Teachers Union Wins First Contract In Five Years
By Alexander Nunez – Staff Writer
The labor union representing the University of Scranton faculty has won a new contract five years after its most recent contract. The victory comes after negotiations were delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The union, called the Faculty Affairs Council, is headed by Dr. Stacey Muir. Muir explained that the faculty had been operating on contract extensions since the fall 2020 semester.
The Faculty Affairs Council, or FAC, last negotiated a three-year contract in 2015 that lasted through the 2017-2018 school year. From there a two-year extension was approved. During this period of contract extensions, there had been no pay increase for the faculty.
This new contract puts an end to that with what Muir describes as a moderate base salary raise in each of the three years of the contract. Additional gains for the faculty in the new contract include no increases in health insurance co-pays, prescription tier costs, or the cost-share percentage for healthcare premiums. Additionally, the level of contribution to retirement for current faculty was preserved.
The FAC is operated through a series of committees. The leaders of the negotiations were a group of faculty members known as the table team. The table team is elected by the union members.
In order to gain information on the feelings of the faculty members, the steering committee distributes and analyzes surveys in order to effectively negotiate on behalf of the faculty. The salary and benefits committee is put in charge of forming plans related to its namesake. Surveys are instrumental in gauging the interest of the faculty body according to Dr. Muir.
Typically, the surveys are done a year in advance of negotiations. Because of delays caused by the pandemic, the surveys had to be done on an expedited schedule.
The pandemic caused much more serious issues than just the delay of surveys for the faculty union. According to Dr. Muir, the union was instrumental in forming the hybrid learning scheme used throughout the pandemic. This scheme needed to accommodate both teachers and students that wanted to learn at home instead of in the classroom.
Dr. Muir noted that “teaching remotely isn’t easy either”.
Special Assistant to the President, Executive Director for the Office of Equity and Diversity, and Title IX Coordinator Elizabeth M. Garcia, Esq. lead the negotiations for the administration.
She commented “The University of Scranton is pleased to have successfully concluded negotiations with the Faculty Affairs Council, resulting in a three-year faculty contract. We are fortunate to have a dedicated faculty share in our mission to provide a transformative Catholic and Jesuit education to our students.”
For students seeking to support the faculty members at the University, the FAC distributes “buttons” or “pins” that students can attach to their shirt to show solidarity.