University of Arizona General Faculty will hold a general assembly vote on Thursday, June 25, during its 2 p.m. meeting to delay the implementation of UA’s furlough plan until the fall.
The vote comes after the Coalition for Academic Justice at the University of Arizona, a group of faculty, staff and graduate and professional students formed in April in response to the university’s furlough plan, proposed an alternative furlough plan at a press conference Thursday, June 11.
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“This General Assembly on Thursday is an historic and unprecedented event at the UA,” said Celeste González de Bustamante, a member of CAJUA’s steering committee. “The fact that the General Assembly has been called is a signal to the UA senior leadership that there is a great deal of frustration with the process that was used to develop the plan as well as the plan itself.”
The motion, if passed, would mark an official General Faculty recommendation to delay the plan’s implementation, as well as a call for direct collaboration between faculty and administration on any revisions to the plan.
As of now, the UA’s furlough plan will officially go into effect July 1, but the vote aims to push the onset back to September 2020. The extra time would allow for it to be “revised to lessen its harsh effects on the most vulnerable University employees and on Tucson’s economy,” according to a June 22 CAJUA press release.
“We recognize that the UA is in a dire economic situation as a result of COVID-19 and pre-COVID-19 decisions made by the upper administration, but there has been a critical lack of transparency regarding the data that the senior leadership used to come up with its furlough/pay cut plan,” González de Bustamante said via email. “The UA has one of the most severe furlough/pay cut plans in the country. … We believe that those making $200K/year and above should carry more of the burden when it comes to pay cuts.”
The UA furlough starts at those with a salary $45,000, while CAJUA’s proposed furloughs would start at $70,000 but still projects roughly the same savings, with the university aiming to save $93 million and CAJUA’s plan saving $86.7 million, according to CAJUA’s website.
Additionally, CAJUA will host Howard Bunsis, an independent financial analyst, at 10:30 a.m. Thursday, June 25, who will discuss his report on the university’s furlough plan and why he believes it is unnecessary.
At the June 11 press conference, CAJUA said the university’s statements that faculty and staff were being consulted on reentry and finances was not accurate and that their concerns were not being addressed.
“We feel that sometimes our voices have not quite been heard,” González de Bustamante said at the conference.
Since the press conference, González de Bustamante said Sandy Soto, a member of CAJUA, has met with Chief Human Resources Officer Helena Rodrigues to discuss university layoffs and non-renewals. However, González de Bustamante said they have not been given any “hard data” on the numbers of layoffs and non-renewals as of yet.
González de Bustamante also said the university had analyzed CAJUA’s proposed plan and that CAJUA is “starting to engage somewhat with the top leadership.”
CAJUA hopes the faculty vote will “will push the administration to engage more directly with faculty and to come up with a more equitable and compassionate furlough/pay cut plan for all university employees,” González de Bustamante said in an email.
This General Faculty meeting is “unprecedented,” according to González de Bustamante.
"There have been furlough plans at the UA in the past, … but what we are facing now is one of the most severe furlough/pay cut plans in the country," said González de Bustamante. "Employees from all sectors of the university see the current furlough/pay cut plan as inequitable and believe there is a better way to handle the current economic challenges."
The General Faculty meeting will be presided over by Chair of the Faculty Senate Jessica Summers and will be held over Zoom, according to UA’s Faculty Governance website. The full meeting will be recorded and available at facultygovernance.arizona.edu after the fact.
According to González de Bustamante, CAJUA will have the results of the vote within 24 hours, and they plan to hold a press conference to announce and discuss those results.
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