2014-17 contract update

Looking for the WMU-AAUP contract?

January 15, 2015:

The 2014-2017 Agreement is currently undergoing proofing and final preparation for publication. In the meantime, you can view the new language for 2014-17 (now in effect) for all articles that were renegotiated in 2014 at this link.

For the articles that were not renegotiated and will remain the same in the 2014-17 contract, follow this link to the official WMU-AAUP web page (not to be confused with the blog, which is what you’re looking at now) for electronic access to the full text of the WMU-AAUP 2011-14 Agreement.

Electronic and print copies of the 2014-17 contract will be available soon.

Fall 2014 WMU Wellness Program Update

You may have received a letter recently from the WMU Office of Human Resources inviting you to participate in a new WMU “wellness program,” which offers a small financial incentive for university employees, including faculty, in return for participation in the program. (The WMU-AAUP first reported on the plans for this program last year and again over the summer during negotiations.)

Now that letters from HR have begun arriving to invite our participation in the new wellness program, we want to share with you what we know about it in the hope that you’ll be able to make the best decision for yourself and your family about whether to participate.

Here is how the new wellness program works:

  • University employees (including faculty) will receive a small financial incentive in return for participating in the wellness program.
  • Your participation in the wellness program is voluntary. However, 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 this 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, six 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 herein, 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).

Howard Bunsis’s slides on university finances available HERE

Thanks to everyone who attended yesterday’s presentation on university finances and institutional values at WMU by Dr. Howard Bunsis, Professor of Accounting at Eastern Michigan University and chair of the national AAUP Collective Bargaining Caucus. We had a great turnout, and as always, Howard really delivered. His presentation did much to illuminate what the university’s funding decisions suggest about its values and priorities.

If you were not able to attend, we hope you’ll have a chance to talk with colleagues who were there and especially to explore the materials in his slide presentation, which are being made available to all faculty (see below).

Howard Bunsis’s Feb. 13 slide presentation is linked here. (Large file and pdf alert.)

Your WMU-AAUP leadership is looking forward to continuing discussions with all of you about institutional values and priorities.

Meet Your New Officers

Meet Your New Grievance Officer and Contract Administrator for 2013-15

At the Chapter meeting on April 19, 2013, the faculty approved the appointments of two new Chapter officers: John Saillant (Departments of English and History) was named grievance officer, effective April 19, 2013, and Marilyn Kritzman (School of Communication) will assume the office of contract administrator on September 1, 2013, when our current contract administrator, Paul Wilson, will step down to enjoy his well-deserved retirement after an extraordinary tenure of service to the Chapter and to the faculty. Both John’s and Marilyn’s terms will run through August 2015.

John Saillant: Your new Grievance Officer

John Saillant

John is a joint-appointed Professor of English and History who joined the faculty at WMU in 1997. An active teacher and scholar, he specializes in early American history and literature, African American studies, and American religion. He brings to his new position extensive knowledge of the complex political developments surrounding higher education and unions in Michigan as well as experience on numerous governance committees at WMU.

Since assuming office in April, John has impressed all of us (and especially the faculty members he has assisted) with his commitment to academic freedom and shared governance and with his meticulous, analytical approach to problem-solving. This is a guy who does his homework and then some. His preparedness, his smarts, his calm, steady demeanor, and his unshakeable sense of justice are enormous assets to the Chapter and to the faculty. We are lucky to have him on board. Welcome, John!

Marilyn Kritzman: Your new Contract Administrator

Marilyn Kritzman

Marilyn is a tenured Faculty Specialist II in the School of Communication with 30 years of service at WMU. A trained mediator who has also completed more than 200 hours of training in contract and grievance law for labor organizations, Marilyn brings with her an impressive set of skills and long record of service to the WMU-AAUP. She has served as her department’s Association Council representative and as Executive Committee rep for the College of Arts and Sciences (Humanities) in addition to her work on numerous WMU-AAUP committees, several of which she has chaired. She currently serves as Chapter treasurer.

When she assumes the office of contract administrator on September 1, 2013, Marilyn will bring to it an encyclopedic knowledge of the WMU-AAUP Agreement and of state and federal labor law, a razor-sharp intellect, and an unyielding commitment to faculty rights and due process. She’s already working hard this summer to prepare for her new position, and there is no doubt that the faculty will be in very good hands come September. Thank you, Marilyn!

Related: When to call your grievance officer or contract administrator

When to Call Your Grievance Officer or Contract Administrator

(269) 345-0151

Have you been summoned to a meeting with your chair or other administrator? CALL US NOW! 

Especially if you have not been fully informed about the subject of the meeting (but even if you have), we strongly recommend the following to all faculty members:

  • Do not attend such a meeting alone.
  • Consult with us as soon as possible after receiving a summons (whatever the form the summons takes – letter, email, phone, in-person contact, etc.).
  • Until you’ve talked to us, do not respond in writing to anything that you suspect (or you know) is related to disciplinary charges that may be filed against you.

