WMU unions to face off in kickball extravaganza

Friday, March 16 |
7-8:30 p.m. |
WMU Student Rec Center |

It is ON!

Get those knee braces on and get your ice packs ready: TAU has thrown down the gauntlet and challenged us to a kickball game, along with the Professional Instructors Organization (PIO) and AFSCME at WMU. The big event is coming up this Friday!

Those TAU whippersnappers may be younger than we are, they’re probably healthier on average, and they almost definitely have better knees, but we’ve got old age, treachery, and good insurance on our side, so let’s get out there and kick some. . . kickballs!

Admission is FREE FOR STUDENTS to what will surely be a spectacle of awesomeness that won’t soon be forgotten on this campus.

For everyone else, the price of admission is one non-perishable food item for the WMU Food Pantry or a donation to the WMU Invisible Need fund. You can donate online here. (Select ‘Invisible Need’ from the dropdown menu under the ‘Students’ tab.)

The game will be at the WMU Student Rec Center on Friday, March 16, 7-8:30 p.m. Colleagues, we will see you there in your WMU-AAUP colors: red and white!

#StrengthInSolidarity
#UnionStrong
#ThisIsAUnionCampus
#WhatCouldWePossiblyBeThinking
#OhWellAtLeastItWillBeFun

 

WMU-AAUP hosts WMU President Ed Montgomery today at 3:30 p.m.

A conversation with President Montgomery
Friday, January 19, 3:305 p.m. in 157 Bernhard

The WMU-AAUP will host WMU President Ed Montgomery this afternoon (Friday, January 19), for a conversation in which all WMU-AAUP bargaining-unit faculty are invited to participate. We expect that President Montgomery will offer brief opening remarks, and then we will open the floor to questions and conversation.

Please join us today from 3:30 to 5 p.m. in 157 Bernhard for this opportunity to have our university president’s ear at an event where attendance is limited to the Board-appointed faculty.

Note to WMU-AAUP Association Council reps: This event immediately follows our AC meeting, also in 157 Bernhard. Please note the special 2 p.m. start time for the meeting.

Looking forward to seeing everyone this afternoon!

#StrengthInSolidarity
#WeAreWorthIt

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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Follow us on Twitter.
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Some thoughts on Labor Day

by Lisa Minnick
President, WMU-AAUP

Who are we? That’s a good question. (Western Michigan University promotional image)

September 4, 2017

Our contract expires at midnight on Tuesday, September 5. As I publish this, that is less than 36 hours from now. And our team needs us more than ever to stand with them and fight for a fair contract that respects our contributions to the institution by moving us forward rather than backwards.

The faculty and staff have been expected time and time again over the last several contract cycles to take one for the team. And we have done it. Repeatedly. By now, we have take so many for the team for so long that a lot of us are starting to feel that we’re not actually considered part of the team by some of the university’s senior leadership.

Most of us have reached the limit of sacrifices that we can reasonably make or should reasonably be asked or expected to make. Many of our faculty and staff colleagues at the lower end of the salary spectrum reached that limit long ago. These are personal sacrifices I’m talking about, financial hits that affect the lives of real people and their families. Faculty and staff have been called upon again and again, year after year, to make personal sacrifice after personal sacrifice.

Many of our bargaining-unit members and staff colleagues are feeling real pain as a result. They can’t afford their insurance premiums. They are struggling to make their student loan payments (PhDs are expensive). They are having a hard time making their mortgage payments. They’re afraid that they won’t ever be able to retire, that they will have to keep working until they are physically or cognitively incapable of working any longer. And then they fear the very real possibility that they will live out their elder years in permanent financial distress.

Meanwhile, the people across the table from our team enjoy a mean salary of $190,000. One of them even got a $25,000 cash bonus in March 2017, which is of course unheard of for faculty and staff. Where are their sacrifices?

So, to my WMU-AAUP bargaining-unit colleagues: I am asking all of you in advance for your forgiveness, because I am no longer interested in being polite and saying please. We have real people, faculty and staff, who every single day give everything they’ve got to Western Michigan University. We do this out of our deep love for this institution, for our students, our alumni, this community, our academic disciplines, learning and knowledge (including for its own sake), and for our work as professors, teachers, researchers, scholars, artists, and mentors. These gifts, which go way beyond what we are hired or paid to do, are always happily (if not humbly) accepted by the institution. The university administration understands as well as we do that both our actual compensated work (as defined by the contract and in our letters of appointment) and our goodwill donations of labor are essential to keeping this whole enterprise afloat.

But still they refuse to compensate us fairly. Sometimes I like to try to imagine what they’d get out of us if we felt appreciated, including when we open our paychecks. Imagine what we could all achieve if taking care of the people who do the work of the university was among its highest priorities. I wonder if that is something they ever think about.

At this point, I don’t think trying to be nice about it (“Please sir, can I have some more?”) is something that would work (it never has), nor is it sufficiently worthy of our dignity. I am hoping that instead, our showing up to tomorrow’s events in large numbers and demanding that the administration finally start doing right by the faculty and staff will be the action it takes to close the deal in a way that appropriately honors the work we do.

I am preparing for tomorrow’s events (the chapter meeting at 3:30 in 157 Bernhard, BBQ 5-7 at Montague House, and rally at 6:20 at Montague House), still optimistic that these actions will result in a contract deal we can agree to by the midnight deadline Tuesday night.

But if they don’t, I am fully prepared on behalf of the chapter to mobilize the faculty and launch the work-to-rule labor action at 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday, September 6.

I do think that one thing the faculty and administration can agree on is that we would all prefer not to have the 900 members of the Board-appointed faculty starting the new academic year without a contract. I believe that we all want a tentative agreement by the deadline.

