Bargaining · Position Statement · Uncategorized · Update

Bargaining Recap for October 5

The negotiating teams for the AAUP and administration (ANT) met on October 5 in front of many colleagues who had come to show their support for our proposals. The AAUP had submitted four counter-proposals and the ANT brought a counter-proposal to the table as well. Below is a description of the proposals that were discussed, followed by the opening remarks the AAUP team had prepared, followed by a list of the proposals that have been resolved and those that are still on the table:

  • Professional Development (AAUP) — The ANT agreed to our proposal to increase professional development funds from $400 to $625 in FY18 and to $800 in FY19. What’s more, faculty members can now roll-over their professional development funds from one year to the next (for a maximum of two years total). The agreement will also guarantee new tenure-track faculty $2000 in professional development funds in each of their first two years. The agreement kept the status-quo for sabbaticals and other professional development leaves.
  • Promotion, Tenure & Evaluation (AAUP) — We brought a proposal that reinserted training for P&T committees and insisted that departments (or disciplines when departments are gone) maintain their own set of guidelines that the Faculty Welfare Committee would oversee to guarantee consistency with University P&T criteria. The ANT seemed amenable to these positions. Our proposal also struck the requirement for external reviewers on the grounds that such reviews are applied unevenly and are unnecessary for work that has already been peer-reviewed. We also struck the administration’s proposal for Post-Tenure Review. We believe work plans are an effective method of evaluating faculty performance so additional evaluation processes are unnecessary.
  • Management Rights (AAUP) — We brought a proposal that described the collaborative role the faculty play in such things as curriculum, academic policies, and the like, while acknowledging the traditional managerial rights that the administration has always exercised.
  • Salary (AAUP) — Our proposal points out that PSU faculty salaries are 8% behind those of the comparators the administration provided us (and well behind our sister-USNH institutions, as well). Acknowledging the financial situation the administration has found itself in, we asked for reasonable raises over the next three years that will narrow — though not close — the pay gap between us and our colleagues at comparable universities. We also asked for an increase in overload pay that would put us on par with our sister-USNH institutions.
  • Workload (ANT) — The administration brought a counter-proposal that was their attempt to clarify the allocation of credit for labs, student-teaching observations, and other sorts of individual instruction. They acknowledged that the present system is inconsistent and unfair to faculty who may be paid differently for very similar teaching assignments. They had costed out their model and presented us with an estimate for how much it would cost to make the distribution fair. Their proposal is now tied, however, to an overload credit rate of $1200 per credit–much less than the rate we are asking for in our salary proposal.
  • Discipline (ANT) — We came to tentative agreement on a previous article outlining measures the administration can take (and the processes involved) in response to misconduct.

 

Our next bargaining session is scheduled for October 26.

 

Opening Remarks for October 5 Bargaining Session

I want to begin this session in much the same way we did when faculty observed these negotiations in April: by acknowledging the faculty in the room whose stewardship has meant so much to the success of this institution. Many of our top scholars are in the room. Many of our most celebrated teachers are in the room. Many of our most engaged governance leaders are here as well. The people in this room have, over and over, demonstrated a willingness to support institutional change in the most meaningful way–with their time. The administration has asked no less of us than that we reinvent ourselves–reinvent our teaching, reinvent our relationships to the community, reinvent the very structure of higher education. And faculty have demonstrated a willingness to transform. When we compiled a list of the contributions our faculty have made to the flurry of cluster initiatives through work such as developing cluster leadership, redesigning first year seminar, developing cluster courses, etc., we were unable to include them all on a single sheet. We have done our best to do this work without disrupting the scholarship, teaching, and service normally expected of us.

A faculty who can do that must be highly valued by the administration. When we look at some of your proposals, we have to wonder. By your own data, our faculty salaries have been at least 8% behind the average salaries of our comparators for years. Your salary proposal offered this faculty no raise this year, nor any raises for the foreseeable future. In the 15 plus years that I have been here, the institution has never given a substantial boost in professional development. Your proposal offered this faculty a bump of $100. Times are tough. Money is short. But then you went further and proposed that this under-paid, under-supported faculty should submit to post tenure review and insisted on external review for promotion. When you add together the historical–and the proposed–lack of support for faculty, with the threats to withhold promotion, or even to terminate faculty who can’t thrive under these conditions…well, you could forgive us, I hope, for characterizing your approach as all stick and no carrot. Factor in your unwillingness to discuss shared governance . . . we begin to get a picture of an institution with conflicting values.

