Contract expires September 5, demonstration at Seibert August 23

Teams still far apart on compensation and healthcare
Demonstration at Seibert admin building Wed. 8/23 at 1 p.m.

After 29 bargaining sessions and with fewer than three weeks left before the contract between the WMU-AAUP and Western Michigan University expires, our team is still hard at work negotiating a fair contract that protects faculty rights and moves us forward economically. At this point in the negotiations, they have accomplished a great deal. They have successfully negotiated and reached tentative agreements on 10 contract articles with a handful of articles still open but close to resolution.

The two teams have had lengthy discussions about health care insurance costs. In response to the administration’s team’s proposal to change the design of our health insurance plan, our team has worked with the administration to model the effects of these changes on premiums. We recognize that health care costs are uncertain and that they are likely to increase over the next three years. Based on feedback from our members, our position has always been that the cost of our premiums must be contained. Therefore, to control these costs, our team was willing to consider the administration’s proposals for plan design changes.

On August 8, the administration’s team presented their proposal for Article 33: Health Care Benefits and Insurance. They propose raising premiums in 2019 and 2020 and increasing deductibles, copays, and out-of-pocket maximums. In addition, they propose decreasing faculty benefits at Sindecuse by reducing the pharmacy discount and eliminating the no-copay no-deductible services available at Sindecuse and the Unified Clinics. Their proposal also includes cutting the number of covered chiropractic visits per year by half and implementing prescription drug preauthorization in some cases (“step therapy”).

Given the extent of these proposed changes, our team has insisted that, if we accept these changes to our health insurance plan, then the faculty must receive salary adjustments that more than offset these increased costs. However, the administration’s most recent proposal for Article 32: Economic Compensation, which they brought after we worked in good faith with the administration to significantly narrow the gap on health insurance costs, would increase across-the-board raises by only 0.25% more than their previous proposal. Moreover, their proposal included zero adjustments to salary minima, overload rates, and promotion increments.

This is where you come in:

Stand with our team and demand a fair contract!
WMU-AAUP demonstration at Seibert on Wednesday, Aug. 23, at 1 p.m.

As you read these words, we are less than three weeks away from the expiration of our contract on Tuesday, September 5, at midnight. The negotiations will almost certainly continue right up to the 5th. In the coming weeks, the team still has a lot of work to do to win a healthcare package and salary increases that will move the faculty unequivocally forward. They have been at it for months and have made a powerful and well-informed case based on research, data, and logic.

But because contract negotiations are inherently asymmetric, making the stronger case is not always enough. The university administration is management, and as management, they control the resources.

However, they don’t control the 900 of us, and that is where we come in. Our leverage is in our numbers, and the time has come for us to deliver on our team’s behalf and make sure our voices are heard loudly and clearly.

What our team needs now, and what we all need now, is for YOU to do everything YOU can to show your support, loudly and publicly. We need YOU to engage in the important work that has to happen away from the table to ensure our team’s success at the table. The way we keep up the pressure on the other side is with our visible, vocal support. The time is NOW.

All board-appointed faculty colleagues are strongly urged to attend, as are family members, retirees, and colleagues from other WMU employee groups who want to stand in solidarity because they understand that we are all in this together.

We also welcome students, alumni, community members, and other allies who value the work we do on behalf of Western Michigan University and on behalf of this community.

#StrongerTogether
#GoWMUAAUP

Rally for our team any time on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @wmuaaup. They appreciate your messages of support!

 

Grievance officer John Saillant to step down after 4 years, Trenary named interim GO

After more than four years in the demanding role of WMU-AAUP grievance officer, John Saillant (English and History) will step down effective August 14, 2017.

Robert Trenary (Computer Sciences) will assume the role of interim grievance officer on that date. (Read more about Robert here, and please join us in welcoming him to the WMU-AAUP leadership team.)

Throughout his years of service, John has been a stalwart union advocate and has provided support and guidance to countless faculty colleagues through the grievance process, tenure and promotion appeals, disciplinary proceedings, and workload appeals.

We don’t throw around the word “tireless” lightly at Montague House, but John has more than earned that descriptor. During his time in office, he has met with, listened to, corresponded with, counseled, and assisted scores if not hundreds of faculty members, from every college on campus and most if not every department.

We are all going to miss John, but we could not be more thrilled that he is about to embark on what is quite possibly the most well-deserved sabbatical of all time.

