Dear Colleagues:

As you know, Philippe Abraham was elected 1st Vice President of NYSUT in early April.  At that time, he and I were in agreement that his work as Chief Negotiator for UUP would be minimally impacted by his new role.  We had also made the appropriate arrangements with the President of NYSUT, Andy Pallotta, to ensure that Philippe’s work as Chief Negotiator would not be seriously impinged upon by his NYSUT work.

The situation was unique, and we expected that it would last only for a few months as we hoped to conclude negotiations by late summer.  However, as you know, negotiations are taking longer than we’d hoped for a variety of reasons that we have previously discussed.  Given the new situation Philippe faces as acting Secretary/Treasurer of NYSUT – a position he is holding while also continuing his role as 1st Vice President – it is now clear to Philippe and me that a change regarding negotiations was necessary.

After a lengthy discussion last Thursday, Philippe and I reached a mutual decision that he would step down as Chief Negotiator for UUP effective immediately. I briefed the negotiations team on Monday and informed the Executive Board of this yesterday.  Today, I spoke with the State’s Chief Negotiator Joe Bress to brief him on the situation as well.

Because our negotiations team has been structured in a particular way, we have been prepared for a situation like this from the start. Mike Smiles of Farmingdale has been serving as Deputy Chief Negotiator for this round, and has served on every team going back to the 1990’s.  He will speak for the team during full negotiations sessions and will lead the team in its deliberations. It has also always been the case, when we get close to reaching a tentative agreement, the President of UUP becomes much more deeply involved in the negotiations process. Therefore, my role will increase significantly over the next couple of months as we move towards a tentative agreement.

Philippe has served with distinction as Chief Negotiator, just as he served in an exemplary fashion as Vice President for Professionals for UUP.  This was not an easy decision for either of us, but it was one we reached with a shared concern about the interests of our members.

We have a strong team, an excellent Council to the President in Elizabeth Hough, and a fair and just set of demands.  I believe this combination will bring us to a result we are all hopeful of: an excellent contract for all of our members.

In conclusion, I wish to thank Philippe Abraham for his service as Chief Negotiator.  Our team and our negotiating position, are both strong because of his dedicated efforts.

We will continue to keep you posted as negotiations move forward.

In Solidarity,


Update on Contract Negotiations