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U. of Maine System Accuses Faculty Union of Illegal Labor Practices

The University of Maine system this month filed a complaint with the state’s labor-relations board that accuses faculty members on several campuses of participating in illegal work stoppages, according to the Bangor Daily News.

The complaint stems from a long-running contract dispute between the system and the Associated Faculties of the University of Maine, a union that represents some 1,200 full-time faculty members on the system’s campuses. Union chapters have voted to enact a “work to rule” arrangement in order to get the system to accept a 4.5-percent cost-of-living increase in faculty pay, which was recommended last year by a fact-finding panel appointed by the labor board.

The “work to rule” arrangement means faculty members carry out their teaching duties but no longer participate in activities deemed voluntary. The union maintains that faculty members’ actions under the arrangement are legal. The system, meanwhile, argues that by refusing to participate in certain activities—such as serving on admissions committees—faculty members are going beyond what is legal under a “work to rule” arrangement, according to the newspaper.

Marc Ayotte, the labor-relations board’s executive director, told the newspaper that the question of what activities are required under the faculty members’ contract isn’t easily answered. He said he didn’t think the board had a precedent for determining what are mandatory subjects of bargaining.

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