Grievance officer John Saillant to step down after 4 years, Trenary named interim GO

After more than four years in the demanding role of WMU-AAUP grievance officer, John Saillant (English and History) will step down effective August 14, 2017.

Robert Trenary (Computer Sciences) will assume the role of interim grievance officer on that date. (Read more about Robert here, and please join us in welcoming him to the WMU-AAUP leadership team.)

Throughout his years of service, John has been a stalwart union advocate and has provided support and guidance to countless faculty colleagues through the grievance process, tenure and promotion appeals, disciplinary proceedings, and workload appeals.

We don’t throw around the word “tireless” lightly at Montague House, but John has more than earned that descriptor. During his time in office, he has met with, listened to, corresponded with, counseled, and assisted scores if not hundreds of faculty members, from every college on campus and most if not every department.

We are all going to miss John, but we could not be more thrilled that he is about to embark on what is quite possibly the most well-deserved sabbatical of all time.

John’s commitment to the foundational AAUP principles of academic freedom, shared governance, and especially due process, along with his meticulous, analytical approach to problem-solving, not to mention his patience and kindness (and sense of humor) in even the most high-pressure situations, have been tremendous assets to the Chapter and to the faculty.

When we welcomed John to the WMU-AAUP leadership team in 2013, we especially admired his preparedness, his smarts, his calm and steady demeanor, and his unshakeable sense of justice. Four years later, we know now that we did not at that time know the half of what John would bring to the Chapter. John, we can’t thank you enough for all you’ve done for all of us.

Colleagues, please join us in letting John know what his service has meant to you. And John, we wish you all good things as you move on to your next adventure.

Trenary named WMU-AAUP interim grievance officer; Saillant to step down after 4 years

Dr. Robert Trenary (Computer Science) has been named interim grievance officer for the WMU-AAUP, effective August 14, 2017.

Robert comes to us with extensive experience in labor relations, including union leadership experience in the K-12 sector prior to his joining the faculty at WMU and, more recently, 15 years of service on the St. Joseph County ISD School Board. Since his arrival at Western, he has been an active union member and has served multiple terms on the WMU-AAUP Association Council. An unswerving and well-informed union advocate, Robert brings to the interim grievance officer position extensive knowledge of the contract and a strong commitment to serving the faculty.

“The purpose of negotiations and that handshake we work so hard to institutionalize in the form of a contract requires constant attention because the University embodies a labor relationship and much more,” Robert writes. “Grievance is a process that maintains that handshake.”

In addition to voting unanimously to appoint him to the interim role, the WMU-AAUP Executive Committee also recommends Robert unanimously to serve as the Chapter’s grievance officer for the two-year term that begins in September 2017 and runs through August 2019. Next month, the Association Council will meet to discuss this recommendation and hold a confirmation vote.

In the meantime, we could not be more delighted to welcome Robert to the WMU-AAUP leadership team as interim grievance officer. We are grateful for his willingness to accept this challenging role.

Robert joins us officially on August 14 (although he has already been spending a lot of time at Montague House), when long-serving WMU-AAUP grievance officer John Saillant (English and History) will step down after more than four years in the GO role.

Read more about John here, and please join us in expressing our gratitude for his outstanding service as grievance officer since April 2013. We will miss him but wish him well as he completes his stellar tenure as union officer and moves forward in pursuit of new challenges.

Quick negotiation update and 6/23 happy hour invitation

Our WMU-AAUP bargaining team has been focused these past few weeks on the critical issues of workload and overall compensation, including salary and health care. While the work is arduous and movement on these contentious issues can be slow at times, our team is slowly but steadily making progress toward securing a strong contract for the faculty.

We will have more to report on these issues in the next few weeks, but here is a quick update on what’s been happening at the bargaining table:

Article 42: Work of the Unit. 

The teams are close to a tentative agreement on Article 42, including new language that reinforces institutional support for faculty working with students with documented disabilities. The need for support has become a significant issue for faculty and students, and our team has worked hard to address it in the contract. They have also negotiated successfully to protect current contract language on workload maximums, which are preserved in the tentative agreement.

Articles 32 and 33: Economic Compensation and Health Care Benefits.

The two teams have presented their initial proposals for economic compensation and health care benefits. Given the complexity of these articles – perhaps especially health care, in light of recent and ongoing congressional activity – the teams remain far apart on both. However, our team is continuing their research into these issues and building a strong case at the table. Since these articles were introduced several weeks ago, our team has been standing strong and working determinedly to reach agreement on fair economic compensation and contain healthcare costs for faculty, and they have no intention of backing down.


