Minutes for tomorrow's UA member's meeting, Wed at 3:30

Dear colleagues,

With apologies for adding yet another missive to your inboxes, attached please find the minutes from last spring for approval at our Fall Member’s meeting, this Wednesday (tomorrow) at 3:30 in Waterman Manor (note the new location: it has been moved from Waterman 413).  

Again, this should be both informative and fun, with a reception for outgoing staffer Steve Finner following the meeting. 

Best,

Tom Streeter

President, United Academics

thomas.streeter@uvm.edu 

Essential UA member’s meeting 11/7, 3:30, Waterman Manor

Dear colleagues,

As a follow up to VP and Prof. Sarah Alexander’s recent email, I write to remind you to attend our Fall Member’s meeting, this Wednesday at 3:30 in Waterman Manor (note the new location: it has been moved from Waterman 413). There is union business to be conducted, an important discussion to be had about the future structure of UA, colleagues from around campus to meet or catch up with, and a celebration of Steve Finner upon his retirement. (Agenda below.)

But also, if you believe in academic professionalism, in science, in sustained critical reflection, in the life of the mind, come to support UA. All of those values are under serious threat in the U.S., and we cannot take them for granted at UVM. United Academics, through contract administration and more, is a crucial legal bulwark of support for those values. I truly believe that. UA provides strong legal protections of academic freedom and rigorous peer-reviewed promotion standards. UA constantly reminds UVM, sometimes using its legal powers, that UVM’s mission is to educate and inquire, not merely to entertain or extract tuition money.

So if you want your work to be supported and respected, come to the meeting on Wednesday. If you can’t come at 3:30, come later; we will be in the Manor until 6:00, and drinks and refreshments will be served. If you are not a member, you can join at the door.

And whether or not you can attend, consider serving UA in a leadership role and encourage your colleagues to do so. Newly elected positions start in July 2019. We need a new President and more. It’s work, but it’s satisfying work, it’s not overwhelming, and it counts as university service. Do not take UA for granted; it will only be as good as the faculty who step up to serve it. There are 800 faculty represented by UA, so I can’t personally reach out individually to you all, but please contact me to discuss possibilities. For many of you who have not been involved before, especially if you are tenured, it’s time to do your part.

Of course, I also expect the meeting to be fun. I look forward to seeing you on Wednesday.

Best,

Tom Streeter

President, United Academics

thomas.streeter@uvm.edu

Regarding Recent Events and Elections

Dear Colleagues,

It is impossible to find words adequate to the horrors of the racist shootings in Pittsburgh and Kentucky and other recent events, and yet impossible not to mention them. The horrors are clear. The question is what can we as faculty do? There is no one answer, but UA has long had a commitment to ending racism at UVM and beyond. If you are interested in participating in UA’s Civil Rights Committee, contact CRC Chair Leon Walls (lwalls@uvm.edu) to share your thoughts and let him know you would like to be put on the email list. You also might consider donating to the global refugee support organization that has been reported as a target of the Pittsburgh shooter, HIAS, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society https://www.hias.org/.

Meanwhile, elections are coming up—across  the nation on Nov. 6 and not long thereafter for United Academics. I do not need to remind UVM faculty of the importance of voting, but I offer the statements we solicited last August during the primaries from gubernatorial candidates Phil Scott and Christine Hallquist regarding their views on higher education funding, unions, and more. Both statements are attached to this message, and are revealing about the candidates and about the state of the debate about higher education in Vermont. 

Our own elections for UA officers are scheduled for mid-November. Please consider running for a position with UA in this fall’s elections, which will be held shortly after the Nov. 7 Member’s Meeting for terms running from July 1, 2019 to June 30, 2021. Serving as a Delegate for your college or a representative for your department is a modest time commitment (meetings once a month) and a good way to get to know UA and colleagues from around campus. There is still room to run for a position on the Executive Council, for Vice President, President, or more. Email our Nominations and Elections Chair Charles-Louis Morand Métivier at cmorandm@uvm.edu, and/or read about opportunities with UA here: http://www.unitedacademics.org/descriptions-of-elected-positions/.   

I’m one of the 293 faculty at UVM with tenure. Given that extraordinary security, I believe it is critical to try to do something about the problems of people outside my immediate circles of family, career, and self-care. If you agree, please consider involvement in UA, especially if you are tenured.

As always, keep in touch.

Tom Streeter

President, United Academics

thomas.streeter@uvm.edu

Workshops Oct. 23rd, Members Meeting Nov. 7th, elections, and a triumph

Dear colleagues,

I write today about workshops on Oct. 23rd, the members meeting, and more. Before I get into details, I just want to say that working for UA over the years, in various capacities has sometimes been relatively easy and sometimes hard, but it has always been the most satisfying kind of university service I’ve done (and I’ve done many other kinds of service, including being a Chair). Life is better if you care. As long as faculty step up and help out, UA makes UVM a better place.

So please take seriously the following opportunities.

First, please consider joining in one of two workshops on Oct. 23rd, led by Jamie Daniel from the American Association of University Professors' national office. The focus: building United Academics' membership, member involvement, and union voice across all of UVM's academic units. Jamie will join us to lead these workshops, both in the UVM Alumni House's Hurd Library, on Tuesday, October 23, and you have your choice of two workshop times: 8-9:30 am, with continental breakfast, OR 5-7:30 pm, with dinner and choice of beer, wine, or nonalcoholic beverage.

The workshops 1) will explore fresh ideas and inspiration we can take from other faculty unions around the country to reach out to new faculty and keep current members informed, engaged, and involved; 2) develop plans to recruit and train department representatives for every unit on campus so that we have a robust communication network to reach out to faculty about issues as they arise, and inform and support our next round of bargaining (which for the full-time faculty will likely begin by February 2020--just a little over a year from now!)

Please let Nancy Welch know if you can attend one of these two workshops: nwelch@uvm.edu.

Second, on Nov. 7th, at 3:30-5:30 in Waterman 413, please plan to come to our fall semester UA Members meeting, where we will discuss and vote on major issues before the union, including UA’s future financial and administrative organization. The event will conclude with a celebration of Steve Finner, our beloved and unstoppable long time consultant and higher ed union expert, who is retiring at the end of this semester.

Third, consider running for a position with UA in this fall’s elections, which will be held shortly after the Member’s Meeting, for terms running from July 1, 2019 to June 30, 2021. Serving as a Delegate for your college or a representative for your department is a modest time commitment (meetings once a month) and a good way to get to know UA and colleagues from around campus. You can also run for a position on the EC, for Vice President, President, or more. Email Nominations and Elections Chair Charles-Louis Morand Métivier cmorandm@uvm.edu, and/or read about opportunities with UA here: http://www.unitedacademics.org/descriptions-of-elected-positions/.  

Finally, some great news: the UVM part-time faculty membership has voted to ratify a new part-time faculty collective bargaining agreement, which all agree is one of the best contracts ever achieved for part-time faculty. Our bargaining team has been in negotiations with UVM's administration for over 6 months, and we are appreciative of the work of both teams and the mutual willingness to compromise to achieve a fair contract for UVM's part-time faculty. Gains in this contract include a 8.75% pay raise over 3 years, a $2000 promotion bonus, increased professional development funds, a new part-time faculty award for excellence in teaching, increased access to tuition credits, and improvements in per diem payment for additional duties. Congratulations and many thanks to Chief Negotiator Katlyn Morris and the tireless negotiating team: Dan Wells, Fabio Fua Nascimento, Heather Fitzgerald, Jean Sienkewicz, and Brian Tokar.

