Tentative agreement info, absentee ballots, and important dates

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

September 12, 2017 |

Dear colleagues:

There is a lot to share with you today, so I thank you in advance for bearing with me.

1. Chapter meeting and ratification vote. As you review the tentative agreement in advance of the ratification vote next week, please be sure to put the following events in your calendar:

  • Friday, September 15: WMU-AAUP chapter meeting to discuss the tentative agreement. (3:30-5 p.m. in 157 Bernhard)
  • Tuesday, September 19: Faculty vote on ratification. (8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in 204 Bernhard)
  • Tuesday, September 19: Members of our bargaining team will be on hand all day to answer your questions about the TA, should you have additional questions after the chapter meeting this Friday or are not able to attend the meeting. (8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in 205 Bernhard, adjacent to the room where the ratification vote is being held.)

It’s important to have as much faculty participation as possible for the chapter meeting and especially for the ratification vote. The union is the faculty, and a high turnout for both events, regardless of where you stand on the issues, will remind the administration that the faculty is engaged and well informed. It also helps to build on our collective strength, a project we can never stop working on. #StrengthInSolidarity is more than just a hashtag.

All bargaining-unit members with questions are also invited to contact our team, chapter officers, and/or your Exec Committee representative (that’s your college-level rep) at any time. We want every colleague to have as much information as possible about what this contract will look like for you if it is approved. You can contact us directly (my email address is linked here) or send your questions to the chapter staff to be directed to the appropriate respondent(s).

2. Timeline for ratification vote. We realize that this is a tight timeline to go from TA reached on September 5, publication of the details on September 8, chapter meeting on September 15, and ratification vote on September 19. The faculty has big decisions to make, and you need and deserve time to give it serious thought, get your questions answered, and do your due diligence. I think we would all prefer to have more time for this important part of the process. However, the Board of Trustees has scheduled their vote on the TA for Wednesday, September 20. This is 10 days earlier than in 2014, and it means that we need to move more quickly than we might have liked.

This leaves us with a lot for faculty to digest in the next seven days before our ratification vote. That is why it’s critical for you to attend the chapter meeting on Friday if it is humanly possible for you to make it. We also invite you to stop by Montague House this week to meet with officers, give us a call (345-0151), or send us an email if you want to talk about the TA. And again, the bargaining team will be available all day on Tuesday the 19th to meet with you and answer questions.

3. Absentee ballots. If you need an absentee ballot, please contact the WMU-AAUP office ASAP at 345-0151 or via email. The staff will provide you with your ballot and instructions for submission. All absentee ballots must be returned electronically or received in hard copy to the WMU-AAUP no later than close of business on Tuesday, September 19.

4. Eligibility to vote. Please note that only dues-paying members are eligible to vote. If you need to activate your membership, please contact the WMU-AAUP office at 345-0151or via email as soon as possible to ensure your eligibility.

5. Switching gears: Tenure and promotion workshop rescheduled for Thursday, September 21. Because the faculty’s regular business continues no matter how many other things are going on, so does the business of the WMU-AAUP. However, sometimes we do have to move some things around. The tenure and promotion workshop scheduled for this Thursday, September 14, has been rescheduled for next Thursday, September 21, 1-3 p.m. in 204 Bernhard. We apologize for the conflict this causes for those who celebrate Rosh Hashanah. (I am one such celebrant, and I would like for us to do better. However, with the ratification vote taking up so much of our calendar, having to work around the officers’ teaching schedules, and the tenure and promotion deadline coming up so quickly, this is looking like the best we can do this time, much to our consternation. Please accept my apologies on behalf of the chapter.)

Additional sessions are scheduled for Wednesday, September 20, in 204 Bernhard, and Tuesday, September 26, in 205 Bernhard, both 1-3 p.m.

Many thanks for your patience with this long message. Hoping to see you all on Friday for the chapter meeting and again on Tuesday for the ratification vote. As I wrote last Friday, we still have a lot to talk about and a lot of work left to do, and we need everyone in on this conversation.

