SUNY union members calling for Chancellor Jim Malatras to resign or be removed

Calls mounting for resignation despite apology
Posted at 10:33 AM, Dec 06, 2021

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Some members of the United University Professions — the union representing State University of New York faculty and staff — are breaking with union leadership, now calling for SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras to resign or be removed.

The Member Action Coalition, a faction of union members within the United University Professions, is "standing in solidarity with the SUNY Student Association, the Faculty Council of Community Colleges, the College Democrats and the College Republicans of New York in their calls for [Malatras] to step down immediately or be removed." The coalition says Malatras is "unfit to lead the SUNY system."

A statement was sent to 7 Eyewitness News early Monday, from the Member Action Coalition, calling for Malatras' resignation or removal, after Malatras was publicly linked to the sexual harassment investigation of former Governor Andrew Cuomo. Text messages released by State Attorney General Letitia James' office show Malatras mocked one of the women who later accused the former governor of sexual harassment.

The Member Action Coalition says this connects Malatras "directly to the culture of toxicity and retaliation that has come to describe the work environment of the former Governor’s office."

Late last week, Malatras issued an apology that was generally accepted by the UUP. In a letter sent to the SUNY Board of Trustees, UUP President Frank Kowal said, "In light of the recent news we welcome the Chancellor’s apology. It was necessary and appropriate."

This statement from the Member Action Coalition, stands in direct contradiction to Kowal's statement. Now, the Member Action Coalition is calling for union leadership to "reconsider and...retract the statement made in...support [of Malatras] sent by President Frederick Kowal...without discussion or approval by our UUP delegates, or our members."

The Board of Trustees released a statement last week explaining, "[Malatras has] acknowledged he made a mistake, taken full responsibility for it, and apologized appropriately."

Some union members disagree with that statement writing the statement "does a disservice to those women who have stepped forward to speak truth to power, and also continues to lay bare the Board’s troubling lack of independence from the Governor’s office."

Malatras was appointed SUNY Chancellor by Former Governor Andrew Cuomo earlier this year.

Meantime, Malatras' office continues an investigation into SUNY Alfred State College, where there are allegations of harassment, discrimination and retribution against top administrators, by current and former staffers.

The 7 Eyewitness News I-Team asked the Governor's office, if Governor Hochul had faith in SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras, after exposing these claims against SUNY Alfred. We did not get a response to that question.