UMS board, union talks advance

Posted Jan. 11, 2010, at 6:04 a.m.

BANGOR, Maine — The University of Maine System board of trustees on Monday afternoon approved a collective bargaining agreement with the union which represents the system’s security workers and reached a tentative deal with the system’s full-time faculty union.

The agreement with Teamsters Local 340, which represents security and maintenance workers through separate contracts, applies to the security workers such as police.

The approval of a tentative agreement with the Associated Faculties of the University of Maine, means the full AFUM membership will vote later this month or early February to ratify the agreement, said Ron Mosley, a UMaine-Machias professor who is the statewide AFUM president.

AFUM and UMS reached their tentative agreement on Dec. 23 after several months of negotiation.

Mosley said the tentative agreement would go to AFUM’s bargaining council and then out to vote to members.

“Given the economic climate we reluctantly entered into an agreement which is similar in thrust to [contract terms for state employees],” Mosley said during a brief break in Monday’s board of trustees meeting.

Collective bargaining agreements are not discussed in public sessions, although a summary of the tentative agreement between the police and UMS was made available. The agreement does not call for any across-the-board wage increases for the current and coming fiscal years.

Mosley declined to comment on AFUM’s tentative agreement, but according to the union’s Web site the agreement does not call for wage increases other than a 1½ percent increase for those faculty members at the minimum salary level, which was a raise from the previous contract and not associated with the contract now under consideration.

Previous settlements with three other unions did not include across-the-board wage hikes, according to the AFUM site.

UMS Chancellor Richard L. Pattenaude said the system already had reached agreements with ACSUM, which stands for Associated C.O.L.T. Staff of the Universities of Maine, with C.O.L.T. standing for Clerical, Office, Laboratory and Technical Unit; the Universities of Maine Professional Staff Association; and the Team-sters’ maintenance workers.

Pattenaude said the system is still negotiating with the Maine Part-Time Faculty Association.

In other discussions Monday, Pattenaude delivered updates on the system’s New Challenges, New Directions initiative which is designed to deal with an estimated $42.8 million systemwide budget shortfall in the next four fiscal years. The board discussed implementation of oversight of a strategic investment fund spelled out in the NCND plan, and also heard from Pattenaude about the beginning of an effort for a public agenda for higher education.

Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs James Breece presented a report on distance education that cited a 14 percent increase in students taking distance education classes and an increase of more than 18 percent in distance education credit hours over the previous year.

Pattenaude said the system has set a goal of doubling the number of students taking online classes and programs available online, but acknowledged there are problems in the delivery system that must be addressed.

“One of the facts is, our distance education and online education and whole sense of how we work in that arena is fragmented, it’s decentralized, [and] the policies are not terribly synergistic,” he said. “So there’s a lot to talk about.”

The board also approved Monday a new Master of Arts in global policy graduate program in the University of Maine’s School of Policy and International Affairs. The program would be the first of its kind in the state, according to the proposal presented to the trustees, and would have a concentration in environmental policy.

jbloch@bangordailynews.net

990-8287

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