#StrengthInSolidarity
#WMUAAUP2017
#WeAreWorthIt

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

Details of the tentative agreement and notice of chapter meeting Sept 15

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

September 8, 2017 |

Dear colleagues,

The document containing the details of the tentative agreement reached late Tuesday night is now available and can be accessed here. It includes information for each of the contract articles where changes would be made to our Agreement if the TA is ratified by the faculty and by the Board of Trustees.

Please read everything carefully in preparation for the following events, for which your participation is needed:

1. Friday, September 15: WMU-AAUP chapter meeting to discuss the tentative agreement. (3:30-5 p.m. in 157 Bernhard)

2. Tuesday, September 19: Faculty vote on ratification. (Polls will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in 204 Bernhard)

If you need an absentee ballot, please contact the WMU-AAUP office ASAP during regular business hours at 345-0151 or via email.

Please note that only dues-paying members are eligible to vote. If you need to activate your membership, please contact the WMU-AAUP office at 345-0151 or via email as soon as possible to ensure your eligibility.

Again, many thanks to our team. Cynthia, Whitney, Bruce, Jeremy, and Mike gave up the better part of the past year to prepare for and engage in negotiations on our behalf, and they are owed a huge debt of gratitude. They faced challenging and difficult circumstances at the table right up to the end on Tuesday night but never allowed that to affect the professionalism with which they conducted themselves in these negotiations.

Thank you also to everyone who helped with the project of supporting the team in their work. This includes the WMU-AAUP Executive Committee, who despite the fact that most are on academic-year contracts worked all summer in their role as advisors to the team, and members of the WMU-AAUP Association Council, who along with more faculty colleagues than I can name stepped up to help organize rallies, boost our signal on social media, provide wise counsel, lend specialized expertise, make signs, send messages of support, take us out for drinks when that was what was needed, and otherwise do their part for the collective good. Thank you. We appreciate all of you more than you can imagine.

Special thanks are owed especially to the WMU-AAUP administrative staff, Susan E. and Lori M., whose tireless efforts and unshakeable loyalty to the faculty go mostly unsung most of the time but are essential to the effective operations of the chapter, not only during negotiation cycles but always. Please consider sending them a quick note of appreciation if you are so inclined.

But this is not over yet. The faculty still has to review and discuss the TA, and we still have to vote on whether to ratify it. Many of you will have questions. We have a lot to talk about and a lot of work left to do. We are going to need all of you as we go forward.

I hope to see you at the chapter meeting on September 15, and I hope I can count on you to participate in our ratification vote on September 19. (The Board of Trustees will hold their ratification vote on September 20.)

Thank you again for your ongoing commitment to the collective wellbeing of the faculty and to the continuing success and intellectual growth of this university and the community we all serve. As I wrote in my Labor Day note on the WMU-AAUP blog, we are — along with our staff colleagues — the heart, the soul, and the conscience of Western Michigan University. I am proud to serve and to work alongside so many dedicated and talented teachers, researchers, scholars, and artists.

Imagine what we could all achieve if taking care of the people who do the work of the university was among its highest priorities.

#StrengthInSolidarity
#WMUAAUP2017
#WeAreWorthIt

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

 

SEPT. 5 DAY OF ACTION: Contract expires TONIGHT – Stand with your team today!

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

September 5, 2017 |

Dear colleagues,

Welcome to the 2017-18 academic year! Wishing everyone a great first day and a productive, fulfilling year.

Obviously this first day of classes is different from most others, because our contract will expire at midnight tonight. Our bargaining team has been fighting hard for nearly six months to make our case at the table, and they have been doing an outstanding job. But they get their leverage and their power from the rest of us. And it is on us to make sure they can count on us to bring it.

That means mobilizing your colleagues to attend the chapter meeting this afternoon (3:30 p.m. in 157 Bernhard) and turning out tonight for the BBQ (5-7 p.m. at Montague House) and the rally (6:20 p.m. at Montague House).

