Maine professors participate in 'slow-down'

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January 22, 2013, 8:19 pm
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(NECN: Amy Sinclair) - Full-time professors from the University of Southern Maine are joining faculty from three other campuses within the University of Maine System in a work "slow-down."

The labor action is an attempt to jump-start stalled contract talks with the administration.

Ed Collum, a Professor of Sociology who heads up USM's faculty union chapter, says the membership hasn't had a cost of living raise in more than three years and contract talks are stalled.

"In my 12 years here, I've never seen morale this low," says Collum.

In November, a fact-finding panel with the Maine Labor Relations Board recommended a compromise measure that would give faculty a 4.5 percent cost of living increase over two years.

The faculty union agreed to the compromise but the university has not.

In hopes of getting things moving, USM staff will now engage in a work to rule labor action, meaning they will only work to the letter of their contract.

"We're going to teach, mentor and advise students, but everything we do for the administration we're going to cease and make it difficult for them to get things done," says Collom.

So far, the university's position hasn't changed.

"The University respectfully disagrees with the fact finders recommendation for across the board salary increases. We believe it's inappropriate in this economic climate," the university said.

Without additional state funding or tuition hikes, the university's Chief Human Resources Officer says raises are unlikely and arbitration may be next.

Tags: maine, Amy Sinclair, faculty, university of southern maine, Maine professors, University of Maine system, Ed Collum, Maine Labor Relations Board
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