Union says Upstate Hospital lost millions during pandemic, begs state government to better fund it

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SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — The union representing thousands of workers at Upstate Medical University, the United University Professions (UUP), gathered in Syracuse Wednesday to advocate for more hospital funding from New York State government.

The union represenation explained that New York’s three SUNY-run teaching hospitals have a unique niche within the system. Unlike other hospitals, they can’t offer raises, overtime benefits or hiring bonuses without state approval. But, they don’t get the same perks other SUNY campuses get like the state’s willingness to pay the debts of construction projects.

UUP President Fred Kowal says: “The reason that is typically given is that: ‘well, hospitals can generate revenue from patient care.’ Well, during the pandemic, this hospital has had to shut down all services except treating pandemic victims.”

The Union claims Upstate lost $1 million per month at the height of the pandemic. It’s still losing $500,000 per month at this point.

Kowal blames the administration of former Governor Andrew Cuomo for slowly cutting subsidies that evened the financial format. He sees signs of hope that Governor Kathy Hochul will have a different approach.

Upstate’s President, Dr. Mantosh Dewan, introduced the group and shared appreciation of their advocacy. He touted Dr. Stephen Thomas and Professor Frank Middleton as pandemic heroes who are also union members.

Despite his cheerleading, Dr. Dewan admits he doesn’t have a seat at the negotiating table. Wages are handled by the governor’s office and the unions.

Dr. Dewan declined NewsChannel 9’s request for an interview before the event and left immediately after his remarks.

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