Chapter Meeting Report

Many thanks to those of you who attended last Friday’s special Chapter meeting. We understand how busy everyone is and appreciate that so many of you were available and willing to take time out of your day to talk with us about how best to respond to the new “right-to-work” laws that will go into effect in March 2013. Thank you also to those who could not attend but shared their views with us by other means.

For those who were not able to attend the meeting, we write today to report that the faculty voted overwhelmingly to move forward with the proposed Union Security Agreement (USA) circulated several weeks ago (linked here, with FAQs here). We definitely have our work cut out for us, but we are ready to negotiate an agreement with the administration that protects faculty rights well into the future. And we are going to need your active, visible, and vocal support. Please stay tuned for more information about the USA project and about how you can participate.

The other major topic we covered at the meeting is gender equity. We discussed the process of identifying faculty for equity adjustments outlined on documents sent to the deans on February 4 by Dr. Sue Caulfield, WMU Director of Academic Collective Bargaining. (These documents are also linked: Pay Equity Adjustment Process and Principles and Draft Pay Equity Report.)

Like many of you, we have serious reservations about the lack of clear and direct communication with the faculty about this critical issue as well as about the process described in the attached documents. Please be aware that at this time, there is in fact no official agreement between the administration and the WMU-AAUP regarding the procedures Dr. Caulfield has outlined in her directive to the deans. The Chapter simply has not agreed to the plan in its current form, although Dr. Caulfield’s email to the deans seems to suggest otherwise.

We need to be clear here: We want to see every colleague whose salary is inequitable receive the adjustment she is entitled to, and the Chapter will not stand in the way of that.

However, because of serious shortcomings in the process as it is outlined in Dr. Caulfield’s documents (such as the exclusion of entire departments from consideration on the basis that all the faculty members in these departments are female), we believe there is reason for skepticism and a lot more work to do if we are truly serious about equity on this campus.

At Friday’s meeting, several members requested more information about how things have unfolded over the past few years leading to the administration’s current proposal. Lisa Minnick, Chapter vice president, has agreed to prepare the requested report and timeline, which will circulate later this week. In the meantime, we ask that you continue to contact us with your questions or concerns about equity. And if you have served on any of the equity committees or have participated in the equity project at WMU in any other way, we invite you to let us know if you are willing to share your knowledge and experience with the faculty.

Finally, we invite you to “like” WMU-AAUP on Facebook and to subscribe to this blog to stay up to date on the issues that matter most to the faculty at WMU. And we are counting on you to make sure we know about the campus issues that are important to you.

Many thanks again to all of you who sent an unmistakable message to the administration last Friday by your attendance at the Chapter meeting in such large numbers. We are working hard to do everything we can for our members on these issues and many others. We believe strongly in the value of our faculty union on this campus, and we are working hard to make the case for that value to all of you.