Financial Analysis of Western Michigan University, by Dr. Howard Bunsis

Dr. Howard Bunsis, Professor of Accounting at Eastern Michigan University and Chair of the National AAUP Collective Bargaining Congress, addressed the faculty at Western Michigan University on February 16, 2017.

Click here to view the slides from Howard’s presentation.

 

New Faculty and Association Council Luncheon Sept. 16

New members of the board-appointed faculty at WMU are invited to the WMU-AAUP New Faculty and Association Council Luncheon on Friday, September 16, at 11:30 a.m. in 157 Bernhard.

This is an opportunity for new colleagues to meet faculty from across the university and to get acquainted with their faculty union officers and their college and department representatives. New faculty members and WMU-AAUP Association Council representatives should have already received their invitations to this special event. (Please contact staff@wmuaaup.net if you’re a new hire or an AC rep and have not received your invitation yet.)

The luncheon will feature special guest speaker Dr. Risa Lieberwitz, Professor of Labor and Employment Law at Cornell University and General Counsel of the American Association of University Professors. In addition to her appearance at the luncheon, Dr. Lieberwitz will also give a public presentation, “The History, Uses, and Abuses of Title IX,” at 4 p.m. on September 16. (More information about that here.)

The luncheon will be followed by the regular Association Council meeting, which begins at 1:30 p.m. and will also be in 157 Bernhard.

We understand the challenges that new colleagues can face in their first years on campus and how isolating it can sometimes feel when you’re new in the department. We are fortunate to have a wonderful community of faculty here at WMU, and we encourage our new colleagues to join us at the luncheon to meet and socialize with other new faculty and their union reps while also learning more about how the WMU-AAUP serves the faculty and the kinds of support and resources that are available to union members.

Especially in a national and regional climate that continues to challenge our claims to decent pay, benefits, and working conditions, we as university faculty must work together to make the case for higher education as a public good. As educators, researchers, artists, and scholars, professors are uniquely qualified to lead these discussions. Getting to know each other is a great way to start to come together as a united faculty who can make our case effectively, especially as we prepare for contract negotiations next year.

 

2017 Starts Now: Contract Review Workshop on May 16 with Dr. Jamie Daniel

Monday, May 16, 2016
10 a.m. to 3 p.m. (lunch provided)

at Montague House
814 Oakland Drive

Photo of Dr. Jamie DanielDr. Jamie Daniel

On Monday, May 16, 2016, Dr. Jamie Daniel, national AAUP Field Service Representative, will lead a review of our 2014-17 Agreement as we kick off preparations for contract negotiations next year.

All dues-paying members of the WMU-AAUP bargaining unit are invited to participate or just to listen and learn. Colleagues who are considering applying for the 2017 bargaining team or serving in other WMU-AAUP leadership positions are especially encouraged to attend, as are all faculty who want to know more about the contract.

The national AAUP’s workshop description:

What’s meaningful in a particular collective bargaining agreement is greatly shaped by local conditions: the nature of the institution and its resources, and the needs of the faculty in the bargaining unit as it is constituted. But what has transpired at other bargaining tables can spark new directions on your campus. And sometimes a fresh, “outsiders’ view” of a contract can be a useful source of ideas on how to shape your bargaining agenda.

As you begin the process of preparing to go to the table, the national office staff can review your current contract, and present thoughts on changes that you might wish to bargain for. Alternatively, we can prepare an analysis of specific provisions of your contract that you may be interested in modifying in bargaining. In either case, we can offer examples of language in other current agreements, to help flesh out what the possibilities are, and to serve as ammunition at your table.

Join us!

Deadline for faculty to inform provost of intent to appeal T&P decisions is TODAY

Per Article 17.§10 of the Agreement, the deadline for faculty members to inform the provost of their intent to appeal his tenure and promotion recommendation is today, Tuesday, April 26.

IF YOU WISH TO APPEAL THE PROVOST’S RECOMMENDATION:

The notification of your intent to appeal must be in writing. Email Provost Tim Greene TODAY at tim.greene@wmich.edu to inform him of your intent to appeal. All it takes to do this is a brief email message. Here is sample language for appeal notification emails:

Dear Provost Greene,

This is to inform you of my intent to appeal your recommendation regarding my [second-year, fourth-year, tenure, promotion, step-increase, etc.] review.

Sincerely,

IF YOU WOULD LIKE WMU-AAUP ASSISTANCE WITH YOUR APPEAL:

Pease call the chapter office at 345-0151 during business hours. Staff is on duty M-F until 4:30 p.m. this week, but the office will be closed next week during the break. However, officers will be available, so please contact us directly for assistance:

WMU-AAUP Contract Administrator Kate Langan: klangan@wmuaaup.net

WMU-AAUP Grievance Officer John Saillant: jsaillant@wmuaaup.net

WMU-AAUP Chapter President Lisa Minnick: lminnick@wmuaaup.net

We are here to help.

