Union: UPR administration treats untenured profs unfairly

By Pedro Correa Henry

Twitter: @pete_r_correa

Special to The Star

The Puerto Rican University Professors Association (APPU) on Wednesday demanded fair treatment of untenured professors at the University of Puerto Rico.

APPU President Ángel Rodríguez Rivera said the budget cut imposed by the Financial Oversight and Management Board and the UPR administration’s failure to defend the university’s needs put units of the institution at risk of becoming inoperative for the next academic year.

“We have campuses that are at risk of not being able to pay payroll for the semester that begins in August,” Rodríguez Rivera said. “This implies the possibility that hundreds of untenured faculty members will see their academic load reduced.”

“Worse yet, hundreds could be left without work for the upcoming semester,” he added.

The APPU chief said further that the institution has treated untenured faculty members “as mere labor at its disposal without any respect or sensitivity.”

APPU spokesperson Jorge Lefevre, meanwhile, said that too often untenured professors work for a salary “that puts us in a precarious situation that is unsustainable for any human being.”

“Doing 75% of the work of a regular faculty member and generating around $1,500 a month hurts us,” he said. “To work as a university professor at the most prestigious post-secondary institution in Puerto Rico for a salary below the minimum wage is inconceivable.”

“All of us come with the highest academic degrees possible,” Lefevre added. “We would not be hired if that were not the case. Even so, the UPR management treats us with disdain and disrespect.”

APPU approached UPR President Jorge Haddock on the matter, requesting that the administration pay untenured professors fairly and incorporate the “equal pay for equal work” system at the Río Piedras campus, a pay system used at other UPR institutions such as the Mayagüez and Medical Sciences campuses.

“If a colleague works part time, he/she should receive half the salary,” Rodríguez Rivera said. “It is inconceivable that there are colleagues who are paid less than minimum wage for working as academics in the main university education institution in Puerto Rico.”

The APPU demanded that positions be opened at the UPR and that they be tied to the budget allocation so that they are real.

Haddock assured APPU members that he is aware of their concerns and that the administration “is working to open 108 positions according to what the Fiscal Plan established.”

“I want you to understand that there are some challenges that are affecting everyone,” Haddock said. “We will continue to work in order to give back those tenures and job positions that you have requested and deserve.”

He said he would be meeting with campus chancellors weekly and has requested that they incorporate online-only and hybrid courses to open up more tenure-track positions.

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