Tentative Agreements Reached on Governance Articles

Negotiation Update for July 29:
Tentative Agreements Reached on Governance and Due Process Articles

We are pleased to announce that on July 29, the WMU-AAUP and administration bargaining teams reached the first tentative agreements of the 2014 negotiations, on several contractual articles covering shared governance and faculty rights to due process.

Article 37: Long-Range Planning. As we reported in the July 1 negotiation update, the existing language in Article 37 articulates the faculty’s right to participate in long-range and strategic planning. Our team has made a strong case at the table this summer for strengthening the language that codifies the chapter’s right to representation. This right to representation is critical to shared governance because WMU-AAUP appointees on university committees consult regularly with the chapter’s Executive Committee (an elected body of faculty representatives from each college) to ensure that the activities and recommendations of the committee comport with the Agreement. Upon ratification by the faculty and the Board of Trustees, the revisions to Article 37 will also help to resolve ambiguities that in the past have made it more difficulty for the faculty, and the WMU-AAUP on its behalf, from exercising its full rights to shared governance.

Article 12: Grievance Procedure. The two teams have reached tentative agreement on revisions to Article 12 that will enhance faculty rights to grieve administrative actions and expand the right to pursue arbitration, an avenue that has up to now not been available for all categories of grievances. Our WMU-AAUP team made a compelling and ultimately successful case at the table for extending the right to arbitrate to all grievance types.

Article 25: Layoff and Recall. The tentative agreement on Article 25 is related to the changes to Article 12 outlined above. The new language provides a framework for grieving layoff decisions, which had previously been exempted from grievance challenges. In light of concerns expressed by a number of colleagues over the possibility of a reduction in force resulting from the academic program review, our WMU-AAUP team worked hard to make the case that the right to grieve layoff decisions was essential and that codifying it in the contract was the right thing to do, and they were able to convince the administration’s team to agree to the changes.

Preamble. After extensive discussion at the table, the two sides have now reached a tentative agreement on a new preamble. Our team brought the first draft to the table back in May with the goal of setting out the core values of the university’s academic mission, including academic freedom, shared governance, and collaboration, as a way the faculty and administration could affirm our mutual commitment to these values, use them as guiding principles, and model them for our students and for the benefit of the institution. After months of discussion and deliberation, the two teams have reached tentative agreement on a version that clearly articulates these values.

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Please join the chapter officers and Executive Committee in congratulating our team for achieving consensus on these critical articles in ways that will expand and strengthen our rights as faculty members. Cynthia, Bilinda, Onaiwu, and Tom have made a point of honoring the values of the board-appointed faculty as you all have articulated them to us: free inquiry, academic excellence, shared governance, collaboration, and transparency. Looking to these values as their guiding principles, they have not wavered in asserting them on our behalf. While compromise is of course a key element of bargaining, the team has made clear from the beginning that our core values are non-negotiable. This commitment not only serves the faculty, but as our team continues to demonstrate at the table, it also serves our students and the institution.

We also appreciate the administration team’s willingness to hear us out and take seriously these governance and due-process issues. Their tentative agreement to the revisions discussed herein is an encouraging sign that we can work together successfully in the service of our mutual charge: to promote the conditions of free inquiry, to advance the sum of human knowledge and understanding, to promote these values within and beyond the institution, and to serve the public interest.

As always, you can get negotiation news here on the blog, by “liking” the WMU-AAUP on Facebook, and by following us on Twitter. And on behalf of the team, the chapter officers, and the Executive Committee, many thanks once again to all of you who have generously offered your wise counsel and messages of support.

#GoWMUAAUP          #StrongerTogether