- The Washington Times - Friday, August 29, 2003

The University of the District of Columbia faculty union has rejected an employment contract that would have given its members a 6.4 percent pay increase but would have undercut their job security.

About half of the union membership took part in the 63-42 vote, which was conducted over two days. Balloting ended at 2 p.m. yesterday.

UDC’s faculty has worked without a contract since 1993 and without a cost-of-living adjustment since 1998.

UDC President William L. Pollard and Board of Trustees Chairman Charles J. Ogletree Jr. issued a joint statement about the outcome of the vote.

“We are deeply disappointed by the results. The proposed agreement is fair to the faculty, the university and the students. We note that approximately half the faculty did not vote on the contract. We hope the union will reconsider its position,” the university officials said in their prepared statement.

Some union members said the version of the contract they voted on had been changed by the UDC administration from what negotiators had agreed upon. They cited changes to the contract’s language and typographical errors, which they said would have put them at a disadvantage in challenging layoffs or firings.

Administration officials had no comment on union charges of contract revisions.

Union President Leslie Richards said faculty members — including accounting professor Emanuel D. Chatman, who had led a committee that opposed key provisions in the agreement — had swayed the majority to defeat the contract.

“The faculty had some concerns and we want to address those concerns,” said Miss Richards, a UDC sociology professor. “Hopefully, we can go back to mediation and correct some things.”

Late yesterday, she was consulting with the D.C. Public Employee Relations Board and the UDC administration to determine the next step in the labor negotiations, which have dragged on for years.

Miss Richards said most of the faculty would have accepted those parts of the contract dealing with tenure if UDC professors did not have a deep-seated distrust of the administration.

Paul Bachman, a UDC business management professor who voted to reject the agreement, said he and many of his colleagues supported most of the contract’s provisions. But the faculty could not accept the contract’s provisions laying off or firing personnel, he said.

“The faculty members would have ratified approximately 23 of the 33 articles in the contract with no reservations and perhaps even the compensation package,” Mr. Bachman said. “The remaining articles have severe language issues that need considerable clarification and possibly adjustments before they will be approved.”

He said an agreement would be reached quickly “if both sides deal with each other in good faith.”

The faculty’s proposed pay raise matched that given in June to nonunion workers, including Law School faculty, some hourly laborers, career service employees and education support staff. A similar pay raise for UDC’s highest-paid executives was rescinded after The Washington Times reported about D.C. Council opposition to it.

Most university professors and assistant professors already enjoy the lifelong job security that comes with tenure, though UDC does not call it “tenure.” Instead, most faculty are entitled to reserved interest status, which the courts have recognized as the equivalent of tenure.

The contract would have created a tenure system, but denied tenure to associate professors and put them on a three-year probation during which they could be fired without the right to challenge the action through the school’s grievance process.

The grievance process also would not apply to decisions to award or revoke tenure, and tenure would not protect professors from layoffs, according to the contract, titled the Fifth Mast Agreement.

The contract was the product of negotiations between university administration and the UDC Faculty Association, an affiliate of the National Education Association. Contract negotiations nearly collapsed earlier this year after the union rejected the administration’s offer of a 1 percent pay raise.

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