Temple Association of University Professionals’ new union representatives took office on May 1 after the group’s members elected the seven leaders in April.
The representatives discussed their advocacy and leadership plans, in regards to uplifting faculty voices, the COVID-19 vaccine, budget cuts and more, for the upcoming academic year.
CENTERING FACULTY VOICES
Amplifying faculty voices on topics like faculty needs, Temple’s budget and hiring practices will be an important part of the union’s lobbying initiatives, said Will Jordan, president of TAUP and an educational leadership and policy studies professor.
“It’s really about greater, greater faculty voice, and you know just sort of advocating for the needs of all of our constituencies, which is not only faculty but also adjunct faculty, librarians and academic professionals,” Jordan said.
TAUP wants to build organizing committees for each school and college at Temple, he said. This will help colleges at Temple organize around issues that are important to faculty, like budget and hiring transparency, he added. TAUP also wants to strengthen the voices of the college-level organizing committees that already exist.
“These organizing committees will push the administration when we need to, but then applaud the administration when they’re making, taking steps in the right direction,” Jordan said.
Union organizing is not just about benefiting faculty, but also students because faculty members who are secure in their jobs and have access to appropriate classroom resources are able to provide a better education to students, Jordan said.
FALL PLANS AND COVID-19 VACCINATIONS
TAUP will continue to advocate against unsafe working conditions that may arise due to the COVID-19 pandemic in the upcoming academic year, Jordan said.
While the state of the pandemic will be different in the fall 2021 semester compared to the past academic year, it is important that faculty members are included in conversations regarding reopening plans for the fall, said Sam Allingham, vice president for organizing of TAUP and a composition and creative writing adjunct professor.
“We’re really hoping the majority of our faculty really want to get back to in-person instruction, but making sure that faculty are consulted about their working conditions is really big,” Allingham said.
The union called on the university to hold all classes remotely in the Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 semesters due to the COVID-19 pandemic, The Temple News reported.
TAUP’s executive committee voted on May 27 to approve the language of a TAUP statement that calls on the university to require proof of COVID-19 vaccination for students and faculty who will work or attend classes in-person on any Temple campus, except in cases of medical conditions, religious or strong moral or ethical beliefs, wrote Jordan in an email to The Temple News.
Jordan believes that the search for Temple’s next president was not transparent and did not include enough faculty or student input, he said.
Temple named Jason Wingard, a dean emeritus and professor at Columbia University, as the university’s 12th president on June 8 and assumed office on July 1, The Temple News reported.
“Although his credentials are quite impressive, the process that brought him here was not at all transparent,” wrote Jordan in an email to The Temple News.
While there were three faculty members on the Presidential Search Committee, few people outside of the committee had the opportunity to meet Wingard, or any other candidate, before he was hired, Jordan wrote.
“That being said, I’m looking forward to meeting him and working with him,” he wrote.
State legislators that represent the area surrounding Temple’s Main Campus, including State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, State Sen. Sharif Street and State Rep. Danilo Burgos called on the university to be more transparent in their presidential search at a September 2020 event, The Temple News reported.
At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Temple University planned for 5 percent budget cuts across all departments, The Temple News reported.
“The 5 percent was an initial target for the schools and colleges, so they would be prepared for what we believed was the worst case,” wrote Ken Kaiser, vice president, chief financial officer and treasurer for the university, in an email to The Temple News.
Each department’s budget cuts were based on individual school needs and the percentage of their cuts varied, Kaiser wrote.
TAUP organized a protest with student organizations, like Temple University Graduate Students’ Association, Temple Young Democratic Socialists of America, Temple Marxists, Defund TUPD and Temple United Students Against Sweatshops against potential 5 percent budgets cuts in April 2021, The Temple News reported.
The union plans to continue working with student organizations at Temple to advocate on behalf of their needs, Jordan said.
TAUP conducted an analysis during the past year of the university’s budget and found that 5 percent budget cuts are unnecessary because the academic sector of Temple creates consistent revenue expenditure every year, Allingham said.
They worked with the Temple University Graduate Students’ Association to also create the Temple Made Millions campaign that calls on Temple’s Board of Trustees to vote against potential 5 percent budget cuts, be transparent about the university’s budget and include North Philadelphia community members in budget discussions.
The campaign argued that the university budget cuts were unnecessary and urged Temple to use their profits to save jobs in jeopardy from the budget cuts and to improve working conditions for Temple employees.
Temple made a profit of $163 million in 2020 compared to the $101 million in 2019, according to Temple’s 2020 and 2019 financial statement reports.
The final proposed budget, along with individual school’s budget cuts, will be approved on July 6, Kaiser wrote.
The union plans on continuing this campaign in the 2021 academic year, Jordan said.
Last year, TAUP learned the “necessity” of organizing as the union faced issues created by the COVID-19 pandemic, Allingham said.
“I’m excited this year to build a sort of structure that instead of just responding, sort of proactively tackle issues before they get to be at this crisis point,” he said.