UUP Accomplishments – November 2019

Together We Fight November 2019

Will UB Support Increased Graduate Student Stipends?

The announcement that all but six departments within the twenty-nine departments of the College of Arts and Sciences were not to be given permission to recruit for Graduate Assistants for the 2020-21 academic year led to a successful petition — supported by the UUP chapter — for a special faculty meeting within a week of the announcement.

Acting Provost Scott Weber’s subsequent decision to give the College of Arts and Sciences additional finances of one additional year to address the consequences of the increased stipends for graduate student employees was a welcome relief for what could quickly have had substantial negative effects on faculty workloads and the characters of departments.   Graduate student recruitment was restarted across CAS.

The fact that faculty – being quite angry – mobilized against the originating crisis and also that our UUP chapter conveyed our support widely throughout the campus surely had a significant impact.  I have always felt that one great advantage of a union is the right to communicate with members: in this case, we used that right to very good effect.

In principle, Weber’s relief should lead to departments being in a better position to recruit graduate students for next year.  However, I sense that the higher administration may still use the opportunity for a money grab by not fully transferring the increased resources down to departments: Money is always fungible and the manner in which the policy change was initially implemented was very authoritarian.   See the next portion of my message which provides background evidence for my concern, and for much more!

New information has just been compiled by English Professor Jim Holstun, accessing the level of staff in Deans’ offices across the four SUNY Centers.  This data are as follows and CLEARLY exhibit the DRASTICALLY higher levels of management here in CAS compared to other campuses.  We are not even the same league with the others.  It is a wonder that the UB President and Provost ever have allowed this to occur, while they are always talking about tight budgets:

Stony Brook University College of Arts and Sciences

One Dean
Four Associate Deans
Five Assistant Deans
Two Directors

Binghamton University, Harpur College of Arts and Sciences

One Dean
Three Associate Deans
Four Assistant Deans
Two Directors

Albany University, College of Arts and Sciences

One Dean
One Associate Dean and One Vice Dean
Two Assistant Deans
Two Development Officers

University at Buffalo College of Arts and Sciences

One Dean
Nine Associate Deans
Seven Assistant Deans
Twelve Directors 
(emphasis added. P.Z.)

Note: While the campus sizes differ, such differences are NOT the origin of the difference:

SUNY Buffalo:  21,607 undergraduate enrollment
SUNY Binghamton:  13,986
SUNY Albany:  13,593
SUNY Stony Brook:  17,522

https://www.suny.edu/attend/visit-us/complete-campus-list accessed November 7, 2019

Paul Zarembka, Grievance Officer for Academics, UUP Buffalo Center

UUP filed grievances on behalf of several members who were non-renewed. All of the cases were ultimately resolved, in the members’ favor.

An adjunct’s courses were canceled after the appointment letter was signed. UUP was able to successfully challenge the cancelation.

UUP has filed three Improper Practice charges under the Taylor Law for unilateral changes to employees’ work schedules and increases in workload. UUP and SUNY are working with the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) to try to resolve these issues.

UUP successfully clarified with UB that employees cannot have a dress code unilaterally imposed upon them. Dress Code includes being told that you cannot wear jeans to work.

Tara Singer-Blumberg, NYSUT/UUP Labor Relations Specialist

On October 30, 2019 UB hosted a historic meeting where the New York State Senate on Higher Education Committee conducted a hearing on the affordability and funding of higher education for the first time at the University at Buffalo.   This hearing was an effort by our New York State Senators to listen to concerns about why funding SUNY is important.   NYS Senators sought to understand the impact of reduced state funding, while at the same time increasing mandatory expenses on its public institutions in an era of declining enrollments at many of the SUNY campuses.   Your Buffalo UUP Chapter played a critical role in this meeting by organizing testimony and generating attendees for this event.   UUP President Fred Kowal stated that close to 70% of the cost of public higher education is falling on students, where prior to 2008 it was about 30%.   If we are going to be a public higher education system, then New York State simply needs to invest in public education.

UUP leaders continue to meet with state elected officials to raise issues of staff shortages and an overreliance on adjunct faculty—who work at terribly how salaries throughout SUNY.    What was alarming was the lack of urgency expressed by SUNY’s leadership.  Even though SUNY budgets have been flat for a decade, there was no strong call for the state to take up its responsibility to the SUNY system.   At the UB hearing, it was alarming to see Tim Kennedy ask Beth Delgenio if the University is seeking assistance to pay off the $2 million a month loan payment for the medical school?   The response to the question was affirmative, but it was shocking to many UUP’ers why the ask was not in the initial statement by the university to the Senators.   This story can be seen throughout state hearings as the Senators try to understand.   UUP is working on yours and SUNY’s behalf.  We are ready for the work required to make SUNY to once again be the progressive champion our nation needs.  Together we will fight and make this happen.

Kat Kielar, Secretary, UUP Buffalo Center

We are always looking for our members to become active participants in their union.  Please consider volunteering for our events, committees or run for a board seat.  Need information on the many opportunities, please contact the chapter office at 716.276.3377 or buffalocenter@uupmail.org

Together We Win

Your UUP Buffalo Center Officers

Ezra Zubrow – President
Shirley Bennett – VP for Academics
Ken Kern – VP for Professionals
Kevin Ragland – Treasurer
Kat Kielar – Secretary

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