Members of a pro-union faculty group say they are underwhelmed with the university’s initial meeting to address their demands for better pay and benefits and are asking to speak with “decision makers” by the end of the week.
Officials from the provost’s office set up a meeting with group organizers after members dropped off list of demands to the office of University of Iowa President Bruce Harreld last week. Attached to the list of demands for better pay and benefits was a letter signed by 200 non-tenure track faculty.
Members who attended the meeting with the university’s associate provost of faculty said it was an “information-gathering session,” not a meeting to address their concerns, which they are seeking.
In a statement following the meeting Wednesday, Maryann Rasmussen, associate professor of instruction, said the group wants a 15 percent raise and a meeting where Provost Susan Curry and Harreld are at the table.
“While the university has made some improvements for instructional track faculty, they are not enough,” Rasmussen said. “We all deserve better. It’s not only lecturers who deserve better but our colleagues who are adjuncts and visiting assistant professors. There have been no improvements for them.”
The demands for increased funding come as the university halted construction on many campus projects to make up for a shortfall legislators saddled the university with late in the fiscal year. State lawmakers cut the Iowa Board of Regents’ budget by $11 million with three months left in the fiscal year. For UI, this meant having to slash $5.49 million from the budget.
Members of the faculty group support unionizing. They wear bright orange shirts with the Service Employees International Union motto “Faculty Forward,” though SEIU does not represent UI faculty in an official capacity.
Faculty at UI are not represented by any union, though faculty like lecturer Elizabeth Weiss said she’s encouraged by the number of faculty gathering now.
“I’m frustrated that administration came to that meeting with folks who couldn’t make decisions … but I’m encouraged just by the strength of our numbers,” Weiss said.
Reporter Aimee Breaux covers education for the Press-Citizen. Reach her at [email protected] or 319-887-5414, and follow her on Twitter @aimee_breaux.
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