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