UCPEA Steps Forward To Help
The University of Connecticut Professional Employees Association (UCPEA) and the University have announced a tentative agreement to help address the state's and the University's critical fiscal difficulties through a one-year freeze on bargaining unit salaries.
The agreement will eliminate the contractual increase scheduled for July this year, and extend the contract term by two years, with wage negotiations taking place in 2006 for the fiscal year beginning in July 2007.
UCPEA represents more than 1,300 non-teaching professionals such as librarians, nurses, student affairs officers, and others in academic and student support positions.
The primary purpose of the agreement is to mitigate the need for personnel reductions at the Storrs-based programs, while accommodating the ongoing programmatic changes in the University's operations, student services, and academic and research programs occurring during this time of unprecedented enrollment growth.
The agreement is subject to approval by the UCPEA bargaining unit membership, the University Board of Trustees, and the Connecticut General Assembly. The UCPEA membership vote is expected to be concluded by April 14. The Board of Trustees is scheduled to meet on April 15.
The University reached a similar agreement with the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) in February.
If approved by the UCPEA membership, UCPEA will join the AAUP, Law School faculty, and managerial and other non-unionized employees in a Fiscal Year '04 wage freeze. This means that nearly 75 percent of the employees of the Storrs-based programs will join in contributing savings to assist the University in meeting the budget challenges imposed by the state's fiscal crisis. The remaining employees are in statewide unions that bargain directly with the Office of the Governor.
President Philip E. Austin expressed appreciation to UCPEA for stepping forward to propose this agreement: "The men and women represented by UCPEA are committed to the University's ongoing excellence as a center of teaching, research and service to the people of our state," he said. "At a time of state fiscal crisis, all of us are called upon to make short-term sacrifices for the long-term good of the institution. I am grateful to UCPEA and its leadership for their willingness to undertake an agreement that is in the best interest of our students, our faculty, and the University."
M. Kevin Fahey, UCPEA president, said "Our goal from the outset was to work with the University to serve the best interests of both our members and the University. I believe this agreement will save UCPEA jobs and help the University in this time of financial need, as we continue to serve our students and the state.
"We may be union members, but we have always been members of the UConn community as well," Fahey said. "For years, UCPEA members have worked with the University as partners, both in the delivery of a quality educational product and in the effort to secure state support to deliver that product. UConn is an investment in Connecticut's future. I truly appreciate the respect and flexibility extended by President Austin that allowed us to reach this agreement quickly and amicably."
The agreement between UCPEA and the University will result in salary and fringe benefit savings of $2.4 million to the state.