Update on Bargaining and Lecturers

This has already been a busy semester, but the Executive Board of the UFA wanted to update you on some of the critical issues that are ongoing on campus.

We plan a series of communications this semester as the University moves forward with the UPC and possible reductions to programs on campus. We are currently working with the Committee and President Bodnar to ensure that the process is both as transparent as possible and also adheres to the policies outlined in the Collective Bargaining Agreement. We will have more on that and the overall budget situation in the coming weeks, but for now we wanted to bring you up to speed on bargaining and the situation with lecturers.

As to bargaining, we continue to meet with representatives of the Montana University System to hammer out a new contract. This process has been very slow as we wait for responses to our proposals and counters and as we refuse management proposals that would erode essential faculty rights like tenure and seniority.  We are also pushing for pay increases that were included for all non-MUS state employees and for clearer, fairer processes for non-tenure-track faculty.  We share your frustration that today is March 1st  (current contract expired 6/30/17) and still lack a new contract that we can recommend for members to ratify.   It’s our goal to reach agreement before the end of this semester, but if not, we may all need to engage in wider discussions about the union’s options.

As we have stated before, all merit increases and promotion salary increases have been verbally agreed to by management in bargaining, but they are still held up until we have a new contract approved by BOR and ratified by union membership vote, at which time they will be honored retroactive to 10/1/17.

We strongly encourage the MUS to double its efforts to find an agreement and we will meet them with increased hard work from our side, as well. One thing you can do to help our efforts would be to ensure you are a full member of the union as this strengthens our bargaining power as a unified collective. To confirm your membership category, please contact us at (406) 243-6592 or email ufa@umontana.edu.

As you probably read in local media, the University of Montana decided to not renew contracts for 12 lecturers next year (an additional lecturer decided to retire). This is a sad development for so many skillful teachers who have inspired hundreds of students and helped so many colleagues over the years. The lecturers were notified at the end of last month. The union worked to ensure the deans and department chairs were involved in this process and that it respect the commitment outlined in the contract for these professionals. Although we regret the loss of these valuable colleagues, the union was able to successfully defeat two attempts to eliminate lecturers as a class of faculty.

The union has been working with HR and many of these faculty members to answer questions about benefits, timing and other issues. If you are one of these faculty members, please do not hesitate to contact Vice President Megan Stark (megan.stark@umontana.edu) with any questions and we will work to answer them.

The lecturer matter is a solemn example of what we try to do at the UFA – to protect the rights enshrined in the contract and assist faculty members in whatever way we can.

As for the other issues facing campus, we have been meeting with the President and other senior officials to ascertain a clearer picture of the budget situation UM faces. We will be outlining our understanding of where the University stands in the coming weeks and will hopefully provide you with a more detailed snapshot at that time.



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