Monday, November 26, 2007

Hold the reigns or steer?

The faculty union, UUP, is currently negotiating a new contract with the state. Since July or something I've been working without a contract (don't expect a strike, like the autoworkers or the hollywood writers).

I am eager to see what is in the new contract. Specifically, is there an improved family leave policy? The cynic in me doubts we'll see any changes to the current unsatisfying leave policy. I just don't think it's enough of a priority for the union. I think they're inclined to just hold the reigns.

Susan Herbst, UAlbany's former "officer in charge" refused to act on the leave policy passed in the Senate two years ago on the grounds that she was not in a position to create such a dramatic policy change on the campus and that a more progressive policy would have to be up to the new president.

Our new "office in charge" George M. Phillip claims that he won't just be a caretaker while the university searches for a new president. There was talk among the Organization of Women Faculty (created by Susan Herbst -- I'll give her credit there) that the family leave proposal should be brought before him. I think that's a smashing idea. See if he's really going to steer this institution . . .


Janet said...

I have the sinking feeling that your prediction about the union holding the reigns is correct and that would be very unfortunate. The fact that University administration and state government (in a progressive? state) can't appreciate the negative effects of a poor family policy on their institutions (let alone the larger society) is inexcusable.

I noticed a commenter on an earlier post suggested the book The Price of Motherhood. I admit that I haven't read it yet, but getting such a book to be selected for the campus reading project would be a major step in bringing awareness to this issue. I'm too cynical to believe it would actually happen, but perhaps it's worth a try.

bryan said...

It is worth noting here that the Governor, popular as he is these days, and the Assembly, support Paid Family Leave. This would take the issue off of the collective bargaining table (well, kind of - the pay would be awful, but in the category of something is better than nothing...).

While I certainly understand that family leave is an important issue, in my opinion, as long as healthcare benefits remain an issue that is collectively bargained, all unions will need to save all of their clout to retain the wonderful benefit package. Therefore, advances in many other very important areas cannot be made.

Jenny Stromer-Galley said...

Bryan, I'm trying to remember. Is the legislative proposal for 12 weeks or 10 weeks?

I agree that our health benefits are amazing. I feel very lucky to have such inexpensive healthcare compared to so many. But, I believe that UAlbany and the rest of the SUNY system won't be able to recruit talented faculty without a more progressive family leave policy.

I guess the good healthcare helps keep us going as we run ourselves ragged from a lack of decent family leave.