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

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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:

Rally on Monday, April 24, to support our bargaining team


Monday, April 24, at 2:30 p.m.
Montague House — 814 Oakland Drive


The semester is winding down, but contract negotiations are heating up!

Take a break from your grading, bring your signs, and let’s show our WMU-AAUP bargaining team that we have their backs!

Before the faculty disperses for the summer, we need a strong show of support for our team as they prepare to bargain economic articles in May. A large turnout will send a strong message to the team that the faculty is behind them and alerts the administration that we are ready to take action as needed. All bargaining-unit faculty should plan to attend this important event. We also welcome retired faculty as well as students, staff, alumni, family, friends, and other allies.

Join us!

Easy parking at Walwood Hall and WMU Lot 10 or 11 (the Little Theater). Please don’t park at the medical school. Their management is not nice about it.

Get all the latest news about contract negotiations by subscribing to the blog (click on the “subscribe” button on the home page) and following the WMU-AAUP on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Click to enlarge flier.

Contract Negotiations to Start March 13; Kick-off Rally at Montague House

On Monday, February 13, our WMU-AAUP bargaining team met with the administration’s team to discuss the start date for 2017 contract negotiations and other practical and logistical topics related to the bargaining process. The two teams had previously met on January 30 to begin these discussions in response to a proposal from the administration to start negotiations earlier in the year than usual. (The first bargaining session in 2014 was on April 17.)

At the February 13 meeting, our WMU-AAUP team and the administration’s team agreed to a start date of Monday, March 13, and established a schedule of meeting dates for the remainder of the spring semester. The teams will meet for bargaining sessions every Monday afternoon from March 13 through final exam week in April (with the exception of Monday, March 6, during spring break). During the spring semester, our team is constrained to this limited schedule by their academic-year teaching, research, and service responsibilities. Beginning in Summer 1, the teams will increase the frequency and length of their meetings.

In addition to setting out their bargaining schedule for spring, the two teams also exchanged lists of contract articles that the respective sides plan to open and agreed on negotiation ground rules.

Our WMU-AAUP team is looking forward to sharing information about the contract articles and ground rules with the faculty at the chapter meeting on Thursday, February 16, and encourages all bargaining-unit members to attend. Guest speaker Howard Bunsis, professor of accounting at Eastern Michigan University and chair of the national AAUP Collective Bargaining Congress, will open the meeting with a presentation, “A Question of Priorities: Understanding University Finances,” at 2:30 p.m. in the Fetzer Center. The chapter meeting will immediately follow Howard’s lecture.

In consultation with the WMU-AAUP Executive Committee, our team (Chief Negotiator Cynthia Klekar-Cunningham, Whitney DeCamp, Bruce Ferrin, Jeremy Hierholzer, and Mike Miller) has been working to craft proposals for the articles to be discussed during the 2017 negotiation cycle. They also continue to meet with faculty and review feedback from the faculty survey sent out last week. (The survey will remain open until February 22, so please respond if you haven’t already.) The team is also looking forward to receiving additional input and feedback from the faculty at Thursday’s chapter meeting.

To schedule a meeting in your department with members of the bargaining team, contact your WMU-AAUP Association Council representative, call us at the chapter office at 345-0151, or email staff@wmuaaup.net.


2017 NEGOTIATIONS KICKOFF RALLY
Monday, March 13, 2017, 2-3 p.m.

All bargaining-unit faculty, their families, faculty retirees, and allies are invited to Montague House for snacks and solidarity as we send off our 2017 WMU-AAUP negotiation team in style to their first bargaining session. Be there to show your support!

Montague House is located at 814 Oakland Drive. Parking is available at the Little Theater or WMU Lot 10.

Please don’t park at the medical school. They are not nice about it.

U.S. professors take stand against executive order on immigration — we can, too

Thousands of professors from across the U.S. have signed on to a letter protesting the president’s January 27 Executive Order banning the entry of refugees and immigrants from Syria, Iraq, Iran, and four other predominantly Muslim countries into the United States:

“The people whose status in the United States would be reconsidered are our students, friends, colleagues, and members of our communities,” the professors write. “The implementation will necessarily tear families apart by restricting entry for family members who live outside of the U.S. and limiting the ability to travel for those who reside and work in the U.S. These restrictions would be applied to nearly all individuals from these countries, regardless of their immigration status or any other circumstances. This measure is fatally disruptive to the lives of these immigrants, their families, and the communities of which they form an integral part. It is inhumane, ineffective, and un-American.”

Click here for the full letter and instructions for how to sign on.


