IUP faculty union president: Why I will strike

Thoughtful and important piece by Dr. Nadene A. L’Amoreaux, president of the Indiana University of Pennsylvania chapter of APSCUF, the statewide union of faculty members and coaches.

The HawkEye

Opinion

Nadene A. L'Amoreaux, Ph.D., president of the IUP chapter of APSCUF, the statewide union of faculty members and coaches. Nadene A. L’Amoreaux, Ph.D., president of the IUP chapter of APSCUF, the statewide union of faculty members and coaches.

By Nadene A. L’Amoreaux

INDIANA – Next week, faculty members and coaches at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and our sister universities across the commonwealth will vote on whether to authorize a strike. We will vote in the face of a threat to college education in the state of Pennsylvania.

We grow increasingly discontented with a Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education that has failed to implore the General Assembly to adequately fund higher education. That has allowed tuition increases across the State System to place greater financial burden on students and their families, thereby making the possibility of higher education to become further out of reach for our students.

Pennsylvania ranks third highest in the nation for student loan debt. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, funding…

View original post 870 more words

April 22: Rep. Jon Hoadley to speak at WMU on state support for higher education

Michigan State Representative Jon Hoadley will discuss state budget appropriations for higher education and other legislative issues of interest to the faculty and the university community on Friday, April 22, 2-3:30 p.m. in 157-159 Bernhard Center on the Western Michigan University campus.

Rep. Hoadley represents the 60th district in the Michigan House of Representatives, where he serves on the House Appropriations Committee and Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee. The 60th district includes Kalamazoo and parts of Portage and Kalamazoo Township.

This event is free and open to the public.

Click on image to enlarge.

JH_flier

WMU-AAUP Remarks to the Board of Trustees

Remarks by WMU-AAUP President Lisa Minnick
On state divestment from higher education
March 23, 2016


One thing everyone in this room has in common is our shared investment in higher education as a public good. We can all agree, I hope, that students benefit when faculty and staff are equipped with the tools we need to provide the quality instruction, individual attention, and opportunities for learning and growth that our students need and deserve.

State divestment from public education impacts the lives of students as well as the health of our society. As we speak, one of the jewels in the crown of American public higher education – the University of Wisconsin System – is being deliberately and methodically dismantled before our eyes.

And in Illinois, universities have seen no state funding since July 2015 and are bracing for layoffs and, in the case of Chicago State University, even possible closure – at a cost of 900 jobs – while the governor and legislature posture and draw lines in the sand. Eastern Illinois University announced on March 11 that it will lay off 177 employees.

While the total harm that these actions will visit upon Illinois students is incalculable, some of its costs can be quantified. This year, 130,000 students in Illinois are losing need-based financial aid as the state’s Monetary Award Program, which provides grants for low-income students, remains frozen as the budget impasse continues.

These examples, extreme though they are, should not be considered unimaginable in Michigan. Sadly, they are all too imaginable in a state that has itself seen significant cuts in public funding for higher education and for other programs and resources that serve the public good. There was a time not long ago when we all would have found unimaginable the idea that the population of an American city could have been drinking poisoned water for over a year while officials in the governor’s office knew about it but did nothing.

But this is the kind of thing that happens when private profits are valued over the public good. The situation in Flint is a particularly horrific and tragic example of what can happen when state governments ill-serve the people whose well-being they exist – and are paid – to protect.

What’s happening in Wisconsin, the hundreds of millions of dollars in cuts to their public university system and the attacks on tenure, is not an accident. The higher education crisis in Illinois is not an unintended consequence. Neither is this year’s billion-dollar budget shortfall in Louisiana, where universities and other state services have been decimated by years of funding cuts along with massive corporate tax cuts.

Some might suggest that these examples are simply the logical conclusion of a spontaneous outpouring of public sentiment in recent years against the funding of resources that exist to serve the people. But that is disingenuous. What we are seeing is the result of an orchestrated nationwide campaign to shift public resources into private pockets. Well-fundedthink tanks” and interest groups push for legislation across multiple states, with defunding public education, dismantling social safety nets for our most vulnerable citizens, and weakening unions among their top priorities. Our states are unwitting participants in a political experiment to reduce or even eliminate public resources as we know them.

In Michigan, the governor and the legislature threaten to withhold state funding and punish the institutions whose students are among the least privileged to begin with. Do they not realize that these measures affect students of color and lower-income students disproportionately? Or do they not care?

Governor Snyder recently announced a plan to “increase” university funding in Michigan, to “increase” it back to where it was five years ago when he took office, before he cut higher education funding by 15 percent in the first place in his first budget as governor.

The cuts we’ve endured at Western and other universities in the state have had real costs, including to students who have not been able to continue their studies but also to the ones who stay with us here at WMU but find fewer resources available to them.