As always, please keep in touch.

Best,

Tom Streeter

President, United Academics

thomas.streeter@uvm.edu

Fall preview from United Academics

Dear colleagues,

Welcome back to campus, and a special welcome to the new faculty. In between scrambling to organize my fall classes, I wanted to greet you all, update you on events over the summer, and give you a preview of United Academics activities for the coming months.

After more than a year of negotiations, UA members deliberated and at the end of May voted to ratify the full time contract. Over the summer, UA cooperated with the administration in producing a final version of the new contract, which is now available online.

Understanding how the contract works is essential to navigating faculty life at UVM. Whether you want to refresh your understanding or are starting from scratch, Grievance Officer Keith Burt and staff member Steve Finner are offering two “Know Your Contract” sessions next month, on Thursday Sept. 20, 4:30pm-5:30pm, Waterman 427A, and again on Friday Sept. 21, 4:30pm-5:30pm, Old Mill Annex A304. RSVP to contract@unitedacademics.org appreciated.  Both sessions will cover the same material.

Part-time negotiations, meanwhile, are still ongoing. The next bargaining session for the part-time contract is next Thurs., 8/30 at 9:00 am in Davis Ctr. 419, probably going to 1:00 pm or beyond. The team welcomes visitors for the sessions at any time; dropping in provides needed support to the hard working negotiating team, and if you’ve never been in a bargaining session, it can be eye opening. Feel free to contact Chief Part Time Negotiator Katlyn Morris if you are thinking of dropping in.

As expected, in the Janus decision at the end of June, the conservative majority on the US Supreme Court overturned forty years of precedent allowing public unions to charge agency fees. Working with UVM administration, we made sure to comply with the new law, and recently put up a new membership form that removes references to agency fees. So far it looks like we have made a net gain in membership since Janus. Please reach out to colleagues to encourage them to be union members: more members means a stronger faculty voice. As I said last June, “Part of the calling of being a professor, I’ve come to deeply believe, is taking responsibility for the institution. Contributing to UA by being a member is an important way to do that. It’s about professionalism, about taking some responsibility. Besides better salaries and benefits, UA makes the university more fair, predictable, and professional.”

Along those lines, UA’s biennial elections are upon us. Working for UA is a form of service the university, a way to get to know and interact with colleagues across campus – and it offers the satisfaction of service that engages in some truly consequential matters. Positions up for election, according to our constitution, include President, Vice President, Treasurer, Secretary, EC Members at Large, and Delegate Assembly members. Please contact me or Nominations and Elections Committee Chair Charles-Louis MorandMétivier for information, or if you wish to run or nominate someone to run.

Finally, some news: in January, I will be leaving UVM for a faculty position at Western University in London Ontario. The main reason is that my spouse, Lisa Henderson, has taken a position as a Dean at Western. She and I have been commuting between Burlington and Western Mass., where she has been a faculty member at UMass. Amherst. We will finally get to close our commute.

This is very bittersweet for me: I’m looking forward to Western, but have been at UVM just short of thirty years, raised my son here, and have come to love the university, the city of Burlington, and the many, many great friends and colleagues from over the years. You all will be sorely missed. I will remain on the job as UA President through the coming semester, and the EC is actively working on securing a plan for covering the role through the last five months of my term.

Heartfelt greetings and best wishes to all you for the coming semester. As always, keep in touch.

Tom Streeter

President, United Academics

thomas.streeter@uvm.edu

Gubernatorial candidates’ views on higher ed in Vermont

Dear colleagues,

UA does not generally endorse candidates for office but we do share information about candidates. In anticipation of the Aug. 14th primaries, I recently asked all six legally qualified candidates for Governor of Vermont to answer four questions about higher education policy in Vermont, letting them know I will share with faculty all responses received by today verbatim. PDFs are attached containing the answers of the four candidates for which I have received responses so far. I will share any more responses that I receive as soon as they come in.

Each candidate was asked to answer, in 100 words or less, the following questions:

1) UVM is the only public research university in Vermont. Roughly 70% of its 11,000 students come from out of state. Out-of-state undergraduate tuition, much higher than in state tuition, is UVM’s single largest revenue stream. Do you think UVM is serving the state as well as it could, or do you think there is room for improvement. What might those improvements be?

2) Vermont has long been very near or at the bottom of per capita spending on higher education. Do you think this is an acceptable situation, or do you think it should change? If you think it should change, how should it change, and what would you do as Governor to change it?

3) Most public higher ed faculty in Vermont are unionized, including at UVM. What is your view of faculty unions?

4) Ideas have been floated in the Vermont legislature to create free tuition for all Vermont residents. What is your position on this idea, and what would you do as Governor if legislation is introduced to move the state in that direction?

Best,

Tom Streeter

President, United Academics

thomas.streeter@uvm.edu

UPDATE: RE: THIS WEEK'S PAYCHECKS AND AGENCY FEE DEDUCTIONS

Dear colleagues,

A quick update on agency fee deductions. This afternoon we learned from HR that payroll was unable to modify this week’s paychecks. Any agency fees deducted this week will be refunded in the subsequent check. In their words, “faculty who see agency fees deducted on 6/30, will have those monies refunded in their 7/15 paycheck.” 

If you are a fee payer, please let UA and/or HR know if you encounter any issues or have questions.

Best,

Tom Streeter

President, United Academics

thomas.streeter@uvm.edu

http://www.unitedacademics.org/join-us/

http://www.unitedacademics.org/why-a-union-2/

United Academics is the union of full- and part-time faculty at University of Vermont, with over 700 members from departments and colleges across the campus. We represent faculty in negotiating and upholding contracts, and we advocate for fair labor practices within and beyond our academic community. We are a member-led union­ committed to academic freedom, shared governance, social and environmental justice.

Get to know us at www.unitedacademics.org, and United Academics on Facebook

JANUS VS AFSCME IMPLICATIONS, MEMBERSHIP, UVMMC NURSES

Janus vs AFSCME implications, membership, UVMMC nurses

Dear colleagues,

Today, three things: the implications of the Janus decision, an invitation to membership with comments about the crucial role of the CAC, and some news about one of our fellow unions, the UVM Medical Center nurses. 

This morning, the U.S. Supreme Court announced their decision in the Janus vs. AFSCME case, and as expected the conservative five person majority has broken with precedent and ended the practice of charging agency fees for union services to individuals represented by public unions. 

I will start with the mechanical side of this issue for UVM faculty. United Academics has made it clear to UVM’s administration that the practice of charging non-union members agency fees should cease immediately, and if payroll processing issues cause anyone to be charged an agency fee after today they should be reimbursed. We are cooperating with the administration on this and expect things to go reasonably smoothly. Fee payers whose next paycheck is due in September will not notice anything until then. Ten and twelve month fee payers who are still being paid for their regular workload, nine month fee payers who chose to have their pay broken up over 12 months, and any part time fee payers who are teaching may be impacted in their summer paychecks. Please feel free to contact me or contract@unitedacademics.org if you have questions or concerns. 

