Vermont Business Magazine CCV United Faculty opened negotiations with the Community College of Vermont Administration for their first contract on Wednesday after organizing more than 500 faculty into their union. Members of the CCV United Faculty Bargaining Committee met at the Vermont Statehouse before the first meeting with the Administration to share their goals for their contract and for advocacy this year in the Legislature.
Lisa Cline, Underhill, President of Vermont State Colleges Faculty Federation speaking on Wednesday at the Vermont Statehouse. Others pictured, left to right: Emily Casey, Brandon, Winooski campus; Elisabeth Lehr, Jericho, online faculty; Carla Payne, Cabot, online faculty; Lou Colasanti, Hinesburg, Winooski campus; Alexis Lathem, Richmond, Winooski campus; Laura Gannon Murakami, Shelburne, online; Kathleen Moore, Marshfield, Montpelier campus. Victor Ehly, Worcester, Montpelier campus; Peter Money, Brownsville, Upper Valley, St. Johnsbury, and Springfield campuses; Jen Guarino, Randolph, Montpelier and Upper Valley campuses. AFT Vermont photo.
According to a press release, Lisa Cline, VSC Faculty Federation President, welcomed the CCV United Faculty in the Vermont State College Faculty Federation and noted that a unified faculty is the best way to advocate for the professional teachers and also for the students in the Vermont State College System.
Cline also emphasized that a primary reason the faculty were meeting in the Statehouse was to call on legislators to make college more affordable for Vermont students. Cline shared data that show that while in 1980, the state of Vermont was funding 51 percent of the budget for the VSC, now, with constant level funding, only 14 percent of VSC's budget is covered with state investment. This sustained disinvestment means that 86 percent of the cost of public higher education is borne by students and families.
"Our students pay one of the highest tuition rates in the country and they graduate saddled with debt - debt that prevents them from buying a car, investing in a house or starting a family," lamented Cline.
AFT Vermont is advocating for an increase in state investment in the Vermont State Colleges, as well as free Vermont public higher education tuition for all Vermont students. In addition, AFT Vermont supports limiting the portability of VSAC grants out of the state of Vermont.
Elisabeth Lehr, CCV History Faculty and Lead Faculty Negotiator, explained why the CCV faculty believe it is important to bargain collectively for their contract. CCV has evolved over its lifetime from a volunteer-based institution serving just a few students to an anchor of the Vermont State College system with a complete administration and support staff.
"These fundamental changes have not been reflected in faculty employment. While the administration enjoys a professional-level salary and full benefits, including health care, retirement, and free tuition for themselves and their families, the faculty receive no benefits and we are paid a lower rate than our colleagues at other Vermont State Colleges," noted Lehr.
The CCV United Faculty shared their goal of building an employment structure at CCV that better reflects CCV's status as one of Vermont's primary educational institutions and that aligns with efforts to cultivate robust and sustainable jobs and workers throughout the state.
The American Federation of Teachers describes itself as a union of professionals that champions fairness; democracy; economic opportunity; and high-quality public education, healthcare and public services for our students, their families and our communities. We are committed to advancing these principles through community engagement, organizing, collective bargaining and political activism, and especially through the work our members do. In Vermont, American Federation of Teachers represents professionals in health care and higher education. http://vt.aft.org/
Source: AFT Vermont 2.2.2018