June 24, 2004 – A drive for unionization by some of the University of the Virgin Islands faculty has met with some resistance by the administration.
About 81 full-time faculty members signed authorization cards in January requesting that the Public Employees Relation Board conduct a secret-ballot election to determine whether UVI's chapter of the American Association of University Professors should represent them in collective bargaining.
Although the AAUP is not a union, some of its mainland chapters have collective-bargaining status.
The UVI administration at first gave its support to the faculty and presented its own proposal to the PERB, which the AAUP decided to accept.
However, the administration changed its views and hired an attorney and filed a motion with the PERB to dismiss the faculty request for a unionization vote.
"We're really disappointed, because that's going to hold us up for some time," UVI Professor Lynn Rosenthal said.
Rosenthal said he knows of no faculty member who is opposed to the AAUP receiving collective bargaining status at UVI. He said so many faculty members indicated their interest in a union because of governance and compensation issues.
"The salaries we receive don't keep pace with inflation," Rosenthal said, adding that teachers in public schools have received raises while the UVI teaching staff has not.
UVI President LaVerne Ragster said the university's administration, like that of other institutions of higher learning, has faced constraints, but that it has been fair to the faculty. She added that she is opposed to the faculty forming a union because there is no need for it.
"It's not in the best interest of the university," Ragster said. "We're a small institution with limited resources," she said, and "anything that would use up those limited resources is not in the best interest of the university."
Ragster said she is working with UVI legal counsel Marie Thomas in efforts to ensure that the process will work out in favor of the administration.
"Whatever we do, we want to have a viable, functioning university that can meet its mission and its obligation to the Virgin Islands," Ragster said.
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