2014 WMU-AAUP Election Results

From the WMU-AAUP Nominations and Elections Committee:

On behalf of the Nominations and Elections Committee, we would like to report the results of the WMU-AAUP officer and executive committee member election, as tallied by our external auditor.

We believe there was a spirited campaign for the office of President and that this sort of democracy is vital to a stronger, more effective faculty union. Whether your preferred candidate received the most votes or not, we encourage you and them to set aside what happened during a campaign and to get on with the important collective business of the WMU-AAUP.

The total number of votes cast was 341, which indicates a strongly engaged membership. We thank you for your involvement.

The following candidates have been elected and notified of the election results:

  • Lisa Minnick, President
  • Brian Tripp, Vice President
  • Kent Baldner, Executive Committee, College of Arts and Sciences – Humanities
  • Dan Farrell, Executive Committee, Haworth College of Business
  • Tim Michael, Executive Committee, College of Education and Human Development
  • Mary Peterson, Executive Committee, College of Health and Human Services

In all cases, the terms for the positions are two-year terms and start on January 1, 2015.

Fall 2014 WMU Wellness Program Update

You may have received a letter recently from the WMU Office of Human Resources inviting you to participate in a new WMU “wellness program,” which offers a small financial incentive for university employees, including faculty, in return for participation in the program. (The WMU-AAUP first reported on the plans for this program last year and again over the summer during negotiations.)

Now that letters from HR have begun arriving to invite our participation in the new wellness program, we want to share with you what we know about it in the hope that you’ll be able to make the best decision for yourself and your family about whether to participate.

Here is how the new wellness program works:

  • University employees (including faculty) will receive a small financial incentive in return for participating in the wellness program.
  • Your participation in the wellness program is voluntary. However, it is required in order to qualify for the incentive.
  • The incentive totals $240 annually in the form of a per-pay period reduction to the employee’s share of the health insurance premium.
  • If you choose to participate, the incentive will reduce your share of the premium by $9.23 per pay period (after taxes) for those on 26 pays or by $13.33 per pay period (after taxes) for those on 18 pays.
  • In order to qualify for the incentive, you must complete a “health risk assessment” and biometric testing.

What the incentive would look like for you:

  • If you are on the employee-only plan: Your annual premium for 2014 is $954. The wellness-program incentive would reduce that annual premium by $240, resulting in a new annual premium of $714, a discount of 25.1 percent.
  • If you are on the two-person plan: Your annual premium for 2014 is $3970. The wellness-program incentive would reduce that annual premium by $240, resulting in a new total annual premium of $3730, a discount of six percent.
  • If you are on the family plan: Your annual premium for 2014 is $5664. The wellness-program incentive would reduce that annual premium by $240, resulting in a new total annual premium of $5424, a discount of 4.2 percent.

What about privacy and confidentiality?

  • To qualify for the financial incentive, participants in the wellness program are required to submit to biometric testing and to complete a “health risk assessment” survey.
  • The “health risk assessment” survey contains a number of questions about your private health information. These questions are personal, and some are presumptive and intrusive (e.g., “Have you been annoyed when others say you have had too much to drink?” and “During the past 4 weeks, how much did your health problems affect your productivity while you were working?”).
  • The federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) includes a privacy rule that prevents healthcare providers from sharing an individual’s health information with their employer. However, HIPAA rules may not apply to “wellness” program vendors who are not technically healthcare providers.
  • When we raised this question at the bargaining table this summer, Holtyn confirmed that while the company complies voluntarily with HIPAA, it is not compelled by law to do so.
  • Should any conflicts of interest arise (in relation to an insurance claim, for example), it is not clear whether the vendor would be required by law to protect faculty interests over those of our employer (who is also their employer), or if not required, whether they would choose to do so.

Is the incentive worth it?

  • Under the Affordable Care Act, federal law allows employers to offer incentives for wellness program participation of up to 30 percent of the employee’s share of the premium.
  • The incentive on offer to us amounts to 4.2 percent of the family premium for 2014, six percent of the two-person premium, and 25.1 percent for the employee-only premium.
  • University employees (including faculty) are being asked to provide a lot of private information in exchange for what would be a relatively small incentive, especially for those on the two-person or family plans.