John’s commitment to the foundational AAUP principles of academic freedom, shared governance, and especially due process, along with his meticulous, analytical approach to problem-solving, not to mention his patience and kindness (and sense of humor) in even the most high-pressure situations, have been tremendous assets to the Chapter and to the faculty.

When we welcomed John to the WMU-AAUP leadership team in 2013, we especially admired his preparedness, his smarts, his calm and steady demeanor, and his unshakeable sense of justice. Four years later, we know now that we did not at that time know the half of what John would bring to the Chapter. John, we can’t thank you enough for all you’ve done for all of us.

Colleagues, please join us in letting John know what his service has meant to you. And John, we wish you all good things as you move on to your next adventure.

Trenary named WMU-AAUP interim grievance officer; Saillant to step down after 4 years

Dr. Robert Trenary (Computer Science) has been named interim grievance officer for the WMU-AAUP, effective August 14, 2017.

Robert comes to us with extensive experience in labor relations, including union leadership experience in the K-12 sector prior to his joining the faculty at WMU and, more recently, 15 years of service on the St. Joseph County ISD School Board. Since his arrival at Western, he has been an active union member and has served multiple terms on the WMU-AAUP Association Council. An unswerving and well-informed union advocate, Robert brings to the interim grievance officer position extensive knowledge of the contract and a strong commitment to serving the faculty.

“The purpose of negotiations and that handshake we work so hard to institutionalize in the form of a contract requires constant attention because the University embodies a labor relationship and much more,” Robert writes. “Grievance is a process that maintains that handshake.”

In addition to voting unanimously to appoint him to the interim role, the WMU-AAUP Executive Committee also recommends Robert unanimously to serve as the Chapter’s grievance officer for the two-year term that begins in September 2017 and runs through August 2019. Next month, the Association Council will meet to discuss this recommendation and hold a confirmation vote.

In the meantime, we could not be more delighted to welcome Robert to the WMU-AAUP leadership team as interim grievance officer. We are grateful for his willingness to accept this challenging role.

Robert joins us officially on August 14 (although he has already been spending a lot of time at Montague House), when long-serving WMU-AAUP grievance officer John Saillant (English and History) will step down after more than four years in the GO role.

Read more about John here, and please join us in expressing our gratitude for his outstanding service as grievance officer since April 2013. We will miss him but wish him well as he completes his stellar tenure as union officer and moves forward in pursuit of new challenges.

Rally for healthcare and compensation July 25

Letter to the faculty from WMU-AAUP President Lisa C. Minnick


Rally for Healthcare and Compensation: Tuesday, July 25
Meet at Montague House (814 Oakland Drive) at 1 p.m.
We’ll walk our team across the street to Walwood for their 1:30 session.


July 21, 2017

Dear colleagues,

If you care about your healthcare costs and overall compensation, now is the time to stand with your team.

Please plan to attend a rally next Tuesday, July 25, at Montague House. We will gather at 1 p.m. for an update from our WMU-AAUP bargaining team and then accompany them across the street to Walwood for their negotiation session at 1:30.

The administration wants to shift a greater share of the costs of health insurance onto us, escalating a trend that has been underway for a number of years at WMU. The cost-shifts they are proposing would affect premium equivalents, copays, deductibles, and annual out-of-pocket maximums. Everything we can be made to pay more for, they want us to pay more for it. They are also proposing to reduce coverage and access. In other words, they would like for us to pay more to get less.

As faculty know all too well, escalating employee costs for insurance already cause financial hardship to members of our bargaining unit, especially those with salaries on the lower end of the scale whose insurance premiums eat up a significant percentage of their annual earnings.

The faculty has been adamant that we will not accept an increase to the cost burden we already bear and equally adamant that we are not open to taking a pay cut.

Now the administration needs to hear it directly from you.

As I wrote to you on May 31, our 2017 team is one of the strongest and best prepared in the chapter’s history, and they are giving 100 percent on our behalf every single day. But without the visible, vocal support of the faculty, there is only so much that any five people are going to be able achieve at the bargaining table.

Bottom line: Labor relations are inherently asymmetrical. Our leverage is in our numbers, period. And when we turn out in large numbers, we are very, very powerful. I am sure everyone – including the administration and the Board of Trustees – remembers how that worked in 2014.

On May 31, I asked you all to be prepared to be called to action. This is that call, or at least the first of these calls. Please carve out an hour of your time on Tuesday, bring your family, and help us make it clear to the administration that we have no intention of moving backwards.

#StrengthInSolidarity
#WMUAAUP2017

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

“Like” the WMU-AAUP on Facebook.
Follow us on Twitter.
Follow us on Instagram.

