UConn-AAUP and UCHC-AAUP Statements to Board of Trustees – 6.24.2020

June 24, 2020

Chairman Toscano, President Katsouleas, and esteemed members of the Board,

My name is Tom Bontly. I have the honor of serving as President of UConn-AAUP (for one more week anyway), representing our 2200+ faculty members, coaches, and other academic professionals in collective bargaining. Thank you for this opportunity to address the Board.

UConn-AAUP is keenly aware of the hardship felt throughout Connecticut due to COVID-19 and the ensuing economic disruption. Many of our members have spouses or partners out of work, or children out of school, or family members needing care. At the same time, our members have worked overtime to move their classes online; to shutdown, preserve, and eventually restart complex and costly research projects and infrastructure; and to support students and colleagues in crisis. They have performed above and beyond the call of duty and continue to do so, prepping now for an uncertain fall semester.

In short, we know what people in the state are going through, and we are deeply concerned about the impact these events continue to have on our members, our students, our university, and our community.

Likewise, we are keenly aware of the administration’s revenue projections, and of the deep uncertainty with which they must contend. We appreciate their attempts to keep our members informed, and we would appreciate even more information as we move forward.

As always, UConn-AAUP stands ready to work with our colleagues in administration to advance UConn’s mission as a great public research university. We especially need to work together on “win-win” solutions, both long- and short-term, big and small. We need to identify opportunities to enhance revenue and/or reduce costs, without passing that buck either to students or faculty and staff. Creative and unconventional opportunities must be explored. Every aspect of the operation should be reexamined, with priority given to the central mission(s) of public higher ed.

Our members understand shared sacrifice. For the University and the State, they took it on the chin during State budget crises in 2009, 2011, and 2017; they’ve had salary freezes in 6 of the last 11 years, plus furlough days and benefit cuts. The 2017 SEBAC deal alone saved the State $1.7 billion in its first biennium, and also saved UConn from a dramatic and debilitating loss of state support. Over the next 20 years, furthermore Comptroller Kevin Lembo projects that SEBAC 2017 will go on saving the State: $25 billion over 20 years. With about 40,000 state employees, that means each one is already giving back, on average, $30,000 per year, every year.

Without those sacrifices by AAUP and other union members, furthermore, the State of Connecticut would never have been able to set aside $2.5 billion for a “rainy day”. Now the State needs to be prepared to draw on the rainy day fund to help the University make it through the current downturn. (In other words: it’s raining!).

The State could start by relieving UConn of the unfair and unwise surcharge the State lards onto the bill for fringe benefits. That surcharge has nothing to do with the cost of current employees’ benefits and everything to do with the State’s long-running failure to pre-fund retirement benefits. Governors, legislators, and voters of both parties are responsible for the State’s accrued unfunded liability problem, which costs the University approximately $30 million per year.

In the meanwhile, we urge every member of the University community to contact their elected representatives, both federal and state. Please, urge our representatives to support our institutions of public higher education, so that they can educate the next generation of scholars, problem solvers, entrepreneurs, and skilled workers who will be vital to our economic recovery. Urge them to invest in digital and physical infrastructure, scientific research, clean energy, livable cities – and whatever else is required to position Connecticut for recovery and growth.

Finally, please contact our congressional delegation in Washington, and urge them to support aid for state and municipal governments and higher ed, so that we do not experience a second, deadlier waive of unemployment and recession.

Thank you.

Tom Bontly

UConn-AAUP President


BOT Comments by UCHC-AAUP President Ibrahim Elali

My name is Ibrahim Elali, I am a Nephrologist at UConn Health and the President of the UCHC-AAUP, a Union Chapter representing over 600 physicians, dentists, and researchers. Thank you for the opportunity to speak today. I’m going to address our role as we face COVID and financial challenges.

We are proud to be faculty at Connecticut’s only public medical center, and we are extremely proud of our partnership between the University of Connecticut and UConn Health.

Since the pandemic arrived here in Connecticut, our AAUP members made sacrifices willingly at the hospital and on the home front. For example, colleagues Michael and Jennifer Baldwin, both practicing physicians, were at UConn Health throughout the crisis. They didn’t want to expose their young children and had them stay with relatives for nearly 2.5 months.

AAUP members at the Health Center also pivoted to remote medical and dental education, engaged in telemedicine for our outpatients, answered the COVID hotline, and continued writing grants.

For example, during the course of the shutdown, research faculty engaged in Herculean efforts to save sensitive biological preparations and to arrange for care of animals used in research. Despite the fact that essentially all laboratory research was halted, faculty continued progress by analyzing data, publishing manuscripts, and preparing grant applications.

The specific expertise of our research and dental faculty played a crucial role in the crafting of guidelines for the safe resumption of research and dental operations.