We will have more information for you on these important topics soon. In the meantime, please keep those messages of support coming. Bargaining is intense, grueling work, and while most faculty members don’t have to spend much time thinking about it, our team has been living it 24/7 for months. It means a lot to them to hear from you and to be reminded that you have their backs. You can find the WMU-AAUP on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, or just reply to this email with your message for the team.

Fourth Friday Happy Hour on June 23 at Arcadia

To catch up in person with members of our team, chapter officers, and Exec Committee members, or just to relax and have some fun, please join us tomorrow (Friday, June 23), 5-6pm, for the WMU-AAUP Fourth Friday Happy Hour at Arcadia Brewing Co. (701 E. Michigan Avenue). Dues-paying members: As always, your first drink’s on us. See you there!

#StrengthInSolidarity
#WMUAAUP2017

Negotiation Update: TAs reached on several articles, economic articles now on the table

On May 9, our WMU-AAUP negotiation team returned to the table following the semester break. The teams have been at the bargaining table every Tuesday and Thursday, with our team also meeting frequently away from the table to draft and respond to proposal language and to consult with the WMU-AAUP Executive Committee.

Cynthia, Whitney, Bruce, Jeremy, and Mike have been working tirelessly for months, and they’ve made a lot of progress at the table since negotiations got underway on March 13. That means there’s a lot to report, including great news about intellectual property rights and protections, major improvements to the tenure and promotion process for Faculty Specialists, and updates on key issues now on the table.


 I. The teams have reached tentative agreements (TAs) on the following articles:


Articles 17 and 18
Tenure Policies and Procedures and Promotion Policies and Procedures

    • Tenure and promotion procedures for Faculty Specialists. In previous contracts, tenure and promotion have been two separate processes for Faculty Specialists, requiring two separate reviews. (For traditionally ranked faculty, tenure and promotion reviews have been – and will remain – concurrent.) The teams have reached TA on new language proposed by our WMU-AAUP team: Effective with the new contract, Faculty Specialists will be automatically promoted to Faculty Specialist II with the granting of tenure.
    • Streamlining of tenure and promotion review process prior to the final tenure review. Tenure reviews other than the final review that receive positive recommendations at the levels of DTC, chair, and dean will now conclude at the dean’s office rather than being sent to the provost for review and approval. If a review is negative at any level of the review process, it will go forward to the provost according to current and established contractual practices outlined in Article 17, as will all final reviews.
    • Standards for promotion to full professor. For promotion to full professor, option (a) in Article 18.3.7 currently requires faculty to “have: (a) achieved outstanding professional recognition and a satisfactory record of professional competence.” In the new contract, “satisfactory” will be replaced by “significant” for professional competence.

Article 26: Sabbatical Leave

Later due date for sabbatical proposals (October 1). A new due date for sabbatical proposals will go into effect with the new contract. This will provide faculty with much-needed extra time to prepare their proposals beyond the previous deadline of September 15.

Article 43: Intellectual Property (formerly Discoveries, Patents, and Copyrights)

  • Stronger intellectual property protections. New language expands and strengthens faculty copyright ownership and protection for their course materials, scholarly work, and creative work, in addition to existing protections for discoveries, patents, and copyrights. The article title is being updated for the new contract to reflect this expansion of protections.


II. On the table: Paid parental leave, workload,
and evaluation of professional competence.


Our WMU-AAUP team has presented a strong proposal for paid parental leave (Article 27: Leaves of Absence). The teams continue to negotiate this topic along with proposals on Article 42: Workload and Article 16: Evaluation of Professional Competence. These have been contentious issues on our campus, so please stand by for calls to support our team as needed.


  • III. The latest: Compensation and health care


At the bargaining sessions on May 16 and 18, the administration’s team and their representatives presented reports on the university’s budget and projected health care costs. Our team reviewed the documents carefully and compared them with analyses conducted for and by the WMU-AAUP. On May 23, after consulting the Executive Committee, the team presented the chapter’s proposals for Article 32: Economic Compensation and Article 33: Health Care Benefits.

These proposals will be discussed in upcoming sessions, so stay tuned for more information and calls to action that may become necessary as the dialogue on these critical issues moves forward.


Cynthia, Whitney, Bruce, Jeremy, and Mike have been giving their all at the table, and it is paying off for the faculty in the improved contract language and impressive progress they’ve made so far (and so quickly) in achieving tentative agreements.

But bargaining at the table is not all they do. Many colleagues may not realize the time commitment or the amount of energy and dedication their service on the bargaining team demands. Yes, they spend long hours at the table, including in high-pressure situations that can be intense and exhausting. But they also spend many more hours away from the table conducting research into key issues (such as healthcare and compensation), drafting contract language and proposals, meeting with faculty to get input and guidance, consulting frequently with the WMU-AAUP leadership and Executive Committee, working with the chapter attorney and other experts, and many other tasks, large and small. This work requires team members to put aside other things in their lives that are important to them. They make this choice because they’re committed to improving the professional lives of the nearly 900 members of the WMU-AAUP.

