First, the good news. I have just received word that the telecommuting agreement that all statewide public sector unions negotiated with the State of New York back at the start of the COVID emergency has been extended through the end of December, 2020. This is what we have demanded, though we certainly would have welcomed a longer time-frame. Now, the work needs to focus on making sure that the agreement is interpreted liberally by administrators so that our members can work from home to the greatest extent possible to protect our health while also serving to help alleviate the severe child care crisis we are facing as a society.
Second, as you know, our negotiated pay raises have been delayed for another 90 days. This is disappointing and frustrating – especially for those among us who are earning so little: Adjuncts and part-time professionals. We filed class action grievances when these steps were first taken by the Division of the Budget (specifically, on April 1, when a small number of state lifeguards – for whom we negotiate – had their pay raises delayed, and again on July 1, when most of us had pay raises delayed) Because of this continuing crisis, UUP has today taken the step of starting the process of moving the delayed salary increase grievances to arbitration. Though this does not mean immediate resolution of the crisis, it is a step that can serve to speed up the process.
Third, to clarify what the delayed increases actually mean for us, I want to make clear that we will get all the money we are owed – eventually. When salary increases are eventually paid by the state, all unit members due their 2% salary increase (in keeping with Article 20.9) on either July 1st or September 1st will receive their salary increases retroactively to that date. If the unit member has separated from service (for any reason: retirement, non-renewal, voluntary quit, termination) she/they/he will also receive their retroactive salary increase for the period of time they were in state service after the date the salary increase was due to be paid (July 1st or September 1st 2020) by either electronic deposit or by paper check to their last address on record.
This worsening situation should remind all of us how imperative it is that pressure continue on the US Senate to pass the HEROES Act and for the state legislature to return to Albany to pass tax increases on the super-rich and on Wall Street through the Stock Transfer Tax to help New York recover from the COVID Economic Crisis. Please go to www.uupinfo.org and take action!
Finally, with the news early this morning that President Trump and the First Lady have tested positive for COVID, let us remember to be masked, maintain physical distancing and wash our hands frequently. The pandemic is not controlled in the slightest. We must all do our part to protect each other.
Please take care and stay well…