Protesters belonging to the University of Connecticut Professional Employees Association (UCEAP) gathered at the East entrance of the Wilbur Cross building at the University of Connecticut Thursday to protest a prorating change which would reduce the number of personal leave days for part-time university employees.
Ashley Robinson, chief union representative for the UCEAP, said university administration allegedly made the prorating change without prior warning at the beginning of this fiscal year.
“We were given no notice of this happening to us,” 10-month university employee Gwyneth Carrell said. “People heard of it because they saw it in their paychecks.”
Robinson said the change affects over 100 part-time employees, many of whom were in attendance Thursday.
In addition, Robinson said part-time employees are denied free parking, a compromise made in their contract with the university with the promise of personal leave days.
“We agreed to pay full parking fees, and our 10-month employees, for example, pay 12 months of parking fees,” Robinson said. “But (the contract) says we’re (accepting parking fees) in exchange for (personal leave days), and they’re taking the (personal leave days) part away now.”
Carrell also said she and her colleagues sometimes work unpaid in their personal time to help students through organizations such as residential life.
“As part of our work schedule, we’re actually asked to volunteer for activities outside of our normal working hours,” Carrell said. “I actually spent a day with residential life on my own personal time on a Saturday for almost eight hours.”
Carrell said the protesters carried beach balls in reference to Keith Hood, interim director of the Office of Faculty and Staff Relations at UConn, allegedly asking union members during their recent grievance hearing with university administration if they would use their personal leave days for “beach days.”
“I was really offended about what Keith Hood said about the beach days,” Carrell said. “My husband has a mental health issue, and I have had to rush to the hospital to be with him, not to the beach. I find it very offensive that he’d bring that up, and it really does not encourage me to volunteer my time to assist the university.”
Robinson said she wants members of the union to work together for representation at the administrative level.
“We want respect for our contract. We put a lot of work into this place. We love it,” Robinson said. “We want the same respect we show for the university shown to us through the treatment of our contract.”
Robinson said the union will take action in the near future to resolve this conflict through arbitration.
Collin Sitz is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.