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SUNY PEF members negotiate mandatory COVID-19 testing at campuses

Staten Island COVID-19 testing site, April 29, 2020. Courtesy: ©Kevin P. Coughlin/State of New York

SUNY PEF members negotiate mandatory COVID-19 testing at campuses

Albany, NY – The New York State Public Employees Federation (PEF) and the State University of New York (SUNY) reached an agreement to conduct mandatory testing for PEF-represented employees at SUNY state-operated colleges, universities, and hospitals.

“From the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, PEF has fought tirelessly to protect our members,” said PEF President Wayne Spence. “This testing agreement between SUNY and PEF will help safeguard the health of state employees as they return to work.”

Effective immediately and continuing through Dec. 31, 2020, all state-operated colleges, universities, and hospitals will conduct testing of PEF-represented employees who are required to report in person to campus to conduct some or all of their work obligations. Testing will be free and conducted during regular work hours. Campuses will collaborate with local PEF representatives to develop testing protocols and testing will be done at the same frequency as with students, faculty, and staff.

“At SUNY, our approach to containing COVID-19 depends on pinpointing any possible positive cases and that is why testing is a central part of our response efforts,” said SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras. “I want to thank President Wayne Spence and his entire organization for this important agreement to include PEF employees — many of our frontline heroes during the crisis — in our regular testing program.”

SUNY currently has the capacity to process 120,000 test samples per week thanks to major testing breakthroughs at SUNY Upstate Medical University. Their now FDA-approved individual saliva test, done in tandem with aggressive pooled surveillance testing, allows colleges to quickly and accurately pinpoint and contain the virus and prevent outbreaks.

The agreement follows similar arrangements announced recently with United University Professions (UUP) faculty and professional members, and Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA) employees.