Faculty members, librarians and academic professionals continue to work under an expired contract while ongoing negotiations between the Temple Association of University Professionals and the administration carry on.
Due to disagreements among TAUP and the administration, an agreement was not reached by the October 15 deadline.
The current situation arose when David Adamany and the administration failed to place any proposals on the table prior to Oct. 15, according to William Cutler, a representative of TAUP. Instead, the administration waited until then to issue a detailed summary of salary increases and other changes that they wished to make within the prior contract.
“I’m sure if you were in a union you wouldn’t agree to a proposal that didn’t mention salaries,” Cutler said of the proposal.
TAUP also didn’t agree with some of the major changes that the administration wished to make to the prior contract, such as changing the way the faculty was hired, tenured and promoted.
Under these changes, non-tenured professors would be greatly affected in terms of salary. The administration proposed taking out language detailing minimum salaries, according to Cutler. This would allow the administration to decrease the salaries of non-tenured teachers.
TAUP greatly disagreed with this proposal, citing the fact that non-tenured teachers make up 30 percent of full-time faculty; they are 300 strong in a faculty of 1,000 members. Despite their strength in numbers, they have no job security, they work year to year, they have fewer benefits, no contributions are made to their pensions and many have heavy teaching loads.
TAUP hopes to correct this situation by improving the terms and conditions for non-tenured teachers.
“When you, as a student, walk into a classroom, you can’t tell the difference between a tenured teacher and a non-tenured teacher. They look the same and in many cases are very good teachers that deserve better benefits,” Cutler argued.
Among other negotiation proposals, TAUP would like to see more time allotted for all faculty members to develop their professional teaching skills and research. This would allow teachers to better serve their students, Cutler said.
“Teachers will be better able to work with all students, from beginners to intermediate to advanced [under a better contract],” Cutler suggested.
TAUP likewise believes that many of the conditions under the old contract are acceptable. Unlike the administration, TAUP agrees with the current rules regarding how long teachers have to wait to receive tenure.
Under current regulations, teachers are up for tenure after around six years. This is a common practice across the United States, Cutler mentioned.
The administration, however, would like to increase the waiting period to seven years. This would keep teachers in suspense longer and keep them at a greater risk for a longer period of time, according to Cutler.
TAUP and the administration met last week to discuss these matters and negotiations further. A number of articles have been placed on the table by TAUP as well as the administration.
Cutler feels that the administration has made fewer concessions than TAUP. He noted that “at this point, TAUP hopes we can reach an agreement. But that won’t happen if both sides don’t make concessions so that a mutually acceptable agreement can be reached.”
Talks, therefore, will continue between both sides this Wednesday.
The long interval between negotiations was caused by the state mediator being unavailable for much of the time with other contract negotiations elsewhere.
Until an agreement can be reached, the majority of the old contract will be applied with the exception of salary increases. All other benefits and rules will still apply under Pennsylvania Labor Law Act 195, which states that employees can work under the conditions and terms of an old contract.
Rumors of a possible strike among TAUP members in the meantime are completely unfounded, according to Cutler. These claims gained attention in the administration’s newsletter, The Viewpoint, in which the administration stated that they must make plans and accommodations to prepare for TAUP’s plans to go on strike.
Although it is true that Act 195 gives public employees the right to strike, TAUP would have to first gain approval among its 640 due-paying members. According to Cutler, that has yet to take place.
Neither President Adamany nor administration officials were available for comment.
Erin Schlesing can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.