FAQ for Ratification of the PSU-AAUP Contract

What is contract ratification?

Contract ratification is the process by which our union membership reviews and votes on the recently negotiated contract.  The contract must be ratified by a majority of voting AAUP members, as well as approved by the USNH Board of Trustees, before it can go into effect.

What are the conditions and standards for the vote?

Voting will take place through a physical ballot on the campus of Plymouth State University, supervised by the union leadership, a non-member colleague, and our secretary. The vote for or against ratification of the contract is decided through simple majority of voting members. In the event of a tie or a majority against, ratification will fail, and the negotiating process will start over.

The ballot will involve a simple “yes” or “no” answer to the question:

Do you want to ratify the collective bargaining agreement negotiated by the USNH Board of Trustees/Plymouth State University, and the Plymouth State University American Association of University Professors?

Do I have to be a member of the AAUP to vote? Do I have to be a member to see the contract?

Yes, and yes! The privilege of participating in the contract process is one reserved for dues paying members of the union only. If you are not yet an AAUP member, you can still join by visiting https://www.aaup.org/membership/join. In order to ensure our voting records are updated properly, your membership application must be submitted prior to June 18.  If you do not sign up prior to June 18, it will still be possible for you to join the AAUP at the polling location during the scheduled voting times, June 26 – 27, 9 AM to 3 PM. If you have any questions about membership, please contact Nick Sevigny (email: nsevigney AT plymouth) or Jeremiah Duncan (jsduncan AT plymouth).

Of course, once ratified by the AAUP, accepted by the USNH Board of Trustees, and in force, the contract becomes a public document and will be available to all.

When do I vote?

Voting by AAUP members will take place June 26 and June 27 from 9 AM to 3 PM.

Where do I vote?

Physical balloting will take place in the Trevorrow Tower Room (202) of Lamson Library. Please plan to present your PSU ID.

I have plans to be out of town on the voting days. Can I vote in absentia?

Yes! Please contact Anne Jung-Mathews (amjung AT plymouth) via email with your legitimate reason for requesting an absentee ballot no later than 12:00 PM (noon), June 20.  To maintain confidentiality, we ask that you provide a non-PSU email account. Absentee voting will be conducted online with a voting deadline of 3 PM on June 27.

When will votes be counted?  When will we know the results?

The vote count will proceed immediately after voting ends on June 27. The results will be communicated to the bargaining unit via email as soon as possible.

Does my vote really count? If I’m pretty sure the contract is going to pass, should I bother to vote?

YES!! We strongly encourage all members of the AAUP to cast a ballot! A strong voter turnout sends the signal that the contract provisions are fully supported by the membership, and the union is thus willing to protect and enforce its provisions. Furthermore, a high vote count allows for a smoother first year of the contract, as we integrate its provisions into the daily life at Plymouth State University. Finally, voting is one of the rights and responsibilities of membership in the democratic institution that is your union.

How can I learn about what’s in the contract?

We have arranged three ways for members to learn about the provisions of the contract:

  1. The contract will be available for AAUP members to read and review by checking it out from the Reference Desk in Lamson Library during normal Reference Desk hours (Mon.-Fri. 9AM-5PM) beginning June 11 and going until voting ends at 3 PM on June 27.  You will be asked to present your valid PSU ID to check out a copy of the contract. You will be asked not to remove the copy from the library, nor to copy or photograph any portions of it.
  2. The Negotiating Team will give a presentation on the main provisions of the contract on June 25 at 11:00 AM in HUB 109. At this presentation, the Team will explain some of the highlights of the contract and their implications for faculty, as well as answer any questions from AAUP members in attendance.
  3. A group of AAUP members comprising the “Ratification Team” recently met with the Negotiating Team to review the contract. Members of this team volunteered to answer any questions people may have about the contract (email addresses @plymouth.edu given in parentheses) :
  • Chris Chabot (chrisc)
  • Anne Jung-Matthews (amjung)
  • Kate Harrington (knharrington)
  • John Kulig (kulig)
  • Brigid O’Donnell (bcodonnell)
  • Meg Peterson (megp)
  • Gary McCool (gmccool)
  • Nick Sevigny (nsevigney)

Why can’t you just send me a digital copy of the contract to read on my own?

The contract is, as you can understand, a detailed and complex document. Passing this document around to everyone in digital form creates the opportunity for accessing, changing, and talking about the provisions of the contract beyond our membership community. The contract is a legal document, as well, so public access before ratification can rob our membership of the chance to exercise their franchise.

Should I ask members of the Negotiating Team about the contract?

We ask that you do not contact members of the Negotiating Team (NT) about the contract, as it is important that the negotiation and ratification processes be kept separate. Other than the scheduled presentation on June 25 at 11:00 AM in HUB 109, the NT has completed its work and will defer to the Ratification Team for answering questions. If you would like to speak with someone about the contract, please contact one of the members of the Ratification Team, listed above.

What if I don’t like some things I find in the contract?

The contract is complex and involved many months of negotiation, not only with the administration but also among our own colleagues. It cannot be everything to all of us. We encourage you to recognize the negotiating process is one of compromise, but we also feel strongly that this contract represents a host of positive gains for faculty as a whole. While you may find particular provisions that are not as you’d hoped, we believe the contract as a whole provides real and tangible benefits for our membership, our students, and our University.

If you find something you don’t like, please mention it to our union leadership or a member of the Ratification Team. This is vital to the process, because we are talking now about what we need in our next contract. We value your feedback and will be taking notes! If you feel strongly, consider taking on a greater role in our union by volunteering to participate in our shared work or running for office. This is your union, and we want all members to feel empowered to partake in it.

Can we change what is in this contract at this point?

In short, no, we cannot modify the current contract without abnegating the process. The ratification vote is an up or down vote. If you feel strongly enough that the contract should not stand without further negotiation, then vote against it. Though members’ votes are their own, we urge you to speak up and contact the Ratification Team to discuss your objections, so we can take note of them for future negotiations.

What happens if the majority votes against this contract?

Negotiations would start over. The PSU-AAUP would appoint a Negotiating Team (likely a different Negotiating Team from our current one), and that team would work with the administration to reopen negotiations on all or part of the contract.

Can I share the contract or provisions in it with non-members, other colleagues, the PSU community?

During the ratification process, we ask for discretion in sharing specific language and examples from the contract with anybody who is not a member of the AAUP.  You are, of course, free to discuss your opinions of the contract with whomever you wish, but public discussion of specific provisions beyond our membership, with members of the administration, or with those not involved in our work could create misunderstandings, confusions, and complications that could undermine the ratification process.

When does the contract go into effect? How long will it be in effect?

Once ratified and accepted by the USNH Board of Trustees, the contract will go into effect on July 1, 2018 and stay in effect until June 30, 2021.

What if I have more questions?

Please contact a member of the Ratification Team, listed above.

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