University Faculty Come Closer To Deal As Union

Over half of your professors here at UVM are members of United Academics. United Academics officially began in April 2001 as an organized, collective union for all full-time faculty, including lecturers, associated professors and tenured professors. The union, currently led by Education professor Linda Backus, formed for many reasons: teachers here wanted to ensure that they would receive higher salaries, more job security, and greater control over class sizes and course loads. United Academics began negotiating with the University administration in December 2001, as union members campaigned for a new contract. The professors armed themselves with a steady list of grievances. In the past decade faculty salaries have only slightly increased, while salaries at comparable universities have steadily risen. Of state universities nationwide, only professors at the University of North Dakota receive lower average salaries than teachers at UVM. 37% of UVM’s full-time faculty are non-tenured, compared to the national average of 15% non-tenured. Job security is another issue: 86% of these non-tenured faculty work without multi-year contracts. This means that many teachers here must wait until the end of the spring term to find out whether they will have a job next year or not. Meanwhile, in the 2000-2001 year for example, the university netted $24.1 million. Where does the money go? United Academics claims that UVM’s administration spending has increased at double the amount of administration spending at other schools. For example, while faculty salaries have risen only 15% over the past 10 years, there has been a 62% wage increase for the school attorney, a 42% increase for the provost, and a 41% wage increase for all deans. Peter Spitzform, a librarian, said he joined United Academics because, “a strong contract for the faculty benefits all…students will not benefit from having an underpaid, overworked teacher, many of those teachers having no job security.” The faculty-administration negotiations continued throughout the 2002 year. United Academics gathered student and community signatures for petitions supporting their campaign. A rally was held in December 2002, followed by a march on Waterman Building, where the union, students and community members presented President Fogel with the petitions. Just this past Friday, Jan. 18th, a contract agreement was reached between the administration and faculty. Some highlights of the tentative agreement include a 16% salary increase, the establishment of multi-year contracts and, for the first time, all associate professors will be able to take sabbatical. On Feb. 6th a further ratification vote will be held but for now, most members of United Academics seem pleased, calling the contract “a major accomplishment.” President Fogel has assured that tuition will not increase with the advent of the new contract. Faculty Numbers:37: Percentage of ful-time faculty who are non-tenured.24.1: Millions of dollars netted by the University in 2001.15: Percentage increase over past 10 years of UVM faculty.62: Percentage increase for school attorney over same period.