Contract expires September 5, demonstration at Seibert August 23

Teams still far apart on compensation and healthcare
Demonstration at Seibert admin building Wed. 8/23 at 1 p.m.

After 29 bargaining sessions and with fewer than three weeks left before the contract between the WMU-AAUP and Western Michigan University expires, our team is still hard at work negotiating a fair contract that protects faculty rights and moves us forward economically. At this point in the negotiations, they have accomplished a great deal. They have successfully negotiated and reached tentative agreements on 10 contract articles with a handful of articles still open but close to resolution.

The two teams have had lengthy discussions about health care insurance costs. In response to the administration’s team’s proposal to change the design of our health insurance plan, our team has worked with the administration to model the effects of these changes on premiums. We recognize that health care costs are uncertain and that they are likely to increase over the next three years. Based on feedback from our members, our position has always been that the cost of our premiums must be contained. Therefore, to control these costs, our team was willing to consider the administration’s proposals for plan design changes.

On August 8, the administration’s team presented their proposal for Article 33: Health Care Benefits and Insurance. They propose raising premiums in 2019 and 2020 and increasing deductibles, copays, and out-of-pocket maximums. In addition, they propose decreasing faculty benefits at Sindecuse by reducing the pharmacy discount and eliminating the no-copay no-deductible services available at Sindecuse and the Unified Clinics. Their proposal also includes cutting the number of covered chiropractic visits per year by half and implementing prescription drug preauthorization in some cases (“step therapy”).

Given the extent of these proposed changes, our team has insisted that, if we accept these changes to our health insurance plan, then the faculty must receive salary adjustments that more than offset these increased costs. However, the administration’s most recent proposal for Article 32: Economic Compensation, which they brought after we worked in good faith with the administration to significantly narrow the gap on health insurance costs, would increase across-the-board raises by only 0.25% more than their previous proposal. Moreover, their proposal included zero adjustments to salary minima, overload rates, and promotion increments.

This is where you come in:

Stand with our team and demand a fair contract!
WMU-AAUP demonstration at Seibert on Wednesday, Aug. 23, at 1 p.m.

As you read these words, we are less than three weeks away from the expiration of our contract on Tuesday, September 5, at midnight. The negotiations will almost certainly continue right up to the 5th. In the coming weeks, the team still has a lot of work to do to win a healthcare package and salary increases that will move the faculty unequivocally forward. They have been at it for months and have made a powerful and well-informed case based on research, data, and logic.

But because contract negotiations are inherently asymmetric, making the stronger case is not always enough. The university administration is management, and as management, they control the resources.

However, they don’t control the 900 of us, and that is where we come in. Our leverage is in our numbers, and the time has come for us to deliver on our team’s behalf and make sure our voices are heard loudly and clearly.

What our team needs now, and what we all need now, is for YOU to do everything YOU can to show your support, loudly and publicly. We need YOU to engage in the important work that has to happen away from the table to ensure our team’s success at the table. The way we keep up the pressure on the other side is with our visible, vocal support. The time is NOW.

All board-appointed faculty colleagues are strongly urged to attend, as are family members, retirees, and colleagues from other WMU employee groups who want to stand in solidarity because they understand that we are all in this together.

We also welcome students, alumni, community members, and other allies who value the work we do on behalf of Western Michigan University and on behalf of this community.

#StrongerTogether
#GoWMUAAUP

Rally for our team any time on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @wmuaaup. They appreciate your messages of support!

 

Rally for healthcare and compensation July 25

Letter to the faculty from WMU-AAUP President Lisa C. Minnick


Rally for Healthcare and Compensation: Tuesday, July 25
Meet at Montague House (814 Oakland Drive) at 1 p.m.
We’ll walk our team across the street to Walwood for their 1:30 session.


July 21, 2017

Dear colleagues,

If you care about your healthcare costs and overall compensation, now is the time to stand with your team.

Please plan to attend a rally next Tuesday, July 25, at Montague House. We will gather at 1 p.m. for an update from our WMU-AAUP bargaining team and then accompany them across the street to Walwood for their negotiation session at 1:30.

