April 13 Bargaining Recap

The AAUP and administration’s negotiating teams met on April 13. Because shared governance and workload are such critical issues to the faculty, the room was full-to-capacity with our colleagues. Below, is a summary of what we discussed, followed by our opening remarks regarding the importance of Shared Governance and Workload:

Article: Union Rights
Status We signed a tentative agreement on this article!

Article: Shared Governance (AAUP)
Status We are grateful that the ANT, who had rejected our January effort to talk about shared governance, listened politely to our presentation and engaged in a lively discussion. We presented a brief proposal that asserts three main points:

  1. Recognition of our role in curriculum. We design, develop, deliver, and assess curriculum that supports the strategic mission of the institution and the goals of the Plymouth community.
  2. Recognition of the faculty’s role in formulating policy in regards to institutional priorities.
  3. Establishment of a relationship between our existing bylaws and this agreement.

We concluded this part of the discussion by asking the ANT if they would bring a counter-proposal back. They agreed to take our arguments to President Birx, who can authorize them to negotiate on this topic.

Article: Workload (AAUP and ANT each brought proposals)
Status We presented a detailed proposal that was based on three main principles:

  1. We need to accurately describe the work our faculty perform. For many years, the university has very much depended on an ethos of self-sacrifice. We have been told that our workload consists of 60% teaching, 20% service, and 20% scholarship. That’s just not the reality. This proposal describes our duties more realistically as 80% teaching, 10% scholarship, 10% service.
  2. Teaching and advising, in all of their forms, are the most important function of the faculty and of the entire institution. This proposal seeks to protect excellent teaching and advising by acknowledging that the work of “Teaching includes and extends beyond the classroom…” Teaching load is not merely a function of how many courses we are assigned four months out (and the design, preparation, and grading that comes with them). It must also reflect the number of students, the pedagogy, the other important “teaching credits” we deliver (to include independent studies). And it must include reasonable expectations for advising. Our purpose is to gain reasonable hold of our time so we can be excellent educators.
  3. We need to give faculty time to do the other work we all believe is important.Faculty work obligations are finite and cannot be expanded beyond a reasonable maximum.” Right now, this 80/10/10 model has us working 60 hours in a typical week. That’s already unhealthy. Anything over that comes at the further expense of our families and, very often, our well-being. So our proposal defines several major service roles whose importance to the Institution demands that the faculty who perform those roles have the time to perform them well. But it also provides a flexible model that allows the faculty and the institution a mechanism to make temporary alterations to a faculty-member’s workload in order to pursue important service-demands or important opportunities for scholarship.

The administration’s workload proposal was less elaborate but did include descriptions of basic expectations for teaching faculty that we intend to discuss further.

Article: Management Rights (AAUP Counter)
Status We were unable to discuss this article due to time, but our counter (to be consistent with our Shared Governance and Workload proposals), removed language that gave the Administration sole ownership of the curriculum, assigning and scheduling classes, etc. We hope to discuss this further at our April 27 meeting.

AAUP Opening Remarks:

One of the first articles we gave to you was a Shared Governance proposal. At the time, you said that it was not a mandatory subject of bargaining and that you were not required to discuss it.  We took this response back to our membership and were told very clearly — That is not good enough. Plymouth has a strong tradition of shared governance — it’s one of the qualities that makes PSU special. It’s a source of strength for the university. And because it is also an integral part of any discussion of workload, we are returning with a new governance proposal today and presenting it together with our workload proposal. In the survey of bargaining priorities we took last fall, and in the debate about whether and why to unionize the faculty, and in conversations happening every day on this campus even now, these stand out as two of the most important issues on which the faculty want reform.

We have a lot of people here today who want to work with you, and have worked with you, to make this institution successful. I want to point out that several of the distinguished service award winners are here in this room (and others are planning to be here when their classes are finished this afternoon). I ask you to consider the service they, and all of the faculty who are here today, have contributed to this institution. All faculty are important but the efforts of these people have been critical to this institution’s success.

The President has asked repeatedly that the faculty take more ownership of the important initiatives we are undertaking. At the same time, we have seen over and over that the instinct is to go around the traditional structures of elected governance and to only consult important faculty committees such as Curriculum and General Education late in the game. The result has been a good deal of confusion, mixed messages, duplicated efforts and slower progress than we should have had on clusters.

You need a shared governance article to engage the true value of this faculty. We are behind the President’s vision. We want to build a more collaborative and open environment for our students and our community and ourselves. That’s why so many of the people in this room are neck-deep in the cluster initiative. We want to transform the University, but we won’t throw out the rules that keep us accountable to students, ourselves, and the public.

The hard work — and the good judgement — of the faculty is the capital of the institution. It’s what we bank on to provide an excellent education to our students. It’s what you rely on to reform and transform Plymouth State every time we face a big challenge. Poll the faculty and you will find that we are playing larger service roles now than we ever have. Every time you ask us to participate in some great undertaking (such as URSA), faculty make huge sacrifices in time and toil to advance our shared vision. Our willingness to make those sacrifices and our belief in the value of shared governance are founded in our commitment — our lifelong commitment — to a thriving University.

We bring you these proposals today because the faculty are disillusioned with your lack of support for Shared Governance. You ask us to serve and we do. But, too often, our work and our decisions are not taken into account. The lack of support and respect for our work and our decisions has lessened the value of shared governance. The work we do has no purchase. Increasingly, people don’t want to participate. So our proposals for workload and governance share one common demand: that you respect our work and not waste it.

We believe our workload proposal and yours share the same principle: that time and effort and attention are all finite. Money is not the only resource PSU needs to manage. Wisely managing (and respecting) the time and effort of faculty is critical to our success. We are not merely employees — expendable workers easily replaced by the administration or the system– we are your most important and your most dependable partners.


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