In a virtual town hall meeting Wednesday, University of the Arts (UArts) President David Yager announced that administrators and select faculty would have their salaries restored to pre-pandemic rates, but that members of the recently formed UArts Union would not be included in the restoration.
In September, UArts faculty members receiving salaries in excess of $40,000 per year faced a pay cut due to low fall enrollment. In response, faculty members organized and officially voted to form the UArts Union in late November. The two sides have yet to agree on a contract on which to base new pay adjustments.
The official reasoning given for the exclusion of union members, which compose the vast majority of UArts faculty as of last November, is that the University cannot unilaterally make pay changes without the union’s consent and thus cannot change the pay levels for active members.
In an email sent to all UArts faculty and staff before the town hall meeting Yager wrote the following:
“Today, I am pleased to announce that all employees who were affected by the reduction, with the exception of union-represented faculty for whom the University is precluded by federal labor law from unilaterally adjusting wages, will receive an increase in their salary or wages that returns them to their pre-reduction salary or hourly wage rate.” – UArts President David Yager
Yager said he would not be able to change salaries for union members until bargaining meetings are held, but UAP President Daniel Piezckolon says that Yager’s office has so far not responded to any of the meeting proposals made by union officials.
“We began requesting bargaining dates on November 25th, 2020 and have sent an additional four follow-up requests.” – Daniel Pieczkolon, President of the United Academics of Philadelphia
Union representatives say that this is because the university has been purposefully stalling a meeting and that their retained counsel, the Morgan and Lewis law firm, is known for employing such tactics in labor disputes.
In further response to Yager’s announcement, Pieczkolon wrote:
“We are deeply disappointed that you have chosen to exclude members of the bargaining unit from this restoration of salary, given that you made these adjustments prior to the Union’s organization and that you have continued to refuse to provide the Union with bargaining dates.
Lastly, in our initial correspondence, we provided you with December 15th, 2020 as our first available bargaining date. Now, nearly 2 months later, we remain available & ready to meet.”
President Yager and UArts administrators have been asked for comment, but could not be reached for a response. Union officials are determined to continue organizing and finalize a contract with the University, for which they have posted a petition online calling upon the university to set a meeting date.