September 13, 2019 Newsletter
Mary Gallucci, Editor
President’s Message: Agenda for 2019-20
Welcome back for a new academic year! Throughout the Summer and into the Fall, your UConn-AAUP chapter has been hard at work. Here is a brief update on a few of the bigger items on our agenda for 2019-20.
Organizing for Contract Negotiations. Hard to believe, but our current contract expires in less than 22 months. These agreements take time to negotiate (the last one more than a year!) and more time to secure the approval of our members, the Board of Trustees, and the General Assembly. Negotiations on the successor should commence by the end of the Spring ’20 term, and there is much to prepare: data to analyze, priorities to debate, bargaining positions to formulate, and so on.
If you would like to get involved, this is your chance. Our Contract Committee is forming, along with subcommittees on everything from promotional increases to improving contingent faculty benefits.
Salaries. Salary compression and inversion are majors concerns, as are inequities related to gender or minority status. Our chapter attempted to address these issues with the Provost’s fund, a new feature in our contract. But the fund is dwarfed by the magnitude of these problems, so we will continue to address them with administration and, if necessary, in contract negotiations.
Travel Money. With travel funds exhausted earlier every year, faculty members are rightly frustrated. Last year, we worked with OVPR to ensure that at least some travel money was available for Spring, but the underlying problem is that the amount remains too small.
Budget Cuts. For several years running, academic departments have been forced to trim their discretionary budgets, and academic programs are under strain. We will be lobbying in Hartford for an increase to the block grant and meanwhile addressing the problem with administration.
Unfunded Liabilities. Due to the State’s artificially inflated fringe benefit rates, the cost of doing research at this University has skyrocketed and is now considerably higher than at competing institutions. The culprit is the State’s massive unfunded pension liability, a result of decades spent kicking the can down the road.
The inflated fringe rates leave our PIs with less money to spend on actual research, which translates into fewer publications and grant applications, fewer patents and start-ups, and less grant revenue for the University. We all have a stake in finding a solution. Last year, UConn-AAUP worked with the General Assembly to find a legislative fix. Progress was made, but the session ended without a solution, so we shall try yet again.
Executive Director’s Message: “Membership in UConn-AAUP”
With the 2017 Supreme Court decision in Janus, non-members, those who chose not to become members of the AAUP, were no longer required to pay dues toward collective bargaining representation. Thus, the divisive intent of the slanted Supreme Court was realized as some members of the bargaining unit pay dues and non-members do not pay, yet receive the same negotiated protections and benefits.
UConn-AAUP sees this as a challenge and an organizing opportunity to prove the value and benefits of supporting the efforts of the union. Every day, members and non-members, call or email the union office for assistance with an employment issue. Every day, those calls and emails are answered and assistance is given.
UConn-AAUP is a member-driven organization, requiring faculty to govern the chapter. The chapter is led by three elected officers, ten elected members-at-large, and a regional campus representative. More importantly, the chapter is led by members who attend and vote at the chapter meetings. In order for you to participate in governance, you must become a member of the AAUP by signing an authorization form.
The bottom line is that if you want AAUP to be here to represent you in the years ahead – to fight for you at the bargaining table, in the legislature, or when you have a workplace problem – then you owe it to yourself and your colleagues to be a member. Remember, just being in the bargaining unit does not make you a UConn-AAUP member; you have to sign up!
The Chapter has many events planned for the year, some of which may be restricted to members only. Be sure to become a member in order to enjoy all of the benefits negotiated and offered by the union.
UConn-AAUP Open House
The UConn-AAUP Executive Committee is hosting an Open House on October 2, 2019 from 4:00 PM – 6:00 PM. UConn-AAUP is located at 1875 Storrs Rd. Storrs, CT. (Route 195) Come meet the officers and staff who work to make this chapter one of the best chapters of the AAUP.
Revised Letter of Appointment. Each August 15th, letters of appointment for annually appointed faculty are sent out by HR. Please read your letters carefully and look for any changes from the previous year’s appointment letter. If changes have been made which were not discussed with you in advance, please contact the UConn-AAUP office immediately.
Faculty Travel Funds. On August 8, 2019, the OVPR announced that the AAUP/OVPR travel funds for the Fall 2019 (July 1 – December 31, 2019) were committed and no more funds were available. As we reported last year, the FY 20 funds were to be separated into two travel periods, Fall 2019 and Spring 2020. Any funds that were awarded and not used were to be returned to the fund for additional awarding. Application for the Spring period will begin on November 1, 2019.
It is very apparent that the amount of money available for faculty travel through these funds is insufficient. It is also very apparent that the exercise of negotiating a marginal increase to these funds during negotiations will lead to the same outcome. Some departments have money available for faculty travel, but many do not.
President Katsouleas has been charged by the Board of Trustees, and through legislation, to double the research component at the University. His plan includes ramping-up efforts for collaborations with industry partners and other Universities. Increasing the funds available for faculty travel to present papers and engage in conversations for collaborations must be a priority of this administration.
UConn-AAUP will work with the President’s office to increase funds for faculty travel.
Representative Assembly. In an effort to increase member participation in the governance and activities of the union, a critical aspect of every successful union, UConn-AAUP leadership decided to create a Representatives Assembly. Similar to a steward’s program, the representative from a department has 4 basic functions:
- Convey information about the union to members and non-members within a department or unit, and convey members’ and non-members’ ideas and concerns to those who are overseeing the day-to-day activity of the union, especially during negotiations for the new collective bargaining agreement;
- Serve as a point of contact for the grievance issues of their constituents;
- Encourage non-members to sign up as dues-paying members and become more involved in the daily functions of the union;
- Attend Chapter meetings and orientations for representatives and obtain commitments from members to come to events and participate in actions of the union.
Meetings of the Assembly are scheduled once a month, with more scheduled during negotiation years.
Check with your department colleagues to see who your Assembly representative is or call the union office. A department without a representative is not adequately informed of current employment issues or union activities.
Upcoming UConn-AAUP Events – Save the Dates –
- September 18, 2019 – 4:00-6:00 pm – McHugh Hall Room #206, Storrs Campus – National AAUP Senior Program Officer Hans-Joerg Tiede, Department of Academic Freedom, Tenure and Governance will present “Academic Freedom in the Age of Trump.”
- September 20, 2019 – 2:30-4:00 pm – Student Union Room #304, Storrs Campus – National AAUP East Coast Organizer David Kociemba will present “Contingency and Gender: How Adjunct Hiring Disproportionately Effects Women and POC. What adjuncts, tenured faculty, and the union can do”.
- September 24, 2019 – 12:30-2:00 pm – Stamford Conference Room #113 – UConn-AAUP Regional Campus Visit to Stamford to meet with members
- October, 2019 – Edward Marth Mentorship Award Submissions
- October 1, 2019 – 12:00 noon-2:00 pm – Hartford Campus – HTB #209 – UConn-AAUP Regional Campus Visit to Hartford to meet with members
- October 2, 2019 – 4:00-6:00 pm – Open House at the UConn-AAUP Office, 1875 Storrs Road (Route 195) – come meet the officers and staff – light refreshments will be served!
- October 24, 2019 – 12:00 Noon – Annual UConn-AAUP Member Luncheon