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Health Center Today, November 19, 2009

Health Center Faculty Vote to Unionize in Tight Election

By Carolyn Pennington

By a two-vote margin, faculty members at the Health Center have decided to unionize and form a new chapter of the American Association of University Professors. AAUP also represents UConn faculty on the Storrs and regional campuses. Voting took place on Tuesday, November 17, and Wednesday, November 18. Of the 519 eligible faculty members, 444 votes were cast and counted, or 86 percent. Unionization won by a margin of 223 to 221, or 50.2 percent to 49.8 percent.

"As we enter into this new phase of our relationship with AAUP, we will continue our commitment to engage the faculty in decision-making, to understand and respond to their concerns, and to maintain two-way communications," says Dr. Cato T. Laurencin, vice president for health affairs and medical school dean. "Above all, we look forward to continuing working together for the betterment of this institution and those we serve."

In a statement published in the Hartford Courant, the UCHC-AAUP Faculty Association said it sought the involvement of all faculty, those who voted for and against the union. "Working together, our goal is to have the UConn Health Center become a top tier institution in research, education and patient care," it said.

Two previous attempts to unionize health center faculty in recent years failed. In June of 1999, Health Center faculty rejected a motion to join the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) by a vote of 250 to 169. In a similar vote in December of 2000, the faculty voted 261 to 147 against a union.

In September of this year, the Connecticut Labor Relations Board authorized a two-day vote for the UConn Health Center faculty to once again determine whether it would unionize, this time under the representation of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP).

Most of the Health Centerís employees are already unionized. Approximately 82 percent of the non-faculty workforce belongs to six unions representing health care professionals, administrative personnel and support staff.

"We all care deeply about the Health Center," says Laurencin. "Working together, the faculty, staff and administration will continue to provide outstanding education, cutting-edge research and highest quality care for Connecticutís citizens."