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Faculty Fights UVI for Union Rights


Dear Source:
On the eve of a holiday celebrating the life and accomplishments of David Hamilton Jackson, renowned Virgin Islands educator, journalist, judge, legislator and labor leader, the administration of the only institution of higher education in the Virgin Islands has moved to stay an election ordered by the Public Employees Relations Board to decide whether faculty at the University of the Virgin Islands want to be represented by the UVI Chapter of the American Association of University Professors for the purposes of collective bargaining.
After signing an election agreement on October 10, the University acted in bad faith by neglecting to attend a scheduled pre-election conference, neglecting to post election notices as required by the PERB, and neglecting to reserve the rooms designated for the conduct of the election in the election agreement. With the UVI-AAUP poised to win the election by a landslide, according to informal polls among the faculty, the University filed a petition for a writ of review with the Superior Court and managed to obtain a stay of the election at the eleventh hour: 3:30 p.m. on the day before a holiday which falls on the eve of the election. When AAUP members found out about the stay of election they tried to contact the PERB for information only to be told that PERB Counsel Richard Evangelista was gone for the day. This proves that although the University administration has no moral sense they at least have a sense of timing.
UVI faculty has been waiting three years for a PERB decision on this case. When the PERB decision finally came out it upheld every argument made by the AAUP and rejected every argument advanced by the University. The University's president has stated publicly in a letter to the faculty that she believes that all employees have the right to form or participate in a union, yet she has used the University's considerable public resources to attempt to deprive UVI faculty members of that right.
What lesson is the University teaching its students by its conduct in this matter? "Hey, kids, you don't like the rules? No worries. Ignore them."

David Gould
St. Thomas

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