In the near term, changes in how UA operates should be minimal. (We have already adjusted our budget in anticipation of Janus.) We will continue to negotiate and support contracts that maintain professionalism and academic values at UVM. Some states have passed laws allowing public unions to charge non-members for services like grievance support, but I for one would be reluctant to go down that road. The problem with making the union into a fee-for-service operation is similar to the problem with the underlying logic of the Janus decision itself: experience has convinced me some things just

work better when done collectively (even if there’s some democratic disagreement involved, or a bit of a free rider problem). 

In this context, I will reiterate my invitation to fee payers, sent out earlier this month, to consider reasons why joining the union might make sense, and I ask all of you to consider talking to your colleagues about the value of UA. Now’s the time; no point in putting it off. And I’ll add another bit of information: If you’ve never felt a need to make use of the CAC, you may have the CAC to thank for that fact itself. Over the decade and a half of its existence on campus, administrators have gotten the message that they need to follow rules, and be fair, transparent, and professional. Believe me, it was not always so. That said, the Contract Administration Committee fields over 100 inquiries a year and routinely follows about a half a dozen cases at a time. The vast majority of CAC issues and questions are resolved collaboratively without filing any formal grievance. But every year the CAC handles a handful of complex and difficult issues in ways that benefit both individual faculty and, by clarifying rules and upholding the contract, all faculty. 

Finally, you may have heard that UVM Medical Center’s nurses are in difficult negotiations for their contract, and several of you have contacted me asking what UA is doing to support them. They have some very compelling data showing how their below-industry-norms-pay causes staffing problems that negatively impact patient care. I’ve written in the past about the value to UVM faculty of supporting other unions, particularly in our own neighborhood. The UA Executive Council recently passed a resolution in support of the UVMMC nurses, and noted that their efforts to keep the hospital’s resources in patient care mirrors our efforts to keep UVM’s resources focused on academics. Please consider signing a petition of support by clicking here. (More information can be found in the links at the end of this message.)

Tom Streeter

President, United Academics

http://www.unitedacademics.org/join-us/

thomas.streeter@uvm.edu

P.S. Information about the nurses’ contract negotiations can be found here: 

https://vtdigger.org/2018/06/24/uvmmc-nurse-bargaining-committee-safety-staffing-recruitment-retention-issues-top-list/

http://unitednurses.info/

https://www.facebook.com/VFNHP/

For background on executive pay at UVMMC: https://vtdigger.org/2017/08/21/pay-ceo-uvm-health-network-exceeds-2-million/.  And for some not-so-ancient history of problems on the executive level at our university hospital: https://www.rutlandherald.com/articles/hospitals-ex-chief-gets-jail/

United Academics is the union of full- and part-time faculty at University of Vermont, with over 700 members from departments and colleges across the campus. We represent faculty in negotiating and upholding contracts, and we advocate for fair labor practices within and beyond our academic community. We are a member-led union­ committed to academic freedom, shared governance, social and environmental justice.

Get to know us at www.unitedacademics.org, and United Academics on Facebook

Retroactive paychecks coming

A message from your union, which brought you protection of sabbatical benefits

Dear colleagues,

Today, some administrative detail: many of you have been asking about when you will receive your retroactive pay. UVM’s Human Resource Services and Division of Finance are putting together all the details. 

Your individualized salary letter should be out soon, and will contain the details of your FY18 and FY19 salaries. Our best information at this point is that faculty can expect to receive a lump sum for their FY18 increase retroactive to Jan. 1, 2018 (minus applicable taxes and any dues/fees) by the end of July. University retirement contributions will be made on these retro payments, as applicable. 

If you taught or are teaching a summer class which is being administered through CDE, you may also be eligible for retroactive pay for the period May 21 and June 15, 2018. If this is the case, this retro pay should be calculated and payment made to you by the end of July.  

If you were paid for supplemental or additional work you were contracted to perform between January 1 and June 15, 2018, AND your rate of compensation was contingent on your base salary, then you can expect to receive a lump sum payment for any retroactive monies owed, minus applicable taxes and any dues/fees deductions, by mid-August.

Again, the raise pool increase for FY18, this past year, is 1.5% ATB, 1% performance, and for FY19 and 20, 2% ATB and 1% performance, for a total of 8.5% over the three years of the contract. 

Thanks, and keep in touch.

Tom Streeter

President, United Academics

thomas.streeter@uvm.edu

 

United Academics is the union of full- and part-time faculty at University of Vermont, with over 700 members from departments and colleges across the campus. We represent faculty in negotiating and upholding contracts, and we advocate for fair labor practices within and beyond our academic community. We are a member-led union­ committed to academic freedom, shared governance, social and environmental justice.

 

Get to know us at www.unitedacademics.org, and United Academics on Facebook

Follow up to last week’s email r.e. Janus: a correction, and UA budget info

A message from your union, which brought you expanded and guaranteed professional development funds

Dear colleagues,

I received a few helpful suggestions about the email I sent out a week ago regarding the expected Janus case decision and the value of being a member, so today’s message is a follow up. 

First, there was an embarrassing typo in my last message: fee payer status under existing law costs 0.8321% of a faculty’s salary, not .082%. My apologies. (Current membership fees are of 1% of salary.) Thanks to those who pointed this out. 

Second, I was asked if I could summarize where those membership fees go. The budget for this coming year was emailed to all UA members in the lead up to our spring membership meeting, but it is complex. So I will provide here a very brief, broad summary of UA’s expenses with some explanation. (Thanks to UA Treasurer and faculty member in Math & Statistics, Joe Kudrle, for his help with this.) 

I’ll preface this overview by saying that, for a number of reasons, UA leadership is currently looking carefully at its structure and organization. So if you have questions or concerns about where the money goes, now is a good time to talk to colleagues and consider getting involved in the discussion about how best to organize UA in the future.

That said, the budget passed at our 2018 spring member’s meeting projected total expenses for FY 2019 to be $425K (down a bit from previous years because of the expected losses due to Janus). 

Honoraria: By choice, we have been a heavily faculty-run union, and thus have historically paid more than many unions in stipends (for course releases or equivalents) to facilitate the large amount of work UVM faculty have done on behalf of UA. This budget’s 13% is substantially down from previous budgets, as we have cut the majority of our stipends in half, but the work done by individual faculty is still very substantial. For example, our Contract Administration Committee does an enormous amount of work, almost all of it confidential, helping individual faculty throughout the year. This could not be done without some teaching relief for its most active members. 

UA fy19 expenses chart.png

Staff: For the same reason, our staff costs (13%) are lower than many, perhaps most, higher ed unions. Our staff budget goes largely to our part time 10-hour-per-week administrator, Patti Gannon, and to our consultant, Steve Finner, who has been working for us part time (officially, five days a month) providing expert legal and policy help since he retired from a lifetime career with AAUP. 