#StrongerTogether

Supreme Court decision on marriage equality and its impact on your WMU benefits

WMU-AAUP letter to the faculty on the Supreme Court decision on marriage equality:

July 1, 2015

Dear colleagues:

As you know, the Supreme Court of the United States has struck down all remaining state bans on same-sex marriage (including Michigan’s).

The Supreme Court decision, announced last Friday, has implications for the benefits available to faculty colleagues in same-sex marriages.

Previously, same-sex spouses were eligible to be on faculty health insurance policies under the DEI (designated eligible individual) provisions in the Agreement. However, all faculty spouses are now eligible for spousal coverage, which has considerable tax advantages over DEI coverage.

If you wish to to change your spouse’s existing DEI coverage to spousal coverage; if you wish to add your spouse to your health insurance for the first time; or if you have married since last week’s court decision, please contact your department’s Human Resources representative as soon as possible to get your spouse the coverage to which your family is entitled.

As always, we are here to help you navigate this process as needed. Please call 345-0151 or email staff@wmuaaup.net for assistance.

Congratulations to all whose marriages and families are at long last gaining the legal recognition they deserve, in Michigan and nationwide!

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

Revisiting the WMU Employee Wellness Program

Last fall, the WMU-AAUP circulated information to faculty about the WMU employee wellness program. Recently, a number of faculty members have contacted us with questions after receiving email messages encouraging them to participate in the program. Because it is important that faculty have the information they need to make informed decisions, we are publishing the information again.

If you have questions after reviewing this information, please contact us at 345-0151 or via email at staff@wmuaaup.net.

Here is how the new wellness program works:

  • The WMU wellness program is VOLUNTARY. Participation is NOT MANDATORY. (But please see this recent news article: When Does Workplace Wellness Become Coercive? NPR, June 24, 2015.)
  • University employees (including faculty) will receive a small financial incentive in return for participating in the wellness program.
  • While your participation in the wellness program is voluntary, it is required in order to qualify for the incentive.
  • The incentive totals $240 annually in the form of a per-pay period reduction to the employee’s share of the health insurance premium.
  • If you choose to participate, the incentive will reduce your share of the premium by $9.23 per pay period (after taxes) for those on 26 pays or by $13.33 per pay period (after taxes) for those on 18 pays.
  • In order to qualify for the incentive, you must complete a “health risk assessment” and biometric testing.

What the incentive would look like for you:

  • If you are on the employee-only plan: Your annual premium for 2014 is $954. The wellness-program incentive would reduce that annual premium by $240, resulting in a new annual premium of $714, a discount of 25.1 percent.
  • If you are on the two-person plan: Your annual premium for 2014 is $3970. The wellness-program incentive would reduce that annual premium by $240, resulting in a new total annual premium of $3730, a discount of six percent.
  • If you are on the family plan: Your annual premium for 2014 is $5664. The wellness-program incentive would reduce that annual premium by $240, resulting in a new total annual premium of $5424, a discount of 4.2 percent.

What about privacy and confidentiality?

  • To qualify for the financial incentive, participants in the wellness program are required to submit to biometric testing and to complete a “health risk assessment” survey.
  • The “health risk assessment” survey contains a number of questions about your private health information. These questions are personal, and some are presumptive and intrusive (e.g., “Have you been annoyed when others say you have had too much to drink?” and “During the past 4 weeks, how much did your health problems affect your productivity while you were working?”).
  • The federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) includes a privacy rule that prevents healthcare providers from sharing an individual’s health information with their employer. However, HIPAA rules may not apply to “wellness” program vendors who are not technically healthcare providers.
  • When we raised this question at the bargaining table last summer, Holtyn confirmed that while the company complies voluntarily with HIPAA, it is not compelled by law to do so.
  • Should any conflicts of interest arise (in relation to an insurance claim, for example), it is not clear whether the vendor would be required by law to protect faculty interests over those of our employer (who is also their employer), or if not required, whether they would choose to do so.

Is the incentive worth it?

  • Under the Affordable Care Act, federal law allows employers to offer incentives for wellness program participation of up to 30 percent of the employee’s share of the premium.
  • The incentive on offer to us amounts to 4.2 percent of the family premium for 2014, 6 percent of the two-person premium, and 25.1 percent for the employee-only premium.
  • University employees (including faculty) are being asked to provide a lot of private information in exchange for what would be a relatively small incentive, especially for those on the two-person or family plans.

In addition to the information provided here, we are available to help you with any questions you might have as you consider whether participation in the wellness program is the right choice for you. Call us (345-0151), email us (staff@wmuaaup.net), or stop by Montague House (814 Oakland Drive).

Uncompensated Summer Work and Faculty Rights Under Article 38

Updated May 3, 2017.

Many people outside the university community (and even quite a few within it) are often surprised to learn that WMU faculty on academic-year (AY) appointments who are not assigned to summer teaching are not compensated by Western Michigan University for work performed in the months of May, June, July, and August.

