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Faculty Contract Settled Pending Affirmative Vote By UNH AAUP

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The executive committee of the University System of New Hampshire board of trustees and the bargaining team of the University of New Hampshire chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) have both agreed to accept an independent fact finder’s report on negotiations that would result in a five-year contract from July 1, 2010, through June 30, 2015 (FY11-FY15) for unionized UNH faculty. The agreement still requires an affirmative vote by the UNH AAUP membership and the USNH board of trustees to be finalized.

“This has been a long and difficult round of negotiations, made even more challenging than usual by the 48 percent cut in support from the state that occurred mid-way through the process,” said UNH President Mark Huddleston.

“UNH remains in a period of fiscal austerity so we will have to be thoughtful and creative in our budget planning in order to address the fiscal implications of the recommended settlement but I am convinced we can meet this challenge. There is no greater strategic priority at UNH than the investments required to ensure we attract and retain the highest-quality faculty and staff so that students continue to receive the best possible education,” he said.

The recommended salary package for unionized faculty provides for no salary increase in FY11. For FY12 through FY15, across-the-board and merit-equity components for the four years combined total 8.5 percent. The fact-finder also recommended flat-dollar amounts differentiated by academic rank primarily to address a growing inequity between the average salary of a full professor at UNH and that of comparator institutions.

The fact finder’s recommendations for changes to health benefits for faculty would result in almost $900,000 a year in savings. This achieves two-thirds of what the Board of Trustees’ hoped to achieve in benefits savings, and what it did achieve with non-unionized faculty and staff. “I will continue to work with the board’s leadership on the potential implications of this settlement and once the voting process is complete we will begin in earnest to discuss the actions necessary to ensure all of our employees are treated equitably under the Total Rewards Program,” said Huddleston.

In addition to salary and benefits, the fact-finder was asked by the parties to make recommendations regarding the university’s proposal to modify the termination clause of the contract in light of lessons learned from the case involving Professor Edward Larkin, who was accused of having exposed himself in public. “The university is extremely pleased that the fact finder agrees that the just cause standard for dismissal should be changed from ‘moral delinquency of a grave order’ to ‘moral turpitude’ and there should be an accelerated arbitration process for such cases,” said Huddleston. “We can hope that we never see another case of this kind, but if we do it will be essential that we have the ability to take action to protect our students.”

UNH lead negotiator Candace Corvey indicated that the new employment termination language is more common in labor contracts and that a misdemeanor such as that to which Larkin pled guilty would quite likely meet the definition of moral turpitude.