Union withdraws grievance with Vermont Labor Relations Board
Vermont Business Magazine United Academics (UA), the faculty union of the University of Vermont, announced today the restoration of full-time hours for more than 60 faculty members whose hours for the 2020-21 academic year were involuntarily reduced. According to the union, UVM administration informed roughly 70 lecturers in May of this year that their jobs and pay would be cut back by 25%. Following months of pressure from the union and community, 63 of 68 affected faculty jobs have been fully restored and the remaining 5 affected faculty have been partially restored.
Union President Julie Roberts said, "The administration was asking for more and offering less, and had no financial or curricular justification for cutting these lecturers' jobs. This move caused unnecessary stress and upheaval for these faculty members and their families. I'm relieved that, for most of our colleagues, we were able to reverse this in time."
UA filed a grievance with the Vermont Labor Relations Board on July 7, after initiating the internal UVM grievance process in late May, requesting that the university restore hours for affected faculty. In the months since May, United Academics has fought these cuts on multiple fronts: through the grievance process and with proposals at the bargaining table. Faculty, students, staff and allies of UVM United Against the Cuts have also fought for months through grassroots organizing (see May 14 car rally). Following these months of ongoing efforts, 63 of the 68 have seen their hours restored to full time, with partial restoration for the remaining five faculty, leading UA to withdraw the grievance on September 17.
While UA was able to successfully pressure UVM into restoring faculty hours, union leadership said they remain at odds with the administration over its tactics. "We do not accept the administration's interpretation of language in our agreements, nor do we condone the manner in which the hours of affected faculty have been manipulated since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic," said UA President Julie Roberts.
The affected lecturers are non-tenure-track faculty. These educators teach core curriculum to UVM students and are key to the university's academic excellence. At the same time, they lack the pay and protections of tenure, and the dropped hours put several lecturers below Burlington's living wage threshold.
Allison Anacker, Lecturer in Neuroscience, said: "It has been stressful to be notified of a 25% workload cut and pay cut, and affected many decisions I made for myself and my family for this year, all while trying to support students asking to get into my over-full courses. Throughout the stress, I've been grateful to be a part of my union that I feel supports me individually as well as supporting our entire faculty group, which fought tirelessly to see the majority of positions restored."
About United Academics: UVM United Academics represents over 700 full-time and 100 part-time faculty at UVM and is affiliated with AFT Vermont, which represents 5000 higher education and healthcare professionals in Vermont, and AAUP.
The American Federation of Teachers is a union of professionals that champions fairness; democracy; economic opportunity; and high-quality public education, healthcare and public services for our students, their families and our communities. We are committed to advancing these principles through community engagement, organizing, collective bargaining and political activism, and especially through the work our members do. In Vermont, American Federation of Teachers represents professionals in health care and higher education. http://vt.aft.org/
Source: 9.29.2020 BURLINGTON, VT -- United Academics https://www.unitedacademics.org/