The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) is entangled in a contract dispute with its staff union, the United Staff of the AAUP (US-AAUP).
The issue revolves around the demand for more equitable benefits for all national staff, particularly lower-ranking employees who are predominantly people of color.
The conflict stems from AAUP management’s rejection of various demands put forth by the staff union. These demands include providing salary step systems, ensuring certain employees work in the Washington, D.C. office three days a week, and extending study leave benefits to all staff members represented by the union.
AAUP staff union clashes with management
US-AAUP members contend that the management’s proposal for certain employees to work in the D.C. office three days a week is not in their best interest. They also emphasize the importance of a salary step system, which would guarantee pay raises.
Another point of contention is the study leave, a benefit resembling a paid six-month sabbatical, traditionally available to senior program officers every six years. The staff union is advocating for this benefit to be accessible to all staff members it represents.
Remy Tubongbanua, a US-AAUP member and membership database specialist and trainer, expressed her desire to take advantage of study leave to pursue professional development, highlighting the need for staff benefits that support their growth within the organization.
The issue has taken a toll on AAUP’s workforce, as they’ve experienced significant staff turnover in recent years, with about 50% of the bargaining unit leaving. Some positions have remained unfilled, leading to a loss of institutional knowledge.
While the staff union’s contract officially expired last October, negotiations have been ongoing for over 400 days. AAUP management initially proposed replacing sabbaticals with “recharge leave available to all staff,” but discussions are still underway regarding the duration and specifics of this leave.
Aaron Nisenson, senior counsel at AAUP and chief negotiator for management, emphasized that they approach negotiations from a racial equity perspective and are striving for equal treatment of all staff members. The aim is to provide equal access to benefits and resolve the ongoing dispute.
Both sides express hope for a resolution that meets the needs and expectations of AAUP staff members, with negotiations poised to conclude in the near future.