Akron AAUP Protecting Academic Freedom For a Free Society
The University of Akron Chapter |
American Association of University Professors

For those who were unable to attend the recent chapter meeting, we’ve compiled a list of the questions we’ve received regarding the proposed contract. You may also review the contract ratification materials here.

Click on one of the topics below.

Wages

$3000 DL Payments

Summer Salary for Teaching

NTT

Retrenchment

Six-Year Term

Wages
Question:  Considering the university’s recent announcement that the wage concessions other units on campus have taken would stop (effective immediately), why are faculty having to take a wage concession for FY2022?  
Answer:  The Bargaining Unit Faculty are taking the same percentage wage reduction that others (e.g., staff, contract professionals, and administrators) took on campus as a shared sacrifice.  These concessions will help the university weather the impending infrastructure debt bills that come due next fiscal year.

Q:  How much of a pay cut has the administration taken?
A:  Overall, the same percentages as the Bargaining Unit Faculty.  The BUF pay cut is structured more progressively, but in the aggregate, it’s the same cut.

Q: Since there will be no wages, how is the merit exercise rationalized? 
A: The lump-sum payments and the percentage increases depend on a ‘satisfactory’ rating, which is determined through the merit process.  Also, it did not make sense to remove the merit language temporarily only to put it back in the next contract.

Q: How do the recent increases in health care costs compare to typical wage increases? Said another way, financially, is it more beneficial to us to keep healthcare costs flat than to have wage increases?
A: The University was not willing to grant wage increases (only contingent lump-sum payments) before year 6.  We did not choose to keep health care benefits as they are over wage increases.

$3,000 Distance Learning Payments
Q: Will all Bargaining Unit Faculty receive the $3000 payment for developing online courses, regardless of how many online courses they taught in Fall 2020 or Spring 2021?
A:  Yes, there will be a $3,000 lump-sum payment paid to all Bargaining Unit Faculty to settle the Article 16, Section 10 grievance. Akron-AAUP will create a fund for the RIF that will allow Bargaining Unit Faculty to donate the net amount (~$1,800 after taxes and withholdings) of this lump-sum payment (or another amount) to help the colleagues we lost.

Q: I designed one new course in 20/21 but have taught two courses online this year that I previously developed and taught before this year. Do I maintain total ownership of those previously designed classes?  
A: Yes, assuming you received no substantial support for the development of those courses.

Q:  Was the part-time faculty ever mentioned in terms of the $3,000 for online course development? What about IP rights for them? What about full-faculty who developed online courses prior to being fired – are they eligible for that compensation?  
A: Part-time faculty are not protected in the CBA, so they weren’t part of the grievance. The RIFed faculty are also not part of the grievance because the payments were for this past fall and the current spring. Earlier semesters could not be included.

Q: How do faculty opt out of the $3000 payment?
A: Stay tuned.

Q: What type of resources are considered substantial support?
A: Here is the relevant language from the MOU on Intellectual Property:

2. Substantial Support.  Unless otherwise provided in this MOU or Article 19 (Intellectual Property), the Bargaining Unit Faculty Member and the University shall be joint owners of any copyrightable work created by a Bargaining Unit Faculty Member with substantial support from the University.  In such instances, the Bargaining Unit Faculty Member and the University shall negotiate in advance the allocation of specific ownership rights, obligations, and such other issues as they may agree upon.
a. For purposes of this Article, “substantial support” shall mean University financial support in the form of money, facilities, professional technical support services, graduate assistant support,  course release or other assigned time that exceeds the norm for a Bargaining Unit Faculty Member’s usual assignment or salary.

          b. “Substantial support” does not include:

               (i) Ordinary library services;

               (ii) Ordinary clerical or administrative support;

               (iii) Office or laboratory supplies and equipment provided within the normal scope of employment;

               (iv) Merely assigning a Bargaining Unit Faculty Member to teach a course that uses instructional materials that are provided to students electronically, including online; and

               (v) Ordinary computer network support.

          c. “Substantial support” includes, but is not limited to:

               (i) Course release or other assigned time (other than a Professional Development Leave);

               (ii) Additional office or laboratory space, supplies or equipment beyond the normal scope of employment.

          d. For the development of distance learning materials, “substantial support” includes, but is not limited to:

               (i) Provision of designated technical assistance, such as audio-visual department personnel or a qualified graduate assistant, to assist development of an online course, or provision of specialized software purchased for a particular online project, which exceeds normal University support for traditional courses, or

               (ii)   Support commissioned by the University by the provision of course release or other assigned time or other compensation to a faculty member as an adjustment to normal assigned duties for the purpose of creating a distance learning course, which exceeds normal University support for traditional courses.

          e. For the development of distance learning materials, “substantial support” does not include:

               (i) Ordinary use of University servers and software platforms for the delivery of distance education;

               (ii) Ordinary orientation to the operation of online instructional techniques and processes; and

               (iii) Ordinary technical troubleshooting assistance.

Summer Salary for Teaching
Q: Why does summer pay for full-rank professors go down over the next few years when the other ranks go up?  
A: The Chapter would like to make the payments for overload and summer teaching more equitable for everyone while maintaining the budget. We are trying to decrease the pay disparities in the summer, which has the added benefit of creating summer teaching opportunities for Full Professors. Since their summer pay rate has been so much higher, many were being “priced out” of teaching over the summer. This change should help address that issue.

NTT
Q: So, as an NTT up for promotion next year, should I anticipate preparing materials for fall rather than spring if the contract is ratified? 
A: Yes.

Q: What will be considered substantial service to get a stipend?
A: That depends on your individual letter of appointment. The idea is that this is service above and beyond the duties described in your letter of appointment (you are doing everything in your letter of appointment, and this service is substantially more than that).

Retrenchment
Q: From what was presented, it seems that the university has the ability to do what they need to when “catastrophic circumstances” exist, but not when they pass. Who gets to decide what is a “catastrophic circumstance” and, importantly, when it has passed?
A: The University would make the initial determination.  If the Chapter disagrees, it would file a grievance that ultimately could go to arbitration.

Q: Do all members of a category have to be released before moving to the next category?  For example, if an associate prof. is the only person who can teach in a specific area of the discipline, can they stay and a full professor be let go?
A: Yes. This is unchanged from the current contract.

Six-Year Term
Q: Can I hear more on the desire for a 6-year deal? What advantages and disadvantages does this serve the Board/UA and Faculty?
A: The advantage for both sides is labor peace–we will both know the terms and conditions of employment for the next six years and that they will not change (barring a catastrophe). The disadvantage for the BUF is that if the financial circumstances improve dramatically, it is possible we could have achieved further financial gains. The disadvantage for the administration is that they are obligated to give us a 2% raise in the last year regardless of enrollment. The best situation for the whole university is to improve enrollment, which will improve university finances and make future raises possible.