WMU-AAUP Seita Scholar Gift Card Initiative

In honor of the National AAUP Centennial, the WMU-AAUP Executive Committee is launching a chapter project to raise money to purchase gift cards for students in the WMU Seita Scholarship program. These will be Visa gift cards that can be used anywhere that accepts Visa.

We invite faculty to support this initiative by making contributions in any amount.

In consultation with Seita program staff, we have set January 2016 as our target date for distributing the gift cards to the Seita Scholars. The program staff has outlined the challenges that these students face upon returning to school after the holidays, a critical time of year when finances are often stretched to their limits.

The WMU-AAUP office is now collecting faculty donations to this project, with the goal of raising enough money to fund gift cards for all Seita Scholars, who are projected to number approximately 150 this academic year. Our objective is to provide gift cards in the amount of at least $25 apiece.

We understand that many faculty are already active supporters of the Seita program and the students it serves, and we appreciate your support for this important campus initiative.

If you’d like to join your faculty colleagues as a WMU-AAUP Seita contributor, there are several ways to donate:

  • Send your check (payable to the WMU-AAUP) via campus mail to mail stop 5401.
  • Bring your donation to the WMU-AAUP Fall BBQ on Sept. 8.
  • Stop by Montague House with your cash or check donation. (Note: The office will be closed August 24-September 7 for the semester break.)

At this time, we do not have an online donation option, but we hope to offer one soon.

Thank you in advance for your support of the WMU-AAUP Seita project!

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100 YEARS OF DEFENDING ACADEMIC FREEDOM

Kate Langan named interim contract administrator

Interim Contract Administrator Kate LanganPlease join us in welcoming Professor Kathleen Langan (University Libraries) as the interim contract administrator for the WMU-AAUP. A long-serving member of the Association Council, Kate comes to us with extensive understanding of the contract and a strong commitment to serving the faculty and the union. Her interim appointment became effective on July 31, following a unanimous vote of the WMU-AAUP Executive Committee.

The Executive Committee has also voted unanimously to recommend Kate to serve as the chapter’s contract administrator for the two-year term that begins in September 2015 and runs through August 31, 2017. Next month, the Association Council will meet to discuss this recommendation and hold a confirmation vote.

In the meantime, we are delighted to welcome Kate to the leadership team as interim contract administrator, and we appreciate her willingness to take on this challenging work.

WMU-AAUP Fall BBQ Sept 8

Kick off the new academic year, reconnect with old friends, and welcome our new faculty colleagues at the WMU-AAUP Annual Fall BBQ on Tuesday, September 8, at Montague House (814 Oakland Drive). We’ll also be celebrating the AAUP Centennial and the 40th anniversary of the WMU-AAUP!

Please RSVP by Friday, August 14 to staff@wmuaaup.net or call 345-0151.

Click on image to enlarge.

Flier for 2015 WMU-AAUP Fall BBQRead and sign the AAUP Centennial Declaration here.

WMU-AAUP passes resolution opposing repeal of Michigan’s prevailing wage laws

The WMU-AAUP has passed the following resolution in an electronic vote by the faculty, concluded on June 25, 2015, with 94.5% voting to approve.

Click here to read more about the process leading up to the faculty vote.

Click here for more information about the repeal bills and links to additional information about prevailing wage laws, including scholarly studies on economic impacts that informed the language of the resolution.

APPROVED: WMU-AAUP Resolution Opposing Repeal of Prevailing Wage Law

WHEREAS our investigation into potential costs and benefits shows that there is strong evidence presented by labor and employment economists that repealing prevailing wage laws results in adverse economic impact to workers and families;

Whereas researchers have documented significant losses in earnings for workers in states that repeal prevailing wage laws and project similar losses in states considering repeal;

Whereas average total compensation for all workers is higher in states with prevailing wage laws than in states that have never had prevailing wage laws or have repealed them;

Whereas economists forecast significant job losses in states considering repeal of prevailing wage laws;

Whereas lost wages in the construction industry cause ripple effects throughout the state’s economy, including adverse economic effects for citizens in non-construction sectors;

Whereas states that repeal prevailing wage laws experience decreased income and sales tax revenues;

Whereas repeal of prevailing wage law would result in substantial direct and indirect costs to the citizens of Michigan that would far outpace any theoretical savings that repeal proponents claim would accrue;

Whereas occurrences of occupational injuries are significantly higher in states without prevailing wage laws, causing economic hardship to families and economic costs to the state in the form of increased worker compensation claims;

Whereas construction costs in states without prevailing wage laws are comparable to or higher than those in states with prevailing wage laws;

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Western Michigan University chapter of the American Association of University Professors opposes the repeal of Michigan’s prevailing wage laws.

