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PAT Member Supports Union

UNH Campus Journal
Letter to the Editor, Re: PAT Staff Union

Dear Campus Colleagues,

I am a member of the PAT Staff Union Organizing Committee and read President Huddleston’s letter earlier last week with sympathy for him and his position. Over a year ago at one of our PAT Council meetings, instead of fostering an attitude of fear or sidestepping the issue when asked about possible layoffs, he refused to go there and said—and now I’m paraphrasing—we’re not going there, we’re focusing on creating additional profit centers, which will enable us to go forward without such a necessity. Bravo! 

However, recent actions by the Board of Trustees have reinforced my belief that we must continue to pursue a PAT Staff Union. It is not about President Huddleston, nor about David Proulx, one of the finest people I’ve ever met and who is universally respected.  Rather it’s about the dire need for the PAT staff to have a voice, a legal seat at the negotiation table.  The Board of Trustees has dictated this reduction. They do not know us, and since the vast majority of us are strangers to them, we are perceived as the low-hanging fruit, which can be easily plucked and accessed—because we have no legal voice, no recourse.

What does “Representation at the Table” means to us?  It means: that changes cannot be made to our retirement without our voluntary consent; that changes cannot be made to our benefits without our voluntary consent; that we have other options in our daily work situations when pleas to HR fail us; that if a ”merit pay increase only” policy is initiated, it will be with our consent and with a knowledge that there will be a monitoring unit to make certain that these awards are fair and not nepotistic; and most critically, that if cutbacks become necessary, we have a voice in exactly how those cutbacks are determined and enacted and that those most vulnerable in such a situation will have a voice.

Our PAT Staff Union will work cooperatively with the administration to solve real problems.  In fact, Gov. Lynch has said that the State Employees Union is already working cooperatively in negotiations to reach the state’s target.  This is SEIU he is referring to, the union we have chosen to represent us.  We, the Organizing Committee, would agree to nothing less than a union who would be an active, working partner with our university.  A voice, a place at the table means that we are a partner in these endeavors that we actively get to participate in creating the changes that would assist the university, successfully, through these difficult times.  Together.

In closing consider this analogy made by one of our members:  If we were faced with a serious legal dispute and the other party had an attorney, would it make any sense for us to go into court without legal representation?  Of course not.  And that’s why now, at this very critical time, we must have a legal voice—legal representation.  In this, our only recourse remaining is a union. 

Thank you for this opportunity,

Jahnay Pickett
Pat Council Member, 2005, 2006, 2009 & 2010
Sr. Grant & Contract Administrator
Office of Sponsored Projects Administration
(Formerly Office of Sponsored Research)


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