The union that represents the faculty at the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls has filed a complaint against the Board of Regents with the Iowa Public Employment Relations Board (IPERB) over the recent salary cut negotiations. Cathy DeSoto is president of United Faculty, and says the union negotiated a salary cut with the board after being told it was an emergency situation.

DeSoto says it turned out that the acceptance of federal stimulus funds had the stipulation that the funding cuts to higher education not be as high as proposed, and she says the Board of Regents knew about that. “And the state of Iowa actually filed for a waiver of this requirement the day after we came to an agreement, so we felt they should have been telling us that the cuts were not going to be nearly as severe as they portrayed,” DeSoto says. She says they agreed to do their part, but were not told all the facts.

She says the faculty took a pay cut that averaged out to one thousand dollars in salary, after already agreeing to a zero pay increase. “The thing is,that we agreed to do this because we did not want to see some of our colleagues laid off and we didn’t want to see last minute canceling of classes,” Desoto says, “and that’s what was threatened if we did come to an agreement on December 14th.”

Desota says the failure of the Board to notify United Faculty constitutes a “refusal to negotiate in good faith,” a violation of the Iowa Code. DeSoto says she’s not sure if the action they are taking will lead to getting the salary cut back, but she says winning the complaint sometimes just a formal admission that one side engaged in bad faith bargaining and broke the rules.

“I want to be clear that the big issue is showing mutual trust, and respect on both sides of the bargaining table,” DeSoto says. Desoto says the actions of the board will have an impact on future board negotiations.

DeSoto says that means they will ask more questions about what they are told about the budget. “You know this year they told us this was the case and we believed them,” Deosoto says, “so we wanted to kind of be team players and step up to the plate.” She says the next time they are told the university is in dire financial straits “we are really going to be looking at that.” The complaint comes after and exchange of letters in which the attorney for the Board of Regents said it was the board’s intent to refuse to pay back the salary cuts to the faculty.

A spokesperson for the Board of Regents said they would have not comment on the complaint filed by United Faculty as it is an ongoing legal matter.