So, please take a moment to drop them a note of thanks, or a shout-out on social media, to tell them how much you appreciate them. (The WMU-AAUP is on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.)

And when the call comes to stand up, show up, and speak up, we need you to be ready to do it. Our 2017 team is one of the strongest and best prepared in the chapter’s history, and they are giving 100 percent every day. But without the visible, vocal support of the faculty, there is only so much that anyone can achieve at the bargaining table. Our leverage is in our numbers. Faculty support for our team is what keeps the pressure on the other side.

We will get the contract we show up for and demand.
Be ready to stand with our team when they need you.

Image of sign that reads "WMU-AAUP: Fighting for WMU's Future"


Save the date: June 23
Join us at 5 p.m. on June 23 for the next Fourth Friday Happy Hour. Build solidarity and enjoy the company of faculty colleagues in a fun and family-friendly environment. As always, your first drink’s on us if you’re a dues-paying member. Arcadia Brewing Company, 701 E. Michigan Ave.


Previous negotiation updates:

Issue #4 – March 17
Issue #3 – February 15 
Issue #2 – February 1
Issue #1 – January 30

Uncompensated Summer Work and Faculty Rights Under Article 38

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.

Update on March 13 bargaining session

Ground rules signed, first articles exchanged at opening bargaining session 

Negotiations got underway on Monday, March 13, with a productive conversation at the table. The teams signed ground rules for bargaining, and our WMU-AAUP team presented four proposals, while the administration’s team presented one.

WMU-AAUP proposals:

  • Articles 17/18: The WMU-AAUP proposes language to confer promotion for faculty specialists concurrently and automatically with the granting of tenure. The current contract language confers promotion automatically to traditionally ranked faculty along with tenure, while faculty specialists must undergo a separate review for promotion.

  • Articles 30 and 43: For Articles 30 (eLearning) and 43 (Discoveries, Patents, and Copyrights), the WMU-AAUP proposes language to strengthen faculty intellectual property rights.

  • Article 48: The WMU-AAUP proposes adding the option of interdepartmental transfers that result in joint appointments.

Administration proposal:

  • Article 16: The administration proposes revisions to the policies and procedures for evaluation of faculty professional competence.

The next bargaining session is scheduled for Monday, March 20. In the meantime, our WMU-AAUP team is working in consultation with the chapter officers and Executive Committee to analyze the administration’s proposal on Article 16 and formulate their response. They are also drafting additional proposals, working through data gathered from the recent faculty survey, and continuing to meet with faculty.

Bargaining sessions are scheduled for Monday afternoons through final exam week in April. During the spring semester, our team is constrained to this limited schedule by their teaching, research, and service responsibilities. Beginning in Summer 1, more frequent and longer sessions will be scheduled.


Message to the faculty from our WMU-AAUP bargaining team:

We would like to extend our thanks to the colleagues who joined us at Montague House on March 13 for the kickoff rally as well as those who joined us in spirit by sending messages of support and solidarity. We were energized by the thoughtful dialogue you engaged in with us – it was a great way to warm up for our first bargaining session! – and we appreciate your commitment to providing ongoing feedback and support for us as negotiations move forward.

We understand how hard it is for faculty to take time out of a busy day in the middle of the semester, especially on the first day back after spring break. If you were able to join us, thank you for coming out to show your support. To those who could not attend on March 13: We appreciate the confidence that so many of you have expressed in us and look forward to seeing you at future events. To all our colleagues: It means a lot to us to know you have our backs. Thank you. We will not let you down.

In solidarity,

Cynthia, Whitney, Bruce, Jeremy, and Mike

#StrengthInSolidarity

Mingus Named WMU-AAUP Contract Administrator

MatthewBargaining-unit faculty voted unanimously at the chapter meeting on February 16, 2017, to approve the appointment of Dr. Matthew Mingus, Professor of Public Administration, to the position of contract administrator of the WMU-AAUP, following the recommendation (also unanimous) of the WMU-AAUP Executive Committee on February 10.

With extensive union experience, including service as WMU-AAUP chapter president (2013) and on the 2011 bargaining team, as well as internationally recognized expertise in public administration, Matthew brings a wealth of valuable skills and knowledge to the position.

He will serve as interim contract administrator until the current term expires on August 31, 2017. On September 1, 2017, he will begin a two-year term that runs through August 31, 2019.

We could not be more delighted to have Matthew back on the WMU-AAUP leadership team and appreciate his willingness to serve in this demanding and often difficult job. Please join us in welcoming (and thanking) him.