Temple University and the Temple Association of University Professionals announced they reached a tentative agreement on a four-year contract Monday. The old contract expired Oct. 15, 2004, but the TAUP faculty union and Temple University agreed to have an extension until the middle of February to allow for more time to negotiate on the new contract.
Temple President David Adamany said the contract is “an enormous step” for the University. “This contract, everything we’re doing at Temple, is intended to ensure Temple’s status as a national university improves,” said Adamany, who kept his comments brief due to health issues. TAUP President William W. Cutler said the goal of the new contract is to retain the important features of the old contract while reflecting the changing conditions of the faculty and the climate of American higher education. “From the very beginning, I focused on how do we build a contract language that makes a statement about Temple’s aspirations and about the reality of Temple’s faculty as well,” Cutler said.
Neither Adamany nor Cutler disclosed specific details about the new contact, but Cutler said, “The language has changed on matters having to do with promotion and tenure, department chairs, non-tenure track (and) full-time non tenure track faculty.” Cutler conceded the new contract has “significant changes,” but withheld the details to give members of the parties involved sufficient time to look over the contract before they considered making it public.
TAUP chief negotiator Arthur Hochner defended the union and University’s decision to keep the specifics private. “We tried to keep the negotiations out of the public because it doesn’t make any progress …. It works a lot easier to reach an agreement when you’re not airing it all in public,” Hochner said. The University and faculty union both agreed a new contract had to be made to replace the outdated model of the old one-a contract that dated back to the 1980s.
One of the main issues the negotiations settled dealt with rising healthcare cost. “We managed to come up with a solution that deals with the increase in healthcare costs, sharing a burden, as well as trying to find ways to reduce Temple’s healthcare costs,” Hochner said.
Cutler and Adamany both said it was hard to come up with a contract that satisfied both sides. “When you are attempting to revise the practices and stated policies of more than a quarter century, you have a major challenge,” Adamany said.
Despite the difficulties, Cutler said they “achieved language that made everyone happy.” Cutler said the turning point of the negotiations occurred February 4 where the TAUP and University had a “marathon negotiating session” that lasted “around the clock” till the morning of the following day. During that meeting, both parties settled most economic issues, such as merit pay, benefits and salary increases. Cutler said both parties had the non-economic issues, such as tenure and promotion, mostly ironed out before that decisive private conference.
The terms of the tentative agreement pleased Mel Driban, the national representative for the American Federation of Teachers. “I think that the TAUP negotiating team did an outstanding job and that it’s a fair contract,” Driban said.
The new contract will go into effect when the TAUP and Temple’s Board of Trustees both approve it. Cutler said the contract should be ratified by early March. “We can have our ratification in place with all our members who voted. The decision will be made by them by the Friday before spring break,” Cutler said.
However, Temple University President Adamany said the tentative four-year agreement is only a short term solution that will have to be solved over time.
“This discussion that has resulted in a new contract is not over yet. This will be a discussion that will continue for the next several years as we try to implement this contract in a full and fair way,” Adamany said.
TAUP is the bargaining unit representing 1,165 full-time faculty and other academic professionals in Temple’s library system and 13 of its schools and colleges.
Sulaiman Abdur-Rahman can be reached at Sulaiman@temple.edu.