We are all facing a lot of uncertainty right now, and the lack of clarity about the Administration’s plan to address its budget shortfall is only adding to that uncertainty.
While we are actively pressing the Administration to prioritize its academic mission, and to show data backing up their claims, we want to inform you about some aspects of our Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) that are relevant to our current circumstances. Although we cannot predict the future or guarantee a good outcome, we hope this information provides some peace of mind, or at least a reminder of how much stronger we are when we stick together.
Your Chapter will continue to fight for our University and our faculty.
If I have not otherwise been notified of non-reappointment, can the University terminate my contract for the upcoming academic year?
- NTT – Article 29
Under the CBA, NTT must be notified by the last day of week 12 of the spring semester if they will not be reappointed for the next academic year. Therefore, the Chapter’s position is that the Administration cannot simply notify NTT at this late date that they will not be re-appointed. The Administration would have to negotiate with the Chapter for the ability to not re-appoint NTT who have not been timely notified.
- All BUF – Article 15
Article 15 provides a retrenchment procedure by which the Administration may terminate BUF. Sections 1 through 4 of this Article set out certain procedures that must be followed before positions can be eliminated. Section 6 provides the order in which faculty must be released (generally, NTT, then probationary faculty, then tenured faculty). Section 7 then requires that certain advance notice must be required. For a BUF holding a first or second one-year contract expiring at the end of the academic year (the group which receives the least notice), that notice has to be provided no later than March 15. For a BUF holding more than a second one-year contract, notice must be provided by December 15. Probationary faculty under tenure consideration must be given at least 12 months’ notice and tenured BUF must be given at least 18 months’ notice. Therefore, the Chapter believes the Article 15 process cannot be used to eliminate any faculty for the upcoming year.
Article 15, Section 12 provides an exception to the procedures in Article 15 where “catastrophic circumstances, such as force majeure” render the procedures “impossible or unfeasible.” It is arguable that this clause applies to the current situation. However, the Chapter believes that this clause does not excuse the Administration from complying with Sections 6 and 7, which provide the order of release and the notice required before release. It is the Chapter’s position that this clause only applies to procedures in Sections 1 – 4. The Administration disagrees. The Administration asserts that force majeure permits it to completely ignore all the provisions of Article 15. If the Administration attempts to terminate faculty out of order or without providing the required notice, it is likely this dispute would proceed to arbitration, and perhaps to state court.
- All BUF – Article 33
Article 33, Section 3 of the CBA permits the Administration to seek modification of the CBA if immediate action is required due to exigent circumstances that were unknown at the time of negotiations or because of legislative action taken after the CBA became effective. The hardships presented by COVID-19 likely trigger this provision. However, this provision does not give the Administration license to unilaterally disregard the CBA. The CBA requires the Administration to negotiate in good faith with the Akron-AAUP and attempt to reach agreement. If an agreement cannot be timely reached, then either side may submit the dispute to arbitration. Therefore, if the Administration seeks to terminate faculty outside of the methods permitted by Article 29 and Article 15, the Administration must negotiate an agreement permitting such action. If an agreement cannot be reached, the Administration is not permitted to take such action unless an arbitrator agrees with the Administration.
We hope that the Administration will take this opportunity to negotiate with the Chapter in good faith and work with us to develop solutions to the current crisis that respect the faculty’s critical role and the centrality of academics to the University’s enterprise. To help right this ship and protect our faculty, our students, our University, and the Akron community, we must stand together now more than ever.
We have started to meet with the Administration, but have yet to have substantive negotiations. We will continue to update you as we are able.
The Communications Committee of Akron-AAUP