Contract Negotiations Stalling Amid State Budget Woes

by Nicholas Leahey

The arbitration deadline for the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the Connecticut State University American Association of University Professors (CSU-AAUP) and the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities Board of Regents (BOR) has been pushed back again – until June – as the state’s legislators continue to deal with the state’s ongoing fiscal crisis.

As a result, the current collective bargaining agreement has been extended.

According to CSU-AAUP representatives, negotiations are still ongoing over several key issues, as both sides pay close attention to the events which are occurring in Hartford over the State’s budget. Both parties have until August, when the current contract expires, to finalize a new one, with the state’s fiscal deadline on July first.

“The CSU-AAUP/BOR contract negotiations continue on non-economic issues,” said Dr. Elena Tapia, President and Chief Negotiator of CSU-AAUP,  in a statement.

The movement of the arbitration deadline comes after the Gov. Dannel Malloy asked legislators to reject a contract for the University of Connecticut Professional Employees Association (UCPEA), a union for non-teaching professional employees there, back in March. According to the Hartford Courant, he called the proposal too tough for economic times, and said, “Agreements negotiated between labor and management must reflect our new economic reality.” The UCPEA is currently re-negotiating their contract.

The new June first arbitration deadline also marks the third time the deadline has been moved. Both sides have openly said they wish to avoid  arbitration, especially in the state’s current fiscal atmosphere. Both parties, however, have yet to reach an agreement and are weary to discuss any economic-related issues with the state’s budget still pending.

According to official CSU-AAUP ‘Table Talk’ reports, a periodic report on the progress of contract negotiations from the CSU-AAUP to its members, has shown progress has been made on some issues, while others still remain in contention.

Specifically, in a March 14 report, both CSU-AAUP and BOR negotiators came to an agreement on a proposal which would enable multi-semester contracts to part-time faculty who have taught for six or more semesters. According to the report, eligible members and department chairs would be able to request such contracts.

In a most recent report released on April 6th, members of the CSU-AAUP, in a meeting on March 31st, asked about the status of a series of tentative agreements which they made with BOR negotiators on March 9, inquiring if whether or not the BOR had signed off on them. Members of the BOR negotiating team stated they were not done yet and that it was “a lot of tedious work.”

The same report also outlined justification for movement of the arbitration deadline to June first. It said, “This extension of the deadline represents a prudent adjustment in support of our aim to reach a fair resolution to several outstanding issues at the negotiating table.”

Calls and messages left for the BOR were not immediately answered or returned.

As negotiations continue, members of the CSU-AAUP and BOR remain tight-lipped regarding what is currently being discussed in meetings. Both parties have made it clear, however, they still hope to reach a deal in a timely manner.