The University of Connecticut chapter of the American Association of Union Professors has been negotiating with UConn and the legislature for over a year and looks to wrap up the contract within the next few months.
The negotiation rides on the legislature’s budget reduction announcement on April 24, AAUP Vice President Thomas Peters said.
“One of the big ticket items is compensation,” Peters, who is also a computer science and engineering and mathematics professor, said. “We really can’t tell what that is going to be, at least until we see the legislative budget, what the differences are between that and the governor’s budget. We’re working actively on that, but we can’t proceed beyond that until that happens.”
Peters said that during the 2017 fiscal year the AAUP absorbed a zero compensation raise because a new contract was not presented to the legislature.
“The legislature and the governor right now are pushing for another year of that, with some acknowledgment that after this coming year there can be some discussion about what raises will be appropriate,” Peters said. “Most of this hinges upon what comes out of the budget and what kinds of agreements we may make in respects to changes in health care or pensions.”
Peters said negotiations about working conditions and compensations are discussed with the university, while negotiations about health care and pensions are discussed with the governor’s administration at the time.
“The state not only wants wage concessions from faculty, but also wants pensions and health care concessions,” Peters said. “We don’t want to give up our wages, for instance, and then have them come and say, on top of that, we want to take all this other money. We’re trying to balance between that.”
If the budget allows for compensation changes, Peters said a flurry of work will then happen to sort the new negotiations out. Based on his experiences in prior years, he expects it will take about two weeks to resolve those issues. Issues that are not monetary related will be discussed this week, such as specific language that needs to be resolved within various articles of the contract.
Christopher Henderson, internal organizer for the AAUP, has been active in organizing trips to the legislature and demonstrations.
“He’s been very effective in that,” Peters said.
Henderson also started the “Unleash the Faculty Voice Campaign.”
“One of the good things about our union is that, in some ways, many faculty are not terribly aware of us,” Peters said. “Which in some sense means we’re doing a good job. If they were underpaid or overworked or suffering under dire conditions, they would be calling the union all the time.”
With that being said, Peters said the voice of the faculty in the legislature is and will be very important.
“We’re telling faculty that if you want to keep a relatively good working environment and good compensation, then it’s probably important for you to become more aware, first, and then to relay your personal circumstances and your concerns to the legislature.”
Claire Galvin is a senior staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.