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Tentative labor deal with SUNY employees

The union representing more than 35,000 State University of New York employees has reached a tentative deal on a labor contract with the state.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and United University Professions, the union for SUNY employees, announced the tentative agreement today. UUP members, who have worked without a contract since 2011, would need to approve the proposed compromise.

"This contract agreement continues the state's commitment to fiscal discipline while recognizing the vital role our university employees play in a strong SUNY system," Cuomo said in a statement. "I am pleased that through collaboration and working together the state has been able to reach a fair agreement with United University Professions."

United University Professions (UUP) President Phillip H. 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 a news release, the deal includes:
· Zero percent wage increases for the three years 2011-2013, and 2% increases in 2014 and 2015.
· Deficit Reduction Program involving nine days.
· A two percentage point increase in health insurance premium contributions for employees earning less than $40,137, making the share 12% for individuals and 27% for family premiums.
· A six percentage point increase for employees earning $40,137 and above, making the share 16% for individuals and 31% 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/partner to a non-State health plan.
· Payments of $500, $500, and $250 to be awarded to employees at the discretion of the Chancellor. UUP members receive no "step" increases or longevity payments but campus presidents may make performance incentive lump sum payments of 0.5% annually (1% at end of the contract term).

The "Deficit Reduction Program" is not described in clear details from the latest news release, but a posting last year on the UUP website, described "Deficit Reduction Leave" as a furlough program. Based on the language in this release, it seems like UUP has agreed to 9 days of furloughs.

The state's Budget Office said the deal would save about $87 million through a deficit reduction program during the contract and changes to health benefits would save $99 million during the same period.

Union members will have three weeks to vote on the deal.

SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher said in a statement, "While a final agreement is subject to ratification by the full membership, the Memorandum of Understanding represents a significant accomplishment through compromise by all parties in achieving a fair and equitable settlement given these difficult economic times."

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