Image of faculty members marching and carrying signs in support of WMU-AAUP bargaining team (2014).

Join protest against “imminent” Saudi executions of 14 young men, including WMU student

Mujtaba’a al-Sweikat. (Source: Reprieve, a British human rights organization.)


We join our colleagues at AFT-Michigan, along with our AFT-affiliated colleagues here at WMU, the Professional Instructors Organization (PIO) and Teaching Assistants Union (TAU), in condemning in the strongest possible terms the death sentence of admitted WMU student Mujtaba’a al-Sweikat. We are horrified and outraged by the grotesque human rights violations that his arrest, imprisonment, and especially his imminent execution constitute.

A citizen of Saudi Arabia, Mr. Al-Sweikat was admitted to Western Michigan University to begin classes in the fall of 2013 but has never attended the university. In 2012, when he was 17, he was arrested at the airport on his way to the United States. He was charged with participating in pro-democracy demonstrations, convicted, and sentenced to death. He has been in prison ever since.

Reports are now coming out that his execution is “imminent,” according to the London-based human rights advocacy organization Reprieve.

PLEASE CALL THE WHITE HOUSE AT (202) 456-1111 to urge the president, who has developed a close relationship with the Saudi king, to use his influence with the king to try to stop this horrific miscarriage of justice and heinous violation of human rights.

Please also consider signing the petition linked here as a way to stand in solidarity with Mr. Al-Sweikat and 13 other young men sentenced to death along with him for participating in peaceful demonstrations.

Read more about Mujtaba’a al-Sweikat:

From AFT:

From Reprieve:

Quick negotiation update and 6/23 happy hour invitation

Our WMU-AAUP bargaining team has been focused these past few weeks on the critical issues of workload and overall compensation, including salary and health care. While the work is arduous and movement on these contentious issues can be slow at times, our team is slowly but steadily making progress toward securing a strong contract for the faculty.

We will have more to report on these issues in the next few weeks, but here is a quick update on what’s been happening at the bargaining table:

Article 42: Work of the Unit. 

The teams are close to a tentative agreement on Article 42, including new language that reinforces institutional support for faculty working with students with documented disabilities. The need for support has become a significant issue for faculty and students, and our team has worked hard to address it in the contract. They have also negotiated successfully to protect current contract language on workload maximums, which are preserved in the tentative agreement.

Articles 32 and 33: Economic Compensation and Health Care Benefits.

The two teams have presented their initial proposals for economic compensation and health care benefits. Given the complexity of these articles – perhaps especially health care, in light of recent and ongoing congressional activity – the teams remain far apart on both. However, our team is continuing their research into these issues and building a strong case at the table. Since these articles were introduced several weeks ago, our team has been standing strong and working determinedly to reach agreement on fair economic compensation and contain healthcare costs for faculty, and they have no intention of backing down.


We will have more information for you on these important topics soon. In the meantime, please keep those messages of support coming. Bargaining is intense, grueling work, and while most faculty members don’t have to spend much time thinking about it, our team has been living it 24/7 for months. It means a lot to them to hear from you and to be reminded that you have their backs. You can find the WMU-AAUP on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, or just reply to this email with your message for the team.

Fourth Friday Happy Hour on June 23 at Arcadia

To catch up in person with members of our team, chapter officers, and Exec Committee members, or just to relax and have some fun, please join us tomorrow (Friday, June 23), 5-6pm, for the WMU-AAUP Fourth Friday Happy Hour at Arcadia Brewing Co. (701 E. Michigan Avenue). Dues-paying members: As always, your first drink’s on us. See you there!

#StrengthInSolidarity
#WMUAAUP2017

Negotiation Update: TAs reached on several articles, economic articles now on the table

On May 9, our WMU-AAUP negotiation team returned to the table following the semester break. The teams have been at the bargaining table every Tuesday and Thursday, with our team also meeting frequently away from the table to draft and respond to proposal language and to consult with the WMU-AAUP Executive Committee.

Cynthia, Whitney, Bruce, Jeremy, and Mike have been working tirelessly for months, and they’ve made a lot of progress at the table since negotiations got underway on March 13. That means there’s a lot to report, including great news about intellectual property rights and protections, major improvements to the tenure and promotion process for Faculty Specialists, and updates on key issues now on the table.


