Former President Daniel Mark Fogel
To: University of Vermont Community
From: Daniel Mark Fogel, President
Re: Compensation Issues and Hunger Strike
I am relieved and gratified that the Student Labor Action Project hunger strike has ended. As I have stated before, I deeply admire the passion and activism of our students, and the ways they have helped us think more broadly about the issue of basic needs for our lowest paid employees. In light of the many conversations and exchanges that have occurred this week, I would like to offer this brief statement, which will provide an update on a number of important issues that have contributed to this positive outcome.
First, let me reiterate UVM’s strong commitment to addressing the issue of basic needs as compensation is negotiated. Highlighting a document entitled “Parameters of Compensation at UVM,” which I issued last January, our focus is clear: “UVM is committed to compensating employees competitively and equitably,” including “acknowledgment of the essential costs of living in this geographic area and the institutional interest in assisting employees, especially lower-paid employees, in meeting basic needs.” This statement has my continuing strong support and obligation now and in the future.
Second, as a result of this week’s activities, a meeting was held between UVM Student Government Association leaders and officials of the Joint Fiscal Office in Montpelier – the office responsible for the livable wage calculation invoked by our livable wage advocates. At that meeting, JFO officials provided their analysis of UVM’s wage and benefits package, and affirmed that the University is in close alignment with the livable wage level for a single employee under that calculation. This is good and gratifying news, and I wish to thank the Joint Fiscal Office for their assistance and generous commitment of time in completing this analysis and in explaining it fully to our students and to us.
Third, consistent with our most recently ratified collective bargaining agreements, I will shortly appoint a University Benefits Advisory Council consisting of faculty and staff (both represented and non-represented), with student membership as well. It will be this committee’s job to advise us with respect to our benefits plan, which, in combination with wages, is an essential and indispensable element in addressing basic needs concerns.
Fourth, I wish to reinforce UVM’s abiding responsibilities to the collective bargaining process. Establishing total compensation for employees who are unionized is the product of a bilateral bargaining process. As part of that process, the union has the right to express its consideration of the needs of its employees and to bargain for compensation levels as part of the entire spectrum of terms and conditions of employment for the unit members. While the University can certainly express its goals and desires regarding compensation, it ultimately must be a respectful partner in negotiating compensation levels through collective bargaining.
In sum, I sincerely believe that UVM is a responsible, exemplary employer, open to positive change and improvement. Our students continue to play a vital role in bringing basic needs issues to fuller awareness and in highlighting their importance to our University. We are committed to continuing the progress we have made and to discussing these and other important issues going forward.
I respect and value the dedication and focus provided by the Student Labor Action Project and their allies on these important issues, and I am very pleased that our students have chosen to end the hunger strike.
For more information refer to: Basic Needs/Equitable Compensation Task Force
Last modified April 29 2007 05:29 PM