We need a large turnout for all these events so we that can increase the pressure on the administration by using the leverage of our numbers. Let’s make sure that when this is all over, we can say to ourselves, to one another, and to our team, that we are 100 percent sure that we did everything we possibly could to support and honor their efforts at the table, keep the pressure on the administration, and win ourselves the contract we want and deserve.

Our team has been doing its part. Now it comes down to whether the faculty will return the favor today.

We continue to be optimistic that the two teams will reach a tentative agreement (TA) by tonight’s deadline. But we are also prepared to launch the Work to Rule labor action, as we announced last week, if a TA is not reached by midnight tonight. While I think we can all agree — on both sides — that settling the new contract by the deadline tonight would be a positive outcome, under no circumstances can the faculty agree to a contract that is beneath our dignity.

That means we need to be prepared for the possibility that this won’t be over tonight, that we might have to keep fighting for a while longer, that we might be going in to work tomorrow without a contract, and that we might be working-to-rule — indefinitely — beginning just after midnight tonight.

Because appeals to logic, equity, and fairness do not always work at the table, where there is an inherently asymmetric balance of power, the faculty’s responsibility is to make it clear that we support our team and will not stand for anything that moves us backwards or even keeps us where we are, i.e., far below the national median for faculty salaries and below our colleagues at most of the institutions that the WMU administration has identified as our peers.

Many thanks to all of you for your work on what has been a truly collaborative effort to support our team and mobilize our colleagues. Please don’t give up now.

We’ll talk at the chapter meeting this afternoon about the latest news from the bargaining table and discuss the work-to-rule labor action we’re planning if we don’t reach a tentative agreement tonight. For now, and as always, thank you again for all you’ve done to support our team and for doing everything you can to turn out for them today.

#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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WMU Invisible Need project reports urgent needs — How faculty can help

The WMU Invisible Need project provides support and resources, including a campus food pantry, for students who are struggling financially. Sadly, a number of WMU students experience food insecurity on a regular basis. For these students, the food pantry is an invaluable resource. Unfortunately, the pantry’s food supply is very low at the moment. The faculty’s help is needed.

Your donations of non-perishable food items can be dropped off at multiple locations on campus. Perishable items can be delivered to the food pantry in the Faunce Student Services Building during their business hours of 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Additionally, food pantry staff will make a pick-up in room 105 of the Bernhard Center on Friday afternoon, April 8, at 3:30 p.m., following the WMU-AAUP chapter meeting.

If you plan to attend the WMU-AAUP chapter meeting on Friday (1:30 p.m. in room 105) or the brown bag lunch on campus safety (11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Faculty Dining Room of the Bernhard Center), please consider bringing one or more items from the following list and/or other nonperishable foods:

  • pasta (not mac and cheese, please)
  • rice
  • cereal
  • fruit
  • snacks
  • desserts
  • condiments
  • other nonperishables

Thank you for your support of the WMU Invisible Need project.

 

Chapter meeting tomorrow at 1:30 p.m. (Friday, October 16)

The WMU-AAUP fall chapter meeting is tomorrow, Friday, October 16, at 1:30 p.m., in rooms 157-159 of the Bernhard Center.

Some of the agenda items we’re working on for tomorrow include the proposed 2016 chapter budget, workload reporting under Article 42, the Invisible Hours project, “alternative healthcare plan” discussions, the WMU support staff unionization effort, campus safety, and news about upcoming AAUP centennial celebration events.

Also, the WMU-AAUP staff will be accepting faculty donations to the WMU-AAUP Seita Scholar gift card fundraiser at the meeting tomorrow. Many thanks to everyone who has contributed so far.

All bargaining-unit members are encouraged to attend the chapter meeting. As always, there will be tasty snacks and lively conversation. Hope to see you there!

