- The Washington Times - Monday, September 15, 2003

The faculty union at the University of the District of Columbia has ratified a new employment contract after the school administration agreed to the workers’ demand for better job security.

Members of the UDC Faculty Association, an affiliate of the National Education Association, three weeks ago rejected the original contract offer, which included a 6.4 percent pay increase but undercut job security. The contract approved by a 87-32 vote Friday preserved the pay raise and granted added protection against firings and layoffs.

“We listened to the faculty, we heard their objection and we went back and corrected it as quickly as we could,” said union President Leslie Richards.

The employment contract for the workers at the District’s only public institution of higher education must be approved by the school’s board of trustees and the D.C. Council. The trustees are scheduled to meet tomorrow at 12:30 p.m., though it was not clear yesterday whether the faculty contract would be on the board’s agenda.

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

University administration officials declined to comment yesterday on the union vote.

The new contract contained three major changes, as well as some minor modifications, that convinced the faculty to support the deal, said Miss Richards, a UDC sociology professor.

The contract required the administration to consider an entire set of criteria when deciding layoffs, rather than giving it the ability to pick and choose from among a list of criteria, as was done under the original contract.

“That satisfied everyone,” Miss Richards said. “I think [faculty members] were afraid the administration would use that article in an obscure way.”

The new contract also included assistant professors in the new tenure system and guaranteed the continuation of existing job protection to current teachers who would be ineligible for tenure.

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 that the union rejected last month 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 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 the D.C. Council’s opposition to it.

Contract negotiations nearly collapsed earlier this year after the union rejected the university administration’s offer of a 1 percent pay raise.

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