UUP Bulletins

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