Physicians, in collaboration with the Administration at UConn Health, formed a COVID think tank to generate COVID treatment protocols for our clinical divisions and departments, which is updated weekly online.

In fact, faculty at both the Farmington and Storrs campuses worked together to help UConn Health’s clinical mission during these trying times. For example, UConn Health, like many other health systems, experienced a shortage of PPE (personal protective equipment) at the outset of this crisis.

Physicians at UConn Health partnered with Physicists and Engineers at UConn Storrs, including Dr Jason Hancock, who developed an apparatus to test the integrity of various N95 masks UConn Health had in our existing inventory as well as that of potential emergency N95 replacement options.

Faculty partnerships between UConn Health doctors, such as Dr. Mark Metersky of the Pulmonary Division, and the Innovative Partnership Building at the UConn Tech Park in Storrs, including Dr Jeffrey McCutcheon and Joseph Luciani, led to the design and production of invaluable face shields for our clinicians at the bedside and emergency ventilators for our Intensive Care Units.

Thankfully, our Intensive Care Units do not require our Connecticut-made emergency ventilators at the moment, but this PPE development and production project was recognized by the administration and adopted as a cross-campus initiative.

Together, we may need to continue with the design and production of PPE in the coming years. We are confident that the collaborative effort here at UConn will enhance our ability to produce critical clinical supplies both in-house and in partnership with Connecticut private industry. There are many unknowns ahead of us and we need to be prepared.

We understand there are tremendous budget challenges ahead of us, as well. Our members are fully committed to help UConn Health succeed in these challenging times. Within the past month, UCHC-AAUP invited a group of physicians and dentists to join together to discuss ways to maximize revenue at UConn Health. Suggestions included creating a separate COVID clinical space in the recently retrofitted Connecticut Tower of the Health Center so we could continue with our normal operations if there is a second wave of COVID this summer or fall. In short, our members are problem solvers.

Last week, Dr. Agwunobi agreed to launch a multi-union / administration task force to talk about revenue generation and cost savings at UConn Health. We look forward to a robust conversation with dynamic ideas.

Now, more than ever, Connecticut needs a public University Hospital that cares for all of our fellow residents. We know that working together, we can take on the challenges ahead of us, ensure patient safety, and continue educating the Physicians, Dentists, and Researchers of tomorrow.

Thank you.




Statements Regarding George Floyd

American Association of University Professors Statement

Statement on Protests in Response to the Murder of George Floyd

AAUP president Rudy Fichtenbaum issued the following statement today:

The murder of George Floyd by four police officers in Minneapolis has unleashed a massive protest movement across the country. These protests, led by young people, are revealing years of pent-up frustration with racism and inequality. The militarization of policing in the United States and the unchecked violence perpetrated against communities of color by police who continue to act with seeming impunity, along with the promotion of white supremacy by the Trump administration, had created a combustible mix even before the COVID-19 pandemic added to an existing medical crisis and economic desperation, especially in marginalized communities of color.

Many have said that we need to have a conversation about racism and inequality. But a conversation is not enough. What we need is bold action to deal with institutional racism and inequality. While the lack of meaningful preparation for the pandemic has disrupted the lives of all Americans, the more long-standing lack of a meaningful response to endemic racism and inequality has compounded the impact of the pandemic on communities of color. READ MORE

Message from UConn President and Provost

Dear UConn Community,

Recent events have called national attention yet again to the destructive power of prejudice and racism. The death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis serves as our most recent example. We are disgusted by the images we have seen capturing the unconscionable acts that caused his death. Demonstrations across the country make clear that communities are hurting and frustrated by repeated acts of violence against their neighbors, friends, and families. These events have saddened and angered so many on a deeply personal level, with the burden of fear for one’s own and their family’s safety placed squarely upon African-Americans.

Unfortunately, this is just one of many examples of the pain caused by systemic injustices that are present every day. Take, for example, the disproportionate rates of death by COVID-19 among African-American, Latinx, and Indigenous peoples, or the discriminatory acts targeting individuals of Asian descent and foreign nationals from many countries in this pandemic. This adds to the already vulnerable experience of so many in our community, including but not limited to DACA students who are unsure about their future; individuals with disabilities who can feel invisible; LGBTQ+ individuals experiencing verbal and physical acts of violence; individuals subjected to intolerance based on their religious identity and beliefs; and people of color who are forced to constantly question if they can engage safely in routine activities like jogging or bird watching.

These events underscore the critical importance of our infusing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in everything we do every single day. Not with mantra and platitudes, but with clearly articulated and tangible action that is supported by the University with budget and action. As scholars, educators, and colleagues, we are uniquely positioned to reflect, learn, and act.

We are committed to this work as UConn moves forward from some of its own recent struggles. We have a crucial new partner in these efforts with the recent hire of Dr. Frank Tuitt as our new Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer. We are all eager to work with him to sustain a culture that understands, respects, and appreciates differences, but also one that readily acknowledges our shortcomings and holds ourselves accountable for measurable progress at all times.

