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.

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