Yet many AY faculty are called upon during the summer to perform a variety of work assignments on behalf of the university for which they will not be paid. Some examples include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • work on strategic planning at the department, college, or university level;
  • administration of academic programs within departments;
  • department meetings and retreats;
  • independent studies, including those for which students pay tuition and receive credit;
  • lab and research supervision of graduate and undergraduate students;
  • graduate and undergraduate advising;
  • participating in doctoral exams and dissertation defenses;
  • supervision of student internships;
  • training and supervision of graduate teaching and research assistants;
  • student recruitment activities;
  • a multitude of other service, administrative, or quasi-administrative activities.

The majority of Board-appointed faculty members at WMU have academic-year appointments, although there are also a number of fiscal-year (FY) faculty with 12-month appointments and some with 10-month appointments.

While most AY faculty are eligible to participate in a deferred-compensation pay structure, in which a portion of each paycheck throughout the academic year is withheld for disbursement over the summer, resulting in equal installments throughout the calendar year, their “summer pay” was actually earned during the academic year. This structure is often misunderstood as AY faculty’s being paid for summer work, but that is not the case.

It can be beneficial for AY faculty to receive their pay in equal disbursements throughout the calendar year rather than going 14 weeks in the summer without a paycheck. It can also benefit the university’s cash flow to withhold approximately a quarter of the pay earned by the hundreds of participating AY faculty during the academic year and disburse it in the summer after the AY concludes. It is a symbiotic arrangement.

Other AY faculty are paid their full earnings during the academic year, with their last paycheck until September 5 to be disbursed on May 19.

Article 38 of the Agreement articulates the terms under which AY faculty are employed in relation to the academic calendar: “Bargaining unit faculty on academic year appointments shall not be required to work . . . during periods between semesters and sessions when classes are not scheduled to meet” (38.§4.1).

It expressly defines “outside the calendar” as “before the Fall semester begins, between the Fall and Spring semesters, and after the Spring semester ends” (38.§2).

Exceptions are permissible only in “limited circumstances,” which must be “legitimate responsibilities of academic-year faculty (e.g., registration, department orientation/organization meetings, retreats, committee assignments, and grading situations).” Additionally, the contract requires that “Western will follow present procedures to cover these assignments. If Western is unable to ensure faculty coverage for such legitimate responsibilities, Western will notify the Chapter before assigning faculty to such tasks” (38.§2).

In recent years, however, many AY faculty have been experiencing significant increases in uncompensated summer work assignments, as well as increases to their regular workloads that make it difficult to complete within the academic year all the work for which they are responsible. They report increasing pressure – to which pre-tenure faculty are especially vulnerable –  to work in the summer without compensation in ways that appear to extend the definition of “limited circumstances” well beyond the spirit of the Agreement.

The institution is becoming increasingly dependent on free faculty labor, and it is time to break this exploitative cycle.

The “legitimate” work of faculty on academic-year appointments can and should be performed during the academic year, within the bounds of reasonable faculty workloads. If there is work that is sufficiently critical to the functioning of the institution that cannot be done during the academic year but must be performed in the summer, that work must be compensated.

Faculty members themselves are best situated to determine whether assignments they are asked (or expected) to perform outside the calendar constitutes legitimate use of their time during parts of the year when they are not being paid for their work.

Therefore, it is the Chapter’s position that all assignments of work “outside the calendar” must be compensated, offered without coercion, and accepted or declined without penalty at the discretion of each individual faculty member.

Additionally, fiscal-year faculty rights to a reasonable workload must not be infringed. FY faculty must not be burdened with additional assignments, including work that would be “outside the calendar” for AY faculty, without overload pay. Such assignments must be compensated, offered without coercion, and accepted or declined without penalty at the discretion of each individual faculty member.

If the administration believes that any particular task or initiative is sufficiently urgent to require “outside the calendar” faculty attention, their proposals should be brought to the Chapter, pursuant to Article 38.§2, for consideration on a case-by-case basis. In principle, however, the WMU-AAUP cannot support practices that do not compensate faculty members appropriately for their work.

We ask that chairs, directors, deans, the provost, and all other administrators, especially those who are compensated for their work all year round, follow the Golden Rule as their guiding principle: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. The academic calendar must be respected, and the academic-year appointments of faculty members who hold them must be honored. It is not appropriate to expect, require, or attempt to compel uncompensated “outside the calendar” work to be performed by AY faculty or expect, require, or attempt to compel any uncompensated overload work to be performed by any faculty member, regardless of appointment type.

Please also note that AY faculty members who accept summer teaching assignments are compensated for teaching only. Summer teaching stipends do not entitle chairs or other administrators to additional faculty service beyond the teaching of summer courses and the responsibilities associated with this work.

Faculty members who feel that they are being expected or required to perform uncompensated summer work or uncompensated overload assignments (and especially those who feel they are being pressured into doing so) are urged to contact the WMU-AAUP office by calling 345-0151 or emailing staff@wmuaaup.net.

A culture in which people are expected to work without pay is unacceptable. And we believe that it should be a high priority for all parties to the Agreement to work together to honor and defend it.