Save the date: Chapter meeting Friday, October 16

The WMU-AAUP fall chapter meeting is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. on Friday, October
16, in room of the 157 Bernhard Center.

Here are some of the agenda items we’re working on for the meeting:

  • Chapter budget proposal for 2016
  • Workload reporting under Article 42
  • WMU support staff unionization effort
  • What do professors do? The Invisible Hours project
  • “Alternative Healthcare Plan” discussions
  • APR&P results
  • Celebrating the national AAUP centennial

Please send your suggestions for agenda items to staff@wmuaaup.net.

All bargaining-unit members are encouraged to attend the chapter meeting. As always, there will be tasty snacks and lively conversation.

Photo of September 2014 chapter meeting

Trustee Mary Asmonga-Knapp Responds to Faculty Questions

WMU Trustee Mary Asmonga-KnappWMU Trustee Mary Asmonga-Knapp

Faculty who were not able to attend the WMU-AAUP chapter meeting on April 17 with special guests President John Dunn and Trustee Mary Asmonga-Knapp were invited to submit their questions electronically, as were colleagues who did attend but preferred to submit their questions in advance. When time did not permit coverage of these questions at the meeting, Trustee Asmonga-Knapp asked to take the list of questions with her so that she could respond to them in writing. Additionally, several faculty members followed up with questions after the chapter meeting. Her responses to the questions posed online and after the meeting appear below.

On behalf of the WMU-AAUP bargaining-unit faculty, we express our thanks to President Dunn and Trustee Asmonga-Knapp for their attendance at the meeting and to Trustee Asmonga-Knapp for taking the additional time to respond to the questions that were not addressed during the meeting.

*                      *                      *                      *                      *

Trustee Asmonga-Knapp asks that readers please note that the viewpoints expressed here are her own and that she is not speaking for the Board.

Question: Is Trustee Asmonga-Knapp aware of how much her visible support of gender equity has meant to women faculty and staff at WMU?

Trustee Asmonga-Knapp:

When I moved to table the motion for the President’s compensation package at the March 2015 meeting of the Board of Trustees, I knew I would not have any support from my colleagues on the Board.

I could not in good conscience vote yes to the compensation package, when as far back as 2011, the administration knew there were significant issues regarding pay equity for women faculty and our administrative professional staff and clerical workers who were predominantly women. The trustees were notified in 2014 that there were pay equity issues, but prior to that we had heard nothing. When protests began campus wide, I pressed for resolution and wondered how long it would take to determine pay scales. Years? After the January meeting of the Board of Trustees at the Bernhard Center, and dissent became widespread, suddenly a preliminary report from Aon Hewitt surfaced. It was at this time I realized the gravity in pay differentials.

As a working woman, wife and mother, I have lived their story. I know exactly what gender inequity feels like. It not only reflects tangibles in dollars and cents, but it also involves being treated as if you do not have a voice or a worthy thought even though you spend most of your time doing the hard work and making sacrifices for the organization.

People are more than a budget line item. Professors, clerical workers, stage hands, teaching assistants, grounds persons, cafeteria workers, academic professionals, and a whole host of working Michiganders are the reason WMU works.

I have lived your story. Seeing you all in the audience at the recent meetings gave me guts and purpose! I now know why I sit on the WMU Board of Trustees. It is YOU who gave me the courage to stand. I thank you.

We need to take care of “First things first.“ Those lower paid administrative and clerical staff should have come before such a generous presidential contract and retirement package, which could have been addressed after their needs were met. It did not send a message of caring or concern. We need to take care of the troops first. I thank those staff for their years of hard work and light pay.

Question: Has there been any follow up from other trustees that Trustee Asmonga-Knapp is in a position to discuss indicating their new willingness to work on gender equity concerns with her?