As he looks ahead to this new role, Frank shared the following: “I strongly believe that institutions like UConn should be at the center of creating spaces for students, faculty, and staff to imagine and invent ways to build more inclusive, affirming, and equitable institutions, organizations, and communities, and I look forward to doing my part to contribute to that collective effort.”

We have communicated closely with him over the past several days, and we all will benefit from his leadership and expertise.

We have the opportunity to engage our entire community in the work that is needed, building upon continued advocacy and efforts of concerned faculty, staff, and administrators at UConn in collaboration with our cultural centers and our amazing undergraduate and graduate students who are willing to speak clearly and directly about their experiences. Change cannot be carried out by one person or one office alone. Too often the labor of this work is disproportionately undertaken by our most vulnerable, impacting their career progression, as well as their mental health and overall satisfaction with their work experience. This is a time when we can build momentum to share the responsibility across our entire community at our Storrs, UConn Health, Avery Point, Hartford, Stamford, Waterbury, and law school campuses.

We also have been extremely fortunate to benefit from the stewardship of Interim Chief Diversity Officer Dana Wilder. Building on strengths of the Office for Diversity and Inclusion, we are positioned as a national leader and a place where people of all identities feel they have a genuine opportunity for success and belonging. We encourage each of you to explore their website, which includes multiple resources including trainings and guides as well as information on events and cultural centers sponsored by their office.

There are no simple solutions or easy answers to solve the issues of injustice and prejudice in society and at our University. Of all of the various parts of our experience as administrators, this is the one area where we both feel like we have not done enough or met our own expectations. We do not experience that feeling as despair, but instead as a motivator to understand and accept our own privilege and the responsibilities that it brings to do more. We encourage our community to hold our entire leadership team accountable as we carry out that vital work together.

The challenge now is to remember this moment even if it fades from the headlines and to continue to strive for a society and a UConn that allows all to live safely and welcomed.

Tom and Carl

Tom Katsouleas

Carl Lejuez
Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs

Adjunct Unemployment Compensation

UConn-AAUP is urging all part-time faculty members to apply for unemployment benefits when their contracts end, whether or not they have received information regarding teaching schedules for the fall semester.

Many part-time faculty members may be eligible to receive unemployment insurance and should apply through the Connecticut Department of Labor at this website: www.filectui.com. Click the blue button on that page to begin your claim.

When members apply, the DOL will ask them if they work for an educational institution and whether they are between years or terms. The answer is yes to both questions. DOL will then ask what the member has been told about the coming year. Members must disclose all offers of work. If there is a reason to believe that a course they have been offered may not run or may be given to someone else, the member should provide that information to the DOL. People employed by educational institutions are not eligible for unemployment during the summer or during winter break if they have “reasonable/probable” expectation of being rehired for similar roles the following semester.

Within Connecticut Gen. Stat. §31-227 [d] [1], the critical language in the statute states that institutional faculty members who teach during one semester are not eligible for benefits during the following semester or intercession “if there is a contract or reasonable assurance that such individual will perform such services for the educational institution during the following term.” The controversy comes in the absence of any definition of “reasonable assurance” in the statute.

However, given the uncertainties during the current COVID-19 pandemic, UConn-AAUP believes there cannot be any “reasonable assurance” for any adjunct position in the fall semester. Therefore, we are working closely with other higher education unions and the DOL to secure an application of the statute that will permit adjuncts to start receiving unemployment benefits.

When you apply, please let UConn-AAUP know if you receive unemployment insurance or if you are denied these benefits. It is important to let your union know so that we can monitor this issue and be in the best position possible to coordinate and handle any appeals that may be necessary. Please email UConn-AAUP at hotline@uconnaaup.org and let us know the status of your claim.

UConn-AAUP continues to work in coalition with other higher education unions on this matter and will provide updates when available.


Limited Durable Power of Attorney

Limited Durable Power of Attorney – SER’s only members

It is strongly encouraged that all state employees who are in the SER’S retirement plan, have a Limited Durable Power of Attorney (LDPOA) form submitted with the Retirement Services Division. The LPDOA authorizes another person (an “attorney-in-fact”) to make retirement decisions and execute retirement documents in the member’s place, and on the member’s behalf. Having an LDPOA on file will protect the members rights, their families, and other loved ones, if a member becomes incapacitated by illness or injury.

The Governors Executive Order has made it very easy to have one on file by waiving the notary and witnesses signatures and allowing just the last 4 numbers of your social security. The CO-1049 form may be filed electronically to the Retirement Security Division designated email address: rsd–poa-documents@ct.gov.