Other: The “other” category of expenses (18%) is made up largely of negotiation- and contract-related expenses. For example, we occasionally pay for legal advice about specific grievance and contract details, and we needed a lawyer with expertise in Vermont labor law to represent us in the fact finding hearing and related issues in our recently concluded full time contract negotiations.

Dues and Fees: More than half our expenses go to payments to our two affiliate organizations, AFT and AAUP, according to fixed formulae based on our own income from dues and fees. This is typical for higher ed unions. What do we get for all that? 

In general, unions have found it efficient to pool resources, so each union is not faced with reinventing the wheel on its own when dealing with legal and policy complexities. Some of that money comes back to us for efforts directly on behalf of UA. For example, Katlyn Morris (UVM PhD 2013, Lecturer since 2012) is serving us in several ways, including as Chief Negotiator for our part time unit’s ongoing negotiations, and her salary is paid for by VT-AFT. We also regularly consult with experts in higher education issues at both organizations on matters ranging from intellectual property policies and the legal and policy complexities of implementing things like the Janus decision. And both organizations keep an eye on political and legal issues in a way that UA could not do on its own: AAUP is particularly engaged with matters of intellectual freedom and trends in higher education policy nationally, and AFT is engaged with legislative issues both nationally, and via AFT-VT, in Vermont. They represent UA’s interests in arenas we are not well equipped to

Besides direct benefits, there is a “pay-it-forward” logic to union umbrella organizations. Unions help each other, and a stronger union context nationwide helps everyone. When faculty at UVM first organized UA, we received enormous amounts of support dealing with the logistics and legal issues surrounding the creation of our union, and that help was paid for by union membership fees paid for by other unions. So it makes sense that some of our contributions now go to help organize other unions.  

Again, all of these matters can be subject to change over the long term. Some (e.g., stipends) are fairly flexible, whereas our relationships to affiliate organizations are determined by a three way contract that would be quite complex and difficult to change. But we are currently exploring alternative organizational structures for the future, and nothing is completely off the table. 

As always, I welcome comments and questions. 

Tom Streeter

President, United Academics

thomas.streeter@uvm.edu

http://www.unitedacademics.org/join-us/

United Academics is the union of full- and part-time faculty at University of Vermont, representing over 700 faculty from departments and colleges across the campus. We represent faculty in negotiating and upholding contracts, and we advocate for fair labor practices within and beyond our academic community. We are a member-led union­ committed to academic freedom, shared governance, social and environmental justice.

Get to know us at www.unitedacademics.org, and United Academics on Facebook

Regarding the coming Janus Decision

 

A message from your union, which brought you faculty control of RPT guidelines

Dear colleagues,

 

Any day now the U.S. Supreme Court will release a decision in the “Janus case” (a.k.a. Janus v. AFSCME Council 31), and we can expect the conservative majority of the court to reverse the forty year precedent allowing unions to charge agency fees. We will be in contact with membership about the specifics of the decision shortly after it becomes public. 

Today I write not to explain why I think the expected decision is wrong (though I do). Instead, I want to talk to a particular group: those of you, current fee payers and perhaps some members, who might be uncertain about the value of membership in United Academics. Non-members will no longer be charged 0.8321% of their salary as a fee for the services provided by the union. Why is membership in UA worthwhile? 

Certainly, UA, like unions in general, has had a positive effect on salaries and benefits over the long term (see our website for details). But I would be the first to acknowledge that, while the raises in our latest contract are solid, they are not dramatic improvements. 

This is about more than money. I encourage you to look over the items under “Why a Union?” on our website, or perhaps review some of the emails I have sent out over the year. Consider talking to colleagues who have been helped by the Contract Administration Committee, in small ways (e.g., straightening out the disbursement of summer money) or large (e.g., correcting unfair behavior by a dean towards a tenure track faculty member, or helping a faculty member whose privacy is threatened by a partisan journalist). 

Also, I get it that you may not like something, or many things, about UA. There’s the conflict with the administration that many find annoyingly strident, for example, or the extra layer to the bureaucracy that results in things like work load forms. In that you are not different from most members. Personally, I do not enjoy the adversarial relationship with the administration that comes with negotiating and defending a contract, and it sometimes takes me some effort to get along with other union members when faced with inevitable disagreements about politics or style that occur in a democratic organization. 

The union is not perfect. But it is considerably better than its absence, and it only works as long as members support it. 

For me at root it is about faculty governance. When I was in graduate school, I never imagined for a minute that I would be spending time as a professor worrying about the cost of athletic facilities, or the differences between tuition and fees. I thought my life was going to be all about the life of the mind. I have since come to the conclusion, however, that for the life of the mind to flourish, it needs a home, and faculty like us sometimes need to put in a little time taking care of that home. From experience, I've seen that if faculty aren't keeping an eye on things, people who are further away from the real work of the institution make all the decisions, perspectives can get lost, and the whole institution can start to stray. Administrators are not evil, but they are under their own pressures from the outside, and the union is a counterforce against those pressures

Part of the calling of being a professor, I’ve come to deeply believe, is taking responsibility for the institution. Contributing to UA by being a member is an important way to do that. It’s about professionalism, about taking some responsibility. Besides better salaries and benefits, UA makes the university more fair, predictable, and professional.

For all these reasons, I urge you to join the union and/or take seriously your commitment to being a member. While it might not be obvious to you on a day to day basis, I think if you look into it you will find that United Academics makes UVM a better place to work, a better context for the magic of the classroom and the research lab. Your membership and participation help all of us. 

Please be in contact, and thank you,

Tom Streeter

President, United Academics

thomas.streeter@uvm.edu  

 

http://www.unitedacademics.org/join-us/

http://www.unitedacademics.org/uvm-salaries-before-and-after-ua/

http://www.unitedacademics.org/meet-our-members/

http://www.unitedacademics.org/why-a-union-2/

 

United Academics is the union of full- and part-time faculty at University of Vermont, with over 700 members from departments and colleges across the campus. We represent faculty in negotiating and upholding contracts, and we advocate for fair labor practices within and beyond our academic community. We are a member-led union­ committed to academic freedom, shared governance, social and environmental justice.

 

Get to know us at www.unitedacademics.org, and United Academics on Facebook

UVM FACULTY RATIFIES CONTRACT WITH THE ADMINISTRATION

UVM Faculty ratifies contract with the administration

For immediate release: May 29, 2018

Contact: Tom Streeter, thomas.streeter@uvm.edu

UVM Faculty ratify contract with the administration

Burlington, VT—Today, the full-time members of United Academics, the faculty union of the University of Vermont, voted overwhelmingly to ratify the agreement reached with the administration for a contract after fifteen months of negotiation.

Faculty won an 8.5% salary increases over the three years of the contract (2.5% the first year, and 3% the following two years), increased pay for promotions and summer teaching, a workload reduction for non-tenure-track faculty, and more. Administration proposals to reduce faculty control over their intellectual property were rebuffed, and benefits won in previous contracts were maintained.

According to Prof. Tom Streeter, President of United Academics, “many public university administrations across the country are seeking to undermine faculty professionalism and autonomy by letting salaries stagnate, reducing job protections, reducing or eliminating research sabbaticals, and reducing faculty control over what and how they study and teach. In that context, this contract represents a victory for the faculty and students of the University of Vermont. Students will continue to learn from teacher-scholars at the forefronts of their fields. The disciplined free inquiry that has made UVM an environment conducive to bold and cutting edge research has been preserved.”

