The University of Northern Iowa’s faculty union has agreed to reopen contract negotiations with the Iowa Board of Regents. The move could give leaders of the institution more options as they work to trim $8.9 million from the university’s budget. The current budget cutting plan includes furloughs to save $1.8 million.
Chris Martin is a spokesperson for U.N.I.’s United Faculty. He says the union is interested in discussing the “economic planks” of the contract, but any negotiated agreement would need to be ratified by union members. Martin says the action to reopen contract talks is rare, but seems necessary in light of the state ordered 10% across the board budget cuts.
“To open this up, within months after it being approved, is just a reflection of the budget situation,” Martin said. “We want to try and help out the state, but we also need to negotiate and figure out a way that works and also doesn’t undermine the central educational mission of the university.”
United Faculty’s current contract runs through 2011. Earlier this week, leaders of AFSCME announced that members of the state’s largest public employees union would vote later this month on whether to take five unpaid days off and give up retirement contributions for the remainder of the fiscal year. In exchange, the state would not be allowed to lay off any AFSCME members for seven months.