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

This communication is to correct inaccuracies in President Miller’s “Case for Ratification” video.  It is not meant to recommend a “yes” or “no” ratification vote. The Akron-AAUP is committed to providing its members with factual information on which to base their voting decision.

  • “The tentative faculty contract also includes incentives to ease eligible colleagues into retirement.” Although it is true that the proposed contract includes two incentives for BUF members to retire,
    • One of those incentives – payment for accrued, unused sick leave is a statutory entitlement. This is a requirement of state law, not a concession on the part of the University.
    • The other is meager and is best characterized as an inducement to release the University from potential liability and an incentive for those whose layoffs render them financially desperate to vote to ratify the proposed collective bargaining agreement. For such releases, the University is offering only $1,200 for each year of service to the University up to a maximum of $12,000.
  • “One partial way to manage the situation though not solve it would be to put in place temporary cost-cutting measures to improve cash flow.  Unfortunately, as you know, until recent actions by the Board the University of Akron had no furlough or temporary salary-reduction policies.  Because of this we are only now able to use these measures to meet this challenge.”  This is misleading. The Akron-AAUP’s negotiating team proposed steeper temporary salary cuts than the University demanded in exchange for fewer faculty layoffs. The University rejected this proposal. They were unwilling to consider greater temporary savings as a way to manage the situation. They made it clear they believe the University is over-invested in instruction.
  • “Ultimately we had to deal with the most difficult question: Could we resolve this situation without a substantial reduction in force.  Unfortunately, all of our financial analyses clearly indicated this was neither feasible nor possible. The answers these and other analyses gave us to these and other questions were, unfortunately, hard and uncomfortable to hear. There are those, even those who have examined the same data I’ve examined, who will choose to simply not believe the answers, but the data are in fact grounded in reality.”This implies that anyone who examines the same data that President Miller examined but disagrees with his conclusions must simply be choosing not to believe his conclusions, not honestly and reasonably disagreeing with him about his inferences from the data.
  • “On my recommendation, and unfortunately, the Board has taken the only actions open to us at this time.” There are multiple ways by which the Board could have reduced the budget deficit. It is disingenuous to claim that there was only one way. The Akron-AAUP consistently urged the Administration to look to Athletics for further cuts. The Board and the Union have a fundamental disagreement regarding the wisdom of continuing in Division 1 Mid-American Conference athletics, but short of that, the Administration could take any number of steps to reduce its existing subsidy to athletics and has failed to do so.
  • “Frankly, our fate now rests with the imperative that the tentative agreement with the Akron-AAUP be ratified. If the contract approved by the Board is approved by the AAUP voting members, even though the University will have weathered a great storm, suffered the nearly unbearable loss of good colleagues, struggled with the realization of historic actions, and at times been nearly overwhelmed with the difficulties of this time, we will also have emerged out of a deficit spending mode where we can begin to grow and invest.” President Miller’s claims to the contrary notwithstanding, the layoffs will substantially diminish and in some cases devastate the quality of the University’s academic programs, which in turn will further decrease student enrollment and, consequently, University revenues.  This is likely to necessitate further budget cuts, which in turn will cause further damage to academic programs and cause additional drops in enrollment and revenues. It is a downward spiral.
  • “If the contract is not approved, we will unfortunately exhaust our precious reserves as we take many, many months – time which we do not have – to fight legal battles.” There are two falsehoods embedded in this statement. The mechanism for resolving the dispute between the University and Akron-AAUP is arbitration, not litigation in the courts.
    • As noted above, the arbitration process, as agreed to by the University and Akron-AAUP,  will take only a few weeks, concluding in early to mid-September, and will cost the University (and Akron-AAUP) thousands, not millions of dollars.
    • The cost of arbitration will come nowhere near exhausting the University’s tens of millions of dollars in financial reserves. It will amount to  thousands, not millions of dollars.
  • “At the same time, we will have to invoke faculty retrenchment, a lengthy process that will cause many more faculty to lose their jobs than were achieved through the recent Board actions.  The University would be at far greater risk if that were to occur, with even fewer faculty and little to no financial reserves left.”  There are two falsehoods embedded in this statement.
    • It is not true that “at the same time” as the arbitration is proceeding, the University will have to implement retrenchment as prescribed in Article 15 of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement.  This would be required only upon the conclusion of arbitration, and only if ordered by the arbitrator based on his conclusion that the University has not adequately justified the layoffs based either on force majeure under Article 15 or on “financial exigency” under Article 33, Section 3. The retrenchment article in our CBA prescribes an order for faculty layoffs that would result in more faculty positions being cut. This is because non-tenure track and assistant professor positions would be cut first, and those are generally lower salaried positions. If the Administration is determined to cut that dollar amount, we would lose more positions. However, it is unlikely that the arbitrator would rule that the list must be re-formed.
    • The arbitration process, as agreed to by the University and Akron-AAUP, is not a lengthy process.  It will take only a few weeks, concluding in early to mid-September.
  • The proposed contract “gives us our one and only chance to rise out of our constant deficit mode and to push forward.  Without ratification, those opportunities will be lost.”  This statement falsely and implausibly implies that there is only one way to solve the University’s financial problems, which is exactly the way the University proposes to solve it.  There are various ways to solve these problems, including ways Akron-AAUP has proposed that the University has flatly and unreasonably rejected.

In Solidarity,

Akron-AAUP Negotiating Team

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