WMU-AAUP letter to the faculty on equity adjustments

Dear colleagues:

By now, you all will have heard the good news: Over 100 of our colleagues will begin receiving salary adjustments, beginning with their November 19 paychecks.

Congratulations to those of you who are finally going to receive the equity adjustments for which you have been waiting so long. We hope that the adjustments can begin to address in a meaningful way the long-standing inequity experienced by those of you who will be receiving them. It appears that some long-standing and egregious cases of salary compression were addressed as well as gender equity. It is great to see some real movement on these issues, finally, on the part of the administration after so many frustrating delays.

Sadly, though, not all the news is good. I have been fielding calls and emails for the past 48 hours from devastated colleagues who have apparently not been identified for adjustments, despite demonstrable inequities in their individual cases. I can understand their frustration and even anger, especially given that these colleagues have been offered no explanation for why they are being passed over this time. The administrative silence in their cases suggests that while some lessons might have been learned by the administration through all this, there are still plenty of teachable moments left ahead of us. Fortunately, we are professors, and teaching is what we do best.

What we also do well is collaboration. This experience should serve as a reminder — for us and for the administration — of the power of collective action. Our work here is not yet done, but make no mistake:

It is the work of the faculty, working together for a common goal, that made these $400,000 worth of adjustments happen.

This has been an extensive collaboration that includes our negotiation teams, who worked hard to compel the administration to agree first to pursue the equity studies (2008) and then to act on the disparities the studies revealed (2011), as well as our colleagues who served on the Joint Committee and President’s Committee on Salary Equity. WMU-AAUP officers past and present, all the faculty members (along with supportive chairs and deans) who served on the college committees last spring, and every single individual faculty member who stood up and took a courageous stand on his or her own initiative also deserve a considerable share of the credit. So do the WMU-AAUP Association Council reps and Executive Committee members who represent our departments and colleges and would not less this issue drop. And so do all of you who kept asking questions, sharing information, standing up, and speaking out.

It is the faculty’s willingness to stand up and refusal to back down that made this happen. Sometimes it meant taking risks. Sometimes it made for uncomfortable situations. But your courage and persistence, culminating in the censure vote on October 18, sent a powerful message that when promises are made by the administration, the faculty expects them to deliver.

This experience suggests to me that faculty voices are finally being heard again on this campus and that faculty action has lost none of its power to make good things happen.

I hope everyone will remember these lessons when we begin our negotiations in 2014. And I hope we can continue to count on all of you — perhaps especially those colleagues who are receiving adjustments this time around — not to let up until every one of our colleagues is being treated — and compensated — fairly. This week’s announcements are a major step in the right direction, but we are not there yet.

In solidarity,

Lisa Minnick
President, WMU-AAUP