In addition to the information provided herein, we are available to help you with any questions you might have as you consider whether participation in the wellness program is the right choice for you. Call us (345-0151), email us (staff@wmuaaup.net), or stop by Montague House (814 Oakland Drive).

2014 Officer Election Information – Ballots Due Back By Nov. 7

The candidate forum is today (Friday, October 24) at noon in the Brown and Gold room of the Bernhard Center. Please try to attend and take advantage of this opportunity to meet the candidates, ask questions, and participate in this important step in selecting our chapter leadership.

Ballots are now on their way to the home addresses of dues-paying members via US mail. Your completed ballot must be received by Friday, November 7, so be sure to mail yours back in time. A return envelope will be provided in your ballot package along with the ballots and candidate information sheets. Votes will be collected and tabulated by an accounting firm contracted by the WMU-AAUP office staff.

All board-appointed faculty who are dues-paying members are encouraged to participate in this important election to select your chapter leadership.


2014 Officer Elections: Meet the Candidates Forum Friday

A Message from the WMU-AAUP Nominations and Elections Committee:

A Meet the Candidates forum will be held in the Brown & Gold room of the Bernhard Center this Friday, October 24, at 12 noon. This is your opportunity to meet and ask questions of the candidates running for president and vice president of the chapter. The forum is scheduled for one hour.

The Nominations and Elections Committee is:

Dan Fleming
Brian Horvitz
Matthew Mingus
Kelly Weathers

WMU Voter Registration Update, GOTV, and Mark Schauer at WMU

  • 1,900 WMU Students Registered in Fall 2014 Initiative
  • Faculty Needed to Get Out the Vote
  • Gubernatorial Candidate Mark Schauer (D) to Visit WMU October 21

As you know, the WMU-AAUP is a sponsor of the 2014 WMU student voter registration project. While the deadline for registration has passed, the project is moving now into the get-out-the-vote stage with the hope of maximizing student participation in the November 4 election.

Faculty can help with the GOTV effort by volunteering to work on phone banks beginning on October 27 and throughout the week leading up to election day (Tuesday, November 4). This GOTV project is, like the voter registration project, a nonpartisan effort to try to encourage as many of our students as possible to develop voting habits while they are in college in the hope that they will continue to exercise their rights to participate actively in the democratic process throughout their lives.

If you’d like to volunteer for GOTV phone banking, please contact Nora Gimpel, the fantastic WMU student who is heading up the GOTV effort. (Many of you had the opportunity to meet Nora at the chapter meeting last Friday.) For her contact information, please see the WMU-AAUP email to the faculty dated Monday, October 20.

On a related note, although this is not part of the registration and GOTV project, the Democratic candidate for governor, Mark Schauer, will be visiting WMU on Tuesday, October 21, from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on the Sangren Mall (in front of Sangren Hall). Admission is free and no tickets are required.

Given that the governor appoints our board and has tremendous influence on the state’s contribution to the WMU budget, Schauer’s visit is an exciting opportunity for WMU faculty, students, and staff, regardless of party affiliation, to ask questions and share our perspectives with the man who might be our next governor. The event is sponsored by Students for a Sustainable Earth and the WMU College Democrats, and Western alum and state senate candidate Sean McCann will also be in attendance. Please be there if you can and encourage your students to attend as well.

Finally, many thanks to all of you who helped to get students registered to vote during the recent initiative. With your help, volunteers visited over 100 classes and registered a total of 1,900 WMU students, a wonderful accomplishment that is the product of a lot of hard work. Speaking of hard work, big thanks are due to our own Dr. Allen Webb, Professor of English, who helped to lead the registration effort. (Thank you, Allen!)

All that is left for us to do now is get our students to the polls on November 4!


Fall 2014 chapter meeting tomorrow

WMU-AAUP Fall 2014 Chapter Meeting
Friday, October 17, 1:30-3 p.m.

