online petition demanding justice here.
  • Sign the Color of Change petition to end violent policing against black people here.

Also, consider donating to:

  • The NAACP Legal Defense Fund, which supports racial justice through advocacy, litigation, and education.
  • The Poor People’s Campaign, which supports people coming together to confront systemic racism, poverty, ecological devastation, militarism and the war economy, and the distorted moral narrative of religious nationalism.
  • Visit the Education Minnesota webpage, which includes actions to take, anti-racism resources and other organizations to donate to.

Email Amy Sheldon at asheldon@uupmail.org about actions on your campus and in your community that we can help amplify. We welcome suggestions for additional organizations members should consider supporting.

This is a collective problem that requires a collective solution. UUP will keep a resource page with this information active. 

As we educate ourselves, I encourage you to read “How to Make this Moment the Turning Point for Real Change” by President Barack Obama, here, and visit the resource page at obama.org here.

In solidarity,

Fred Kowal

UUP President

AFT webinar: Taking Our Seat at the Table: A Primer on Getting Back to Work Safely

Join us on Tuesday, June 2, at 3 p.m. EDT for an AFT webinar.

A genuine safe return to work requires an active and engaged union and the involvement of other key stakeholders in developing, implementing and evaluating pandemic plans. The health and safety of the workforce is top priority among the many important work-related issues unions will need to discuss with employers during this difficult time. Each constituency of the AFT has unique challenges and idiosyncrasies. This work can only be done when we have a seat at the table with the employer. We are a fundamental stakeholder in emergency and pandemic planning. Health and safety is a mandatory subject of bargaining. 

Our hope is that you’ll leave this webinar with an idea of your next steps and the basis of an action plan.

Joseph T. Hughes Jr., M.P.H., branch chief, Worker Education and Training Branch of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, will share key principles of preparedness planning and why our union must have a genuine role in the process. A panel of leaders and members will also share insights into their work on preparedness planning teams.

Zeph Capo, president of AFT Texas, will discuss actions in Texas to get the union on pandemic planning teams at the state level; he will lead us into breakout sessions by division so we can dive a little deeper into exploring our union’s response efforts and assess resources and other needs to get this work done.

Register Here

Visit AFT’s Resource Page for the latest COVID-19 resources and information

Contingent Faculty Unemployment Insurance

Information on applying for Unemployment Insurance this summer

COVID-19 Testing for New York State Essential Workers

Flyer from the Governor’s Office of Employment Relations with information on coronavirus testing for New York State essential workers

UUP Job Security Rights Q+A

UUP’s latest Q&A regarding job security rights related to SUNY fiscal crisis

Send your Representative a Letter Today

Our nation is at war against #COVID19, and New York State is the epicenter of this crisis.  

The costs of the pandemic should not fall on the backs of @SUNY students, patients and faculty.

New York is facing a loss of $10 billion to $15 billion in revenue, solely due to the impact of #COVID19.

New York desperately needs significant resources and it needs them now.

Tell @SenSchumer , @SenGillibrand , and the rest of Congress to act now on a new #COVID19 mitigation package that provides crucial support to New York State!

Send your representatives a letter today!

Tele-Town Halls

UUP will always be stronger when we are engaging one another and working from the grassroots. In this vein, we are scheduling a series of tele-town halls, which will include a brief presentation on the overall economic perspective of where we are as a state and as a nation, as well as an overview on New York State and national public higher education funding trends. The presentation will then be opened up to our members for a solution-driven discussion. If there is a “best” way to face these unprecedented times, I am certain that together UUP members can and will develop that strategic plan.

Tele-town hall registration