Supreme Court decision on marriage equality and its impact on your WMU benefits

WMU-AAUP letter to the faculty on the Supreme Court decision on marriage equality:

July 1, 2015

Dear colleagues:

As you know, the Supreme Court of the United States has struck down all remaining state bans on same-sex marriage (including Michigan’s).

The Supreme Court decision, announced last Friday, has implications for the benefits available to faculty colleagues in same-sex marriages.

Previously, same-sex spouses were eligible to be on faculty health insurance policies under the DEI (designated eligible individual) provisions in the Agreement. However, all faculty spouses are now eligible for spousal coverage, which has considerable tax advantages over DEI coverage.

If you wish to to change your spouse’s existing DEI coverage to spousal coverage; if you wish to add your spouse to your health insurance for the first time; or if you have married since last week’s court decision, please contact your department’s Human Resources representative as soon as possible to get your spouse the coverage to which your family is entitled.

As always, we are here to help you navigate this process as needed. Please call 345-0151 or email staff@wmuaaup.net for assistance.

Congratulations to all whose marriages and families are at long last gaining the legal recognition they deserve, in Michigan and nationwide!

In solidarity,
Lisa

Lisa C. Minnick
President, WMU-AAUP
Associate Professor of English
and Gender & Women’s Studies
Western Michigan University
814 Oakland Drive
Kalamazoo, Michigan 49008
(269) 345-0151

Revisiting the WMU Employee Wellness Program

Last fall, the WMU-AAUP circulated information to faculty about the WMU employee wellness program. Recently, a number of faculty members have contacted us with questions after receiving email messages encouraging them to participate in the program. Because it is important that faculty have the information they need to make informed decisions, we are publishing the information again.

If you have questions after reviewing this information, please contact us at 345-0151 or via email at staff@wmuaaup.net.

Here is how the new wellness program works:

  • The WMU wellness program is VOLUNTARY. Participation is NOT MANDATORY. (But please see this recent news article: When Does Workplace Wellness Become Coercive? NPR, June 24, 2015.)
  • University employees (including faculty) will receive a small financial incentive in return for participating in the wellness program.
  • While your participation in the wellness program is voluntary, 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 last 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, 6 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 here, 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).

News from the 2015 AAUP Annual Meeting

Reposted from AAUP.org

National AAUP Media Release
June 13, 2015

AAUP Censures Four Administrations, Removes Another from Censure

Washington, DC—Delegates to the One Hundred and First Annual Meeting of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) voted on June 13 to place MD Anderson Cancer Center (TX), University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University of Southern Maine, and Felician College (NJ) on the AAUP’s list of censured administrations. Additionally, Yeshiva University was removed from the list. Censure by the AAUP informs the academic community that the administration of an institution has not adhered to generally recognized principles of academic freedom and tenure. With these actions, fifty-six institutions are currently on the censure list.

Click here for the full list of censured administrations.

Censured at 101st Annual Meeting, June 2015:

MD Anderson Cancer Center for violations of standards of academic freedom and tenure in removing long-serving faculty members without due process.

For more information on this case, please contact Gregory F. Scholtz, AAUP senior program officer, Tenure, and Governance.

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for violating principles of academic freedom and tenure in summary rejection of the appointment of Professor Steven Salaita.

For more information on this case, please contact Henry Reichman, AAUP First Vice President; Hans-Joerg Tiede, member of  the AAUP Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure; or Jordan Kurland, AAUP senior program officer, at (202) 737-5900, ext. 3647.

University of Southern Maine for violation of standards of academic freedom and tenure in closing programs and terminating 50 tenured and numerous untenured faculty positions.

For more information on this case, please contact Michael Bérubé, investigating committee chair, 814-404-2178; or Jordan Kurland, AAUP senior program officer, at (202) 737-5900, ext. 3647.

Felician College (NJ) for “deplorable conditions for academic freedom and faculty governance” and the termination of long-serving faculty without due process after unsubstantiated claims of declining enrollment and financial exigency.

For more information on this case, please contact Diane Zannoni, investigating committee chair, or Greg Scholtz, AAUP senior program officer.

Removal of Censure:

Yeshiva University

For more information on this case, please contact Jordan Kurland, AAUP senior program officer, at (202) 737-5900, ext. 3647.

The mission of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) is to advance academic freedom and shared governance, to define fundamental professional values and standards for higher education, and to ensure higher education’s contribution to the common good. Founded in 1915, the AAUP has helped to shape American higher education by developing the standards and procedures that maintain quality in education and academic freedom in this country’s colleges and universities. The AAUP is a nonprofit professional association headquartered in Washington, DC.

Reposted from AAUP.org