DURHAM – The campaign for Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is standing behind the nearly 195 lecturers at University of New Hampshire who have been working without a new contract for more than 850 days.
Carli Stevenson is the deputy state director and communications director for the Sanders campaign in New Hampshire. She grew up in Hampton and graduated from UNH in 2008 with a double major in history and women’s studies.
“As a campaign, we have stood with workers in lots of fights and I think that this is a really important issue because it gets at the intersection of two of our biggest issues that we are fighting for, which is college for all and worker’s rights,” Stevenson said on Thursday.
Stevenson said lecturers at UNH don’t have the same salary, benefits or rights as tenured professors. At the same time, they teach 50 percent of the classes and make up 25 percent of the faculty.
“The question becomes, what are these students paying for if not for the people who are teaching them every day?” Stevenson said.
Stevenson said the contract negotiation issues at UNH show the need to have a conversation about the societal benefits of access to education for all students in a time when more public colleges are run like businesses.
On Thursday morning, UNH spokesperson Erika Mantz said it is important to note that the contract between the college and the lecturers which ended in June of 2017 is in effect until a new agreement is executed.
“We appreciate the efforts of both bargaining teams, especially over the past two months as weekly meetings have resulted in substantial progress and tentative agreements for many previously unresolved issues. This recent progress has brought us much closer to a new contract,” Mantz said.
Collective bargaining is a time-intensive process and both sides have agreed to remain in mediation, which is part of the process governed by the NH Public Employee Relations Board, Mantz said.
A student-led rally was held on Thursday afternoon at UNH in the Murkland Courtyard. Organizer Ben Domaingue received a round of applause when he said administrators at the college get raises and bonuses, while lecturers live paycheck to paycheck.
Domaingue demanded that officials reinstate the five lecturer positions that will be lost in the spring and ratify a new, 5-year deal with UNH Lecturers United.