Teacher’s union set to negotiate altered contract

The Temple Association of University Professionals, the university’s teacher’s union, has begun discussing changes for its new contract before the current contract expires Oct. 15.

The union, which represents faculty, librarians and academic professionals, has discussed making negotiations to improve issues concerning non-tenured track faculty, tenure and promotion, discipline and dismissal, library, workload and childcare with administration, said Art Hochner, president of TAUP.

The goal of the negotiations is “to achieve a fair economic package and make some improvements in the working lives of the faculty librarians and academic professionals,” Hochner said.

The union, which represents approximately 1,450 professionals, surveyed some of its members to come to a consensus as to which issues were most important to discuss and renegotiate. TAUP views the contract as an “exclusive bargaining agent for all members of the collective bargaining union,” according to the union’s bulletin.

“The hope is to get it done,” said Steve Newman, vice president of TAUP. “Nobody likes working under an expired contract. It’s never the ideal outcome.”

Hochner said proposals haven’t been made yet, but the union and administration, specifically Sharon Boyle, associate vice president of Human Resources, have had discussions on each of the issues that he calls “fruitful.” Proposals are expected to be formed within the coming weeks.

The discussions on the non-economic issues arose this past June, with economic issues expected to be taken care of within the next few weeks to meet its approaching deadline.

Boyle said she hopes to approach the economic issues in the same way and come to an agreement “cooperatively.”

The union is looking to make improvements to pension, healthcare, vision, dental and tuition support in the near future.

Hochner attributes their headway to their approach of open discussion to avoid “rancour and contentiousness.” He also said it could be related to a developing relationship between the union, President Theobald and Provost Hai-Lung Dai.

“The relationship’s had its ups and downs, but right now, it’s in a good spot in terms of communication,” Hochner said.

Hochner and Newman both said the changes are to provide not only fairness, but better working conditions for the educators protected under the union.

“Generally our position on this is our working conditions are the student’s learning conditions,” Newman said.

“There’s concerns we have about the direction the university is going in,” Hochner said. “Mostly, in terms of whether there’s enough emphasis on the core missions of teaching and research – whether enough of the resources of the university are devoted to these missions. And one way the resources are devoted is in terms of our salaries and benefits and how they treat the people that teach the students and do the work of the university.”

Patricia Madej can be reached at patricia.madej@temple.edu or on twitter @PatriciaMadej

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