Wednesday, July 11, 2001

UC faculty to request pay raises

Contract negotiations scheduled to begin today

By Ben L. Kaufman
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        University of Cincinnati faculty members will ask for millions of dollars in raises when negotiations begin today on their new three-year contract.

        The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) wants across-the-board increases, higher minimum salaries and expanded benefits for the 1,990 full-time faculty it represents.

        It's a “catch-up year,” AAUP President Joe W. Fisher said Tuesday.

        AAUP released no dollar amounts, but each percent increase costs UC $800,000.

   UC's faculty union laid out specific contract proposals for the first time Tuesday. They include:
   • Annual pay increases of 1.5 percent above the increase in the Cincinnati-area Consumer Price Index (3.5 percent in 2000).
   • Minimum salaries adjusted for inflation since the initial contract at UC in 1975 plus 1 percent for each year faculty members have held their current ranks, up to 10 percent.
   • $1.5 million in the 2001-2002 school year to raise salaries of veteran faculty whose pay is being equalled or exceeded by new hires.
   • Extending benefits to domestic partners.
   • Bringing various medical/dental benefits up to the level of the most generous faculty plan.
        AAUP chief negotiator John Cuppoletti said faculty proposals and UC's pleas of poverty promise a “very, very tough year” for bargaining. “We have our needs and we are going to ask them to please address them.”

        Even if a new pact is not signed when the contract expires Aug. 31, school is expected to start on time on Sept. 20.

        “We know that our faculty need to have competitive salaries,” UC spokesman Greg Hand said, and while UC has little or no state money for raises, AAUP could win raises if it accepted higher costs for health benefits.

        AAUP authorized a strike in May, a routine vote in a contract negotiation year. The last AAUP strike was in 1993.

        Tuesday, Dr. Fisher said UC administrators have led the university into repeated financial crises and that a strike is possible. “We must defend our interests with necessary means.”

        AAUP says the money is there if UC will spend it. For instance:

        • The 8 percent tuition increase would more than cover proposed salary raises.

        “It's already spent,” Mr. Hand responded, saying the money went for inflation.

        • Money would be available if UC quit covering construction bonds and cost overruns from the same fund that supports salaries.

        Mr. Hand said it's not that simple and professors would have few new or refurbished facilities if UC built only when every penny was in the bank. Moreover, he said, “It's not a negotiation question.”

        AAUP also has nonmonetary issues, including:

        • Its desire for language limiting what may be entered into faculty personnel files.

        • More explicit and liberal leave policies.

        • A reduction in the number of classes taught by adjuncts.

        • A call for faculty-administration studies of gender equity.

        • The impact of new technologies on patents, copyright and related issues.

        Fueling the AAUP is a discontent that focuses on the billion-dollar rebuilding of the main campus.

        “Faculty and students are not their top priorities,” Dr. Fisher said. “It's buildings and construction.”

        Fellow AAUP board member John Brackett said UC spending shows “contempt” and “disrespect” for the faculty. “We're at the bottom of their list of priorities.”

        There are new signs on campus and a program to create a new UC symbol and “brand identity,” AAUP board member Daniel Langmeyer said. “What annoys me is that the university can always find money for that kind of stuff.”

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