Frequently Asked Questions
Understandably, we have heard from many faculty with questions about the current situation. We have attempted to answer the most common ones here.
Why is Akron-AAUP accepting the University’s creation of a list of faculty to be laid off?
The Administration has prepared a layoff list. We have not agreed to their doing so; they have just done it. It is not within our control. No amount of table-pounding on our part could have stopped them. They claim that they must lay off a large number of faculty members to balance the budget and avoid receivership. They have claimed the right to do it under the force majeure clause in Article 15. We have disputed that and are prepared to arbitrate the issue if we can’t reach agreement.
Why isn’t the recently filed grievance over force majeure enough to stop the layoffs?
The Administration has also sought modifications to the collective bargaining agreement under Article 33, section 3. Under that provision, we are required to negotiate in good faith about those modifications. One of the modifications they are seeking is the right to lay off particular faculty members – those who end up on the list. Other modifications they seek include temporary pay cuts, furloughs, and increased employee contributions to health care coverage. In order for us to negotiate with them over these modifications, we need to know the details (and other information) so that we can assess the need for them and propose alternatives. For example, now that we have the list, we may point out reasons why certain layoffs won’t reduce the budget deficit because they will cause the University a substantial loss of revenue, or we may propose alternative ways of reducing expenditures.
Why doesn’t the Negotiating Team simply refuse to negotiate layoffs?
We are not legally free to refuse to negotiate with the University over the contract modifications it has proposed. In the existing contract, we made a legally binding commitment to do so. We are in the process of negotiating for the least bad modifications we can get. In the end, it will be up to the membership of the Chapter to decide (by vote) whether (1) to accept the modifications or (2) to go to arbitration over them. If the negotiating team were to refuse to negotiate over layoffs, we would have violated the contract and would almost certainly lose the resulting arbitration over that modification. The result would be that the University would be able to proceed with the layoffs without our having mitigated them by negotiation and without the University having to prevail on its force majeure claim in arbitration. We can’t think of a worse strategic blunder on our part.
What we intend to do is get the “best” (i.e., least bad) contract proposal we can to take to the membership. If the membership rejects it, we will go to arbitration and both sides will have to live with whatever the arbitrator decides.
How were the percentages of cuts to each college determined?
Provost Wiencek conducted a benchmarking analysis using data from the Delaware Cost Study Analysis and has provided us with a summary of his methodology and results. We have requested access to the data so that we can be sure it is applied appropriately and that the most current and accurate data are being used to make decisions.
What criteria did my chair/school director use to determine who is on the list?
We have requested all criteria used to select faculty for layoff, as well as instructions (oral or written) given to chairs about how to make cuts. We don’t see how we can ask faculty to accept any layoffs without this information.
When will I know if I am to be laid off?
We anticipate that faculty who are to be laid off will be informed within a couple of days after the vote by the BOT, which we’ve been informed will be held around July 15. We’ve been told faculty will receive a phone call from their chairs/school directors, followed by written notice from HR.
How can I be sure the financial situation of the university warrants these kinds of cost-cutting measures?
We have informed the university that the information they gave our negotiating team (and that the NT were required to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement to see) regarding their financial situation must be disclosed to faculty before they can expect faculty to vote to ratify a contract.
Why don’t we strike?
As long as we are bound by our current contract, which expires December 31, 2020, it would be unlawful for us to strike under the provisions of Article 6. No Strike, No Lockout.
Why don’t we just offer to take bigger pay reductions?
We haven’t been in a position to negotiate the number of layoffs downward because we needed to see how many are on the list (and what their salaries amount to) before we could negotiate a reduction of the list by offering other concessions. Otherwise, we would just be offering concessions. Now that we have seen the list, we will try to negotiate a reduction.
Why is the university considering laying off faculty when last year they subsidized athletics by $26M, and are only planning to cut $4.4M from its budget?
That’s an excellent question that we have asked repeatedly and will continue to ask. The administration contends that dropping a division in the NCAA wouldn’t result in any savings. We have concluded otherwise. Dropping divisions is a complicated process and can’t happen overnight, but we believe the university’s current spending on athletics is unsustainable, and that they need to reprioritize academics which are suffering from years of cuts.
If our university is in much worse shape than sister universities like KSU, why is our upper administration taking less in voluntary wage reductions than they are?
For no good reason we can see. You can be sure we will press this question.
Can all Bargaining Unit Faculty vote to ratify the contract?
No, only active members of Akron-AAUP may vote, as per the chapter constitution. You can check to make sure you are an active member by reviewing your paycheck. Go to the Faculty/Staff page of My Akron, then scroll down to My Compensation. Click on View Paycheck. If you are a dues-paying member, you will see AAUP Member Dues in the After-Tax Deductions column.
Help – I’m not a member but I want to be able to vote!
You can sign up to become a member here, where you will see more information about dues and the benefits of membership. Dues are normally withheld from your paycheck monthly. Please note, if you are joining as a new member and have a 9-month faculty appointment and are therefore not receiving a paycheck during the summer months, you must pay a prorated portion of your dues before noon July 15 in order to be considered an active chapter member for the ratification vote. This will be calculated based on the number of full weeks remaining between the date you submit your membership form and September 1. You will be billed for 1/52 of your annual dues for each week, payable as a single lump sum in order to activate your membership. Submit your membership form as soon as possible to allow us time for processing.