ALBANY, N.Y. May 7, 2007 - Some 700 New York State United Teachers activists are converging on the Capitol Tuesday to urge lawmakers to reject the Berger Commission's recommendations to privatize SUNY hospitals and to find a solution that protects quality health care and keeps SUNY hospitals public.
"Privatizing SUNY hospitals and the Buffalo Health Science Center is a bad idea. If allowed to stand, the Berger Commission's plan would devastate the communities that rely on them for medical care, while harming the upstate economy," said NYSUT President Richard C. Iannuzzi.
The 700 activists - members of NYSUT's Committee of 100 - will arrive on buses at the Madison Avenue entrance to the Empire State Plaza at about 7:45 a.m. Tuesday, May 8. A special briefing will be held at 8 p.m. Monday at the Desmond Hotel, 660 Albany-Shaker Road.
NYSUT's lobbying agenda also includes strong opposition to voucher-like bills that would divert resources away from public schools to provide tax credits for those choosing to send their children to private or religious schools. "NYSUT will continue to fight any effort to divert public tax dollars to schools that are unaccountable to the public. It's bad public policy and a detour from our efforts to improve public schools for all children," Iannuzzi said.
NYSUT also will seek enactment of 55/25 Year Retirement legislation, which would confer no additional benefits on public employee retirees but would allow those at the minimum retirement age to retire without an onerous penalty. The grass-roots activists will also seek a permanent health insurance moratorium prohibiting employers from unilaterally reducing health care coverage for retirees.
NYSUT Executive Vice President Alan B. Lubin said, "Recent Medicaid cuts and rising health care costs make this protection needed more than ever."
NYSUT's volunteer lobbyists will also ask lawmakers to acknowledge the fundamental right of representation for New York's public employees. Lubin said NYSUT supports legislation that would make it an improper employee practice under the Taylor Law for a public employer to interfere with the employee's right to representation during questioning in a disciplinary matter.
NYSUT, the state's largest union, represents more than 585,000 classroom teachers and other school employees; faculty and other professionals at the state's community colleges; State University of New York and City University of New York; and other education and health professionals. NYSUT is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, National Education Association and AFL-CIO.