Faculty Press Conference

Kicking off Campus Equity Week, the UVM Student Labor Action Project, the Community College of Vermont Faculty Federation, and United Academics, among other organizations held a joint press conference in order to discuss the way in which part-time higher education faculty members are being treated in Vermont.

“Many of us don’t have offices, I have to go to Kinko’s,” said Michelle Patenaude, a part-time faculty member in the English department and lead negotiator at UVM for others like her. “In our last negotiations, we barely got CATcard benefits.”

The highly publicized conflict between UVM’s administration and the part-time faculty on campus has been growing steadily since the beginning of the school year. Last week’s Campus Equity week, including the joint press conference, daily handouts outside the library, the showing of the film “Degrees of Shame” in Waterman lounge, and the controversial “Wanted: College Faculty” ad, was in effect a grand culmination of the part-time faculty’s efforts before their mediation session with the administration on November 10th and 11th.

At the mediation session, those sitting across the table from the administration will be demanding numerous benefits in a revised contract. Their goals are to receive better job security, a raise, benefits such as health care and life insurance, more open access to offices and photocopiers, and administrative support.

“These people (part-time faculty members) are piecing together an income from various jobs. I hope this University recognizes the responsibility it has to these people,” said David Shiman, president of United Academics.

“UVM is very healthy financially. There are twenty vice presidents here that may be taking in six-figures,” Patenaude said. “There are only 85 of us. It would not cost UVM that much to give us some benefits.”

UVM’s financial revenue has been allocated into many building projects on campus, most notable are the new turf field near the fitness center, the University Heights residential campus, and the Dudley H. Davis center scheduled for completion in the fall of 2007.

New buildings may help but “we need to make the the administration pay for those who are working like full-time faculty,” said David Allen Rogen, a former teacher at UVM now teaching at CCV.

Also present at the press conference were representatives from the Community College of Vermont and Vermont Technical College. Faculty members at the Community College of Vermont (all of whom are part time), are fighting to become unionized in order to have a better chance at receiving similar benefits that UVM’s part-time faculty are trying to obtain. Unionized faculty have brought together positive outcomes in states such as Massachusetts, however unionizing is often difficult. Jesse Rizzado, a student at the Community College of Vermont in Burlington still has hope. “A union would provide a premier education for the price. No longer would a teacher have to walk to her second job as a waitress after teaching.”

Negotiations are still ongoing.