But we will not agree to a contract that is beneath our dignity. We will not stand for the quality of our professional lives, the economic security of the 900 families we represent, or the morale of the faculty and staff of Western Michigan University to be eroded and degraded any further.

Join me.

In solidarity,
Lisa

#StrengthInSolidarity
#WMUAAUP2017

LABOR ACTION: Sept 6 Work to Rule notice to WMU-AAUP faculty

Letter from WMU-AAUP President Lisa Minnick

August 31, 2017

Dear colleagues:

With the 2014-17 Agreement between the WMU-AAUP and the WMU Board of Trustees set to expire at midnight on Tuesday, September 5, we remain optimistic that our bargaining team and the administration’s team will reach a tentative agreement (TA) by the deadline.

However, we need to be prepared in the event that the two sides do not reach a TA by midnight on Tuesday.

This message serves as notice to the faculty that if the two teams do not come to a tentative agreement by the deadline, the WMU-AAUP Executive Committee requests that all bargaining-unit faculty be prepared to participate in a “work to rule” labor action and withdraw from all work outside our contract and letters of appointment, effective at 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday, September 6, 2017.

The teams have been at the table for more than five months now, and our team has worked tirelessly to bring us a fair contract and to complete negotiations in a timely way, even agreeing to start bargaining on the Monday after spring break, which is considerably earlier than usual. If the two teams do not reach a tentative agreement by midnight on September 5, the unresolved issues will be compensation and healthcare.

Faculty salaries at WMU remain below those of our those of our colleagues at peer institutions, while the costs to us for health insurance have increased sharply in recent years for faculty as well as staff. If the administration’s team gets its way, many faculty and staff colleagues will experience significant economic hardship. Some already do as a result of previous insurance premium spikes. Meanwhile, senior administrators prosper, enjoying large salaries, perks, and in some cases even substantial cash bonuses. As a percentage of salary, their insurance premiums, which in dollars are the same as ours, are surely far more manageable. This institutionalized inequity is unacceptable. We do understand the budget and finance challenges facing the institution. But we also know that every institution has choices about how to invest its resources. And we disagree with an administration whose priorities have gone far adrift from our collective academic mission. [1]

As is well known on campus, all WMU faculty (and staff) perform a massive amount of work beyond what we are hired and paid to do. The institution is heavily dependent on these goodwill donations of labor.

In “working to rule,” we demonstrate to the administration, Board of Trustees, campus community, and the public that the faculty and staff of Western Michigan University are its heart, its soul, and its conscience; that we are dedicated to this institution and especially to its students; that it would be impossible for the institution to honor its commitments and its mission without our goodwill donations of labor; that the value of our uncompensated work saves the university far more than it would cost to compensate all of us fairly; and that we are aware of our value to WMU and demand that our contributions and those of our staff colleagues be respected and appropriately compensated.

A “work to rule” labor action is not a strike. Nor is it a work slowdown or stoppage. It is simply a demonstration that we are fully aware of the extent to which our institution not only benefits from but cannot do without the uncompensated work we and our staff colleagues regularly perform. “Work to rule” is a lawful, peaceful labor action. We will continue to comply fully with the contract.

“Work to rule” actions can take different forms and vary widely across industries, institutions, and professions. For us, “work to rule” means that we would continue to do the work we are hired and paid to do (the “rule” is our union contract along with our letters of appointment) but that we would do only that work. We would suspend – immediately and indefinitely – the extensive volunteer work that we donate to the institution.

While by law the WMU-AAUP can bargain only on behalf of the 900 members of the Board-appointed faculty, it is well known on campus that most of WMU’s other employee groups also receive many of the benefits we win at the table and endure the same cuts that are imposed on us.

We will act, then, if a TA is not reached by midnight Tuesday, not only on behalf of the 900 members of our WMU-AAUP bargaining unit but also in solidarity with our staff colleagues, many of whom are not protected by unions and none of whom outside of our unit are protected by tenure.

Click here to learn more about what a work-to-rule action might look like at WMU, including why we believe that the possible impacts on our students will be minimal if any, the kinds of work this type of action is likely to involve, and how tenured faculty can help to protect pre-tenure and term-appointed colleagues during a work-to-rule action (or any other labor action).

Finally, I include here a reminder that all bargaining-unit members should plan to join us for a special chapter meeting on Tuesday, September 5 (3:30-4:30pm in 157 Bernhard) to discuss the status of our contract negotiations and the logistics of a work-to-rule action should the two sides not reach a TA by midnight on the 5th. After the meeting, we hope to see you at Montague House for the WMU-AAUP Fall BBQ (5-7pm), where we will rally for our team at 6:20pm and accompany them across the street to Walwood Hall as they head back to the table for their final scheduled bargaining session before the midnight deadline. (More details about these events are available here.)

If we do not have a contract by midnight on September 5, expect a call from the chapter leadership for all WMU-AAUP bargaining-unit members to withdraw immediately from all the voluntary yet essential work that we regularly perform beyond our full contractual workloads.

Many thanks to all of you for standing with our team throughout this long and grueling negotiation cycle. Your energy, smarts, collegiality, generosity, humor, and dedication to Western Michigan University and especially to our students are inspiring and remind us every day of why what we are fighting for is so important.

Thank you also in advance for bearing with us for a little longer, staying strong until we have a fair contract, and being prepared to work to rule if the teams do not reach a tentative agreement by midnight on Tuesday.

See you on September 5!

#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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Note:

[1] The linked documents are extracts from an analysis by Dr. Howard Bunsis, Professor of Accounting at Eastern Michigan University and immediate past chair of the national AAUP Collective Bargaining Congress. Howard’s full analysis is linked here.