More hands make lighter work:
We’ve been busy the past year. I wanted to send an update to you all about some of our activities, and, if you took part in any of them–thanks! A faculty union relies almost entirely on volunteer labor. Thanks to all of you who pitched in.
This past year, we’ve created a lovely new brochure, thanks in large part to the work of McKenna Vietmeier, Assistant Professor of Instruction in the School of Communication. We’ve been hard work at building a new website under the direction of our Vice President and communications specialist, Julie Cajigas. Thanks, McKenna and Julie!
John Zipp, our Chief Negotiator, has been representing us well this year! We negotiated with the administration over the VRIP program, the RTP and Merit for NTT faculty, prescription benefits, and policy issues such as faculty load for administrative work. The work goes on, and we will keep you updated. Please be sure to thank John when you see him–the Chief Negotiator job is critical, and it is 100% volunteer.
By Ben Ratliffe, Our AAUP Organizer
Sometime between today and June, the US Supreme Court decide, in the Janus v. AFSCME case, whether or not public sector unions will have the financial support they need to continue supporting public sector employees. This decision would negatively impact everyone from secondary and higher education teachers to the workers who maintain your city’s sewers, take out the trash, drive the kids to school, and work with the homeless and mentally ill.
Our Listening Sessions, Janus Coffees, and office visits as part of the 2017-2018 school year have been a really beneficial way of connecting with faculty across campus.
We’ve learned a lot about the issues that faculty care about and the challenges that units across campus face.
Several topics came up in our conversations, but the bottom line is that faculty are under stress due to lack of needed faculty lines, lack of resources, lack of stable leadership, and general uncertainty about the future. This stress is not simply a response to the troubling economic times that the University now faces, it’s not just a result of the rushed Academic Program Review Process, and it’s not just because we had to scurry to fit almost all our classes into a four-day schedule without any study of how that would affect students, faculty, or staff.
The Akron-AAUP Grievance Committee Drs. Russ Davis (Executive Director and Grievance Administrator) and Val Pipps (Contract Administrator and Grievance Officer) are ending the 2017-2018 year having responded to more than 40 individual faculty and/or groups for consultation or direct intervention/support.
The Grievance Committee has worked daily throughout the semester to support, advocate for, and help improve the working environment and rights of bargaining unit faculty (BUF).
The committee has worked on formal grievance-related labor/management issues such as:
- One formal individual-level grievance related to tenure/promotion
- One formal individual-level grievance related to disciplinary actions taken by the administration
- One college-grievance related to the appointment of dean
- One department-level related grievance related to the appointment of chair
As we all know, when it’s time to cut, the first and apparently the easiest place to cut is the academic side. However, faculty across campus have felt frustrated that the sacrifices are not shared by non-academic units. The University spends about $24 million from the general fund to support athletics each year. Because of this, and because of concerns about more cuts to come, the University Council Budget & Finance Committee recommended $8 million in cuts to Athletics over two years (this would be proportionate to the recent cut in Graduate School funding).
Our spring chapter meeting is being held Thursday, April 26, from 3:00-5:00 pm, in Student Union 312. Snacks will be served at 3, the meeting proper will begin at 3:15 pm.
Please note that this is a members only event, but membership forms will be available at the door for those who wish to join the chapter (or non-members can click the button below this message to join).
The results of the chapter officer and for chapter delegates to the National AAUP Annual Meeting and Collective Bargaining Congress meetings will be announced.
Additionally, we will have two special guests, Sara Kilpatrick, Executive Director of the Ohio Conference – AAUP, will speak on “Political Engagement to Protect and Advance Faculty Unions & Public Higher Education,” and Ben Ratliffe, National AAUP Department of Organizing & Services – Ohio Organizer, will give a talk, “Issue Campaigns and Building Power.
The agenda for the Spring 2018 Chapter Meeting is available HERE.
The minutes from the Fall 2017 Chapter Meeting are available for review HERE.
The much anticipated fourth Collective Bargaining Agreement between the University of Akron administration and the Akron-AAUP, approved by both parties in April, has now been completely collated and signed. You may find it here, on the Akron AAUP website, under “Current Contract.”
Or, you can download it here.
We again thank Kevin Kreider and the Negotiation Team for their outstanding work in procuring such a strong contract for all of us.
It’s been a busy and challenging semester – through collective action, we’ve achieved a lot. We thank you for your support, and wish you a happy and fruitful summer!
To help address continuing concerns about the actions and future plans of the administration at The University of Akron, the Akron-AAUP has conducted a third campus-wide survey of the faculty, following up on surveys conducted in the spring of 2015 and the fall of 2015. The results of the survey, shared here and also with the community, offer a gauge of faculty sentiment on a wide range of important issues facing the University.
Along with the majority of the faculty, the leadership of the Akron-AAUP believes the situation at the university is worsening, and we encourage the Board of Trustees to take the steps necessary to rectify the situation. There is much work to be done to repair the damage done during the past year and a half—we must begin this work as soon as we possibly can. Only by including faculty in the process will we be successful.
Thank you to all who participated in the survey.
Brief summary of the survey results:
The University of Akron Board of Trustees and The University of Akron Chapter of The American Association of University Professors have concluded the process of negotiating a new labor agreement by affirmative ratification votes of both parties. The membership of the Akron-AAUP voted in favor of ratification in an electronic vote that ended Wednesday, March 23. The University’s Board of Trustees approved the agreement at a special Board meeting held today.
The Administration of The University of Akron and the University of Akron Chapter of the American Association of University Professors have reached tentative agreement on all issues pertaining to contract negotiations. The tentative agreement now must be ratified by the University’s Board of Trustees and by the membership of the Akron-AAUP. The timetable for ratification is being established.
The Akron-AAUP chapter membership will begin voting after an informational meeting on Wednesday, March 16.
Both parties recommend ratification to their respective constituents.