The concerns raised in the letter are of course applicable to WMU faculty and students. Two incidents that occurred this weekend hit particularly close to home:

  • A Stanford graduate student originally from Sudan was detained and handcuffed at JFK airport in New York on Saturday. The student, a Harvard graduate, is a legal resident of the United States, where she has lived since 1993.
  • Two faculty members at UMass Dartmouth, Dr. Mazdak Pourabdollah Tootkaboni and Dr. Arghavan Louhghalam, were detained at Logan airport in Boston on Saturday on their way back from attending an academic conference in France. Professors Tootkaboni and Louhghalam are both originally from Iran and have legal resident status in the United States. A district court ruling in Boston early Sunday ordered their release and blocks similar detentions at Logan.

In November 2016, the WMU-AAUP faculty voted by an overwhelming margin to approve a Resolution in Solidarity with Western Michigan University Students, including the international and immigrant students for whom the Executive Order raises immediately pressing fears. The Resolution was a good first step, but now we must do more to stand in solidarity with these students and with our international and immigrant colleagues.

What can we do to help?

  1. Talk with students and colleagues. Make sure they know we have their backs, that we will support them, that we will listen to them, and that we will not betray them.
  2. Contact President Dunn and urge him to take a public stand in support of our international and immigrant students and colleagues. Updated January 31: Read President Dunn’s statement here.
  3. Print out a copy of the Resolution of Solidarity and post it on your office door and/or contact the WMU-AAUP office to request a solidarity card for your office door.
  4. Sign on to the Academics Against Immigration Executive Order letter and share it with colleagues.
  5. Join or donate to the American Civil Liberties Union to help them bring legal challenges against discriminatory activities resulting from the Executive Order and follow them on Twitter to stay up to date on their progress.
  6. Participate in demonstrations against the Executive Order and use social media as another way to make visible your support for and solidarity with students and colleagues.
  7. Check in frequently with your favorite news sources to keep informed about this developing story. Things are happening fast and changing constantly and are likely to continue to do so.
    • For example, a federal judge in New York blocked a key provision of the Executive Order Saturday night. On Sunday morning, the Department of Homeland Security issued a statement suggesting that it may not comply with the rulings.
    • A White House spokesman now (as of Sunday morning, January 29) “appears to be walking back” the part of the Executive Order that would ban re-entry into the U.S. for permanent legal residents with green cards.

Links to more info about this developing story:

Some Colleges Warning Foreign Students on Travel After Trump’s Immigration Order, by Michael Edison Hayden. ABC News, January 28, 2017.

As protests roiled, professors who were detained at Logan airport waited, by Nestor Ramos. Boston Globe, January 29, 2017.

U.S. colleges rush to help students, scholars affected by Trump’s immigration order, by Valerie Strauss. Washington Post, January 29, 2017.

Sudanese student at Stanford detained, handcuffed at JFK airport, by Queenie Wong. San Jose Mercury News, January 28, 2017.

University of Michigan president states support for international students, by Martin Slagter. MLive, January 29, 2017.

Oklahoma University President David Boren affirms support for students, staff affected by immigration ban in statement, by Greg Brown. Fox 23 News (Tulsa, OK), January 29, 2017.

Colleges brace to shield students from immigration raids, by Alan Gomez. USA Today, January 26, 2017.

Colleges Are Warning Thousands Of Muslim International Students Not To Travel, by Molly Hensley-Clancy. Buzzfeed, January 28, 2017.

Protests erupt at airports around the U.S. following Trump travel ban, Fox News, January 29, 2017.

Protesters Rally as Doctors, Students Blocked From Entering Country After Trump’s Orders, by Eli Rosenberg, Perry Russom and Melissa Buja. NBC Boston, January 28, 2017.

PHOTOS: Thousands Protest At Airports Nationwide Against Trump’s Immigration Order, by James Doubek. NPR, January 29, 2017.

Faculty votes to approve WMU-AAUP Resolution in Solidarity with WMU Students

Letter to the faculty from WMU-AAUP President Lisa Minnick

November 18, 2016

Dear colleagues,

Many thanks to all who participated in the vote this week on whether to approve the proposed WMU-AAUP Resolution in Solidarity with Western Michigan University Students.

I am please to report that the faculty has voted overwhelmingly to join the WMU-AAUP Association Council, Executive Committee, and officers in approving the resolution.

Here are the results:

  • Yes: 173 (92 percent)
  • No: 11 (5.85 percent)
  • Abstain: 4 (2.1 percent)

Total number of votes cast: 188

This resolution is only the beginning of the actions we can and must take to make visible our shared commitment to stand with our students, as well as with our faculty and staff colleagues, during these challenging times. From here, we must turn our words into action. As many of you know, a variety of efforts by faculty, staff, students, and community members are already underway, and I encourage you to learn more about their plans and consider joining the organizers in collaboration.

