Single-digit temperatures and double-digit winds didn’t stop UVM faculty members as they held a union kick-off rally on the steps of Bailey-Howe Monday.
“I think it’s really great that United Academics is having this rally today to kick this off,” senior David Fernandez said. “It’s important for not only professors and staff to be involved but the students need to stand up also.”
United Academics (UA), run by faculty members, for faculty members, was created from a 2001 vote by full-time UVM faculty to organize into a united assembly.
UA works for legal power to defend faculty rights, strengthen faculty voice and negotiate salaries, according to the UA website.
“The professors feel that their hard work and dedication are not valued by the current administration,” Kathy Carolin, administrative assistant for the history department, said.
The rally’s goal was to bring awareness of faculty rights to the UVM community and to gain support from students and staff in their fight for better wages, according to Denise Youngblood, professor of Russian history and president of UA.
“What we ask is that the University takes care of the students,” Kenneth Vachereau, worker for parking and transportation services, said.
“When the students are happy, everybody is happy. What makes the students happy? Quality education from the UA staff. So let’s make the faculty happy!”
Later in his speech, Vachereau expressed distress as he said that UVM possessed more vice presidents and administrators than it needs. The sentiment was greeted with cheers and applause from the crowd that was made up of fellow faculty members and students.
“In 2002, the number of vice presidents at the University of Vermont was three. In six years the corporate frenzy led by El Presidente has increased the number of vice presidents from three to 26. The salaries of the administrative leadership increased as well,” Tina Escaja, professor of Spanish and fellow UA activist, said.
The administration is willing to exploit our students while abusing their academic quality, to be able to afford, sustain and gorge in the gluttony of our administration, Escaja said.
“We hire so many administrators from off-campus that you need to be competitive, you need to attract them with higher salaries than they would get paid at another institution,” Connor Daley, SGA president, said.
UVM has the same number of students as the University of Maine at Orono, but we offer 20 percent more departments. To offer all of these courses we have to hire more adjunct faculty, according to Daley.
Daley went on to say that if the UA were to get an increase in salary he believes that it would be coming from students’ tuition.
“Yeah, I don’t like the fact that a faculty member gets paid less than an administration member but they’re not the same job, they shouldn’t get paid the same,” he said.
Other students, such as Fernandez, didn’t agree.
“We need to take back the power of the University,” he said. “The University has been increasingly run as a corporate model where you have a bunch of managers at the top, making a lot of money, dictating what everyone else down below does, that’s not the best way to facilitate education.”