Dear UConn-AAUP Members,
As this uniquely challenging year comes to a close, I would like to share some of its highlights and accomplishments that our partnership has made possible. First, I would like to sincerely thank the officers, Executive Committee, and members of the Representatives Assembly for serving UConn-AAUP. Our Zoom meetings have increased participation and on-line access has provided a means for more voices to be heard. These ideas, thoughts, concerns and recommendations have provided the impetus for many of our initiatives.
Together we have achieved a lot. A quick summary includes the following:
- We made sure our well-deserved, contractual raises were awarded in July and also avoided any furlough days.
- We conducted two surveys to determine whether faculty had the equipment, resources and support to teach during the fall and spring semesters and how research, scholarship and creative activity have been impacted short-term and long-term. This information is used in our deliberations with the administration to ensure faculty needs are met during this critical time.
- We commended Provost Lejuez for providing faculty with the choice of teaching modality for the Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 semesters; however, we continue to discuss several other concerns such as SETs, tenure clock, NNT annual reviews, equity adjustments, and the challenges our tenure-track and NNT faculty, particularly women, are facing during the pandemic.
- We established a COVID-19 Relief Fund and awarded $35,050 to 82 of our members who needed support during this critical time.
- We have met with Governor Lamont, Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, Congressman Joe Courtney, and numerous state officials and representatives to make each one aware of how successfully our faculty has pivoted to distance learning; adjusted their research, scholarship and creative activity; and conducted critical research and service that has increased our knowledge of the COVID-19 virus and response to the pandemic. We repeatedly emphasized that we are a part of the solution and should not have to bear the financial burden of university’s debt caused by adhering to state and federal mandates due to COVID-19.
- Our persistence in requesting additional funding from the state or federal agencies to address COVID-19 related expenses incurred by the University began with a letter to Governor Lamont on July 27, 2020 and continued through the SEBAC coalition of higher education unions. Finally, the university received an additional $20 million in early December, bringing our current budget deficit down to $8 million.
- Negotiations currently are underway, and our negotiating team has been working relentlessly to preserve your rights and to achieve the priorities included in the sub-committee reports.
What can you do to help?
- Join us. Get on the ballot for the 2021-22 Executive Committee or become active this year as a department representative to the Representatives Assembly (which only meets once a month).
- Enlist a colleague. Our goal is to increase our membership from 80% to 90%. The larger the membership, the stronger our voices will be during collective bargaining negotiations this year.
- Complete the survey. The second survey was sent to members’ UConn email last week. The better data we have from you, the better we can advocate on your behalf.
- Stay informed. Read the Updates, follow our Facebook page and review the progression of the contract negotiations on the UConn-AAUP website.
Two final thoughts:
We would be remiss in upholding the ideals of the academy if we did not recognize the dramatic differences our colleagues have experienced during the pandemic and the role that privilege plays. For some, this has been a time to “work without interruption” and to complete more research and scholarship, while others have had their personal and professional lives completely upended. If we don’t acknowledge and strive to eliminate these differences, we will leave some colleagues behind, primarily women and our Black and brown colleagues.
During the past 10 months, more has been required of our junior faculty, APIRs, adjuncts, lecturers, coaches and staff and who have received little compensation in return. It is the responsibility of senior members to step up and to speak out on behalf of the more vulnerable faculty members in your department or area, to mentor a colleague, to assume a committee role, and to be a friend who listens and provides support. If this pandemic has taught us anything, it is that we need to take care of each other.
In conclusion, I extend my sincere gratitude to the UConn-AAUP staff: Executive Director Michael Bailey, Associate Director David Amdur, Sr. Administrative Assistant Barbara Kratochvil and Sr. Financial Manager Debra Reynolds. They work tirelessly on our behalf and UConn-AAUP could not achieve all that we have without their guidance, knowledge and support.
Wishing all of you a joyous holiday season and a peaceful, well-deserved winter break.
Mary Ellen Junda, Ed.D.