Letter to the faculty from WMU-AAUP President Lisa Minnick |
August 13, 2018 |
We are receiving reports that some chairs and other administrators have been informing academic-year (AY) faculty (erroneously) that they are required to report back to work for the new academic year on August 15, 2018.
That is not accurate.
For the 2018-19 academic year, AY faculty are not required to report before August 29.
If you are just interested in getting the correct date and don’t want to get into the minutiae of contract language, you can stop right here. Have a great day!
For those interested in the contractual justification for this statement, please read on. If you serve on the WMU-AAUP Executive Committee or Association Council, please read on and please share this information with your chair or director (and dean if necessary).
The WMU/WMU-AAUP Agreement is explicit on this topic: Article 38 states the return date for faculty on AY appointments as the first day of classes. For Fall 2018, the first day of classes is August 29.
The relevant language appears across several sections of Article 38, including the definition of “academic year” in 38.§4.1 (emphasis added):
38.§4.1 Academic Year. Bargaining unit faculty members on academic or alternate academic year appointments shall not be required to work during the following University recognized holidays and breaks: two (2) days at Thanksgiving; single days for Christmas Eve; Christmas Day; New Year’s Eve; New Year’s Day; Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day; Memorial Day; Independence Day; Labor Day; and a designated Western Spirit Day (none of these days shall be a Saturday or a Sunday); nor during periods between semesters and sessions when classes are not scheduled to meet, except in the limited circumstances envisioned in 38.§2 of this Agreement.
Additionally, 38.§2 uses the term “outside the calendar” for periods of time when AY faculty “shall not be required to work” per 38.§4.1. It explicitly defines the following periods of time as “outside the calendar”: “before the fall semester begins, between the fall and spring semesters, and after the spring semester ends.”
Appendix D of the Agreement articulates the specific dates for each year of the contract (2017-20) for all periods of time referenced in Article 38, including all university holidays, breaks, and other important dates. Excerpts from that calendar are listed below:
- August 29 Wednesday – Classes begin at 8 a.m.
- September 3 Monday – Labor Day recess
- October 17-19 Wed.-Fri. – Fall Break
- November 21 Wednesday – Thanksgiving recess (noon)
- November 26 Monday – Classes resume
- December 10-13 – Final examination week
- December 15 Saturday – Semester ends – commencement
There are a few exceptions. Article 38.§2 provides for limited exceptions for matters that legitimately require attention at times that are contractually “outside the calendar.” However, these provisions may be used only in accordance with the constraints outlined in that section. A general early-return requirement does not meet the contractual criteria.
Please note also that pay period dates set by the payroll office have no bearing on the contractual work dates for AY faculty. Pay period dates are set by the payroll office to ensure that faculty are paid on the 5th and 20th of each month, per the twice-monthly pay schedule established in 2015, beginning with the first AY pay date of September 5. To honor the September 5 pay date, the first pay period of the 2018-19 AY begins on August 15.
However, some administrators may be using the pay-period start date to try to compel faculty to return on August 15. This is an error on their part.
The date that a pay period starts (or ends) has no relation to the academic calendar as defined in the contract nor to our contractual obligations, except to ensure our timely paychecks in relation to the academic calendar. The payroll office has simply set up its schedule so that we can be paid on time (which we all appreciate). But that is the extent of it.
The administration is required to follow the legally binding contract language regarding the academic calendar, period. For the 2018-19 academic year, faculty are not required to report prior to August 29, 2018.
We are assuming that once your chairs and directors (and deans) are informed about the contractual start date, any claims of an August 15 start date, or other early start date, will be retracted in order to avoid a violation of the contract.
Please contact the WMU-AAUP Chapter immediately if you are an AY faculty member who is being instructed to report earlier than August 29.
Lisa C. Minnick
Associate Professor of English
and Gender & Women’s Studies
Western Michigan University
814 Oakland Drive
Kalamazoo, Michigan 49008
Thank you for this update. Unfortunately this new start calendar, has created all kinds of issues with the start date. I have received no less than 3 requests to be present at events prior to the August 29 start date including an all-college meeting with the dean, and a new student “kick-off” event for students in the College of Fine Arts. There is a great deal of pressure to attend these events and a sense of letting others down (including the new students) if we do not attend. This is making for a very frustrating beginning of school.
Dr. Ken Prewitt
Voice Area Chair
Professor, School of Music
Western Michigan University
Kalamazoo, MI 49008
Thanks so much for your feedback, Ken. Your concerns echo those of a lot of our colleagues in departments and colleges campus-wide. The extent to which our commitment to our students is exploited by the administration seems to be growing exponentially with every new academic year. If they want us to report in mid-August, they are going to have to wait until 2020 and then negotiate that at the bargaining table. And obviously they will need to provide appropriate and sufficient compensation to earn the faculty’s agreement. I have to say that I am concerned to learn that the dean has called an all-college meeting to take place before the AY faculty’s fall report date. Given that he sat at the bargaining table on the admin team in 2014 and again in 2017, he should know better than that. We will keep doing what we can to educate the campus community on this issue and take action as needed. Thank you again for checking in. #Solidarity #WorkToRule