One battling union finds compromise

Of Temple’s two employee unions that spent last year without contract, one is nearing an accord.

Of Temple’s two employee unions that spent last year without contract, one is nearing an accord.

Students have returned for the fall semester with one Temple union under a tentative new contract and another potentially on its way.

Both the Temple Association of University Professionals and Temple’s American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 1723 union entered the summer battling the university in contract negotiations. TAUP has been without a contract since Oct. 15, 2008, and AFSCME has been without one since Oct. 31, 2007.

TAUP and the university bargaining teams reached a tentative agreement Tuesday, August 25, which will potentially continue through Oct. 15, 2012. The contract must now be ratified by TAUP members then approved by the university’s Board of Trustees.

“The members of the Temple University bargaining team have worked long and hard to achieve this important goal, and I am proud of the work they have done to create an agreement that is both fiscally responsible for Temple and fair and equitable to our faculty,” President Ann Weaver Hart said. “I believe this contract is a good outcome after the 14-month negotiating process, and I am very grateful that we will start the new academic year with the negotiations behind us.”

In accordance with the contract, no raise will be given forthe past year, but there is a guaranteed 2 percent salary increase across the board each year for the next three years. There is also the possibility of a 1 percent merit increase each year, though the union and the university will continue to meet and discuss the details of that system.

The university also promised a 0.75 percent bonus each year to every bargaining unit member, provided the university receives a minimum of $175 million in state appropriation and stimulus funds for the respective year. The 0.75 percent bonus will not be added to the base pay.

“It’s really good that we got this done now before the new semester starts, so that everyone can focus on the things we’re here to do such as teach, do research and help students get the best education they can,” University Counsel George Moore said.

There has also been an increase in salary minimums, teaching pay and overload pay.
“It’s good for everyone,” Moore said. “Given the economic climate of the United States, it’s very fair and reasonable and financially prudent.”

The union will use an electronic voting procedure via a secured Web site and secret ballot, which they have used to vote before, said Art Hochner, TAUP president.

The deadline to vote is set for Sept. 14. Prior to the deadline, TAUP will hold meetings at Main Campus, Ambler Campus and the Health Sciences Center for members who want to discuss the contract before voting, he said.

Hochner said he has no doubt it will pass.

“There was a very concerted effort to reach an agreement,” Hochner said. “It was difficult, but this isn’t the time to talk about that. It’s excellent given the times we live in and the difficulties of coming to an agreement. We got a very good contract.”

Hochner added that they achieved other goals outside of the financial realm like securing the right for tenure and tenure-track faculty members to have a semester without teaching responsibilities when a child under the age of five enters their care. This includes both male and female birth parents, as well as adoptive parents. Non-tenure track faculty and other professionals may request an adjustment in their schedules under these circumstances.

“I’m looking forward to us having a good, calm semester,” Hochner said.

AFSCME, on the other hand, has met with the university three times this summer – once each month in May, June and July – union president Paul Dannenfelser said.

He said AFSCME gave the university a revised proposal at the meeting in June, which university officials then “only partially responded to” in July.

“We’ve been in touch with the mediator and are in the process of setting up a meeting with Temple,” Dannenfelser said. “We’re expecting to meet with them [this week or next week].”

Both Dannenfelser and Director of University Relations Ray Betzner declined to provide details of the proposal or negotiation process.

“We’re looking for a fair, across-the-board raise for our members, as well as solving other issues,” said Dannenfelser, declining further comment.

Both sides, however, said they hope to follow in the footsteps of the TAUP negotiations and reach an agreement soon.

“This was a very long negotiation, and I think both sides addressed all of the issues professionally and in an appropriate way,” Moore said. “Sometimes, there were extraneous things that happened, but we hope all of that is behind us and we can focus on what we’re here to do.”

Kathryn A. López can be reached at

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