Statewide Pre-Retirement Workshop

Link

Registration for the pre-retirement workshop webinar with Walter Apple is open at  https://tinyurl.com/UUPRetirement

You can register for one or both parts of the webinar, which will take place on December 7th from 12:00 to 1:00 pm (which will cover healthcare/Medicare) and December 9th from 12:00 to 1:00 pm (which will cover union benefits of dental and vision).

Today’s the last day to submit questions and suggestions in advance of the workshop. You can submit questions to: wapple@uupbenefits.org

2021 Dependent Care Advantage Account (DCAA) Updates

Dear Colleagues,

We have received word from the Governor’s Office of Employee Relations that the State has again modified the NYS Dependent Care Advantage Account to expand DCAA benefits and eligibility as permitted under recent federal law changes included in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 and the American Rescue Act of 2021.  These are modifications that UUP and other state employee unions pressed for in meetings with GOER representatives and we are pleased that the State has agreed to implement them.  The new changes are as follows:

  • The maximum annual contribution levels have been increased from $2,500 to $5,250 for single or married filing separately and from $5,000 to $10,500 for married filing jointly or head of household, and,
  • Employees are now able to change their DCAA election amount mid-year without a qualifying change in status event reason.  This will allow employees to enroll, change, re-start, or terminate a DCAAccount mid-year throughout 2021. Changes will not be retroactive; they will be applied to the next available payroll processing date following the change in enrollment.

Employees who are currently enrolled in DCAA have already been notified of these changes directly by WageWorks/Health Equity.  A notice is also posted on the GOER webpage Flex Spending Account | Governor’s Office of Employee Relations (ny.gov).  Employees who are interested may also email fsa@goer.ny.gov or call WageWorks/Health Equity at 1-800-358-7202 with any questions on the DCAA or these new changes.

Please share this news generally with your members.  Members who are not currently enrolled in DCAA, and did not receive a notice from Wage Works, may be interested in enrolling in DCAA for the balance of the year.  

In Solidarity,
Fred

August 6 Climate Protest in Albany

Colleagues,

Join UUP and our coalition partners, the New York Youth Climate Leaders, in Albany, on August 6th, at 1:30 PM in West Capitol Park (across from 89 Washington Ave) to participate in a rally to protest the inaction on climate change and demand that the New York State Teachers’ Retirement System divest from fossil fuel stocks.

With the legislature passing ZERO ambitious climate bills this year, UUP has stepped up and joined our coalition partners as a co-sponsor for the August 6, “Fossil Free Education, Fossil Free Future” rally to demand change now. We cannot allow the legislature to hide behind the CLCPA, claiming that they cannot pass additional climate legislation until the Climate Action Council releases its recommendations. These excuses are merely delay tactics, and they threaten the livelihoods of our generation and future generations. Additionally, with an estimated $4.5 billion invested in the fossil fuel industry, NYSTRS is doing their pensioners and the planet a disservice by continuing to invest in fossil fuels.

You can check out bus availability, find more information about the rally, and register here 

We will be sure to have signs and t-shirts on hand to distribute to all UUP members. So, after you register, please send Danielle Judge, djudge@uupmail.org an email and let her know that you will be joining. We will pick a UUP member rally meet-up location (and time) as we get closer to the event. That information will be shared with all who let Danielle know that you will be joining us on August 6 at 1:30 PM.

In solidarity,
Fred

Statewide UUP Negotiations Team Announcement

Dear Colleagues:

On behalf of myself and UUP’s Chief Negotiator Bret Benjamin, I am pleased to announce UUP’s Negotiations Team for the upcoming round of contract negotiations.

I am grateful to each and every one of them for their willingness to serve. This is one of the most demanding and important volunteer positions in our union. The team will begin its official work next month, followed by a series of campus visits (both virtual and in-person) during the Fall semester to solicit member feedback on priorities for the coming round of negotiations.  As we move forward, expect to see a member survey as well as a dedicated area for 2022 negotiations on UUP’s website which will be updated on a regular basis.

Negotiations Team:

Bret Benjamin, Chair                               Albany Chapter
Redetha Abraham-Nichols                            Downstate Medical Center Chapter
Jennifer Drake                                     Cortland Chapter
Mindy Heath                                        Upstate Medical University Chapter
Shoshana Hershkowitz                               Stony Brook Chapter
Jude Jayatilleke                                   Buffalo State Chapter
Aaron Major                                        Albany Chapter
Pamela Malone                                      Empire State College Chapter
Jackie Pittsley                                    Cortland Chapter
Benita Roth                                        Binghamton Chapter
Idalia Torres                                      Fredonia Chapter
Bill Tusang                                        Cobleskill Chapter

In solidarity,
Fred

American Families Plan Social Media Toolkit

Colleagues,

As you know, UUP has launched a letter-writing campaign focused on advocating for key provisions to be included in the American Families Plan. This work is part of the ongoing joint efforts with our coalition partners that we met with last week during the Higher Education Labor Summit. If you haven’t already, please join me in sending a letter to New York’s congressional representatives here.

To increase awareness, UUP has developed a social media toolkit with graphics and sample posts that can be used to easily share the letter via personal and chapter social media pages. You can view that toolkit here.

Thank you for your continued support as we advocate for SUNY and public higher education at the federal level.

In Solidarity,
Fred

NEW Surveillance Testing MOU

Dear Colleagues,

I am pleased to announce that we have reached agreement with SUNY on an extension of the mandatory surveillance testing agreement which expired yesterday.  The new agreement, which is attached, continues through December 31, 2021, and differs from the prior surveillance testing agreement in certain critical ways:

Fall 2021 Surveillance Testing MOU

First, the agreement specifically provides that unvaccinated employees — or, more precisely, employees who choose not to voluntarily disclose vaccination status — will be tested on a weekly basis though the fall semester.  In contrast, employees who voluntarily provide confirmation that they are fully vaccinated will be exempted from weekly testing. Fully-vaccinated employees may still be subject to less frequent surveillance testing, conducted on a sampling basis to monitor for possible breakthrough infections. The frequency of testing for fully vaccinated employees shall be established at the campus level after consultation with local UUP representatives.

Second, voluntarily disclosed vaccination information must be collected and retained on a confidential basis, in compliance with Americans with Disability Act (ADA) requirements which limit how medical information that is collected by and employer may be retains and used. Direct line supervisors are not permitted ask the employees they supervise about vaccination status.

Third, the agreement is clarified to recognize that employees who are either isolated or quarantined will be permitted to work from home to the extent possible and if this is not possible will, in the vast majority of cases, be able to stay move without charge to accruals.

The agreement strikes an important balance between continuing frequent surveillance testing of unvaccinated employees in order to rapidly identify employees who may become infected with COVID and significantly relaxing the frequency of testing for fully vaccinated individuals who the science continues to demonstrate are extremely unlikely to be infected with COVID.

The key to making our campuses and our communities safe is for everyone who can to get vaccinated.  The vaccine is free, State law provides that employees must be provided with up to four hours paid leave per shot to be vaccinated on work time without charge to accruals.  Finally, science continues to demonstrate that the vaccine are safe and effective. Though it is true that the FDA approval is such that the vaccines are still defined as “experimental,” UUP members surveyed have gotten vaccinated at rates approaching 90%. And it is expected that final approval for the vaccines by the FDA is imminent. I urge all UUP-represented employees who have not yet taken the opportunity to get vaccinated to do so as quickly as possible.

Please circulate this widely to your members.

In Solidarity,
Fred