UA Vice President and Professor of English Sarah Alexander noted that “over the long term the struggle over control of universities continues. For the good of UVM and its students, we will continue to press against the tendency of university administrations, including UVM’s, to treat the university as if it were a private business where students are merely revenue sources and faculty are an expense to be minimized. Universities exist to serve the public good, and United Academics will continue to serve as an important protector of that role.”

Almost all issues for the contract were settled during bargaining between January and September of 2017. The main sticking points going into mediation in September were salary and an administrative effort to reduce faculty’s rights to the intellectual property in their courses under certain circumstances. The administration dropped the intellectual property clause in December, which meant the only issue going into fact finding was salary. After a fact finding hearing in February and submissions of final exhibits by both sides on March 23rd, a report by Fact Finder Michael Ryan was released to both parties on May 7th. 

The report to a large degree supported UA’s analysis. Regarding the administration’s claim during negotiations that UVM faculty were already competitively paid, the fact finder noted that “objectivity balks at [the administration’s] selection” of the Oklahoma State Univ. (OSU) annual survey of faculty salaries as a comparator (the basis for the administration’s public claims during negotiations that UVM faculty were at 104% of national averages). “It is hard to envision,” he  

continued, “what [UVM] might have in common with the University of North Dakota, the University of South Alabama, and Central Michigan University, to pick a few examples from the OSU list.” There is, he concluded, a “continuing need to increase the bargaining units' salaries to be more in line with their comparable peers.” (UA’s exhibit on UVM faculty salaries in a national context, authored by Prof. Beth Mintz, is attached.) 

The fact finder also noted that “There is no doubt that the University is currently on a firm financial footing. Enrollment is stable or increasing. The revenue picture is generally positive, and the reserves are strong. The bond-rating agencies have recognized this performance, commenting on the University’s ‘strong’ financial profile and ‘stable outlook.’” 

“This has been a long process – too long,” said Streeter. “The end results are better than what we would have gotten without hanging tight, and they should give the administration pause before they choose to drag things out through mediation and fact finding in the future. But we can safely say that our union has acted successfully to protect the well-being of faculty and the intellectual vitality of the University of Vermont.” 

http://www.unitedacademics.org/facts-about-uvm-spending/ 

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MEETINGS, MORE DETAILS ABOUT THE TENTATIVE AGREEMENT

Dear colleagues,

Today, a reminder that there will be no BOT event, reminders of upcoming meetings Thursday at 2:00 and Tuesday at 11:30, and some more details about the tentative agreement.

First, please note that there will be no special UA effort to distribute information at the opening of this week’s BOT meeting; we planned something in case the administration did not accept the fact finder’s recommendations, but that is no longer necessary. Thanks for all who volunteered to show up.

Second, please remember the Thursday 2:00-3:30 meeting of the Delegates Assembly in Baily Howe Dean's Conference room, and the Tuesday, May 22, 11:30-1:00 Informational Meeting for all membership in Waterman 427.

Third, members of the Delegates Assembly have been fielding questions from members about the details of the contract. This is how it is supposed to work, and we hope more of you contact your DA and Dept. reps if you have any questions.

A few of the questions that have arisen so far:

  • Will my raise going into fall 2018 be based on 3% of the salary I’ve been getting this past year or will it take into account the retroactive raise? The latter. Raises going into year two of the contract (we are at the end of year one), will on average be 3% calculated on top of the average 2.5% that is given retroactively. The exact percentage increases will vary from individual to individual, within a small range on either side of the contractual averages of 2.5%/3%/3%. 1% of each year’s raise will be devoted to performance (a better word than “merit”) which will be assigned to individual faculty by deans in consultation with chairs. The ATB parts of the raises will be distributed half as a flat rate and half as a percentage of salary.
  • Will my pay for summer courses be based on the current contract? Yes, though the resulting increases in summer pay won’t be processed until some time after ratification. Article 19, specifies that summer courses (and all courses taught as supplemental to your appointment) will be compensated at a minimum of $2100 per credit (versus $2000 per credit in the previous CBA). Section 19.6.c, specifies that the pay is "2.75% of the faculty member's prior academic year base salary for each credit hour taught" if that is greater than the minimum. Your base pay for AY17-18, upon which this will be determined, includes the 2.5% raise.
  • Are Deans expected to figure out the performance pay increases for this past year as well as this coming year? Yes. While we do not know yet exactly how this will be administered, under the tentative agreement, Deans will need to distribute 1% of the salary pool for 2017-18 in terms of performance, use that and the 1.5% ATB to calculate everyone’s base pay increase for that year, and then distribute half the total amount of the increase by way of retroactive pay checks (which in the past have come out in a few installments). Then they will also have to determine performance raises that will be used to calculate your pay starting this coming fall.
  • Will the one course load reductions every third year apply to clinical faculty as well as lecturers? Yes. The reductions apply to “non tenure track faculty.”
  • Will clinical CE’s count the same as regular courses towards those reductions? Sadly, no. We tried to get course equivalents into the clause but the administration would not agree. So that’s something for the next round of negotiations. 

Please feel free to keep sending your questions to your Department Reps, your DA members, or directly to me.

Best,

Tom Streeter

President, United Academics

thomas.streeter@uvm.edu

 

United Academics is the union of full- and part-time faculty at University of Vermont, with over 700 members from departments and colleges across the campus. We represent faculty in negotiating and upholding contracts, and we advocate for fair labor practices within and beyond our academic community. We are a member-led union­ committed to academic freedom, shared governance, social and environmental justice.

 

Get to know us at www.unitedacademics.org, and United Academics on Facebook

MOVING TOWARDS CONTRACT RATIFICATION: MEETINGS AND VOTING

Moving towards contract ratification: meetings and voting

Dear colleagues,

It is time to work through the final stages of our contract. Please put the following in your calendars: 

  • This Thursday 2:00-3:30 there will be a meeting of the Delegates Assembly in the Bailey Howe Dean's Conference room to go over the details with a representative from the Negotiating Team and make a recommendation to the Executive Council. All UA members are welcome.
  • On Tuesday, May 22, 11:30-1:00 in Waterman 427 there will be an Informational Meeting for all membership to go over the details of the contract, so that the ratification vote will be an informed one. To attend this meeting remotely by phone or video, please register in advance with this link:  https://zoom.us/meeting/register/af7f0d1b071fddcc66858a512be5123a  
  • May 24-29, we will have an electronic contract ratification vote open to members.

If you are not yet a member, but would like to become one to vote on the contract, participate in UA decision making, and strengthen faculty governance at UVM, it’s simple. Just click here: http://www.unitedacademics.org/join-us/ You can bring a filled-out membership form to either of the meetings to participate.

As a democratically run union, it is important that membership have multiple chances to provide input into their contract. We have consulted with membership in multiple ways throughout the negotiations, but it is important that we are all fully informed before the contract goes to membership for a vote. A summary of the process is on our website, as is a link to the full Bargaining Protocol. UA’s Executive Council met this morning, and we worked out this timeline to work through the final stages of finalizing our contract.

