We are disappointed to announce the results of our arbitration hearing supporting the Administration’s implementation of force majeure. The results are an attack on tenure, due process, and all the legal protections that should be guaranteed by collective bargaining. This is terrible news for our institution. You can read the full decision here.
When making the award, the arbitrator found that:
…the University demonstrated that present circumstances justify the use of the force majeure clause as outlined in Article 15, Section 12. The force majeure clause does not, however, excuse the University from complying with Sections 9 and 10 which are feasible and possible to implement since there is no immediate financial impact or time frame. Therefore, this Arbitrator finds for Akron-AAUP in the matter of Sections 9 and 10. Further, the University showed a preponderance of evidence that it did discuss its proposed course of action with Akron-AAUP as required by Article 15, Section 12.
While we agreed to abide by the arbitrator’s binding ruling, we do not accept that elimination of faculty or faculty positions was warranted or necessary. No other institution in Ohio took this step. It is clear to us that the University did not have to do this, but wanted to do it. Firing faculty — who mentor and challenge our students, who shape the learning environment, and who generate the bulk of the University’s revenue — does nothing but harm our students, our community, and our University. We intend to fight any such future moves with all legal means necessary.
There is small consolation that the arbitrator found that faculty on the RIF list have callback rights for 3 years, and that they have right of first refusal should part-time positions be offered to replace them. We now turn towards the upcoming contract negotiations, which represent an opportunity to correct the language vagaries that allowed the greater travesty of the layoffs to occur. It is clear our collective bargaining rights and shared governance are under attack, and we as a faculty must act accordingly.