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

Now that the Chapter membership has rejected the Administration’s last, best offer, we want to give you a summary of the next steps in our process to resolve the disputes between the Akron-AAUP and the Administration. As the proposed collective bargaining agreement (CBA) was not ratified, we are working under our current CBA until it expires on December 31, 2020. All of the previously negotiated items (such as temporary salary reductions, furloughs and increases to healthcare) were for the proposed agreement, and will not now go into effect.

Article 15 Grievance and Arbitration

The first step in this process is to resolve the grievance filed by the Akron-AAUP on June 8 and which was answered by the Administration on July 30 (Grievance 2020-01). This is the Article 15 Retrenchment/force majeure/RIF list grievance, and it is now moving quickly to arbitration. You can see both our grievance and the Administration’s response posted on the Chapter’s website. Please note that enrollment numbers have been redacted from the Administration’s response; they regard that information as covered under the NDA. The Administration is at liberty to disclose those numbers publicly, but they have chosen not to.

Both sides are currently preparing the documentation to substantiate their arguments during arbitration. The Chapter’s position is that the Administration has not demonstrated that the conditions to declare force majeure were met, that the force majeure clause does not excuse the Administration from complying with certain other parts of Article 15 in the CBA, and that the Administration failed to adequately consult Akron-AAUP about their proposed course of action as required by the CBA.

Our position is that the University is legally obligated to follow the procedures in Article 15 unless the University and Akron-AAUP agree otherwise and modify the Collective Bargaining Agreement accordingly.  Akron-AAUP is seeking reinstatement with back pay and benefits for those on the RIF list.  Opening briefs will be filed on August 21 and the Arbitrator is scheduled to give his decision on September 18.

Article 33 Grievance

Akron-AAUP filed a grievance on August 5 (Grievance 2020-04) under Article 33, Section 3 to submit the University’s request for modifications to the current CBA to binding arbitration, since the parties failed to reach an agreement. The Administration informed us the following day that they are withdrawing their request for mid-term modifications to the current CBA, so this grievance is now moot and therefore resolved.

Class-Action Grievance

Akron-AAUP is now collecting documentation for the class action grievance (Grievance 2020-03) regarding the manner in which the University created and implemented the RIF list. It is our position that the Administration violated members’ constitutional right to due process and Article 3 of the CBA by failing to provide each BUF with a statement of the specific reasons for their inclusion in the RIF list and for failing to afford them an opportunity to correct any factual determinations on which their selection was predicated.

Furthermore, it is our position that the Administration violated the non-discrimination (Article 7) and affirmative action clauses (Article 8) of the CBA by the manner in which faculty were selected, and that it violated Articles 3, 7 and 8 in those instances where the Administration hired new bargaining unit members in academic units where existing faculty were RIF’d.

Our proposed solution for the entire class is that faculty members must be provided with both the explanation for why they were selected for laying off and be afforded the opportunity to be heard. The point of these opportunities to be heard is to enforce the rights guaranteed to you under the constitution and the CBA, and to provide you with additional information for deciding whether you have a sufficiently strong case to pursue an additional grievance.

Our proposed remedy for the individualized claims (discrimination, retaliation, new hires) is reinstatement with back pay and benefits.  The Administration has yet to answer Grievance 2020-03.   We are pushing the Administration as hard as we can for them to provide the criteria used, individualized rationales, and opportunities to be heard.  Until we receive some indication of the Administration’s cooperation or lack thereof, we cannot reasonably predict whether this grievance will go to arbitration or be resolved without arbitration.

If the Arbitrator of the Article 15 dispute finds for the Akron-AAUP and orders the Administration to reinstate all faculty on the RIF list in his decision on Grievance 2020-01, then Grievance 2020-03 is rendered moot but, as noted above, we will not know the outcome of Grievance 2020-01 until September 18th.

Next Collective Bargaining Agreement 

We are waiting for the Administration to inform us when they wish to start the formal process of negotiating a new CBA to take effect after the current contract expires. This could be shortly after arbitration concludes.

As we work to resolve these grievances and prepare for arbitration, we need input from you. Please look for a survey of the bargaining unit faculty in your email today (remember to check your ‘Clutter’ folder too and contact us if you haven’t received it by tomorrow).

Throughout this process, our goal is to protect your rights under the CBA and to make sure that faculty are treated fairly by the Administration. We know that this is a period of great uncertainty and worry for faculty, particularly those on the RIF list, NTT, and junior faculty. Please know that we take our responsibility to represent all of the bargaining unit seriously. The Akron-AAUP Executive Committee does not believe there should be any faculty layoffs and does not think the Administration has proven this is the only way forward. Our best chance of fighting the actions of the Administration is for the faculty to be united in our resolve. Our unity is our strength.

In Solidarity,

The Communications Committee of Akron-AAUP

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