For Immediate Release
September 3, 2020
College’s Unions and Non-Union Professional Staff Agree to Salary, Benefit Cuts During Unprecedented Economic Downturn
Suffolk County Community College’s unions and the non-union professional staff have agreed to salary cuts and benefit deferments to help offset mounting costs from the coronavirus pandemic, the school's president said in a letter to the College community last week where he thanked the College’s employees for their help and cooperation in overcoming an unprecedented economic downturn.
The majority of the College’s budget is driven by salaries and benefits, Interim College President Louis Petrizzo wrote, and we must now adjust this area in order to sustain our financial foundation.
Petrizzo said that in the preceding months the College focused its resources on bringing in technology for students and staff, advanced cleaning protocols and purchased PPE, creating then implemented a host of new rules and regulations emanating from a broad range of agencies that have local to federal jurisdiction, and faced the uncertainty of families across the County who were unsure what to do when it came to enrolling their student in college for the fall 2020 semester.
“The College continues to employ a very aggressive strategy to ensure that it continues to meet its financial obligations,” he said, and pointed out that the College has not received 20 percent of its 4th quarter aid payment from the New York State and is unsure if it will. The Governor has said that if no federal stimulus money comes to the states, the College can expect a minimum 20 percent cut in state aid for the 2020 -2021 academic year. Suffolk County has continued to meet its obligations to the College for the 2019-2020 Operating Budget.
The College’s unions and exempt staff are supporting the College’s cost savings efforts. Members of the Faculty Association, he wrote, will defer retroactive payments from their February 2020 full-time salary increase until the end of the contract term. The members of the Guild of Administrative Officers will take a reduction to their biweekly salaries for one year and longevity payments for both units will be deferred to a future date or upon retirement.
Exempt employees’ biweekly salary are reduced by 5 percent for one year, and 2021 longevity payments deferred. The Association of Municipal Employees previously agreed to defer longevity payment.
Interim President Petrizzo thanked Faculty Association President Dante Morelli, Guild President Sean Tvelia, and Suffolk AME President Dan Levler and the College’s faculty, senior leadership and administrators for their help and cooperation and said these agreements will save approximately $2 million and enable the College to better manage its expenses and cash flow.
“It isn’t easy for a union president to ask members to take a salary reduction,” said Guild President Sean Tvelia, “especially when many have been working nonstop to support our faculty and assist students. But Guild members understand the college’s fiscal challenges and, more importantly, they understand that a Suffolk County Community College education is a bridge to a better life for our community.”
“These savings are important because our budget remains a work in progress. We still face financial stress and will need to pay continued attention to our revenue and spending as operations move forward. However, these salary adjustments will enable us to keep full time employees on payroll and covered for their health insurance and in the middle of a pandemic, that is very important,” Petrizzo said.