The governor cut our budget. And the university has suffered as a result. What a surprise. When you starve the beast for five years, you don’t get to blame the beast for starving. Yet that is exactly the kind of thing we keep hearing from Lansing.

But worse, it’s also what we are hearing from our own senior leadership at WMU. President Dunn has rightly spoken out against the zero-sum measures favored by the governor and the majority party in the legislature. I appreciate that. But then his provost imposes the same kinds of measures on us. Retiring faculty are not replaced. Programs and even entire departments are targeted for closure, although we don’t really know because that whole process seems to be conducted in secret. We are called incessantly to account for ourselves, for our time, for our credit hour production, in new and creatively time-consuming ways. Worst of all, we are being pitted against one another – faculty, staff, departments, programs, and colleges – in a battle for resources in which none of us have been filled in on the rules of engagement.

Enrollment is down, enrollment is down, enrollment is down. That is what we keep hearing, and most of us are in fact seeing the effects of that first hand. When we will talk openly and honestly about why that is and what we can do about it? When will we talk about why enrollment continues to be robust at Central Michigan and Grand Valley but not here? At what point will the senior leadership of this university be called to account for what is happening to our enrollment numbers on this campus, not to mention what has happened to faculty and staff morale?

Last month marked three years since I first stood before you, ladies and gentlemen of the Board. Since that time, I have been moved around the agenda and finally moved off it entirely and into public comments, as of course you know. Although I have been given a variety of vague explanations for why that has happened, I think we all know that the real reason is that some of you would prefer not to hear some of the things I have to say. I have been silent for over a year about the disrespectful and unprofessional treatment I have received in this venue. But I have seen first hand the debilitating effects that a culture of secrecy and silencing can have, not only on members of the university community but on members of the human family. I cannot be complicit in that any longer.

I am asking you today, as I have asked you many times before, to take seriously the things that I and other faculty, staff, and students have to tell you, regardless of how you feel about the messenger. Step out of the carefully controlled environment you spend most of your time in when you are on campus and really listen to the people who work and go to school here. Stand with us to protect this university from external forces who want to see us fail. We are on the same side of this battle.

At least I hope we are.


Click on image to enlarge and visit the Young Invincibles Student Impact Project for more information about state investment in higher education.Image of Young Invicibles 2016 Report Card: Michigan Budget Support for Higher Education

WMU-AAUP passes resolution opposing repeal of Michigan’s prevailing wage laws

The WMU-AAUP has passed the following resolution in an electronic vote by the faculty, concluded on June 25, 2015, with 94.5% voting to approve.

Click here to read more about the process leading up to the faculty vote.

Click here for more information about the repeal bills and links to additional information about prevailing wage laws, including scholarly studies on economic impacts that informed the language of the resolution.

APPROVED: WMU-AAUP Resolution Opposing Repeal of Prevailing Wage Law

WHEREAS our investigation into potential costs and benefits shows that there is strong evidence presented by labor and employment economists that repealing prevailing wage laws results in adverse economic impact to workers and families;

Whereas researchers have documented significant losses in earnings for workers in states that repeal prevailing wage laws and project similar losses in states considering repeal;

Whereas average total compensation for all workers is higher in states with prevailing wage laws than in states that have never had prevailing wage laws or have repealed them;

Whereas economists forecast significant job losses in states considering repeal of prevailing wage laws;

Whereas lost wages in the construction industry cause ripple effects throughout the state’s economy, including adverse economic effects for citizens in non-construction sectors;

Whereas states that repeal prevailing wage laws experience decreased income and sales tax revenues;

Whereas repeal of prevailing wage law would result in substantial direct and indirect costs to the citizens of Michigan that would far outpace any theoretical savings that repeal proponents claim would accrue;

Whereas occurrences of occupational injuries are significantly higher in states without prevailing wage laws, causing economic hardship to families and economic costs to the state in the form of increased worker compensation claims;

Whereas construction costs in states without prevailing wage laws are comparable to or higher than those in states with prevailing wage laws;

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Western Michigan University chapter of the American Association of University Professors opposes the repeal of Michigan’s prevailing wage laws.

Draft Resolution Opposing Repeal of Prevailing Wage Law

WMU-AAUP Draft Resolution
Opposing Repeal of Prevailing Wage Law

Updated July 1, 2015: Resolution PASSED.

At a meeting of the WMU-AAUP Executive Committee on June 5, WMU Board of Trustees Chair Jim Hettinger asked the WMU-AAUP to consider passing a resolution opposing the repeal of prevailing wage laws in Michigan. Prevailing wage laws require that workers employed on state-funded construction projects be paid union-scale wages and benefits. Repeal measures are now making their way through the state legislature.

