United Academics and UVM Labor Movement

The UVM administration reached an impasse in contractual negotiations with United Academics, the UVM teachers union, last year. As the 2005 fall semester has progressed, both the administration and United Academics have brought in third parties to assist in the resolution of the contract. This week, the discussion has been concerned with the full-time faculty members and their claims to Intellectual Property Rights: questions of who owns such things as syllabi, publications, on-line courses, patents, and copyrights. To help mediate these negotiations there will be two third-parties brought to the table. The UVM administration has secured a mediator from MIT and United Academics has had a member of AFT come to help resolve the issue. AFT is the American Federation of Teachers, which was founded in 1916 to represent classroom teachers in social, economic and professional interests. The mediations will continue next week with an additional two days of discussion. The part-time faculty unit of United Academics will begin negotiations in November and they are primarily concerned with job security. Wages and benefits are important to the part-time faculty members, but they are considered to be less imperative than establishing new regulations concerning security of occupation. Job security is considered to be the most pressing issue of the part-time faculty members because there is no rule or regulation in the UVM policy that could prevent the administration from letting these teachers go at any time. In the student body, there has also been a movement of support for improved workers benefits and wages at UVM. The Student Labor Action Project, or SLAP, has been presenting their resolution for UVM’s adoption of a livable wage standard for all of its employees. Sam Maron, a member of SLAP and an SGA senator, has drafted the proposal and will be presenting it before SGA on Tuesday evening at 7 pm. The proposal will bring up two points. The first point is that contracted employees, such as construction workers, should also be included in the, now only tentative, livable wage requirement. This is to maintain the job security of the present UVM employees, who could potentially lose their jobs if they were to be replaced by contracted workers, who are not required to receive the livable wage standard. The second point that the proposal will address is the argument that social ideals should go beyond the immediate UVM community and extend to the greater Vermont population. Student, Brady Fletcher will also be hosting a mock debate concerning the United Academics contractual impasse. This will be in the John Dewey Lounge at 7 pm on Tuesday.