Below is a list of questions (and our answers to those questions) asked by RIF’ed faculty in survey responses and during a Q&A session; they are grouped by themes for coherence. We will continue to update this page as we receive more questions.
Click on one of the links below to take you to the section header of the topic you’re interested in.
As we explained in our communications before the ratification vote, when the members voted “no” on ratification, that took the University’s meager offer of severance pay off the table. We can try to negotiate severance as part of the current round of contract negotiations.
Is there a chance to challenge the arbitrator’s ruling?
No. The CBA stipulates the agreed-upon method for resolving disagreements is through binding arbitration. This is an example of the risk associated with agreeing to that process.
There is no right to appeal in binding arbitration as there is in court. Arbitration law greatly favors the enforcement of arbitral awards. There are only a few circumstances in which an arbitrator’s decision might be challenged, and none of those reasons apply in this case. While we believe this is a terrible decision that ignores fundamental facts that we stressed in our briefs, that is not grounds for vacating the decision.
What is the next step in getting everyone reinstated?
We won’t be able to get everyone reinstated. We will have to work on individual grievances.
Will Akron-AAUP recruit an additional lawyer?
We have a team of three excellent attorneys, all partners in their firm, who worked on our briefs and grievances. We made good, clear, and compelling arguments, and our briefs were better written than the administration’s briefs. We don’t believe spending more on legal counsel would have changed the outcome of arbitration. Our grievance officer, consultant, and legal team will continue to work on the outstanding grievances.
Enrollment is better than predicted. How will the chapter use this information to follow the arbitrator’s ruling of reinstatement based on Article 15?
The arbitrator was aware that enrollment was better than predicted, but it does not appear these facts influenced his decision. Regarding Section 9, “During a period of three (3) academic years following release of a bargaining unit faculty member under this Article, such bargaining unit faculty member shall be offered reinstatement to the same or similar position if reauthorized.”
When can we expect these due process hearings to commence?
These hearings will start to commence soon. The Labor Management Committee will meet to begin setting these hearings up. They will either be in-writing or in-person hearings.
In my WebEx/Microsoft Teams meeting with my dean and chair/director, they appeared to be reading from a script. May I have a copy?
We requested it, and the administration sent us a copy. We posted it on our website here.
How can I challenge the rationale for my position elimination?
The mechanism for this is to go through the grievance process.
|Please provide a table of outstanding grievances.
It is posted here.
|What is the status of Grievance 2020-03 (the class action grievance)?
Failure to provide statements of reasons and lack of opportunity to allow RIF’ed faculty to be heard are the two reasons for class action grievance. We received the statements of reasons/rationales for each faculty member. The administration is willing to hold hearings for individuals that request them. Once we get through the process of hearings, the administration will decide to either reinstate the RIF’ed faculty member or leave the faculty member on the RIF list. The Akron-AAUP will have the opportunity to take the decision to binding arbitration.
|Do I pursue a grievance as an individual or am I part of the class action grievance? I feel that I have been discriminated against.
This is a class-action grievance against the administration. However, as these proceedings move forward they will become more individualized as we work through the facts of each case. Determinations and outcomes will also be individualized.
|RIF’ed faculty in BCAS were specifically told that we would each receive an official personal letter from Dr. Urgo stating that the elimination of our position was not a reflection on our job performance. When will we receive these letters?
Please contact your dean directly to ask for the letter. If it is not what your dean agreed to provide, please notify firstname.lastname@example.org so we can follow up on your behalf.
|There are several ULPs, including one about the tuition waiver for RIF; will the chapter file that grievance?
Akron-AAUP filed the grievance and ULP. We are discussing proposing a settlement of these issues that would provide tuition remission on the same terms that the other RIF’ed employees received.
|Several RIF’ed faculty members have sent us concerns about the qualifications of the faculty who are currently teaching your former classes. In particular, you have expressed concern about their training, experience, or content knowledge to teach successfully.
Unfortunately, staffing decisions are a management right and this is not something we can grieve.
|Several faculty members from programs that were deemed “essential” during the last round of faculty retirement buyouts, but then were subsequently RIF’ed, have asked if they can claim compensation for their lost retirement incentive of one year’s additional pay (assuming that they would have taken the buy-out).
