University of Vermont

A Note from Staff Council President Renee Berteau

February 2015

Warm greetings to UVM Staff on these chilly days! 

In my note this month, I wanted to take the time to share some thoughts and reflections that I and the Staff Council have had in recent months.

First, I think we can all agree that UVM is a remarkable institution and that each member of our community contributes something meaningful to that greatness. We are one University and only by working together can we find solutions to the complex issues, concerns, and problems facing us as an institution and those in the world around us. I believe in collaboration and Staff Council is a governance body of dedicated staff volunteers working together and with leaders, departments, and other organizations to address the needs of staff. I also believe that we have leaders here at the institution who listen to the thoughtful feedback and ideas we have as staff and understand that there is room to improve our institution and find solutions to resolve long standing issues that concern staff and other members of our community.

I can truly understand how frustrating it can be to see years go by without any action or change on these issues. That frustration leads to mistrust, perhaps anger, and negatively impacts us as individuals and our community.

At our January 6, 2015 Staff Council meeting, we reflected on the recent Vermont Labor Relations Board election and asked ourselves the following two questions: 

  1. What are the issue or concerns that Staff feel would be better served through union representation?
  2. What can Staff Council and the UVM Administration do to better serve staff and address these issues and concerns?

In response to the first prompt, many staff feel salary is not keeping up with inflation, that we need to protect the benefits we have now, that we need more professional development opportunities and a career progression model that helps staff advance here at UVM. Many staff are also concerned about job security and desire a stronger more direct voice.  

It is clear that the issues and concerns are not very different from what we have heard before and what some have felt or experienced themselves. All these issues have been areas of Staff Council advocacy over the years and while we are seeing movement, we recognize that the slowness of change doesn’t necessarily meet the needs of staff. 

As for the second prompt, thoughts about incentive-based performance appraisals, supervisory training, better communication on initiatives and more direct ways for the Administration to hear the voice of staff and consider it in their decision making process were all mentioned as well as the desire for salary and benefits to be above industry medians.

These are all things that Staff Council has been advocating for years. We have sent recommendations to the Administration frequently, and many times changes have begun but progression is slow at times.

I believe Staff Council can do a better job being your representative. We will continue to talk about how we can do just that while finding new ways to get your direct voice.

I’d like to ask you to start by telling us what you think needs to be done differently, either by us, or by Administration.   

Please send a note with the title “Representation Comment” in one of these ways:

It’s a first step, but it won’t be the only step.  We need to hear from you, and we’re committed to help.

For over 43 years, Staff Council has served as the voice of staff employees here at the University of Vermont. As an organization, we are dedicated to addressing and finding solutions to the issues and concerns of staff at UVM. We need to hear from you to do that and I hope you will take the time to reach out and let us know what you think and feel.