For the WMU-AAUP chapter, approving and sending forth this resolution is a meaningful first step as we embark on the new project that is now before us. I look forward to working together with all of you to maintain and enhance our thriving intellectual community here at Western. This community is of course based on our core values of academic excellence, shared governance, academic freedom, and higher education as a public good, and we are going to need to work actively to protect these values and insist on their primacy in the coming months and years. At the same time, we are also going to need to work a lot harder to emphasize and prioritize the values of diversity, inclusion, respect, and empowerment so that our campus is a place that is safe for all of us — faculty, staff, students, and everyone else — to be who we are.

Many thanks to all of you for your wisdom, courage, and willingness to take a stand for justice.

Please click here to read the full text of the now-approved WMU-AAUP Resolution in Solidarity with WMU Students.

In solidarity,
Lisa

Lisa C. Minnick
President, WMU-AAUP

Association Council recommends faculty approval of solidarity resolution

WMU-AAUP Association Council Recommends Faculty Approval of
Resolution in Solidarity with Western Michigan University Students

Letter to the faculty from WMU-AAUP President Lisa Minnick

November 15, 2016

Dear colleagues,

After a lengthy and intense discussion at the WMU-AAUP Association Council meeting last Friday, the AC voted to draft a resolution to express support for WMU students in response to disturbing incidents that have occurred on our own campus and others over the past week.

Once drafted and circulated, the proposed resolution was approved 44 to 1 in a secret-ballot vote (plus one abstention) of the WMU-AAUP Association Council, Executive Committee, and officers, who now recommend full faculty approval. All members of the WMU-AAUP bargaining unit will soon receive an electronic ballot to vote on whether to approve.

Click here for the text of the proposed WMU-AAUP Resolution in Solidarity with Western Michigan University Students.

As most of you are aware, many of our students have reported feeling unwelcome, vulnerable, and even fearful for their safety and wellbeing or for the safety of classmates. Students of color, LGBT students, international students, and other minority students report feeling particularly vulnerable since the presidential election last week.

At a student-organized meeting on campus on November 10, I listened to what many of these students had to say. Their reports were chilling and disheartening: Some of our LGBT students said they will not be going home for Thanksgiving next week because family members have told them that they are not welcome, or they are afraid to go home because of concerns about increased hostility from relatives who do not accept their sexual orientation or gender identity. International and immigrant students report that they are fearful of attacks and deportation. More recently, some students have reported harassment on the street or on campus and finding notes on their cars with racial or homophobic epithets.

In other contexts, I have had occasion to observe that the intellectual character of a university is determined by its faculty. While that is critically important to our role at Western Michigan University, intellectual character is not the only kind of character that matters, nor is it the only kind that faculty model regularly for our students and community, even though we may not always be fully aware that we are doing so. Our ethical principles and moral convictions are critical to our work as faculty members, and never more so than when they are being tested, as they are now.

Listening to these students at the meeting last Thursday, it occurred to me that they might appreciate a reminder of how seriously we take our charge to do right by them, not only intellectually but also as the mentors and role models we are for them.

I brought this topic to the Association Council last Friday, and the result of that conversation – which was intense, passionate, painful at times, but also inspiring – is the proposed Resolution in Solidarity we present now for your consideration.

We understand that some of our colleagues may not be comfortable with this resolution or its intentions. We hope that you will be willing to engage in a dialogue about how we can best honor our commitments to one another as a faculty as well as to our students at a time when some of them feel that they have reason to be afraid for their lives.

The next meeting of the WMU-AAUP Association Council is Friday, January 20, 2017, at 1:30 p.m. Association Council meetings are open to all bargaining-unit members, and we encourage you to join us on January 20 so that we can all listen to and talk about the diverse perspectives our colleagues bring to these issues. We’ll meet in 157 Bernhard.

As individuals, we don’t need to have felt unsafe ourselves to understand why it is important to make a public statement in solidarity with our students. Even those of us who have never been targeted or felt vulnerable because of the color of our skin, gender, sexual orientation or gender identity, disability, national origin, or religious beliefs can of course empathize with those who have. And sadly, many of our faculty colleagues have felt this way themselves, including right here on our own campus. It is important that we stand with these colleagues, and I look forward to our conversations in the near future – and I hope at the January 20 AC meeting – about how we can all do a better job of that.

But today I am asking you to consider the proposed WMU-AAUP Resolution in Solidarity with Western Michigan University Students.

The Association Council and I understand also that there may be concerns about the possibility of causing hurt or distress to students who may not be members of protected groups but who may also fear backlash because of their political beliefs. We share these concerns and have crafted the resolution to try to make clear that we are here for all Western Michigan University students, even while we are also trying to address the immediate safety concerns that disproportionately affect students of color, LGBT students, and international students.

Many thanks in advance for your thoughtful consideration of this important matter.

