Union members at SUNY Poly hold rally over contract dispute

Published Mar 2, 2018 at 4:00pm

MARCY — “Who are we? UUP. What do we want? A fair contract.”

That was part of the chant repeated by about 20 United University Professions union members Thursday as they marched through two buildings at SUNY Polytechnic Institute seeking to boost awareness of a statewide UUP contract dispute with SUNY.

The previous UUP contract with SUNY expired in July 2016.

Carrying signs including one that read “UUP fair contract now” and chanting letters that spell the word “respect” among other points of their message, the group began its noontime rally at the Student Center, drawing some applause while walking through a cafeteria.

They next proceeded to the nearby SUNY Poly Kunsela Hall administration building, heading down hallways on multiple floors before concluding.

Similar rallies were scheduled at noon Thursday at SUNY campuses around the state, said Linda Weber, president of the UUP chapter at SUNY Poly and a sociology professor at the college. UUP, whose members include faculty/academic staff plus professionals who work for SUNY, represents about 300 full- and part-time employees at SUNY Poly’s Marcy campus, she said.

The contract “appears to be stuck,” and “we’re trying to unstick it,” Weber remarked during the rally.

The sociology professor later added that its purpose was to “bring more awareness to the situation and to get people to sit down and start being responsible” in contract talks.

Further contract negotiations at the statewide level between SUNY and UUP are scheduled, but “there’s been no progress,” she commented.

A union flyer that was
distributed said “it’s time for SUNY to...address our reasonable concerns, and support an agreement — now.”

Union members across the state, including those at SUNY Poly, have been working under terms of the contract that expired, Weber said.

But among impacts of working under that former contract, there have been no cost-of-living pay increases, she noted.

Securing better terms for part-time employees has been among UUP concerns in the contract dispute, Weber observed.

In addition, the union flyer cited sacrifices by UUP in the prior contract, and stated that “now SUNY says it is financially sound and enrollment is increasing.”

The contract issues are “about fairly sharing the burdens of bad times and the benefits of better times,” the flyer also said.

SUNY Poly officials had no immediate comment regarding the informational rally.