The administration wants to shift a greater share of the costs of health insurance onto us, escalating a trend that has been underway for a number of years at WMU. The cost-shifts they are proposing would affect premium equivalents, copays, deductibles, and annual out-of-pocket maximums. Everything we can be made to pay more for, they want us to pay more for it. They are also proposing to reduce coverage and access. In other words, they would like for us to pay more to get less.

As faculty know all too well, escalating employee costs for insurance already cause financial hardship to members of our bargaining unit, especially those with salaries on the lower end of the scale whose insurance premiums eat up a significant percentage of their annual earnings.

The faculty has been adamant that we will not accept an increase to the cost burden we already bear and equally adamant that we are not open to taking a pay cut.

Now the administration needs to hear it directly from you.

As I wrote to you on May 31, our 2017 team is one of the strongest and best prepared in the chapter’s history, and they are giving 100 percent on our behalf every single day. But without the visible, vocal support of the faculty, there is only so much that any five people are going to be able achieve at the bargaining table.

Bottom line: Labor relations are inherently asymmetrical. Our leverage is in our numbers, period. And when we turn out in large numbers, we are very, very powerful. I am sure everyone – including the administration and the Board of Trustees – remembers how that worked in 2014.

On May 31, I asked you all to be prepared to be called to action. This is that call, or at least the first of these calls. Please carve out an hour of your time on Tuesday, bring your family, and help us make it clear to the administration that we have no intention of moving backwards.

#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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Image of faculty members marching and carrying signs in support of WMU-AAUP bargaining team (2014).

Join protest against “imminent” Saudi executions of 14 young men, including WMU student

Mujtaba’a al-Sweikat. (Source: Reprieve, a British human rights organization.)


We join our colleagues at AFT-Michigan, along with our AFT-affiliated colleagues here at WMU, the Professional Instructors Organization (PIO) and Teaching Assistants Union (TAU), in condemning in the strongest possible terms the death sentence of admitted WMU student Mujtaba’a al-Sweikat. We are horrified and outraged by the grotesque human rights violations that his arrest, imprisonment, and especially his imminent execution constitute.

A citizen of Saudi Arabia, Mr. Al-Sweikat was admitted to Western Michigan University to begin classes in the fall of 2013 but has never attended the university. In 2012, when he was 17, he was arrested at the airport on his way to the United States. He was charged with participating in pro-democracy demonstrations, convicted, and sentenced to death. He has been in prison ever since.

Reports are now coming out that his execution is “imminent,” according to the London-based human rights advocacy organization Reprieve.

PLEASE CALL THE WHITE HOUSE AT (202) 456-1111 to urge the president, who has developed a close relationship with the Saudi king, to use his influence with the king to try to stop this horrific miscarriage of justice and heinous violation of human rights.

Please also consider signing the petition linked here as a way to stand in solidarity with Mr. Al-Sweikat and 13 other young men sentenced to death along with him for participating in peaceful demonstrations.

Read more about Mujtaba’a al-Sweikat:

From AFT:

From Reprieve:

Rally on Monday, April 24, to support our bargaining team


Monday, April 24, at 2:30 p.m.
Montague House — 814 Oakland Drive


The semester is winding down, but contract negotiations are heating up!

Take a break from your grading, bring your signs, and let’s show our WMU-AAUP bargaining team that we have their backs!

Before the faculty disperses for the summer, we need a strong show of support for our team as they prepare to bargain economic articles in May. A large turnout will send a strong message to the team that the faculty is behind them and alerts the administration that we are ready to take action as needed. All bargaining-unit faculty should plan to attend this important event. We also welcome retired faculty as well as students, staff, alumni, family, friends, and other allies.

Join us!

Easy parking at Walwood Hall and WMU Lot 10 or 11 (the Little Theater). Please don’t park at the medical school. Their management is not nice about it.

Get all the latest news about contract negotiations by subscribing to the blog (click on the “subscribe” button on the home page) and following the WMU-AAUP on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Click to enlarge flier.