After researching the issue, the Executive Committee has voted to recommend to the faculty that the chapter pass such a resolution. This issue is relevant for us as collective-bargaining faculty because the repeal legislation is part of a larger national project of union-busting and disempowerment of working people, including university professors, that we’ve become sadly accustomed to seeing here in Michigan as well as in other states.

All dues-paying members will have the opportunity to vote on the proposed resolution via electronic ballot. Please look for communications from the WMU-AAUP in your wmich emails later this week.

The draft resolution appears below.

(Click here for more information about the repeal bills now under consideration in the state legislature and for links to additional information about prevailing wage laws, including scholarly studies on the economic impacts of repealing these laws. These studies are the sources for the information cited in the draft resolution.)

WMU-AAUP Draft Resolution
Opposing Repeal of Prevailing Wage Law

WHEREAS our investigation into potential costs and benefits shows that there is strong evidence presented by labor and employment economists that repealing prevailing wage laws results in adverse economic impact to workers and families;

Whereas researchers have documented significant losses in earnings for workers in states that repeal prevailing wage laws and project similar losses in states considering repeal;

Whereas average total compensation for all workers is higher in states with prevailing wage laws than in states that have never had prevailing wage laws or have repealed them;

Whereas economists forecast significant job losses in states considering repeal of prevailing wage laws;

Whereas lost wages in the construction industry cause ripple effects throughout the state’s economy, including adverse economic effects for citizens in non-construction sectors;

Whereas states that repeal prevailing wage laws experience decreased income and sales tax revenues;

Whereas repeal of prevailing wage law would result in substantial direct and indirect costs to the citizens of Michigan that would far outpace any theoretical savings that repeal proponents claim would accrue;

Whereas occurrences of occupational injuries are significantly higher in states without prevailing wage laws, causing economic hardship to families and economic costs to the state in the form of increased worker compensation claims;

Whereas construction costs in states without prevailing wage laws are comparable to or higher than those in states with prevailing wage laws;

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Western Michigan University chapter of the American Association of University Professors opposes the repeal of Michigan’s prevailing wage laws.

Information about Michigan’s Prevailing Wage Laws

Information about efforts to repeal Michigan’s prevailing wage law
in support of the WMU-AAUP Draft Resolution Opposing Repeal
(June 2015)

Updated July 1, 2015: Resolution PASSED.

View the resolution here.

Contents:

Status of bills in Michigan State Legislature

Three bills that would repeal Michigan’s prevailing-wage laws (Senate Bills 1, 2, and 3) passed the Michigan Senate on May 14, 2015. All 10 Democratic state senators voted against the repeal, along with five Republicans who broke ranks to oppose the measure, while 22 Republican senators voted in favor of repeal. Prevailing wage laws require that workers employed on state-funded construction projects be paid union-scale wages and benefits.

While Gov. Snyder has not announced unequivocally that he will veto the bills, he has expressed strong opposition to them. MLive reported in May that the governor believes that “repealing the prevailing wage law. . . could hurt his plan to build the state’s skilled trades workforce.” 

Despite the possibility of a veto, these bills could still become law. Anticipating a veto, organizations who are pushing for repeal have announced a petition drive that would end-run the governor. MLive reports:

Michigan’s Constitution provides a path for citizens to send bills to Lansing. Once there, the Legislature has 40 days to enact a measure into law by way of a majority vote in each chamber — or let it go to the statewide ballot.

But a ballot proposal isn’t in the cards. [House Speaker Kevin] Cotter and Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof, R-West Olive, both want to complete the repeal process in the state Legislature by the end of the year.

Although the Detroit News reported on June 15 that “More than 59 percent of likely voters support maintaining Michigan’s prevailing wage, a more than 2-1 advantage over the 25 percent of voters who want the law scrapped, according to a statewide poll,” supporters of the repeal have deep pockets and powerful friends and could easily collect the required 250,000 signatures.

Links to news articles and other information about the repeal legislation

Poll: Voters want to keep prevailing wage law
Detroit News, June 16, 2015

In next strike against unions, GOP states go after wage laws
Associated Press, June 15, 2015

Debate rages on whether ‘prevailing wage” repeal would save state money
Bridge Magazine/Crain’s Detroit Business, June 15, 2015

Republican leaders ready to go around Gov. Rick Snyder on prevailing wage repeal
MLive, May 28, 2015

Prevailing wage supporters plan defense as repeal petitions are approved for circulation
MLive, May 27, 2015

Senate votes 22-15 to repeal prevailing wage laws
Detroit Free Press, May 14, 2015

Prevailing wage and repeal legislation language
(Source: Michigan Legislature, Michigan Compiled Laws)

Who is behind the effort to repeal prevailing wage laws?

