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.

Results of Faculty Surveys of CAS Dean Alex Enyedi (2011 and 2014)

Faculty Evaluation of Dr. Alex Enyedi, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences
Conducted by the WMU-AAUP in 2011 and 2014 per Article 19 of the Agreement

Results of 2014 Evaluation

Note: The 27 pages of results from the 2014 faculty evaluation of CAS Dean Alex Enyedi include a number of categories focusing on issues that could be perceived as more important to the faculty than to senior university administration, such as statements about whether the dean is “sensitive to faculty concerns.” (83 percent of CAS faculty participants agreed or strongly agreed that Dean Enyedi is.) The information below focuses on key measures that would (ideally) be considered important by both faculty and senior administration.

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Faculty Evaluation Data

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2011 Evaluation of CAS Dean Alex Enyedi (summary results):

2011 Faculty Evaluation Data

WMU Faculty Perspectives from the 2014 WMU-AAUP Negotiation Survey

In April and May 2014, as part of the preparation for contract negotiations, the WMU-AAUP conducted a survey of the Board-appointed faculty at Western Michigan University.

The survey addressed various topics and issues, including faculty priorities for negotiations as well as their perceptions about university leaders, campus initiatives and priorities, and the availability and allocation of institutional resources. Faculty members were also asked about cultural, climate, and aspirational issues. The survey was sent by U.S. mail to the 877 members of the Board-appointed faculty in early April 2014. A digital option was made available as well.

A total of 250 respondents returned the completed survey by mail or completed it electronically, for a rate of return of 28.5%. While a larger rate of return is obviously preferable, the results provided the WMU-AAUP leadership and negotiation team with interesting and useful insights into the perceptions and perspectives of a substantial number of WMU faculty members. Additionally, the trends suggested in the survey data largely correspond with perspectives that have been widely articulated in formal and informal discussions with and among faculty members across disciplines, colleges, and departments leading up to last summer’s contract negotiations.

Although the data was collected primarily for the WMU-AAUP negotiation team to use as they prepared to bargain the 2014-17 contract, and therefore much of it was not intended to be made public, we are releasing the information below in light of recent events on campus, including Provost Tim Greene’s decision not to renew the contract of College of Arts and Sciences Dean Alex Enyedi.

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demographicsprioritiesFavorability Ratings

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