Welcome back from spring break. I hope you comfortably endured, and perhaps got a chance to enjoy, our March snowstorms. I have several things to bring to your attention: a reminder of our member’s meeting on April 4 at 2:30, an AAUP election, information about student scholarships, an update on our contract negotiations, our ongoing outreach campaign, and the effect of an upcoming Supreme Court decision.
UA Spring Member’s meeting, April 4, 2:30 pm in Dewey Lounge, Old Mill: Members, please mark your calendars and come if you can to our Spring Member’s Meeting. We will be discussing a number of issues, including next year’s UA budget. The EC and DA have proposed a budget for approval at that meeting that includes substantial cutbacks in expenditures, in anticipation of the Janus decision (see below). We know that this meeting time will be awkward for some; we worked hard to find a time that would fit with the schedules of as many as we could.
AAUP Elections: A benefit of membership in UA is automatic membership in the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), the principle organization in the U.S. for the protection of academic freedom and the professional status of college and university professors. Their annual election is underway, and Prof. Yolanda Flores, of UVM’s Romance Languages and Linguistics, is running for a position on AAUP’s National Council from District 10. Paper ballots have been mailed to home addresses, and are due April 16. You can read about Prof. Flores and other candidates on the AAUP’s website at http://www.aaup.org/about/elected-leaders/elections/2018-election-information. If you have not yet received a ballot, email your name and home address to Help+AAUP@election-america.com OR call Election-America at (888) 914-5654 with your home address. And consider voting for Yolanda.
Student Scholarships: Please consider encouraging eligible students to apply for one or more of UA’s scholarship awards for students with an active commitment to community service, especially in pursuit of social or economic justice: The Jeffrey Brace Scholarships, named in honor of Jeffrey Brace, an early 19th-century Black Vermonter, former slave and activist; the Linda Backus Memorial Scholarship; and the David Shiman Scholarship for a UVM senior with an outstanding and sustained record of community service. Details are here: http://www.unitedacademics.org/scholarships/. Thanks to Dr. Vijay Kanagala, Vijay.Kanagala@uvm.edu, for Chairing the committee.
Contract Negotiations: The negotiating team and our consultants have been working hard behind the scenes to prepare a brief and some rebuttal documents to submit to the fact finder by Friday March 23rd. As the only remaining issue is salary, we are defending our position that it is in the interest of UVM and its students for the administration to provide faculty a reasonable raise, and that they can do so without having to raise tuition or cut faculty lines; there are plenty of other, less essential places to reduce costs. We feel our position is strong. The fact finder will probably take another month to release his recommendations.
Outreach to members and fee payers: in the coming weeks and months, we will be reaching out to faculty in the bargaining unit, especially those who we do not hear from very often, soliciting their opinions and concerns, and working to better communicate what UA does for UVM and its faculty while soliciting input about concerns. This is something we do regularly from time to time, but we have extra motivation to do so because of an expected U.S. Supreme Court decision that will prohibit public unions from charging non-members a fee for representing them in collective bargaining. Known as the “Janus Case,” it is expected that the current conservative majority on the Supreme Court will vote to overturn the legal precedents supporting what we call fee payer status; the expected loss of income from fee payers is why we have proposed a leaner budget for next year. We are proud that a strong majority of faculty are members, but we of course would like any current fee payers to consider becoming members, and are eager to discuss with you why that might be worth it. Most importantly, whatever decisions people make, we want them to be informed ones. Stay tuned for more on this, and in the meantime, if you have questions about the union does for you, you might start here: http://www.unitedacademics.org/why-a-union-2/ or write me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Prof. of Sociology
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.