Prevailing Wage Repeal Act
Model Legislation, American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)

ALEC, NFIB Push Prevailing Wage Repeal
PR Watch, March 24, 2015

Studies of economic impacts of repealing prevailing wage laws

Duncan, Kevin, and Alex Lantsberg (2015). “How Weakening Wisconsin’s Prevailing Wage Policy Would Affect Public Construction Costs and Economic Activity.” Smart Cities Prevail.

Kelsay, Michael P., James I. Sturgeon, and Kelly D. Pinkham (2011). “The Adverse Economic Impact from Repeal of the Prevailing Wage Law in Missouri.” Council for Promoting American Business.

Mahalia, Nooshin (2008). “Prevailing Wages and Government Contracting Costs: A Review of the Research.” Economic Policy Institute Briefing Paper #215.

Manzo IV, Frank, and LeNee Carroll (2014). “Self-Sufficient Construction Workers: Why Prevailing Wage Laws Are the Best Deal for Taxpayers.” Illinois Economic Policy Institute.

Manzo IV, Frank, and Robert Bruno (2014). “Labor Unions, Prevailing Wage Laws, and Right-to-Work Laws in the Construction Industry.” Illinois Economic Policy Institute.

O’Leary, Sean (2015). “West Virginia’s Prevailing Wage: Good for Business, Good for Workers.” West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy.

Philips, Peter (2006). “Quality Construction, Strong Communities: The Effect of Prevailing Wage Regulation on the Construction Industry in Iowa.” University of Utah.

Philips, Peter (1998). “Kansas and Prevailing Wage Legislation.” Kansas Senate Labor and Industries Committee.

Price, Mark, and Stephen Herzenberg (2011). “The Benefits of State Prevailing Wage Laws: Better Jobs and More Productive Competition in the Construction Industry.” Keystone Research: Policy Ideas for Pennsylvania in the New Economy.

Quesada, Alison Dickson; Frank Manzo IV, Dale Belman, and Robert Bruno (2013). “A Weakened State: The Economic and Social Impacts of Repeal of the Prevailing Wage Law in Illinois.” University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana School of Labor and Employment Relations.

Vincent, Jeff (2005). “Analysis of School Construction Costs in Ohio and Indiana.” Institute for the Study of Labor in Society, Indiana University.

New AAUP Executive Director Brings Collective Bargaining Cred

The AAUP national organization has appointed Julie Schmid its new executive director, effective October 2013. Julie comes to the AAUP from AFT-Wisconsin, where she has worked since 2008 and served as chief of staff since 2012. She brings to her new post extensive experience in higher education, collective bargaining, and the legislative issues that affect both, experience that includes serving on the front lines of defense against the legislative attacks on public-sector collective bargaining in Wisconsin in 2011.

As senior program officer in the AAUP’s Department of Organizing and Services (2002 to 2008), Julie helped to lead the successful organization of faculty bargaining units at Michigan Tech and the University of Akron. In 2008, she became the director of AFT-Wisconsin, and in that role she was instrumental in the campaign to unionize the faculty and staff of the University of Wisconsin system.

Julie rejoins the AAUP at a critical time and is uniquely poised to understand the challenges faced by bargaining-unit chapters like ours. At a time when Gov. Rick Snyder and the state legislature seem bent on bringing the Scott Walker agenda to Michigan — an agenda designed to decimate public-sector unions (and the middle class), dictated largely by ALEC (which has already been busy here in Michigan) and pushed by organizations like the Mackinac Center that are funded heavily by the Koch brothers and the DeVos family — Julie’s appointment is good news for such chapters, many of which have been frustrated in recent years by the national organization’s apparent lack of interest in supporting the collective-bargaining work on our campuses or helping us stand up to legislative overreach.

In her statement, Julie speaks to many of the key issues on the minds of our own faculty here at WMU. Here is an excerpt:

I am excited to serve as the AAUP’s executive director because this is where the fight is. US higher education is in crisis. We are four decades into a radical defunding of state institutions of higher education. Faculty salaries are stagnant, while students are asked to pay more and more for their education. The overuse and exploitation of contingent faculty and graduate student employees continues. Academic freedom is under attack, and faculty senates have seen their voices diminished—sometimes because of administrative overreach and sometimes because the faculty has not exercised the power it has. And collective bargaining—which in many instances has proven to be an important means for bettering the working conditions of faculty members and academic professionals and for maintaining academic quality—is now under attack.

The AAUP is the conscience of the profession. For nearly a century, the AAUP has defined professional standards for higher education and vigorously defended those standards when they have come under attack. And for nearly half that time, the AAUP has epitomized faculty unionism by organizing strong collective bargaining chapters and by enshrining AAUP principles and policies in collective bargaining agreements.

You can read the statement in its entirety here and learn more about Julie here.