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AAUP contract decided
Arbitrator gives 3 percent raise each year
By Elizabeth Omara-Otunnu (February 21, 1997)
In an arbitrated award handed down last week, the University and the faculty union, the American Association of University Professors, received a new four-year contract that includes a 3 percent salary increase each year. If approved by the General Assembly, it will take effect July 1.
This was only the second time in the 21-year history of the bargaining unit that the contract has gone to arbitration. "These parties have an admirable history of cooperation and collaboration," said arbitrator Susan Meredith.
Virginia Miller, director of labor relations, who represented the University in the contract negotiations, said, "I am very pleased with the entire process. We negotiated in good faith and I believe we arbitrated in good faith."
The 1,311-member bargaining unit had requested annual raises equivalent to 4 percent of the combined salaries of its members. The union also differed from the University on details of the merit component.
Under the award, members of the bargaining unit will receive total raises of 3 percent in each year of the contract. The arbitrator found that a 3 percent raise was more consistent with the budget-balancing plan adopted by the Board of Trustees to address the University's deficit. Of the 3 percent raise in the first two years, one-third will be allocated to merit awards, 70 percent of which will be distributed by department heads and 30 percent by deans and the chancellor. For the second biennium, no merit is included in the award because the issue of merit is subject to renewed negotiations.
The contract also includes a provision for a six-person joint study committee to review merit awards to faculty; a requirement that the deans and chancellor publish the criteria for awarding merit; and an increase in the minimum award for merit from $400 to $500.
"While the University is faced with financial constraints, its offer was made with the understanding that we have a paramount concern for, and interest in, those who accomplish that for which this University exists -- education," said Mark Emmert, chancellor and provost for University affairs. "The attraction and retention of outstanding faculty members is an important goal of the University's strategic planning."
In addition to the merit component of the award, the chancellor will maintain a pool of money to help retain faculty in cases of market competition or to award increases for achievement or equity.
Ed Marth, executive director of the UConn chapter of the AAUP, was disappointed that the unionÕs request for 4 percent raises was turned down but said the negotiating process secured significant benefits for members.
"We were able to preserve some important elements of job security and gain improvements in faculty rights with respect to distance learning and patent protection," he said. "I wish we had prevailed in our arguments with respect to salary increases in the first two years, but the process will lead us for the second biennium to the opportunity of making some more headway in negotiation because we have a reopener for merit."
Other provisions of the contract include:
The contract does not include provisions for retirement, which are negotiated with the state for a coalition of state employee unions.