Home News Local news Rejecting Protesters, UVI Board Opposes Unionization

Rejecting Protesters, UVI Board Opposes Unionization

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Nov. 12, 2006 — UVI Trustees arriving at their quarterly meeting Saturday were greeted by protesting faculty members carrying signs stating their objections to the university's position on unionization.
UVI-St. Thomas Campus Professor Gene Emmanuel was one of the approximately 25 protesters. Eight of his colleagues flew to St. Croix to join in the demonstration, he said. The protesters said they have attempted to form a union, but the university has resisted their efforts and filed a petition for a writ of review with the Superior Court, obtaining a stay of the election.
The UVI American Association of University Professors (AAUP) held an election in October and, according to informal faculty polls, was poised to win the election authorizing the formation of a union when the university took the matter to court.
Allowing the faculty to choose to unionize is vital to the survival of the university because it underlines the democratic way of life in America, Emmanuel said: "As intellectual workers, we need to be treated equally, not to take what we can get. The university is supposed to express the principles of the community. How can we teach students when we are being victimized? We have no other choice; we must be responsible."
Despite the peaceful, quiet protest, the trustees proceeded with their scheduled agenda, saying they would address the matter in closed session. The meeting began at 9:30 a.m. and the body went into closed session approximately five hours later.
Emerging after about another two hours, trustee Chairman Dr. Auguste E. Rimpel Jr. said the board discussed faculty concerns and is "committed to shared governance." However, "the board does not believe that unionization of the faculty is in the best interest of the university, its students, faculty or the public," Rimpel said, adding that the UVI president is "encouraged to continue to explore all possible means for an expeditious resolution of faculty concerns."
UVI faculty chair David Gould was not pleased with Rimpel's statement and vowed to continue the fight for unionization.
"We are very disappointed but not deterred," Gould said. "UVI is depriving us of our rights." Addressing the board's charge that it would explore a solution to faculty concerns, he said, "There is no solution beyond granting us our fundamental right to collective bargaining."
In other business matters, the board:
— Announced the approval of a new master's degree program in marine and environmental science. The program would be cohort-driven, meaning there must be a minimum of 10 students per year on both campuses.
— Regarding the UVI Research and Technology Park, the board presented a summary report that revealed a U.S. Treasury Department decision clarifying its income-sourcing guidelines related to e-commerce businesses operating in the territory, and has determined that such income will be considered V.I. income.
— Announced that, for the second year in a row, Derivative Consulting Group has donated $25,000 in Internet connectivity to the St. Croix campus, increasing St. Croixs Internet capacity to 5.5 MB.
— Key performance indicators (KPIs) were released, revealing that UVIs headcount enrollment increased by four percent for fall 2006. The percentage of students taking skills courses has increased by seven percent over fall 2005, and the number of UVI employees (non-faculty) has increased by six percent. The KPIs also revealed that UVI has reached its annual-fund goal of $1.5 million.
— Voted unanimously to approve the universitys operating budget of $45,087,218 for the 2006-07 fiscal year. The university has received all of its $27,598,070 in approved allotments for the 2006 fiscal year. This is the second consecutive year the university has received 100 percent of its allotments within a few days of the close of the fiscal year, the board said.
— Re-elected trustees Yvonne E.L. Thraen and Alexander Moorhead for five-year terms.
— Introduced Dr. Judith Edwin, the new vice provost for access and enrollment.
The trustees will meet again in March 2007 on the St. Thomas campus.
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