While such management decision making is inconsistent, even contradictory, the administration is not obligated to offer buyouts and other incentives to every faculty member equally. Consequently, it is not a matter that we can grieve.
|Many of us were not asked to teach part-time this fall and thus were not provided right of first refusal. Will there be a grievance filed by the chapter?
Yes, if you have not already informed the Akron-AAUP of these issues, please reach out to the grievance committee.
|The stipends we were offered to teach as adjuncts were insulting. Are there rules regarding adjunct pay?
Unfortunately, UA’s adjunct faculty are extremely low paid, even compared to our sister institutions. See Division (H)(2) of University rule 20-06.1 for the minimum salaries.
|Should we be paid for the courses that were given to adjuncts this fall?
Yes, if the class is one that you taught previously.
|For how long does this first right of refusal last?
|When does the three-year clock start running?
The three-year clock starts from the date of RIF termination, August 21, 2020.
|How do we ensure that we have the right of first refusal or will we be offered possible teaching opportunities in the future?
The Akron-AAUP and all faculty need to be vigilant and identify when someone teaches a class that had been taught by a RIF’ed faculty member. We also need to watch the job-postings.
|If offered three courses, what will that get us for retirement? Half a year or less?
Twelve (12) units per semester is considered full time. Twenty-four (24) units in FY2021 will result in one year of service towards retirement. Twelve units in FY2021 will result in 50% of one year of service. STRS retirement is unit-based, not based on the number of courses.
|University rules state adjuncts may teach up to 12 credit hours in a given semester. Do they have to offer us a 12-credit load?
|What is the current university policy for tuition remission for adjuncts?
Here is the University policy on tuition remission: https://www.uakron.edu/hr/benefits/education-benefit/education-benefit-for-faculty.dot.
|Are there any guidelines for what they must/should offer us?
There are no guidelines.
|Can the administration decide class modality regardless of what the faculty has decided in the past?
The administration has the right to determine in what modality a course shall be taught.
|Do we get right of first refusal for the summer semester?
You would get the right of first refusal over other part-time faculty, but not over full-time faculty who were not RIF’ed.
|Please explain the Right to Reinstatement.
Reinstatement rights depend upon whether a position that opens up is “the same or a similar position.” There is debate about the meaning, but should be reduced to a faculty member’s expertise in the subject matter.
|Is there a clear definition of “similar position”?
There is no clear definition of “similar position.”
|How will those who were immediately replaced be able to be reinstated?
By pursuing the class action grievance. If you feel you were replaced please contact email@example.com.
|When I was RIF’ed I was in the middle of a three-year term. If I get reinstated, do I go back to the same three-year contract I left on?
|The Chapter contacted some retirement-eligible RIF’ed faculty members to discuss the option of voluntary retirement. Might this have led to recent senior members’ forced retirement?
No one was forced to retire. The chapter called people who were on the RIF list who were eligible to retire to explain their options to them. Each person approached by the chapter had the choice to retire or remain on the RIF list.
|We developed our own instructional materials. How can the chapter enforce our intellectual property rights?
The Akron-AAUP does not have access to each course and each section’s Brightspace page to review materials. We have requested to be informed when someone new is given access to materials. So far, we have had one instance where the Administration would need to get a RIF’ed faculty member’s permission.
|Are RIF’ed faculty still BUF members of the Akron-AAUP chapter?
The arbitrator’s decision, however much we disagree with it, means that RIF’ed faculty are no longer members of the bargaining unit.
|Do NTT faculty get the benefits of Article 15 including such things as recall rights?
The Akron-AAUP position is YES; however, the Administration may take another position. We will pursue clarification on this point in the new contract.
| What is the original RIF list (including retirements before the July 15 BOT meeting)?
There were faculty that chose to retire rather than be laid off. We cannot discuss the names of these people.
| Can Akron-AAUP request that RIF’ed faculty retain access to their UA email?
We have requested this and the university has declined. The best we were able to get was an out-of-office reply that includes the RIF’ed faculty member’s new email address.
| What is the Akron-AAUP chapter’s financial budget for legal counsel dedicated to fighting for RIF reinstatement?
The Akron-AAUP does not have a line-item budget, and we do not make our budget public. As we work our way through the grievances, there will come a point at which we will have exhausted our options and have to decide which individual cases are strong enough to proceed to arbitration. This will cost additional funds.