This has been a difficult few weeks for Plymouth State. The ominous mentions of program review (ominous because the process, as it’s been described, lacks transparency and seemingly involves few faculty), the news that our administrative assistants will need to compete with each other for a handful of new jobs that have not even been clearly articulated, the potential emergence of a vague new class of faculty (so called “Professors of Practice”), and the president’s accusation that shared governance is an obstruction to progress, have left much of the institution rattled. People are scared, not only for their own jobs but for the future of an institution that seemingly places too little value on the people who serve this University.

We know that many of those topics are not on the table during these negotiations, and we do intend to focus today on issues that pertain specifically to our bargaining unit. But it’s important to understand that these negotiations are happening in a context in which many of our friends and colleagues, whether they are in the bargaining unit or not, are deeply concerned about the decisions that are being made on the other side of the quad. We share those concerns.

Tenure track faculty are the long-term stewards of the university, the key players in achieving its mission, and vital to our students, state, community, and region. In order to fulfill that expectation and that responsibility, a good faculty must have the resources and support to succeed. Their success IS the University’s success.

Because we are stewards, we are bringing four proposals today that compromise on questions of resources while adhering to the values of transparency, consistency, and fairness that have guided our efforts.

First, we have a revised version of the management rights proposal we left with you in April. This proposal removes reference to the larger Shared Governance proposal you refused this summer but reflects PSU’s long tradition of collaborating during institutional decision-making.

Second, we have a counter to your Professional Development proposal which we think provides a reasonable compromise between our respective original positions on faculty development funds and new faculty startup funds. Given that we are in a remote location, that association and travel fees keep increasing, that it’s increasingly hard to hire and retain faculty, we need adequate support for professional development and we think our offer is a fair compromise.

Third, we have brought a revised PT&E proposal that strengthens the process and improves transparency. Our proposal reinserts training for P&T committees and accountability for competent process and review. The majority of our membership believe external reviews are unevenly applied, not particularly worthwhile, and unjustifiable given the teaching load and lack of professional development support, so we have struck that item again. Likewise, we have struck your proposal for post-tenure review.

Finally, we have brought you a revised Salary proposal that we believe represents a reasonable compromise on our two positions. In our original proposal, we asked for a salary increase that achieved equity with the average salaries in the comparator data you provided. You answered with a “proposal” that offered no raises for this year–and no raises for the foreseeable future. We get it. In the financial situation in which the administration has found itself, you have not prioritized long-term plans for salary parity with either our comparators or our sister institutions in the system. In our counter proposal, we’ve articulated a reasonable salary increase which will narrow the gap over the next three years. It will not come close to closing that gap. We do this with the faith that we can collaborate to develop a real plan to address a problem that has hobbled our university for more than a decade.

We want to stress to you, and to our colleagues in the room, how much we appreciate that you have been willing to work with us on the important issue of Workload. Our two teams have spent hours discussing the issues at play in that proposal and we believe we have tried, in earnest, to understand the others’ point of view and to work for integrative solutions that advance the aims of both sides. We’ve worked together to define faculty responsibilities and differentiated workloads, set reasonable limits on advising and class-sizes, and set out other measures that will help all of us–individual faculty, departments, and the administration–to plan and allocate our time and resources in much smarter ways. We still believe we are very close to agreement on this vital topic. We hope we can build on that success to resolve the remaining articles in this contract.

So while we want to be very clear about our priorities and about the challenges we perceive, we also want to be clear that it is our pleasure and privilege to tackle these important issues together.

Proposals that have been resolved and those that are still on the table:

Proposal/Topic
X Shared Governance   Refused (ANT)
X No Strike or Lockout  Refused (AAUP)
Definitions  OPEN AND ONGOING
Recognition Tentative Agreement Signed
Union Rights  Tentative Agreement Signed
Non-Discrimination  Tentative Agreement Signed
Savings Clause  Tentative Agreement Signed
Safety  Tentative Agreement Signed
Faculty Rights  Tentative Agreement Signed
Personnel Files  Tentative Agreement Signed
Academic Freedom  Tentative Agreement Signed
Appointments & Rank  Tentative Agreement Signed
Grievance  Tentative Agreement Signed
Discipline  Tentative Agreement Signed
Professional Development Funds & Leaves   WILL SIGN TENTATIVE AGREEMENT 10/26
Promotion, Tenure & Evaluation and Post-Tenure Review   OPEN AND ONGOING
Retrenchment  OPEN AND ONGOING
Salary  OPEN AND ONGOING
Workload  OPEN AND ONGOING
Agency Fee  OPEN AND ONGOING
Management Rights  OPEN AND ONGOING
Benefits  OPEN AND ONGOING
Intellectual Property  OPEN AND ONGOING

 

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