Faculty and administration can’t agree

Administrators and faculty just can’t seem to agree.


Dozens of faculty members and supporters met on the steps of the Bailey/Howe library on Sept. 22 to announce that the faculty union has reached an impasse over contract negotiations with the administration.


United Academics (UA), UVM’s faculty union that represents 680 full-time faculty members, announced that due to “irreconcilable differences” on retiree health care benefits, a federal mediator was called to discuss negotiations with the administration throughout October.


“Now we can come out and talk publicly about our concerns with the faculty and the University as a whole,” said David Shiman, president of United Academics (UA). 


The faculty union was disappointed and frustrated because UA has offered to negotiate a number of University concerns, but was unwilling to accept the administration’s proposal that all new hires will have to pay 100 percent of their health care benefits when they retire, Shiman said.


UA offered several counter-proposals to the administration, however, the administration would not budge their position. 


“We kept saying ‘let’s talk about this, let’s talk about this,'” Shiman said. “And [the administration] said, ‘we’re not interested.'”


“It [was] their unwillingness to consider alternatives that has brought us to impasse”, he said.


Provost Jane Knodell said in a prepared statement that the administration hopes the mediation process will lead to a mutually accepted contract settlement, according to the Burlington Free Press.


“The economic issues this year have been very difficult,” she said.


United Electrical Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE) Local 267, a union representing 350 maintenance workers, has been in impasse over contract negotiations with the administration since June and supports UA’s decision.


“United Electrical stands in solidarity with United Academics,” said Carmyn Stanko, president of UE. “I’m sure they feel as angry as we are with the direction of the administration.”


In her speech, Stanko said that interim President John Bramley sent an email to praise the staff for their hard work during Staff Appreciation Week.


“[The problem is] you can’t put food on the table with praise,” Stanko said.


Nancy Welsh, delegates assembly chair of UA, said that the assembly was dismayed and appalled at the administration “taking from the neediest and giving to the greediest.”


“These are cuts that will dramatically impact the least-paid members of the University,” Welsh said.


Some students said they attended the announcement in order to support their professors.


Sophomore Karley Reising said that trying to squeeze the faculty and staff of their earnings is ridiculous.


“It’s bullshit that [this is happening] because faculty and staff are what hold this university together – not the administration,” Reising said.