U.S. professors take stand against executive order on immigration — we can, too

Thousands of professors from across the U.S. have signed on to a letter protesting the president’s January 27 Executive Order banning the entry of refugees and immigrants from Syria, Iraq, Iran, and four other predominantly Muslim countries into the United States:

“The people whose status in the United States would be reconsidered are our students, friends, colleagues, and members of our communities,” the professors write. “The implementation will necessarily tear families apart by restricting entry for family members who live outside of the U.S. and limiting the ability to travel for those who reside and work in the U.S. These restrictions would be applied to nearly all individuals from these countries, regardless of their immigration status or any other circumstances. This measure is fatally disruptive to the lives of these immigrants, their families, and the communities of which they form an integral part. It is inhumane, ineffective, and un-American.”

Click here for the full letter and instructions for how to sign on.


The concerns raised in the letter are of course applicable to WMU faculty and students. Two incidents that occurred this weekend hit particularly close to home:

  • A Stanford graduate student originally from Sudan was detained and handcuffed at JFK airport in New York on Saturday. The student, a Harvard graduate, is a legal resident of the United States, where she has lived since 1993.
  • Two faculty members at UMass Dartmouth, Dr. Mazdak Pourabdollah Tootkaboni and Dr. Arghavan Louhghalam, were detained at Logan airport in Boston on Saturday on their way back from attending an academic conference in France. Professors Tootkaboni and Louhghalam are both originally from Iran and have legal resident status in the United States. A district court ruling in Boston early Sunday ordered their release and blocks similar detentions at Logan.

In November 2016, the WMU-AAUP faculty voted by an overwhelming margin to approve a Resolution in Solidarity with Western Michigan University Students, including the international and immigrant students for whom the Executive Order raises immediately pressing fears. The Resolution was a good first step, but now we must do more to stand in solidarity with these students and with our international and immigrant colleagues.

What can we do to help?

  1. Talk with students and colleagues. Make sure they know we have their backs, that we will support them, that we will listen to them, and that we will not betray them.
  2. Contact President Dunn and urge him to take a public stand in support of our international and immigrant students and colleagues. Updated January 31: Read President Dunn’s statement here.
  3. Print out a copy of the Resolution of Solidarity and post it on your office door and/or contact the WMU-AAUP office to request a solidarity card for your office door.
  4. Sign on to the Academics Against Immigration Executive Order letter and share it with colleagues.
  5. Join or donate to the American Civil Liberties Union to help them bring legal challenges against discriminatory activities resulting from the Executive Order and follow them on Twitter to stay up to date on their progress.
  6. Participate in demonstrations against the Executive Order and use social media as another way to make visible your support for and solidarity with students and colleagues.
  7. Check in frequently with your favorite news sources to keep informed about this developing story. Things are happening fast and changing constantly and are likely to continue to do so.
    • For example, a federal judge in New York blocked a key provision of the Executive Order Saturday night. On Sunday morning, the Department of Homeland Security issued a statement suggesting that it may not comply with the rulings.
    • A White House spokesman now (as of Sunday morning, January 29) “appears to be walking back” the part of the Executive Order that would ban re-entry into the U.S. for permanent legal residents with green cards.

Links to more info about this developing story:

Some Colleges Warning Foreign Students on Travel After Trump’s Immigration Order, by Michael Edison Hayden. ABC News, January 28, 2017.

As protests roiled, professors who were detained at Logan airport waited, by Nestor Ramos. Boston Globe, January 29, 2017.

U.S. colleges rush to help students, scholars affected by Trump’s immigration order, by Valerie Strauss. Washington Post, January 29, 2017.

Sudanese student at Stanford detained, handcuffed at JFK airport, by Queenie Wong. San Jose Mercury News, January 28, 2017.

University of Michigan president states support for international students, by Martin Slagter. MLive, January 29, 2017.

Oklahoma University President David Boren affirms support for students, staff affected by immigration ban in statement, by Greg Brown. Fox 23 News (Tulsa, OK), January 29, 2017.

Colleges brace to shield students from immigration raids, by Alan Gomez. USA Today, January 26, 2017.

Colleges Are Warning Thousands Of Muslim International Students Not To Travel, by Molly Hensley-Clancy. Buzzfeed, January 28, 2017.

Protests erupt at airports around the U.S. following Trump travel ban, Fox News, January 29, 2017.

