Under the Public Employees Fair Employment Act (Taylor Law), employees within the State of New York and State University have been separated into various "bargaining units" by the Public Employee Relations Board (PERB) for the purpose of collective bargaining. PERB serves as the adjudicating body in cases of disputes between the State and the unions representing public employees and decides claims of improper practice and representation. Each bargaining unit is made up of titles which, in the view of the Board, share a "community of interest" with respect to terms and conditions of employment. In the classified service (CSEA, PEF, NYSCOPBA, APSU), the unions represent employees not only in SUNY, but throughout State government. It has long been the State's position to prefer large Statewide bargaining units and to oppose fragmentation either along institutional or craft lines. Following is a brief description of each union and its membership, along with reference to the bargaining unit represented by the union.
United University Professions
UUP represents SUNY employees exclusively. Its membership consists of faculty, librarians and those non-teaching professionals, other than management/confidential, whose functions support instruction or academic administration. This group includes such employees as assistant deans, computer center personnel, non-managerial supervisors; e.g., housing directors, directors of counseling, directors of student services, and a large group known as instructional staff assistants and associates who are involved in technical and support fields.
UUP tends to be the most visible of the SUNY unions, perhaps because the faculty is so central to the mission of the University. In comparison with other Statewide unions it is rather small, however, representing approximately 33,000 employees. UUP is affiliated with New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT AFL-CIO) on the state and national levels, respectively.
Civil Service Employees Association
The next largest group of SUNY employees is represented by CSEA. Unlike UUP, CSEA represents classified employees in all State agencies and is the largest public employee representative in the State. Its total State membership is 83,000, of which approximately 13,000 employees are from SUNY.
Three separate statewide bargaining units come under the CSEA umbrella. The largest group in SUNY is the Administrative Services Unit, comprised of the secretarial and clerical staff. The Operational Services Unit is made up of individuals in such titles as carpenter, janitor, electrician, garage attendant, and stationary engineer. The Institutional Services group, relatively small in SUNY, draws its membership from such titles as licensed practical nurse, groundsworker, laboratory animal caretaker, hospital attendant, and operating room technician. Each of the three units has a separate collectively negotiated agreement, but the agreements are identical in many respects. The differences usually are related to significantly different job functions and special needs of those jobs.
Public Employees Federation
PEF represents the Professional, Scientific and Technical (PS&T) Statewide bargaining unit. This has been a highly visible group outside SUNY, with a membership of approximately 50,000 statewide and SUNY membership of about 3,900. Participation in SUNY is drawn primarily from the nursing field in the health sciences centers, but other titles, including physicians in the student health service are also covered.
New York State Law Enforcement Officers Union, APSU
APSU represents the Agency Police Services Unit (APSU), a Statewide unit including officers from SUNY, the Departments of Parks and Recreation and Environmental Conservation. Established in 2002, this is the University's newest bargaining unit. The unit of about 2,000 includes approximately 520 SUNY employees in such titles as University Police Officer I and II and University Police Investigator I and II. These titles were formerly in the Security Services Unit and the Security Supervisors Unit. While the public safety function has been in place in the University for many years, the emphasis has more recently moved to police function, and the unit was removed from the larger bargaining units comprised primarily of corrections officers.
New York State Correction Officers & Police Benevolent Association
A small number of Security Service Aides who function primarily as building guards are found in a large statewide unit predominantly made up of mostly Corrections Officers who perform guard functions in prisons.
Graduate Student Employee Union
In 1993, the Public Employment Relations Board certified the University's graduate student bargaining unit. This unit is made up of approximately 4,500 graduate and teaching assistants for whom SUNY is the sole employer. The vast majority of the members of this unit are found at the four University Centers, with smaller numbers at other graduate level campuses. Nationally, the union is affiliated with the Communications Workers of America, AFL-CIO. Its current title is Communication Workers of America, Local 1104/Graduate Student Employee Union (CWA Local1104/GSEU).
This unit is somewhat unique in that the SUNY graduate student employees are covered by the Agreement between the State and CWA Local 1104/GSEU, but are within a parent union (CWA) which primarily represents the private sector Verizon telephone workers. Because of rapid turnover in leadership in the early years of this unit, the Agreement contains a specific provision whereby management regularly receives notification as to who is authorized to represent the union at each SUNY campus.
The law which established the bargaining rights of public employees in New York also provides for exclusion of positions which have significant managerial responsibilities or duties of a confidential nature which relate to management, finance or collective bargaining administration, and for the exclusion of positions where an employer-employee relationship does not exist. There are generally about 55 managerial/confidential (M/C) positions in the classified service, and about 1,400 M/C positions in the professional service with the University. These positions include presidents, vice presidents, associate deans, human resources and budget officers, and secretarial positions in a confidential relationship to policy-making positions.