06/25/20 Status of Negotiations

Dear Colleagues:

The Union is continuing the Impact Bargaining that began in March with the Administration. The most recent issues relate to whether or not the Faculty and Academic Staff will make concessions in their salary and benefits, in response to the request to do so, voluntarily, by the University in the current COVID-19 crisis. As in any negotiation, each side wishes to make the best possible argument. The Administration is likely to try to keep the focus on the General Fund, as it has tried to do in meetings with the Academic Senate Budget Committee and in the Finance Subcommittee of the Restart Committee. The Administration has recognized that if there are concessions to be made by the Faculty and Academic Staff, they must seek the agreement of the Union.

The Administration’s position, based on presentations to the Academic Senate and others, has emphasized that there should be concessions by our members in order to avoid cuts in various units. The Administration has already sent instructions that units must submit plans as to how to absorb projected five and ten percent budget cuts. Doing this before we have a clear understanding of what the revenue will be for the coming year creates a climate, whether intended or not, that pressures our members to consider supporting individual or department level “voluntary” concessions in some form. It is contrary to the Collective Bargaining Agreement for individual administrators, individual Union members, or internal academic governance committees, to agree to “voluntary” changes in terms of employment of bargaining unit members. It is critical for all to understand that regardless of well-meaning intentions to help, or because of basic communitarian values on their part, it is the exclusive role of the Union to negotiate changes in wages, hours, or working conditions for the members of our bargaining unit.

The Union’s position in these discussions is based on several factors:

  1. During the time that President M. Roy Wilson has been in office, the number of managerial administrators has grown from 453 to 539, a 19% increase. The number of tenured and tenure-track Faculty fell over that time from 1143 to 899, a 21% decline. The non-tenure-track Faculty (Clinicians and Lecturers, mostly) increased slightly from 713 in 2013, to 730 in 2018. Lecturers within this group increased from about 173 to 217. The question of how to cut administrative costs will have an important role in the discussions.
  2. The increase in the ranks of full-time contingent Faculty has been accompanied by a significant decrease in job security for this same group through non-renewals, and limiting term renewals to single year appointments. One of the important items that will be on the discussion agenda will be securing greater job security for Clinicians and Lecturers.
  3. The financial discussions will not be limited only to examining the General Fund for possible solutions, but will be conducted within the context of all of the assets of the University that might be brought to bear during this crisis period.
  4. We are prioritizing our responses to proposals for concessions, if any, to limiting the long term effects on the incomes of our members. We are particularly concerned with protecting the salaries of those in our lower income levels.

Each side has named a team of representatives in these negotiations. The Administration team is led by Associate Provost for Academic Personnel, Boris Baltes. He is joined by Ms. Rebecca Cook, Interim Vice President for Finance, and Ms. Carolyn Hafner, Interim Vice President for Human Relations. The Union team is led by Ricardo Villarosa, Esq., Chief Negotiator. Professor Deborah Ellis, Union Vice President-Elect and Paul Beavers, Union Treasurer, Chair of the Academic Senate Budget Committee, and the Union’s representative on the Finance Subcommittee of the Restart Committee, complete the Union team. The first meeting is on Friday, June 26th.

We will provide periodic updates on the progress of the talks, and will be asking members to ratify whatever proposal is agreed upon by the two sides.

In solidarity,

Charlie Parrish, President

Ricardo Villarosa, Esq., Chief Negotiator

--

Charles J. ParrishPresident, AAUP-AFT, Local 6075, WSU ChapterVice President-at-Large, AFT MichiganPresident, AAUP Michigan ConferenceMember-at-Large, National Council, AAUP5057 Woodward Avenue, Suite 3301Detroit, MI 48202313.577.1750