It Took Three Years, But Faculty At Philadelphia’s University Of The Arts Finally Have A Union Contract Deal

After three years of negotiating, unionized faculty at Philadelphia’s University of the Arts (UArts) announced on Instagram Sunday that they have reached a tentative contract agreement with school administrators for a first contract. The agreement came hours before a strike authorization vote slated for Monday.

This would be the first contract passed since UArts faculty unionized in November 2020. The union has been fighting for such issues as job security, wages, and healthcare. Previously, there were also wage disparities between departments, as well as those teaching studio and lecture courses. They have held multiple actions, demonstrations, and picket lines, with contract negotiations beginning in March 2021.

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Museum facade.

The union is organized under the United Academics of Philadelphia, American Federation of Teachers (AFT) Local 9608.

The agreement, should it be ratified, will be retroactive from January 2024 and effective through August 2026, reported the Art Newspaper Wednesday. It includes an average pay increase of 11% for full-time faculty in the first year of the contract and an average raise of 13% for part-time workers. Per credit, there is a new minimum payment that most part-time faculty would receive, with roughly 40% of the part-time faculty making at least $5,000 per three-credit course taught. The previous rate, by comparison, was around $3,500 per course, varying on the number of credits.

There will be an additional $250 signing bonus for adjunct faculty who taught last fall, as well as a new $57,850 minimum salary for full-time faculty, providing an increase of $7,850. The new average for full-time faculty salary will increase to around $70,000. Three non-voting faculty representatives will also be added to the school’s board of trustees and president’s council.

“I commend both negotiating teams for their dedicated work, day in and day out, that brought us to a tentative agreement,” UArts president Kerry Walk said in a statement. “It is heartening to see the two sides come together to uphold UArts’ academic excellence across the visual, performing, and creative arts.”

Another 100 university staff members, also represented by AFT Local 9608, are currently undergoing separate contract negotiations.

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