Key features of the tentative agreement we will be discussing in the coming week include:

  • Raises will be an average of 8.5% over the three years, with 2.5% the first year, and 3% the following two years. 1% is devoted to performance and the rest to Across the Board (ATB) for each year. The bitter pill in the report is that raises are retroactive to Jan. 1, 2018, instead of to the end of the last contract. Given the legal weight of the fact finder’s recommendations, we have concluded it necessary to accept this onerous bit in an otherwise good contract. 
  • Those who were promoted going into 2017-18 will get full retroactive promotion bumps.
  • Those promoted this year and in subsequent years in all categories will get larger promotion bumps than in all previous contracts (which have an effect on career earnings well beyond that of annual raises). 
  • Faculty development funds have been increased.
  • A workload clause has been introduced which not only gives some lecturers some teaching release but also makes workload issues easier to bargain in the future.
  • We successfully kept benefits level, headed off an onerous intellectual property clause that the administration wanted, and more.

More details are in the attached document.

Please attend one or both meetings, and please vote. As always, please contact me if you have any questions or concerns.

Best,

Tom Streeter

President, United Academics

United Academics is the union of full- and part-time faculty at University of Vermont, with over 700 members from departments and colleges across the campus. We represent faculty in negotiating and upholding contracts, and we advocate for fair labor practices within and beyond our academic community. We are a member-led union­ committed to academic freedom, shared governance, social and environmental justice.

 

Get to know us at www.unitedacademics.org, and United Academics on Facebook

CONTRACT TERMS AGREED UPON; DA AND MEMBERSHIP VOTES COMING

Contract terms agreed upon; DA and Membership votes coming

Dear colleagues,

Some news: in a brief meeting this afternoon, representatives of United Academics and UVM’s administration agreed to accept the Fact Finder’s recommendations regarding salary, which means we have agreed on all aspects of the contract for full time faculty. The tentative agreement needs to be voted on by UA’s Executive Council and the Delegates assembly before it goes out to membership for a ratification vote. It will also need to be approved by UVM’s Board of Trustees this weekend. But the end is in sight. Stay tuned. 

The Fact Finder’s report was released a week ago. Referencing the solid financial health of the university and “the continuing need to increase the bargaining units' salaries to be more in line with their comparable peers,” the report recommends raises of 8.5% over the three years, with 2.5% the first year, and 3% the following two years. 1% is devoted to performance and the rest to Across the Board (ATB) for each year. These are less than we think the faculty deserve, but they are better than anything the administration offered during negotiations or mediation. They vindicate the core of our bargaining positions

Both sides have agreed to go with those numbers. Both UA and the administration believe that, 

The bitter pill in the report is that raises are retroactive to Jan. 1, 2018. We were frankly shocked. Besides resulting in a smaller retroactive pay check, we are concerned that this plants a seed for the administration to threaten non-retroactivity in future negotiations. Previous proposals for non-retroactivity around the state have been turned down by fact finders because of the perverse incentive it gives to management to stall in negotiations. This report claims tuition revenue shortfalls in FY 2018 justify partial retroactivity nonetheless. Because, if we took a different salary proposal to the VLRB, they would most likely impose the fact finder’s report anyway, we feel it wiser to accept this onerous bit in an otherwise solid raise picture. 

(Over the weekend, we considered the possibility of moving some of the money from years two and three into year one for full retroactivity, but this would result in lower average base pay at the end of year three and thus have a negative effect on a faculty’s income over the course of their career. For this and other reasons, a strong majority of the DA and other leadership recommended sticking with the bitter pill of partial retroactivity.) 

There are many other gains in this contract. Those who were promoted going into 2017-18 will get full retroactive promotion bumps, promotion bumps in all categories have been increased, faculty development funds have been increased, a workload clause has been introduced which not only gives some lecturers some teaching release but also makes workload issues easier to bargain in the future. We successfully kept benefits level, headed off an onerous intellectual property clause that the administration wanted, and more. Some highlights are in the attached document. 

This has been a long process – too long. The end results are better than what we would have gotten without hanging tight, and they should give the administration pause before they choose to drag things out through mediation and fact finding in the future. But we can safely say that our union has acted successfully to protect the well-being of faculty and the vitality of the University of Vermont. 

Thanks to you all,

Tom Streeter

President, United Academics

United Academics is the union of full- and part-time faculty at University of Vermont, with over 700 members from departments and colleges across the campus. We represent faculty in negotiating and upholding contracts, and we advocate for fair labor practices within and beyond our academic community. We are a member-led union­ committed to academic freedom, shared governance, social and environmental justice.

Get to know us at www.unitedacademics.org, and United Academics on Facebook

FACT FINDER'S REPORT NOW IN HAND, RALLY TOMORROW 12:00-1:30

Fact finder’s report now in hand, rally tomorrow 12:00-1:30

Dear colleagues,

I write to report that the fact finder’s report has arrived, and to encourage you to come to an event tomorrow at noon in front of Bailey Howe. 

The fact finder recommends raises notably better than anything proposed by the administration during negotiations or mediation. It’s not the best we could have hoped for, and includes some irritations, but it is solid. The report vindicates our position on salaries. (More details will be provided at the DA meeting this Friday at Friday, May 11, 3:00- 4:30pm, Bailey Howe conference room; all UA members are welcome.) 

This means it is basically now in the administration’s hands. The long term history is that the Vermont Labor Relations Board almost always goes with the fact finder’s report, so there is every reason for both sides to go with the fact finder’s numbers rather than continuing to haggle. The law requires both sides to enter into negotiation for 20 days once the report appears, and since as far as we are concerned, there’s very little left to talk about, we hope the administration sees reason and settles quickly

But they could use some encouragement. Plan to drop by a SHOW US THE CONTRACT/FUND THE FACULTY event outside Bailey Howe, tomorrow, May 9, from 12:00-1:30. Faculty and students can stop by for just a minute to pick up an energy bar (to keep up our energy as we take and grade finals and deal with the administration’s endless foot dragging) and a fact sheet about UVM finances and spending priorities. At 1:00 pm we’ll take a SHOW US THE CONTRACT group photo. Drop by for a few minutes or for the whole time. (RSVP is optional, but appreciated.) 

And remember to reach out to others in your departments and colleges who may not be involved in the union. It is in faculty’s interest to be members, but also new members send a message to the administration that UA is trusted and should be taken seriouslyA few more members could really make a difference. So please keep talking to your colleagues, asking them about their concerns about working at UVM, answering their questions about the union and what it does for all of us, and if they are not members, ask them to join. Contact Katlyn Morris for some tips about how to do this effectively. 

Always happy to hear from you.

Best,

Tom Streeter

President, United Academics

thomas.streeter@uvm.edu

http://www.unitedacademics.org/facts-about-uvm-spending/

http://www.unitedacademics.org/join-us/

United Academics is the union of full- and part-time faculty at University of Vermont, with over 700 members from departments and colleges across the campus. We represent faculty in negotiating and upholding contracts, and we advocate for fair labor practices within and beyond our academic community. We are a member-led union­ committed to academic freedom, shared governance, social and environmental justice.