This is a temporary relaxations of the filing process. Please act now to ensure protection for yourself or loved ones. Please follow the information below:

RSD MEMO 2020-03 – Power of Attorney [Final Version 4-30-20]

Covid Emergency POA signed (1)


CO-1049 Rev 8-2015 (For active employees only)

CO-1049A 8-2015 (For retirees only)

UConn-AAUP Annual Membership Meeting


Thursday, APRIL 30, 2020
1:00 pm – 2:30 pm (note time change)
VIRTUALLY – Members will receive an invite in their uconn.edu account






· Negotiations Update

Special Note: Only UConn-AAUP Active Members will be permitted to attend this meeting. (Active Members are those who are members of the National AAUP and are in good standing with the UConn Chapter.) If you are not a member and would like to join your colleagues at the meeting, please sign a membership card and RSVP by Friday, April 24, 2020.



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PRESIDENT:                                        MARY ELLEN JUNDA, MUSIC







MONICA BOCK                                   ART/ART HISTORY
LAURA BURTON                               EDUCATIONAL LEADERSHIP
FAQUIR JAIN                                     ELECTRICAL & COMPUTER ENGR
LYLE SCRUGGS                                 POLITICAL SCIENCE
CHRIS VIALS                                      ENGLISH



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SEBAC Statement 4.16.20

State Employee Bargaining Agent Coalition Statement – 4.16.20

The Coalition continues to have strong concerns about both the protection of state workers performing essential services on the job and the implementation at an agency level of the Governor’s directives and statements that those workers who can work at home be allowed to do so, and “only the essential people go to work as needed.”  Since our last report, OPM/DAS guidances have moved substantially forward to reflect the Coalition’s call that the only workers who should be at the work site are those who perform work that is essential during the crisis and can only be performed from the work site rather than from their homes.   However, we continue to note than not all Commissioners and other branches of government/employers are properly implementing that principle.   And we have ongoing and critical safety concerns for those employees who perform critical functions and can only do so from the work site.  We should note that since our last report, we have seen some progress in our demands that workers who work at COVID-affected job sites be provided the option of staying in hotels so as not to risk infecting their families.   We have seen some progress in our demands to provide appropriate PPE to all working in COVID-affected sites.   And we have seen some progress in providing notice to unions in worksite when infections are diagnosed or suspected, as well as some improvement in contract tracing to reduce spread. But much much more needs to be done.  And in too many agencies, urgent threats to the health and safety of members and the public remain unaddressed, and avoidable infections continue to spread.

We have continue to press the administration to address our concerns immediately, because as we are all reminded daily, the virus’s spread gives us no time to waste, and the lives of state employees, and the public they serve, remain at risk.[1]

The Coalition calls upon the Administration to immediately implement the following requirements:

  • No worker should be at the workplace during the crisis unless the work is

o   Essential to be performed during the crisis; and

o   Essential to be performed at the workplace. Here the Administration now agrees with our principles, but commissioners, agencies, and employers must be pressed to actually practice what they speak.

  • Those workers who must be in the workplace must receive the greatest possible safety protections for themselves, their family, and the public. We have expressed the deepest concern that these workers have been denied the personal protective equipment they needs the training in how to respond to the various possible risks they might encounter and information they and their unions need about where and when infections have incurred in the workplace.
  • All other workers should be at home, their pay should be continued, and they should be performing whatever part of their work is possible and appropriate to be performed at home.   The administration has agreed with this demand.
  • Priority should be given to public services that
    • Protects the public from spread
    • Meets essential needs, and
    • Prevents harm that could be caused by service disruptions
  • The State should be a role model and use all means at its disposal to encourage other employers in the public sector, municipal and Board of education, and private sector to do right by their workforce and their communities.

[1] There are too many relevant documents from the State to be linked here. But see April 14 Guidance for the latest DAS/OPM Guidance to Agencies on COVID-19.   See Housing Guidance for the new state protocols allowing workers in some agencies with particular risks to state at hotels. As always, these documents are provided for convenience, and not to suggest agreement with any particular content.

SEBAC Statement 4.16.20 Draft

UConn-AAUP Child Care Reimbursement Notice


Applications for the Spring 2020 Child Care Reimbursement must be submitted to the UConn-AAUP office by MAY 7, 2020.

Please note that the Spring 2020 reimbursement is for daycare provided for the months of November, December 2019 & January, February, March & April, 2020 ONLY. Child must attend daycare at least two weeks during the month to qualify for that month.

The UConn-AAUP Child Care policy and application is now available on the UConn-AAUP website:

Please download, fill out, and fax, mail, or e-mail (BarbaraK@uconnaaup.org) the application and receipts to the UConn-AAUP office. ALL applications are acknowledged.

UConn-AAUP Telephone 860-487-0450, Fax 860-487-0341, U-6028
1875 Storrs Road, Storrs, CT 06268