Chancellor Malatras Announces Agreements with UUP, PEF, NYSCOPBA, and PBANYS to Extend Mandatory Weekly COVID-19 Testing for Unvaccinated, Union-Represented Employees

July 1, 2021

SUNY Will Continue to Work to Vaccinate All Employees

Vaccinated Employees Will Be Tested Much Less Frequently and on Sampling Basis to Monitor Breakthrough Infections

Renewed Testing Deals Extend Agreements From 2020-2021 Academic Year

SUNY Has Conducted Nearly 2.5 Million COVID-19 Tests to Date, With 0.39 Percent Overall Positivity Rate

Read the Full Testing MOUs Here: UUP, PEF, NYSCOPBA, PBANYS

Albany, NY – State University of New York Chancellor Jim Malatras today announced renewed agreements with four major unions to extend mandatory, free weekly COVID-19 testing for unvaccinated, union-represented employees through the end of the Fall 2021 semester. Effective through December 31, 2021, all United University Professions, New York State Public Employees Federation, New York State Correctional Officers and Police Benevolent Association, and Police Benevolent Association of New York State employees working in-person on campus who are unvaccinated will be tested weekly for coronavirus. Testing will be conducted during regular work hours.

Fully vaccinated employees who voluntarily provide confirmation of vaccination shall be tested much less frequently and on a sampling basis to monitor for breakthrough infections. Frequency of testing for fully vaccinated employees shall be determined at the campus-level, after consultation with local union representatives.

These agreements—negotiated and struck with UUP President Frederick Kowal, PEF President Wayne Spence, NYSCOPBA Law Enforcement Vice President John Harmon, and PBANYS President Ryan Law—extend prior memorandums of understanding to regularly test employees through the end of the spring semester—a key strategy for monitoring and rooting out COVID-19 on SUNY campuses.

“As we fully reopen our campuses and welcome our students back to campus this fall, we will do everything in our power to ensure that the resumption of the full college experience goes smoothly,” said Chancellor Malatras. “While we hope the worst of the pandemic is behind us, the last 16 months has taught us to remain cautious and prepared. Vaccinations will allow us to fully turn the page, but until every one of our staff is vaccinated, testing—especially of unvaccinated staff—will remain key to managing the virus. Thanks to continued collaboration and leadership from our partners in labor, including UUP President Fred Kowal, PEF President Wayne Spence, NYSCOPBA Law Enforcement Vice President John Harmon, and PBANYS President Ryan Law—we can continue to test a large segment of our employees, especially our unvaccinated employees, when classes resume in the fall. While we want everyone in the SUNY community to get vaccinated, in the weeks and months to come, routine testing will continue to serve as an important layer of protection.”

UUP President Frederick Kowal said, “We welcome the negotiated extension of the mandatory COVID-19 testing for students and SUNY employees on campus. Since he became SUNY chancellor, Dr. Malatras has been a committed partner with UUP and all stakeholders in SUNY. This has enabled SUNY to reduce and contain the number of COVID cases on our campuses, making it safer for our students to learn and for our members to do their jobs. An important distinction in this new agreement is that unvaccinated individuals will be tested weekly, with less frequent testing for employees who are fully vaccinated. The key to making our campuses and our communities safe is for everyone who can to get vaccinated. We join with Chancellor Malatras in urging all SUNY employees and students to get the COVID-19 vaccine as quickly as possible, so as to stop this pandemic in its tracks.”

PEF President Wayne Spence said, “PEF has agreed to continue this testing protocol with SUNY for our members. The science is clear – unvaccinated individuals are at higher risk for contracting COVID-19 -- and testing them weekly will reduce the likelihood of another outbreak. PEF and SUNY have been committed partners throughout this pandemic and I’d like to thank Chancellor Malatras for involving unions in these critical health and safety decisions.”

Law Enforcement Vice President for NYSCOPBA John Harmon said, “Over the past 16 months, the pandemic has upended countless lives, causing chaos throughout society. Despite that, the one thing that has remained constant is the dedication and hard work of our members who continue to provide essential work throughout these adverse conditions. While ultimately getting the vaccine is a personal choice, I think we all agree the best way to manage this virus is by taking the appropriate measures to keep yourself and the people you care about, safe and this agreement does just that.”

PBANYS President and University Police Officers Director Ryan Law said, “Routine COVID-19 testing was pivotal to monitoring and containing any cases of COVID-19 on SUNY campuses over the last year—including within the ranks of our University Police. Until we’re completely out of the woods, regular testing to identify cases and prevent spread is essential. My sincere thanks to Chancellor Malatras, who has been a tireless advocate for the health and wellness of university police throughout this crisis.”

Since August 2020, SUNY has conducted nearly 2.5 million COVID-19 tests for students, faculty, and staff. The overall system-wide positivity rate is 0.39 percent.

About the State University of New York
The State University of New York is the largest comprehensive system of higher education in the United States, and more than 95 percent of all New Yorkers live within 30 miles of any one of SUNY's 64 colleges and universities. Across the system, SUNY has four academic health centers, five hospitals, four medical schools, two dental schools, a law school, the state’s only college of optometry, and manages one US Department of Energy National Laboratory. In total, SUNY serves about 1.3 million students amongst its entire portfolio of credit- and non-credit bearing courses and programs, continuing education, and community outreach programs. SUNY oversees nearly a quarter of academic research in New York. Research expenditures system-wide are nearly $1.1 billion in fiscal year 2021, including significant contributions from students and faculty. There are more than three million SUNY alumni worldwide, and one in three New Yorkers with a college degree is a SUNY alum. To learn more about how SUNY creates opportunity, visit suny.edu.


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