- A union representing about 800 University of Vermont faculty filed a complaint with the state’s labor board Tuesday, accusing administrators of improperly increasing their workloads.
- United Academics told the Vermont Labor Relations Board that university officials had not compensated faculty for time spent training in a new learning management system, or LMS, and that they refused to bargain over the issue.
- A University of Vermont spokesperson said in an emailed statement that the university “is aware of the Unfair Labor Practice charge and looks forward to providing its position to the Vermont Labor Relations Board at the appropriate time.”
Unions all across higher ed have galvanized this year, leading to major action and strikes at colleges like Rutgers University, Temple University and the University of Michigan .
The University of Vermont’s faculty union has been on particularly rocky terms with its administration, filing 17 grievances with the state labor board last year, according to VTDigger.
In the most recent complaint, United Academics alleges that administrators had recognized faculty would need significant time learning the new LMS in time for fall 2023.
Faculty representatives and administrators were due to bargain over the LMS training, but the union said the university pulled out from negotiations and suggested it instead file a labor complaint.
Further, administrators allegedly told deans and department chairs that faculty could negotiate individually over the time needed to learn the new LMS, but “to date, nearly all faculty members’ requests to negotiate transition time or compensation within their departments have been ignored or denied,” the union said.
“This UVM administration precluded the possibility of a collective and equitable solution, put the responsibility on individuals to negotiate for themselves, and then denied individual requests,” Eleanor Miller, United Academics president and sociology professor, said in a statement. “This is an intentional attempt to undermine union solidarity and to further demoralize a faculty already seriously demoralized.”
Another of Vermont’s public colleges has also run into troubles this year.
Vermont State University — a consolidation of three other public colleges formally set to open July 1 — drew local, state and national backlash after its leaders attempted to transition its library to a mostly digital format.
Its inaugural president, Parwinder Grewal, then resigned last month.