Employment Health and Safety Statewide News

Update from Statewide President Fred Kowal

Note that later last night it was announced that the Federal government has extended federal social distancing guidelines until April 30.


So much has been occurring in the past couple weeks and there are times when I fear that those of us at the statewide level and at many chapters simply can’t keep up with the various issues we’re all dealing with, nor can we keep the flow of information moving as quickly as it should. This quick email is meant to give you a brief run-down on the issues we’re working on at both the chapter and statewide level. We’re also working on a weekly Update message, which will be going out regularly to all of you on these efforts.

First, there already is a great place to start for regularly updated information. Our website has a direct link to all information related to the Coronavirus. Just click on the Coronavirus link at the top of the page and it will take you to a listing of resources, including a portal which members are using to post questions to us, the videos I’m making to detail what we’re working on, and numerous other items. There will be an updated Q & A which reflects the most recent progress we’ve made on issues and the new ones that are coming up thanks to input from so many of you, especially our chapter presidents, who are providing great information to us on a daily basis.

So, to start, go to and you’ll be up to date.

Second, here’s a list of the issues that we’re dealing with now:

  1. Personal Health and Safety issues, primarily at the SUNY hospitals, but also for our members who have interactions with students and others at the campuses, e.g., residential life, financial aid, EOP, admissions, etc…
  2. Overtime/Extra-Service pay for those who are at the hospitals, working on IT issues for online education and adjuncts doing the prep work for online work.
  3. Childcare needs, primarily for those who are at the hospitals.
  4. Working to insure that the lists of essential personnel who have to report to campus is reduced to a minimum. NOTE: Today, the Governor announced that Non-essential state employees would continue to work from home at least until April 15. That’s an additional two weeks. Extending it further will be considered as we get closer to the 15th.
  5. Working to insure that the telecommuting agreement is working well for our members.
  6. Working to make sure our members’ reappointment, tenure, and permanent appointment procedures are followed in a way that protects our members’ professional status and health.
  7. Protecting the work we do in the online teaching environment, both in terms of intellectual property rights and the temporary nature of this work.
  8. Protecting the exclusivity of our work, while accepting that the use of volunteer labor is needed at the hospitals during this crisis.

There are other areas that we are working on both at the chapter and statewide level. The work involves multiple teleconferences with SUNY and the Governor’s office daily. But we are making progress on them. We are also doing amazing work at protecting our members at the chapter/campus level thanks to the hard work of our chapter presidents and LRS’s. And the work will continue for as long as the crisis continues. Please take advantage of email and the portal on the website to let us know if there are other issues you feel we need to address. And please circulate this email as widely as possible across your campuses. Our members need to know that their union is working with them and for them. We will continue to do all that we can to make sure we are all safe, both physically and professionally.

These are difficult days. But the work we do together empowers us and from it, we draw the energy, determination and hope that we will get through this. Please take care of yourselves and your loved ones.

In Solidarity,

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