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  March 17, 2003

Faculty, Board Endorse AAUP Deal

UConn's Board of Trustees on March 11 unanimously approved a memorandum of agreement with the American Association of University Professors that freezes faculty salaries for one year, while offering the union's members protection from budget-related layoffs.

The agreement, if approved by the state, will save the University an estimated $6.6 million in 2003-04 and is considered a key to helping UConn continue to provide a high quality education in the face of cuts to the state-funded portion of the University's operating budget.

AAUP members approved the contract amendment 474-115 in a vote that took place during the first week of March.

"The agreement not only has great intrinsic value, but it also has brought us tremendous good will with the governor and the legislature," President Philip E. Austin told the trustees. "Five or six members of the Appropriations Committee [where Austin testified on the budget on Tuesday] praised the AAUP and the University for coming to agreement."

The few questions posed by trustees concerned the University's authority to make adjustments to programs that may be deemed unnecessary or no longer valuable. Austin assured them that the University retained fully its programmatic prerogatives.

Including a salary freeze imposed on non-union managers and faculty at the School of Law, UConn will save nearly $9 million in the 2003-04 budget.

Quentin Kessel, president of the UConn chapter of the AAUP, praised his members after the vote, noting that faculty "have shown, once again, the value of having a shared commitment to the preservation of excellence at the University. Without such a freeze and the protection against layoffs, the University would have a hard time protecting student interests, valued colleagues who often take a year or more to recruit, and public support that was demonstrated so well with the progress reflected in UConn 2000."

Austin, while acknowledging that the state is facing a difficult budget year - and promising that UConn will be a partner in the resolution of the budget crisis - told Appropriations Committee members that cuts in the proposed 2003-05 appropriations cannot be easily absorbed.

"It is important for you to understand that it will be extraordinarily difficult for the University to accommodate this limited state support, especially considering the budget cuts imposed over the past year. Were it not for the pending agreement with the AAUP regarding bargaining unit member wage freezes, we would be facing extremely dire circumstances," Austin told the panel. "Even with that agreement we face the unavoidable prospect of non-faculty staff reductions and program adjustments or eliminations ."

UConn's appropriation in the governor's proposed budget for Storrs and the regional campuses in FY '04 is $13.6 million, including fringe benefits, less than current services; and $22.4 million (including fringe benefits) less than what is needed to maintain the state's share of current services in FY '05.

The proposed appropriation for the Health Center in FY '04 is $3.3 million, including fringe benefits, less than current services; and in FY '05, $5.9 million, including fringe benefits, less than current services.