 

Get to know us at www.unitedacademics.org, and United Academics on Facebook

[PRESIDENT'S MESSAGE] TAKE ACTION TO MAKE UVM BETTER: A MAY 9TH RALLY AND MORE

[President's message] take action to make UVM better: a May 9th rally and more

Dear colleagues,

Today, some calls to action: a May 9th rally at noon, some outreach, and more. 

Like many of you, I’m frustrated that the administration has chosen to drag out the full time contract negotiations this long, merely because they don’t want to provide raises even one percent better than inflation. I firmly believe that their thinking is blinkered, short term, and imitative. It is in the long term interest of the University of Vermont to shift priorities towards academics instead of letting our salaries slide in national rankings. 

There are things we can do. Because the fact finder’s report is likely to be delivered on May 8th and the Board of Trustees meets the following week, folks inside and outside UVM will be paying attentionWhile the semester is coming to a close, we have an opportunity to flood the information space in the coming weeks, and create pressure that can nudge the administration towards settling the contract quickly and focusing more clearly on teaching and research. The CAS no confidence vote in IBB has generated ongoing media coverage which has raised questions about the broad direction of UVM. Leaders in Vermont, on the Board of Trustees, in the legislature, are noticing.

So plan to drop by a SHOW US THE CONTRACT/FUND THE FACULTY event outside Bailey Howe May 9 (reading day) from 12:00-1:30. Faculty and students can stop by for just a minute to pick up an energy bar (to keep up our energy as the administration tries to drag negotiations into a second summer) and a fact sheet about UVM finances and spending priorities. At 1:00 pm we’ll take a SHOW US THE CONTRACT group photo. Drop by for a few minutes or for the whole time

(RSVP is optional, but appreciated.) 

Another way to make a difference is outreach. Our outreach efforts to faculty are working: eleven faculty have joined the union in the last month. One of the best things we can do to encourage the administration to quickly settle the contract is to keep this up. It is in faculty’s interest to be members, but also new members send a message to the administration that UA is trusted and should be taken seriously. Just ten more members in the next two weeks could really make a difference. So please keep talking to your colleagues, asking them about their concerns about working at UVM, answering their questions about the union and what it does for them. Contact Katlyn Morris for some tips about how to do this effectively. 

UVM’s Board of Trustees meets starting on May 18th. If you would like to help with impressing upon the BOT members the faculty’s knowledge and experience, and the need for UVM to shift priorities more clearly towards teaching and research, please let me know. 

Finally, this morning, our part-time contract bargaining team began negotiations on the next UVM part-time faculty contract. Part time faculty are a growing category across the nation, and they are increasingly highly trained professionals with professional careers; the old stereotype of part time instructors as folks who do it casually on the side is no longer true, if it ever was. We invite you to join as an observer at any of our future sessions (the next will be May 30, 10am-2pm). The contract negotiation process is fascinating, and collective bargaining represents some of the fundamental work

of our union. And as we strive to represent all part-time UVM faculty, we always appreciate hearing your experiences and what's important to you.

As always, please keep in touch, and best wishes for the last weeks of the semester.

Tom Streeter

President, United Academics

thomas.streeter@uvm.edu

http://www.unitedacademics.org/uvm-salaries-before-and-after-ua/

http://www.unitedacademics.org/the-amenities-treadmill-in-higher-ed/ 

United Academics is the union of full- and part-time faculty at University of Vermont, with over 700 members from departments and colleges across the campus. We represent faculty in negotiating and upholding contracts, and we advocate for fair labor practices within and beyond our academic community. We are a member-led union­ committed to academic freedom, shared governance, social and environmental justice.

Get to know us at www.unitedacademics.org, and United Academics on Facebook

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INFORMATION ABOUT THE VLRB & SALARIES

Dear colleagues,

Today, I have some information and a request regarding the VLRB, and some information about the current situation regarding this year’s faculty raises for full time faculty.

First: I have received a number of questions regarding what will happen to this past year’s salaries, as our salaries have been flat ever since our contract expired last June. Will salaries be retroactive? Will we get any raise at all? The current situation is frustrating for everyone and for some faculty can be a hardship. So here's what I can say. Because our contract expired in July ’17 and negotiations are ongoing, we do not yet know the terms of raises for this past year. The fact finder’s report is due around May 8, and while we hope that the contract can be settled shortly thereafter, we can’t be sure. It depends on what the report recommends and what the administration will do in response. As regards to retroactivity, while there are no guarantees, in the past, raises have always been retroactive to the end of the past contract, delivered in a few installments once the contract is signed. Fact finders, including the one we are currently working with, have in the past disallowed proposals for non-retroactivity because to do so would encourage stalling on the part of management. In some previous contracts, however, raises have been “backloaded,” which means the raises are lower in year one of the contract and higher in the subsequent two years. If that turns out to be the case, retroactive raises could be small.

When UA’S EC and Delegate’s assembly considered whether or not to go to fact finding instead of accepting the administration’s near-inflation raise proposals last fall, we made our decision, not because we knew for sure how things would turn out, but because we felt we owed it to faculty to do everything in our power to gain a decent raise, and because we did not want the administration to be allowed to think they can use fact finding as a threat to force us to cave in future negotiations. Up through the release of VSEA’s fact finding report, the comparative numbers that often drive decisions both in Vermont and nationally were looking very much in our favor. A recent VLRB decision regarding the Vermont State Employees Association contract that largely ignored the fact finder’s report is a data point in the not-so-good column, as it looks like the Board is for the moment stacked with management-oriented members. None of this is 100% predictable, but we are confident we have been doing the best job we can to support faculty.

Second, not least because of that recent VLRB decision, I write to ask you to consider sending an email, or even better, calling your Senator in the Vermont Legislature (https://legislature.vermont.gov/people/) to ask them to look closely at, and consider disapproving, the pending confirmation of Karen O’Neill to the Vermont Labor Relations Board (VLRB). This may seem a bit far afield to you, but the terms of our contract are bounded by Vermont law and the decisions made by the VLRB, so it is necessary for UA to keep an eye on developments around the VLRB.

The background is this: the law requires the VLRB to have two representatives from labor, two from management, and two who are neutral. Karen O’Neill was approved for a “neutral” seat on the board in February by Phil Scott’s administration, and the law allows her to serve before being confirmed by the VT Senate. She was thus seated when the VLRB made a decision regarding VSEA that sided with Phil Scott’s administration and against the VSEA, rather shockingly ignoring the fact finder’s report that is normally central to VLRB decision making. Union groups have found, among other things, that she has worked for a law firm that advertises itself as anti-union, which calls her neutrality into question. (A flyer with more information is attached below.) If she is not confirmed by the Senate, that could right the balance on the VLRB, pressuring it to stay objective and neutral, which is in the interest of UA and Vermont. Please consider contacting your senator.

And of course stay tuned for more things you can do to support faculty, UA, and teaching and research at UVM. We have more plans to come. 

As always, please be in touch.

Best,

Tom Streeter

President, United Academics

thomas.streeter@uvm.edu

 

P.S. you can read more about what UA has done for UVM here: http://www.unitedacademics.org/new-page-2/

United Academics is the union of full- and part-time faculty at University of Vermont, with over 700 members from departments and colleges across the campus. We represent faculty in negotiating and upholding contracts, and we advocate for fair labor practices within and beyond our academic community. We are a member-led union­ committed to academic freedom, shared governance, social and environmental justice.

