(WBNG Binghamton) New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and United University Professions President Phillip H. Smith on Tuesday announced a tentative contract agreement between the state and the union representing more than 35,000 SUNY employees.
According to a news release:
UUP members had been without a contract since 2011. The agreement is tentative pending ratification by UUP membership.
"This contract agreement continues the state's commitment to fiscal discipline while recognizing the vital role our university employees play in a strong SUNY system," Governor Cuomo said. "I am pleased that through collaboration and working together the state has been able to reach a fair agreement with United University Professions."
United University Professions (UUP) President Phillip H. Smith said, "This contract meets the unique needs of our members and meets the state's need to achieve savings in these difficult economic times. It's a fair contract for our union and the state."
According to the State Budget Office, the agreement will save approximately $87 million in wages through a Deficit Reduction Program over the contract period. All changes to health benefits will save $99 million over the contract period.
The tentative pact includes:
•Zero percent wage increases for the three years 2011-2013, and 2% increases in 2014 and 2015.
•Deficit Reduction Program involving nine days.
•A two percentage point increase in health insurance premium contributions for employees earning less than $40,137, making the share 12% for individuals and 27% for family premiums.
•A six percentage point increase for employees earning $40,137 and above, making the share 16% for individuals and 31% for family premiums.
•Benefit design changes for use of out of network services in the Empire Plan, including deductible and coinsurance increases for out of network medical benefits.
•A health plan opt-out provision so employees can opt-out through a spouse/partner to a non-State health plan.
•Payments of $500, $500, and $250 to be awarded to employees at the discretion of the Chancellor. UUP members receive no "step" increases or longevity payments but campus presidents may make performance incentive lump sum payments of 0.5% annually (1% at end of the contract term).
The American Arbitration Association will conduct a ratification vote by mail this spring. UUP members will have approximately three weeks to return their ballots to AAA.
SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher said, "I would like to offer my congratulations and express my appreciation to the representatives of the State and UUP, and the SUNY team, on reaching a conceptual agreement for a successor to the collective bargaining agreement between the State and UUP that expired in 2011. While a final agreement is subject to ratification by the full membership, the Memorandum of Understanding represents a significant accomplishment through compromise by all parties in achieving a fair and equitable settlement given these difficult economic times."
Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers, said, "UUP's members work each day to help educate New York's students to succeed in the 21st-century economy, and I commend the governor and the UUP leadership for their efforts in reaching this tentative contract. I thank the governor and his staff for bringing the parties together so they could explore ways to deal with the state's fiscal issues and the unique conditions presented by this group of workers."