09/17/20 Message to WSU Clinical Faculty

I have been informed that clinical faculty members whose contracts run until September 30, 2020, have been sent blanket contract renewals that drastically reduce their compensation from the University. For example, faculty members have had their WSU salaries reduced to 20% to 25% of their salaries for the current year. Their appointments at the University are reduced from being full-time faculty members to half-time.

Dean Mark Schweitzer has, in the course of collective bargaining, provided the following language:

To help clinical faculty transition into this new model and especially for clinical faculty who will experience a reduction in their WSU paycheck from the elimination of UPG clinical reimbursement, the Dean will provide a 5 month 100% supplement via UPG equal to the reduction in the WSU paycheck. The supplement will be reduced by 25% every 3 months until the supplement reaches zero in early FY22.

The renewal letters being offered to clinical faculty do not contain any reference to the terms contained in the language above that has been provided at the negotiation table. Moreover, the contract terms are for one year, yet the language from the Dean has a provision that extends to “early FY22.” The Dean is essentially saying “trust me.”

The Dean states that “the Dean will provide a 5 month 100% supplement via UPG clinical reimbursement in the WSU paycheck.” This is proposing an obligation from the UPG over which he has stated at the negotiation table he “has no control.” The WSU Administration has contended for years that the UPG and the School of Medicine (SOM) are separate legal entities and that the SOM has no power over the UPG. (The Dean is the Chair of the Board of the UPG.) In any case, there is nothing in the employment renewal letters being sent to clinical faculty members that provides any legal guarantees to the compensation promised by Dean Schweitzer.

In these uncertain times, it is unfortunate that the Dean has chosen radically to restructure the SOM. The scorn being shown for the well-being of the faculty members of the SOM is lamentable. Instead of reaching out to the faculty and providing an inspiring vision of a better medical school that meets the needs of its students, its faculty, the University and the community, he is pursuing policies that punish the faculty.

The Administration is violating past practice in the renewal process for clinical faculty members. For decades, clinical faculty members have had their term contracts renewed based on the terms and conditions of employment of their immediately previous contract, plus whatever salary improvements they had been voted through the selective salary process and the across-the-board salary increment. This year things are different.

Attached is the “Demand to Bargain” letter that was submitted to the Administration in our bargaining session today. Thus far, the Administration has refused to acknowledge that a UPG appointment is an integral part of the employment contracts of our clinical faculty. The Administration has refused to bargain the terms and conditions of the ongoing co-employment arrangement between the SOM and the UPG. If the Administration does not agree to bring the UPG to the bargaining table, the Union will take available legal steps to force this issue.

Unfortunately, the steps that we must take are not likely to bring relief immediately. They will take time. In the meantime, our advice for clinical faculty members whose term contracts end on September 30th is to sign the new contracts and to write under their signature “signed under protest.”

The Union is well aware of the hardships being visited upon our clinical faculty members. We are working assiduously to defend your interests and to ameliorate the situation.

I will keep you updated.

Charlie

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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