By CRAIG FREILICH
United University Professions (UUP) leadership has reached a tentative contract agreement with the state to cover its more than 35,000 employees in the State University of New York system.
UUP members had been without a contract since 2011.
The agreement is tentative pending ratification by the union membership.
A vote will be conducted by mail this spring.
“This agreement is going to allow all of us to move forward while helping the state under these difficult economic conditions, and without sacrificing what we do for our students,” said SUNY Potsdam UUP Chapter President Laura Rhoads.
SUNY Potsdam’s chapter has 527 bargaining unit members that would be covered under this agreement, including full and part-time members, Rhoads said.
David Hartle, president of the SUNY Canton union chapter, said, "I'm happy we are moving ahead,"
The Canton UUP chapter represents 301 people.
UUP President Phillip 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. Changes to health benefits will save $99 million over the contract period.
The tentative pact includes:
· no wage increases for the three years 2011-2013, and 2 percent increases in 2014 and 2015
· a deficit reduction program involving nine days
· a two percent increase in health insurance premium contributions for employees earning less than $40,137, making the share 12 percent for individuals and 27 percent for family premiums
· a six percent increase for employees earning $40,137 and above, making the share 16 percent for individuals and 31 percent 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 or partner to a non-state health plan
· payments of $500, $500, and $250 to be awarded to employees at the discretion of the SUNY chancellor. UUP members receive no "step" increases or longevity payments but campus presidents may make performance incentive lump sum payments of half a percent annually (one percent at end of the contract term).