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Car Protest Supports UVM Lecturers Facing Work Cuts

car with protest sign
Henry Epp
UVM faculty, staff and students lined their cars up for a protest parade in Burlington Thursday.

A group of University of Vermont faculty is calling on the school's administration to reverse plans to cut pay for non-tenured professors next year, as the school faces looming uncertainty tied to the coronavirus. Faculty, staff and students protested from their cars in Burlington Thursday.

English Professor Sarah Alexander said she wants to see administrators make greater sacrifices.

"Some of the deans are taking tiny, symbolic cuts of 8.3% to their base pay," she said. "It's just like nothing near what's coming out of the paychecks of the lowest paid faculty who teach the most classes at the university."

Alexander said non-tenured faculty face a 25% pay cut next year, along with a 25% reduction in course loads.

Spanish instructor Rachael Montesano said her reduction in teaching hours won't come until the spring semester, but the pay cut will hit in the fall.

"I'm a single parent, and that will put me into the realm of food insecurity and housing insecurity," she added.

The University released the following statement in response to the protest:

While we respect the right of individuals to voice their opinions, it is important to recognize the facts in this situation.
University of Vermont lecturers teach for nine months of the year. The collective bargaining agreement explicitly recognizes the University’s need—on an annual basis—to adjust lecturer workloads between 0.75 and 1.0, depending on student demand.
Based on demand projections in different academic disciplines, the University informed some—but not all—lecturers on May 1 that their appointments would be a 0.75 teaching load for the coming academic year. Full time lecturers make an average of $65,411 per year for nine months of work. Pay rates are not being cut. Neither are benefits, which 9-month lecturers receive for all 12 months of the year whether they have a 0.75 workload or a full workload.
These benefits include a University contribution of 10% of lecturers’ pay to a retirement account, excellent health care benefits, six months of paid medical leave each year, and free tuition for them and their children at UVM. They will continue to receive all of their benefits, even those who have been assigned a reduced load for the coming year.
This ability to adjust teaching workload to better match student demand exists only for lecturers; the FTE appointments of tenured and tenure-track faculty cannot be adjusted. Therefore, adjustments to match student demand can only be made in the lecturer category. If demand for certain courses increases, then appointments for some lecturers may increase to a full teaching load.

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