Get to know us at www.unitedacademics.org, and United Academics on Facebook

DA MEETING FRIDAY 1:30, FREE TUITION LEGISLATION HEARING

Dear colleagues,

At this busy time of the semester, I wanted to quickly call your attention to a couple of events.

First, at the Delegates Assembly meeting this Friday at 1:30 in the B/H Library’s Dean’s Conference room, topics for discussion include possible responses to the urgent ongoing issues about cuts and budgeting at UVM, planning ways to keep the community engaged as we prepare for the fact finder’s report next month, and more. Delegates and Representatives are of course encouraged to attend, but DA meetings are open to all members, so if you are a UA member wanting to find out what’s going on and what you might do to get involved, please feel free to show up; your presence will be welcome.

Second, next week, on Wednesday April 18th sometime between 1:00 and 4:00, I hope to testify briefly to the Vermont Senate Education Committee (chaired by Senator and English Prof. Phil Baruth). The committee will be holding a hearing on proposed legislation to create a higher ed “free tuition” system for Vermont. Several states around the country (e.g. New York) have or are working towards systems for their citizens, and this hearing represents the beginning of a public discussion on doing this in Vermont. The idea is ambitious and complicated, will likely take years to implement, and is possibly of great importance to UVM faculty and students in the future.

I plan to make the case that UVM is important to Vermont, it should be taken very seriously in these plans, and that higher education needs to be understood as a public good. UVM faculty contributions to this discussion in the coming months and years could be key in the development of this legislation, so please let me or Katlyn Morris know if you would like to attend the hearing or otherwise contribute.

Best wishes for the last weeks of the semester.

Sincerely,

Tom Streeter

President, United Academics

thomas.streeter@uvm.edu

United Academics is the union of full- and part-time faculty at University of Vermont, with over 700 members from departments and colleges across the campus. We represent faculty in negotiating and upholding contracts, and we advocate for fair labor practices within and beyond our academic community. We are a member-led union­ committed to academic freedom, shared governance, social and environmental justice.

 

Get to know us at www.unitedacademics.org, and United Academics on Facebook

STATEMENTS FROM FACULTY SENATE PRESIDENT ELECT CANDIDATES

Dear colleagues,

Because I had been receiving questions about the two candidates for Faculty Senate President Elect, Steven Zdatny of History and Thomas Chittenden of Grossman School of Business, I asked both to respond to the following question so I could share their unedited answers with faculty, and they both graciously agreed. 

My question was this: What are your views of United Academics, its role in the lives of faculty, and its relation to the Senate and to faculty governance generally?

Their answers are below, in alphabetical order. 

Best,

Tom Streeter, President, UA

Thomas I. Chittenden, Senior Lecturer, Grossman School of Business

A strong union makes a strong university.  United Academics has done a lot for UVM faculty improving wages, regulating workloads and protecting our interests through collective bargaining.   UA advocacy has raised the shared communal value of Lecturer contributions at UVM over the past 10 years but as a (senior) lecturer I yield to the intellectual heft and priority our tenured faculty rightfully wield at UVM.  It is imperative that our efforts in United Academics and the Faculty Senate remain committed to the disciplined free inquiry at the core of our institution enshrined in the tenure of our thought leaders. 

As for the relation between the UA and to the senate, the Faculty Senate has "authority in matters related to the academic mission" (Constitution and Bylaws Preamble) and  United Academics is "committed to academic freedom, high quality research and education, shared governance, and social and environmental justice." (http://www.unitedacademics.org/).   These two statements evidence the alignment of our governance bodies.  Faculty need UA to advocate for fair working conditions and Faculty need the FS to shepherd the academic mission.  Our Senate and our Union are made up of the same faculty which is why FS and UA collaboration is essential to advance our mutual interests for our students, our faculty and our University. 

I have been a proud member of UA since I started back at UVM in the spring of 2010.  I’ve been in the Faculty Senate since the fall of that year.  I've been active in the UA as a Delegate, a Representative and on the State & Higher Education Issues committee.  I’ve been active in the FS on the Student Affairs Committee, the Educational Research and Technologies Committee and the Executive Council.   I see a strong collaboration between UA and the FS as essential for the success of the university and if elected will be committed to that continued collaboration.  

 

Steve Zdatny, History Department
As you know, I do not belong to UA.  When I arrived at UVM in 2008, I came in as department chair and therefore was not eligible to join.  Since I left the chair in 2013, I have not taken the opportunity to join; although, of course, as represented faculty, I have continued to pay my fees to UA.  I have had more than one conversation about joining, in particular with my colleagues and good friends, Frank Nicosia and especially Sean Stilwell, but I have not been convinced.

I am no stranger to unions.  In an earlier life I was a warehouseman in New Jersey and a Teamster and have spent most of my professional life as a historian of, among other things, French working people and the French labor movement.  I have taught in several institutions, but UVM is my first unionized faculty, although when I left West Virginia University in 2008, there was a union drive on, organized by the AFT.  I hadn't quite made up my mind when I departed.

Simply put, I accept, based on what my colleagues have all told me, that UA has been a great boon to faculty salaries and benefits.  That is all to the good--depending, of course, on where all that money comes from, since it needs to come from somewhere: students, other employees, the state, the administration.  In any case, I am happy to be the beneficiary of others' good work.  At the same time, I am uncomfortable with what seems to me to be the adversarial culture between the university and the faculty that seems to have developed.  That is in the nature of things where you have a bunch of different interests trying to work together in a constrained system. But the air of labor v. management that appears to permeate relations between the administration and the faculty does not seem like a game I want to play in.  So I have stayed out of it.

When it comes to faculty governance, on the other hand, I am all in.  It is precisely why, despite my inclination to keep my distance from trouble, I let Sean Stilwell convince me that it would be a good idea for me to run for FS president.  It goes without saying that the faculty and the students are the beating heart of university life. The administration is there to make the productive work of research, teaching, and learning go as smoothly as it possibly can.  Obviously, the senate, as the collective voice of the faculty, has a key role to play in making sure all this happens to best effect.  In my six years on the senate, however, I have not been convinced that this has been the case.  The senate, in my view, has spent too much time listening to reports and not nearly enough time debating them.  It's the main reason, I think, that when I look around Waterman Memorial Lounge, I see so many senators checking their email, rather than paying rapt attention to the latest update from the Sustainability Committee, or some analog.  I would like to make the body more attentive and more engaged.  I assume that would profit the cause of faculty governance.

I would be happy to answer any other questions that you and other colleagues might have.  Please feel free to share these thoughts with the UA membership.  And thanks again for giving me the chance to make my position clear. It was an excellent idea.

Very best regards,

Steve Zdatny

United Academics is the union of full- and part-time faculty at University of Vermont, with over 700 members from departments and colleges across the campus. We represent faculty in negotiating and upholding contracts, and we advocate for fair labor practices within and beyond our academic community. We are a member-led union­ committed to academic freedom, shared governance, social and environmental justice.

 

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