THE STATE OF CONTRACT NEGOTIATIONS WITH THE ADMINISTRATION
As we begin the fall semester, the AAUP and the Administration have not reached agreement on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. Until a new contract is negotiated, approved by the AAUP Steering Committee, and ratified by the AAUP membership, the 2013-2016 Agreement will remain in effect. Salaries, promotional increments, and s-contract compensation will not increase until there is a new contract. Once there is a new contract, payments will be retroactive to July 1, 2016.
Contract negotiations have led to tentative agreement on a number of important issues. These tentative agreements include greater protection for CT faculty conditions of employment, and favorable changes in the grievance procedure and in the merit pay allocation procedure.
While there has been progress on key issues, bargaining over salary and retirement benefits has been extremely difficult. As you were informed early in these negotiations, the Administration initially made draconian proposals on retirement benefits that are simply unacceptable. There has been some modification in the Administration’s proposals on retirement benefits, but not nearly enough for serious engagement at the bargaining table. At this stage of negotiations, the AAUP leadership is hopeful that more meaningful discussions will begin.
Two key factors have been slowing the negotiations and hindering progress. First, there has been a significant change in accounting practices regarding retirement benefits. Retirement benefits are now aggregated into the future for all faculty members eligible for retirement and are included as a liability on the University’s balance sheet. This new accounting practice does not affect the actual annual budgeting or actual revenues and expenditures on a yearly basis. However, it has focused administrative and Board of Trustee attention on retirement benefits in a manner that we believe overly emphasizes the actual financial effects of current retirement benefits.
Second, the timing of these negotiations has coincided with a presidential transition. Perhaps as a result, it has not been clear to us how the Administration’s approach and priorities are being formulated. This is, to some degree, to be expected as a new president takes office. During such a period of transition, it takes some time for a new leadership to emerge, articulate its goals, come to know the AAUP leadership and the broader institutional culture, and become fully engaged in the specifics of decision-making.
The AAUP leadership recognizes that contract negotiations require both sides to acknowledge and give credence to one another’s priorities along with establishing an understanding of the University’s true financial condition. We believe this is vital to achieve a fair and reasonable contract that recognizes and supports the unique and central roles faculty members play in the life of the University. Despite the length of current negotiations and lack of progress at this time, there is good will between the AAUP and Administration bargaining teams and a shared belief that a collegial resolution of differences is crucial to renewing trust, rebuilding severely weakened faculty morale, and fulfilling the educational and research missions of the University.
It is important for faculty members to be engaged in the negotiation process by staying informed through their department representatives and Steering Committee members. The surge of membership since these contract negotiations started last February clearly demonstrates that faculty members recognize the importance of the current contract negotiations for their futures and the future of the University.
If you are not a member, please join the AAUP now. Our bargaining power is strengthened by your membership.