Protesters Rally as Doctors, Students Blocked From Entering Country After Trump’s Orders, by Eli Rosenberg, Perry Russom and Melissa Buja. NBC Boston, January 28, 2017.

PHOTOS: Thousands Protest At Airports Nationwide Against Trump’s Immigration Order, by James Doubek. NPR, January 29, 2017.

Faculty votes to approve WMU-AAUP Resolution in Solidarity with WMU Students

Letter to the faculty from WMU-AAUP President Lisa Minnick

November 18, 2016

Dear colleagues,

Many thanks to all who participated in the vote this week on whether to approve the proposed WMU-AAUP Resolution in Solidarity with Western Michigan University Students.

I am please to report that the faculty has voted overwhelmingly to join the WMU-AAUP Association Council, Executive Committee, and officers in approving the resolution.

Here are the results:

  • Yes: 173 (92 percent)
  • No: 11 (5.85 percent)
  • Abstain: 4 (2.1 percent)

Total number of votes cast: 188

This resolution is only the beginning of the actions we can and must take to make visible our shared commitment to stand with our students, as well as with our faculty and staff colleagues, during these challenging times. From here, we must turn our words into action. As many of you know, a variety of efforts by faculty, staff, students, and community members are already underway, and I encourage you to learn more about their plans and consider joining the organizers in collaboration.

For the WMU-AAUP chapter, approving and sending forth this resolution is a meaningful first step as we embark on the new project that is now before us. I look forward to working together with all of you to maintain and enhance our thriving intellectual community here at Western. This community is of course based on our core values of academic excellence, shared governance, academic freedom, and higher education as a public good, and we are going to need to work actively to protect these values and insist on their primacy in the coming months and years. At the same time, we are also going to need to work a lot harder to emphasize and prioritize the values of diversity, inclusion, respect, and empowerment so that our campus is a place that is safe for all of us — faculty, staff, students, and everyone else — to be who we are.

Many thanks to all of you for your wisdom, courage, and willingness to take a stand for justice.

Please click here to read the full text of the now-approved WMU-AAUP Resolution in Solidarity with WMU Students.

In solidarity,
Lisa

Lisa C. Minnick
President, WMU-AAUP

WMU-AAUP Resolution in Solidarity with Western Michigan University Students

Click here for printable version.
Click here to see our ad in the January 9 issue of the Western Herald (scroll to p. 9).

WMU-AAUP Resolution in Solidarity with Western Michigan University Students

Approved by the faculty on November 18, 2016

Whereas the Board-appointed faculty of Western Michigan University, represented by our collective-bargaining chapter of the American Association of University Professors, stands for academic excellence, shared governance, higher education as a public good, and academic freedom;

Whereas our core academic mission includes the work of instruction, research, scholarship, creative activity, and professional service;

Whereas this work is foundational to the development of our students as knowledgeable and engaged citizens, informed participants in the democratic process, and possessors of a spirit of tolerance and acceptance;

Whereas the intellectual character of a university is determined by its faculty;

Whereas the faculty therefore also appropriately models character for our students and for the community in other ways, including with respect to our ethical principles and moral convictions;

Whereas these values inform our understanding and acceptance of the immense and humbling responsibility that we carry in the form of our students’ trust in us: that we will treat them with respect, with fairness, with compassion, and with generosity of spirit;

Whereas the faculty takes seriously its role in modeling, teaching, and facilitating critical thinking and respectful discourse;

Whereas we recognize the challenges inherent in the exploration of controversial issues and ideas as well as the intellectual growth that can result from engaging these ideas respectfully and thinking critically about them;

Whereas many Western Michigan University students are now feeling vulnerable, unwelcome, or even fearful for their safety and wellbeing or for the safety and wellbeing of their classmates;

Whereas every student is welcome at Western Michigan University and deserves to feel accepted, included, empowered, and safe here;

Be it resolved that the Board-appointed faculty of Western Michigan University, individually and collectively, stands in solidarity with the students of this university and extends to them our attention, our understanding, our support, our advocacy, and – when and if they need it – our protection, at this singular moment in our nation’s history and always.