Trustee Asmonga-Knapp:

To my knowledge, other than myself, no member of the WMU Board of Trustees acknowledges any gender equity issues, whether tangible or intangible. They also do not seem willing to acknowledge the existence of a morale problem among faculty or other staff. We need to improve these relationships and work toward a healthier work environment. These conditions need to be acknowledged, and they are clear if we review the faculty surveys of the last few years. However, the tendency is for the issues to be ignored and blamed on a few rabble rousers.

Question: Can Trustee Asmonga-Knapp provide insight as to why there were police officers at the March 25th meeting of the Board of Trustees and why the April BoT meeting will be held out of town? Isn’t the campus enthusiasm to be at these meetings a good thing?

Trustee Asmonga-Knapp:

I think there were police officers at the meeting because the status quo felt threatened. Dissent can be frightening for some. I do not know who called the police, but I did not find the event threatening. If we cannot have dialogue on a university campus, where can we? I hope we have lots more.

Question: Is there anything that faculty can do to support your continued efforts on our behalf?

Trustee Asmonga-Knapp:

Being a woman of faith, I ask you to pray for me. I ask you to send me emails, call me, and continue to educate me. The short time I have left on the Board of Trustees, let it be used for good. I ask you to speak up at meetings, send letters to the Board of Trustees and let your voices be heard! Write articles. Keep talking. I want you to enter into discourse with President Dunn and work through these very painful issues collectively. Can we do better? YES WE CAN!

Question: In 2006 WMU subsidized NCAA Division 1 programming to the tune of $8 million. That is $8 million spent to balance the books after all income is taken into account. In 2013 that number was up to $18.5 million. What does it say about our priorities when we are willing slow or freeze faculty hiring, decrease the number of GA/DA lines, and increase student tuition under the guise of budget cuts when the NCAA subsidy (loss) has more than doubled in the last 7 years?

Trustee Asmonga-Knapp:

It is disheartening when so much is spent on NCAA Division 1 programming and an assistant professor gets offered $38,000, as one faculty member mentioned at the chapter meeting. I could not have survived on that salary. However, it is looked upon as an investment to draw students to a school with a winning football team. It is cultural. Those making those contributions believe it will make WMU more appealing. I understand where they are coming from. It is their way of making WMU great. They have the money to do it and it is their vision. In their way, they love WMU.

Question (asked in the hallway after the meeting): What are your thoughts on the affiliation between WMU and Cooley Law School?

Trustee Asmonga-Knapp:

The Board of Trustees thought it was a good idea. It was to expand the footprint of WMU and to be a good mutual relationship for both.

Question (asked in the hallway after the meeting): Can you comment on the various business interests of members of the Board of Trustees and how these interests might intersect with their roles as trustees?

Trustee Asmonga-Knapp:

I do not know enough to comment on it at this time. However, I will do research and get back to you with answers at a later date.

*                      *                      *                      *                      *

Trustee Asmonga-Knapp’s closing comments:

Listening to the frustrations of faculty in the meeting, I had no idea what a conundrum existed between the faculty, deans, provost and the president. I knew a little, but the discussion at the chapter meeting opened my eyes! We have to find a way forward. If we do not regard our faculty and the educational experience, we will have failed. I want students to be mentored and faculty to fulfill their calling. We must find a better way. I believe that the way forward is talking and addressing these very hard issues. I do not have all the answers, but I believe we do. When I say we, I mean faculty, employees, administration, and the WMU Board of Trustees. We have to begin to build bridges and work toward a community of good. We have to work collectively and not pretend others do not exist.

In regard to the placement of the WMU-AAUP and other unions on the WMU Board of Trustees agenda, I do not agree at all with the denial of the WMU-AAUP as an active partner in shared governance. There appears to be a desire to ignore the WMU-AAUP contract in regard to shared governance. I encourage the leadership to continue discussion with the President. I believe that this change to the agenda has more to do with being outspoken and advocacy for faculty then it has to do with anything. I believe it is a punitive and unfair action by the Board of Trustees.

It is an honor to have been your guest,

Mary Asmonga-Knapp, LMSW, ACSW
WMU Board of Trustees