24 Jan 2022

UConn-AAUP Update: January 24, 2022

JOIN UConn-AAUP HERE

In this Issue: UConn-AAUP Wins Arbitration Cases

Arbitration is the foundation of union representation in workplace disputes. The opportunity for an employee to take a workplace dispute to an independent third party for resolution is what separates union-protected employees from non-union employees. Non-union employees, for the most part, are “at-will” employees and can be dismissed from their employment “without cause.” Union represented employees have “just cause” protection that allows access to an independent arbitrator who will decide if the employer had just cause to terminate an employee.

Two UConn-AAUP members are grateful they were union employees represented by UConn-AAUP for their workplace disputes.

The most prominent case is the former head coach of the men’s basketball team, who was fired by the University in March 2018 for allegedly violating NCAA rules. The arbitrator determined that the university did not conduct an investigation and lacked evidence to substantiate “just cause” since the only charges at the time his contract was terminated were minor offences. As a result of the arbitrator’s decision, the coach was awarded his negotiated full compensation package, which exceeds 11 million dollars.

An equally important case involves a tenured research professor. In January 2019, the administration moved to terminate her allegedly for non-compliance with federal funding disclosure requirements and violating University policy. After her contract was terminated in September 2019, the University destroyed her lab, which contained animals critical for her research. The arbitrator determined that the University relied on insufficient evidence and did not have “just cause” to terminate or to suspend her research.  Her award includes full back-pay, a return to her rank as Full Professor with tenure, and the restoration of her lab equipment and space.

According to our Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), dismissal should occur as the final step in a progressive disciplinary process.  In both cases, the University neglected to conduct thorough investigations to support its allegations against these well-respected professionals.

The administration will file appeals in both cases, but there is a very slim chance that the decisions will be overturned.

Why should this matter to you? These awards show the strength of our union and CBA:

  1. The arbitrators upheld the importance of due process in a termination hearing.
  2. The arbitrators ruled that the UConn-AAUP CBA is the controlling document

and overrides any Individual Employment Agreements (IEA).

  1. Our CBA, with stronger “just cause” protections, must be used in all disciplinary cases.
  2. Arbitration can be used to resolve workplace disputes and contract negotiations.

We are pleased that UConn-AAUP won these cases and wish our colleagues the best as they move forward professionally and personally.  We also extend our sincere thanks and deep appreciation to Executive Director Michael Bailey, who worked tirelessly to ensure that the coach and tenured faculty member had the union representation they fully deserved.

Today is a proud day for our union membership with justice being served. If you are not a member, please consider joining UConn-AAUP. As you can readily see, the benefits are worth it.

In Solidarity.                                                                           JOIN UConn-AAUP HERE

 

Mary Ellen Junda, President

Jeffrey Ogbar, Executive Vice President

Michael Bailey, Executive Director

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