Are you being pressured to accept extra work in addition to your normal workload? CALL US NOW!

Even if you are being offered compensation for extra work, we encourage all bargaining-unit members assigned additional work to call us and get our interpretation of whether what you’re being assigned and/or offered is appropriate under the contract.

Are you experiencing unexplained (or unconvincingly explained) changes in your workload, teaching schedule, or other responsibilities? CALL US NOW!

Are you facing what you believe may be punitive actions from your chair (or other administrator) for challenging decisions you feel are unjust? CALL US NOW!

Is your chair bypassing WMU-AAUP bargaining-unit faculty and using part-time faculty to staff summer classes? CALL US NOW!

Not sure whether your concern is a union issue? CALL US NOW!

If you find yourself in anything like any of these situations, or in any other situation that does not feel right to you or otherwise calls for clarification (and possibly support), call us! We are here to help you and to protect your rights.

You don’t have to wait until you’re in trouble to call us,
but if you think you might be in trouble, DON’T WAIT TO CALL US!

269-345-0151

Grievance Officer: John Saillant
Contract Administrator: Paul Wilson (until 08/31/13)
Contract Administrator: Marilyn Kritzman (effective 09/01/13)

The Equity Wiki Is Up!

Join the WMU-AAUP Equity Wiki

At the WMU-AAUP Association Council meeting on Friday, March 15, a central topic of discussion focused on faculty concerns about the “Gender Pay Equity Adjustments 2012-13 – Guiding Principles & Process” document circulated to the deans in early February by the WMU Office of Academic Affairs. As we discussed at the February AC and Chapter meetings, and as we’ve written elsewhere on this blog, many colleagues have questions as well as serious reservations about the process as it is described in the document and as it is being implemented in various departments and colleges.

So, what’s new?

At the Association Council meeting yesterday, a number of new questions and concerns arose. Specifically, we were all astonished to learn from others at the meeting that one or more of the following scenarios applies to many of the faculty members who were present at the meeting and who represent multiple departments and nearly every college:

  • Colleagues in their departments had been appointed to the equity committees in their colleges without their knowledge.
  • Equity committees in some colleges have scheduled meetings coming up very soon (i.e., next week), previously unbeknownst to them.
  • The equity committee in their college had already met, previously unbeknownst to them.
  • There is no faculty representative on their college committee from their department, as far as they know.

Additionally, from the AC reps’ reports yesterday, we also learned that the processes and procedures seem to be varying widely from department to department and college to college. (For example, committee representatives are elected by the faculty in some departments and appointed by the chair in others.) While we agree that one size rarely fits all, there seems now to be a great deal of additional (and understandable) confusion among faculty because the procedures now being implemented seem inconsistent with the guidelines and/or with what they had otherwise been led to believe would happen in their department or college.

Now, what about the wiki?

Serious communication problems have plagued the equity process from the beginning, and the Office of Academic Affairs continues to decline to communicate directly with the faculty about it, which results in ongoing concerns about the lack of transparency surrounding the project. Needless to say, this has been frustrating for all of us.

However, we can take action to inform and empower ourselves, including by collecting and sharing information. At the AC meeting yesterday, many colleagues spoke up to share their knowledge and observations about what is going on with the equity process. Those of us who were present found their contributions to be extremely helpful, relevant, and important enough to document and share with other colleagues. In fact, several colleagues proposed that we find a way to document and disseminate the information and reports that were being shared.

This is where the Equity Wiki comes in.

So, what is a wiki, exactly?

A wiki is a kind of blog that functions collaboratively and can be a highly efficient and effective way to get up-to-date information out to our colleagues very quickly. A wiki is different from an ordinary blog, though: In addition to having access to read the material posted here, all users also have the ability to add information directly.

The purpose of the Equity Wiki, then, is to create a clearinghouse for information about how the process is unfolding in the various departments and colleges across the WMU campus by collecting examples, experiences, and stories from individual faculty members campus-wide. The Equity Wiki is open to all members of the WMU-AAUP bargaining unit as a source for accessing information about what is happening with the process.

We invite you to share your knowledge with other WMU faculty colleagues by posting information and news there where we can all access it quickly and easily.

Who can see what we post on the Equity Wiki?

The Equity Wiki is is a private site, which means that only members can view or post content.

What if I am not a fan of learning a new technology?

We totally get that. We chose WikiSpaces as the host for the Equity Wiki because of its user-friendliness and (relatively) gentle learning curve. Like you, we are also learning as we go. And we will help in any way we can. This is an experiment for all of us. If it works well, it could be a powerful resource for faculty in all kinds of ways, including in relation to the equity process but in other situations as well. So we are enthusiastic about the potential here but also well aware that sometimes things don’t work out the way we hope they will. We hope you’ll be willing to join us in this experiment, take some time to explore the site and see how it works, and join the conversation.

Join the Equity Wiki now!