157-159 Bernhard Center

Agenda items include the following:

  • Nominations for chapter officer positions and Executive Committee seats
  • Election information
  • Chapter membership and finances under “right to work”
  • APR&P
  • Open floor

All members of the board-appointed faculty are encouraged to attend.


WMU-AAUP Remarks to the Board of Trustees

Address by WMU-AAUP President Lisa Minnick

Meeting of the WMU Board of Trustees
September 30, 2014

As most everyone in this room is aware, the WMU-AAUP and the university administration reached a tentative agreement just before midnight on September 5 on a new three-year contract. On September 19, the faculty voted overwhelmingly to ratify the tentative agreement, which now comes before the board. We join with the administration’s negotiation team in recommending that it be ratified. From the perspective of the faculty, we believe that the tentative agreement is a significant step in the right direction toward moving faculty compensation at WMU closer to that of our colleagues at peer institutions and toward reaffirming and strengthening the mutual commitment of faculty and administration to shared governance. On behalf of the faculty, I would like to thank the members of both teams for their efforts over the past four months as they negotiated the tentative agreement, a project that represents an extraordinary amount of work and demands considerable personal and professional sacrifices from everyone involved. The faculty understands that, and we appreciate it.

As many of you are also aware, over 200 members of the board-appointed faculty participated in a demonstration on campus on Friday, September 5, in support of our negotiation team and to express our concerns about the apparent priorities of some of the university’s senior decision-makers and our support for reinvestment into the instruction, research, scholarship, and creative activities that constitute our core academic mission. That demonstration was met with an administrative and police response that many of us believed was out of proportion and inappropriate. While the behavior of most of the police officers was professional and respectful, several of the officers unfortunately treated faculty members with hostility that we felt was unwarranted. However, we immediately complied with all instructions and did not offer any resistance. Yet several officers continued to yell at faculty members and even threatened us with arrest, although it was never made clear to us what laws we were breaking in the process of our participation in constitutionally protected activity.

This was a clearly peaceful protest by professors with a median age of about 57 and a combined length of service to this university of approximately 3,000 years. We are central to the mission of the university and well known on campus and otherwise mostly respected in the community. The incident raised questions for many of us about the culture on our campus, and we call upon everyone here today, and especially the board, to give serious thought to the events of September 5 and to the ways in which faculty and other members of the campus community, including staff and especially students, may be viewed by senior administrative officers and by campus law enforcement. Peaceful protest is an important right in a thriving democracy, and we believe that university campuses above all should take the lead on re-asserting the importance of protecting this right.

On a related note, this fall the WMU-AAUP is supporting the student voter registration initiative led by the Western Student Association and the WMU Graduate Student Association. In addition to providing financial support for the registration initiative, we are also encouraging faculty to talk with students about voter registration and to help them get registered. As educators charged with preparing students for thoughtful, engaged citizenship and participation in our democratic society, faculty are uniquely qualified to play an important supporting role in this student-led initiative, including by helping to clear up commonly held misconceptions about voting eligibility that all too often result in disenfranchisement of student voters. Many thanks are due to Dr. Allen Webb, Professor of English, who has given generously of his time to work with the students who are heading up the registration project. I’m sure Allen would want me to be sure to remind everyone that the registration deadline is October 6, one week from today, and to encourage you all to join us in supporting this important initiative.

Finally, I will close with a few words about Dr. Carolyn Harris, a wonderful colleague, teacher, mentor, and friend to many members of the campus community whose work here at WMU made a profound difference in the lives of her students and everyone else who had the good fortune to know her and to work with her. The WMU Department of Spanish has set up a memorial web page to honor Dr. Harris with remembrances written by her colleagues in the department. The memorial page is linked to their department website and is a worthwhile read for all members of the university community. On behalf of the chapter staff, officers, and executive committee of the WMU-AAUP, we offer our deepest condolences to everyone who knew and loved this remarkable woman.

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Postscript: Later in the meeting, the board voted unanimously to approve the tentative agreement with the WMU-AAUP. Our new 2014-17 contract is now in effect, retroactive to September 6, 2014. .