After a year of negotiations, contract talks between UNH Lecturers United-AAUP and University of New Hampshire administrators have broken down. The union declared impasse today after the university failed to show up to a pre-scheduled meeting.
“We scheduled this meeting over spring break to not be disruptive to students or classes. We had hoped to be able to arrive at a new contract soon to have it in place well before new students and their families arrive on campus in the fall,” says Catherine Moran, UNHLU-AAUP president and co-lead negotiator. “We want a contract that retains high quality, experienced educators. We want a contract that offers opportunities for faculty development, performance review, and the ability for us to be here for our students. There are so many changes of administrators at the university these days. Now more than ever, our students need stability in their teaching faculty.”
The two sides have been negotiating since January of 2017, and Lecturer faculty have been working without a contract for nearly a year. The two sides had initially identified a shared set of issues but failed to go beyond that.
Relations between the university and the union grew more strained after the university suddenly cut the positions of 18 members of the bargaining unit in January. This came as a surprise to the union after the administration’s team had stated at the negotiation table that they would not lay off highly experienced, promoted, well qualified faculty. A main bargaining priority for the union has been job security for its members, whose positions are teaching-intensive.
“We are committed to our students, but the university wants to treat us like we are disposable. This is not in the interest of our students. They say they want to be flexible, but we see this as a smoke screen for their lack of planning and mismanagement of university resources,” says Adam St. Jean, UNHLU-AAUP contract administrator and co-lead negotiator.
Following a student-led rally in support of the laid off faculty on February 16, a number of supporters showed up at the library today to cheer on the negotiation team. Students and other faculty members were in attendance. In response, police were called. When police arrived they deemed the assembly to be a lawful expression of First Amendment rights and then left.
“Lecturers have been working hard to arrive at a new contract. We continually proposed solutions, but they kept coming back to the table without compromising on any of the primary issues,” says St. Jean. “Even after they said they heard and shared our concerns, they neither accepted our solutions nor offered their own. Then today they failed to show up!”
Discussions will now move to mediation according to state labor law.
UNHLU-AAUP is the union for lecturer faculty at the University of New Hampshire. The views and opinions expressed are those of UNHLU-AAUP and do not imply endorsement by UNH.