In solidarity,
Lisa

Lisa C. Minnick
President, WMU-AAUP

Proposed WMU-AAUP Resolution in Solidarity with Western Michigan University Students

Recommended by the WMU-AAUP Association Council, Executive Committee, and officers, for the faculty’s consideration. WMU-AAUP bargaining-unit members are now voting on this proposal, with votes due electronically by 4 p.m. on Friday, November 18. More information about the proposed resolution is available by clicking here.

Proposed WMU-AAUP Resolution in Solidarity
with Western Michigan University Students

Whereas the Board-appointed faculty of Western Michigan University, represented by our collective-bargaining chapter of the American Association of University Professors, stands for academic excellence, shared governance, higher education as a public good, and academic freedom;

Whereas our core academic mission includes the work of instruction, research, scholarship, creative activity, and professional service;

Whereas this work is foundational to the development of our students as knowledgeable and engaged citizens, informed participants in the democratic process, and possessors of a spirit of tolerance and acceptance;

Whereas the intellectual character of a university is determined by its faculty;

Whereas the faculty therefore also appropriately models character for our students and for the community in other ways, including with respect to our ethical principles and moral convictions;

Whereas these values inform our understanding and acceptance of the immense and humbling responsibility that we carry in the form of our students’ trust in us: that we will treat them with respect, with fairness, with compassion, and with generosity of spirit;

Whereas the faculty takes seriously its role in modeling, teaching, and facilitating critical thinking and respectful discourse;

Whereas we recognize the challenges inherent in the exploration of controversial issues and ideas as well as the intellectual growth that can result from engaging these ideas respectfully and thinking critically about them;

Whereas many Western Michigan University students are now feeling vulnerable, unwelcome, or even fearful for their safety and wellbeing or for the safety and wellbeing of their classmates;

Whereas every student is welcome at Western Michigan University and deserves to feel accepted, included, empowered, and safe here;

Be it resolved that the Board-appointed faculty of Western Michigan University, individually and collectively, stands in solidarity with the students of this university and extends to them our attention, our understanding, our support, our advocacy, and – when and if they need it – our protection, at this singular moment in our nation’s history and always.

Faculty: Please support WSA student voter registration initiative

Letter to the faculty from WMU-AAUP President Lisa Minnick:

Dear colleagues:

A fundamental goal in higher education is to prepare students for thoughtful citizenship and participation in our democratic society. A starting point for this participation is voting, yet many students are effectively disenfranchised in Michigan if they are not registered to vote in their college communities.

This year, the Western Student Association has once again launched an extensive voter registration initiative on our campus, this time under the capable leadership of WSA Political Affairs Chair Chiante’ Lymon.

Recognizing the importance of student voter registration, the WMU-AAUP has joined with student leaders to support this non-partisan, student-led initiative. Part of our role in this is to encourage you, the faculty, to talk with your students about voter registration, to remind them that they can (and should) register to vote on campus, and to invite trained student volunteers to visit your classes and get your students registered.

This is an essential initiative. Too often, students miss out on exercising their voting rights. They may believe they are registered to vote when they are not or that they are eligible to vote in Kalamazoo if they are registered in their home precincts. As faculty, we can help to clear up these misconceptions, encourage students who are uncertain about their registration status to register in Kalamazoo, and inform them about how they can do so easily, thanks to this registration project.

We ask also that you be aware of and help to address challenges that can result in student disenfranchisement. Students registered at their home addresses who plan to vote by absentee ballot may be discouraged at election time by the planning and lead time required. Additionally, at WMU and nationwide, erroneous claims that registering locally will impact their financial aid eligibility or affect their insurance coverage may discourage many students from registering on campus. We can help by informing our students that there is no truth to these often-repeated urban legends.

Finally, please consider allowing WMU students trained in voter registration to visit your classes before the October 11 deadline for the general election in November.

These visits are an effective way to reach students and to get them registered. In just a few minutes, the volunteers can provide registration forms, answer questions, and collect completed forms.

Ms. Lymon and her team have set a goal to register or re-register (for students who have moved) over 5,000 voters before the voter registration deadline of October 11, 2016. She reports that the in-class registration process takes approximately 12 minutes, including Q&A.

If you are wiling to have a student trained in voter registration visit your class between now and October 11, please email the following information to Ms. Chiante’ Lymon at wevote@wmich.edu:

Class/section name:
Faculty name:
Faculty phone:
Date(s) they can visit your class(es):
Building and room numbers of class(es):
Days and times your classes meet (beginning and end times):
Approximate number of students in your classes:

On behalf of the WMU-AAUP Executive Committee, many thanks to all of you in advance for your participation in this important initiative.

Sincerely,

Lisa C. Minnick
President, WMU-AAUP