 I. The teams have reached tentative agreements (TAs) on the following articles:


Articles 17 and 18
Tenure Policies and Procedures and Promotion Policies and Procedures

    • Tenure and promotion procedures for Faculty Specialists. In previous contracts, tenure and promotion have been two separate processes for Faculty Specialists, requiring two separate reviews. (For traditionally ranked faculty, tenure and promotion reviews have been – and will remain – concurrent.) The teams have reached TA on new language proposed by our WMU-AAUP team: Effective with the new contract, Faculty Specialists will be automatically promoted to Faculty Specialist II with the granting of tenure.
    • Streamlining of tenure and promotion review process prior to the final tenure review. Tenure reviews other than the final review that receive positive recommendations at the levels of DTC, chair, and dean will now conclude at the dean’s office rather than being sent to the provost for review and approval. If a review is negative at any level of the review process, it will go forward to the provost according to current and established contractual practices outlined in Article 17, as will all final reviews.
    • Standards for promotion to full professor. For promotion to full professor, option (a) in Article 18.3.7 currently requires faculty to “have: (a) achieved outstanding professional recognition and a satisfactory record of professional competence.” In the new contract, “satisfactory” will be replaced by “significant” for professional competence.

Article 26: Sabbatical Leave

Later due date for sabbatical proposals (October 1). A new due date for sabbatical proposals will go into effect with the new contract. This will provide faculty with much-needed extra time to prepare their proposals beyond the previous deadline of September 15.

Article 43: Intellectual Property (formerly Discoveries, Patents, and Copyrights)

  • Stronger intellectual property protections. New language expands and strengthens faculty copyright ownership and protection for their course materials, scholarly work, and creative work, in addition to existing protections for discoveries, patents, and copyrights. The article title is being updated for the new contract to reflect this expansion of protections.


II. On the table: Paid parental leave, workload,
and evaluation of professional competence.


Our WMU-AAUP team has presented a strong proposal for paid parental leave (Article 27: Leaves of Absence). The teams continue to negotiate this topic along with proposals on Article 42: Workload and Article 16: Evaluation of Professional Competence. These have been contentious issues on our campus, so please stand by for calls to support our team as needed.


  • III. The latest: Compensation and health care


At the bargaining sessions on May 16 and 18, the administration’s team and their representatives presented reports on the university’s budget and projected health care costs. Our team reviewed the documents carefully and compared them with analyses conducted for and by the WMU-AAUP. On May 23, after consulting the Executive Committee, the team presented the chapter’s proposals for Article 32: Economic Compensation and Article 33: Health Care Benefits.

These proposals will be discussed in upcoming sessions, so stay tuned for more information and calls to action that may become necessary as the dialogue on these critical issues moves forward.


Cynthia, Whitney, Bruce, Jeremy, and Mike have been giving their all at the table, and it is paying off for the faculty in the improved contract language and impressive progress they’ve made so far (and so quickly) in achieving tentative agreements.

But bargaining at the table is not all they do. Many colleagues may not realize the time commitment or the amount of energy and dedication their service on the bargaining team demands. Yes, they spend long hours at the table, including in high-pressure situations that can be intense and exhausting. But they also spend many more hours away from the table conducting research into key issues (such as healthcare and compensation), drafting contract language and proposals, meeting with faculty to get input and guidance, consulting frequently with the WMU-AAUP leadership and Executive Committee, working with the chapter attorney and other experts, and many other tasks, large and small. This work requires team members to put aside other things in their lives that are important to them. They make this choice because they’re committed to improving the professional lives of the nearly 900 members of the WMU-AAUP.

So, please take a moment to drop them a note of thanks, or a shout-out on social media, to tell them how much you appreciate them. (The WMU-AAUP is on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.)

And when the call comes to stand up, show up, and speak up, we need you to be ready to do it. Our 2017 team is one of the strongest and best prepared in the chapter’s history, and they are giving 100 percent every day. But without the visible, vocal support of the faculty, there is only so much that anyone can achieve at the bargaining table. Our leverage is in our numbers. Faculty support for our team is what keeps the pressure on the other side.

We will get the contract we show up for and demand.
Be ready to stand with our team when they need you.

Image of sign that reads "WMU-AAUP: Fighting for WMU's Future"


Save the date: June 23
Join us at 5 p.m. on June 23 for the next Fourth Friday Happy Hour. Build solidarity and enjoy the company of faculty colleagues in a fun and family-friendly environment. As always, your first drink’s on us if you’re a dues-paying member. Arcadia Brewing Company, 701 E. Michigan Ave.


Previous negotiation updates:

Issue #4 – March 17
Issue #3 – February 15 
Issue #2 – February 1
Issue #1 – January 30