Financial Analysis of Western Michigan University, by Dr. Howard Bunsis

Dr. Howard Bunsis, Professor of Accounting at Eastern Michigan University and Chair of the National AAUP Collective Bargaining Congress, addressed the faculty at Western Michigan University on February 16, 2017.

Click here to view the slides from Howard’s presentation.

 

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

Meet Your 2017 WMU-AAUP Bargaining Team

Meet the team in person and get the latest news about 2017 contract negotiations at the special chapter meeting on Thursday, February 16. Click here for more information.    


Dr. Cynthia Klekar-Cunningham, WMU-AAUP Chief Negotiator (English)

Photo of Dr. Cynthia Klekar-Cunningham

Cynthia Klekar-Cunningham (PhD, West Virginia) joined the WMU faculty in 2005. Her scholarship focuses on the intersections between gift exchange and capitalism, theories of benevolence, and systems of obligation in 18th-century literature and culture. She is co-editor of The Culture of the Gift in 18th-Century England (Palgrave, 2009) and has published articles in the journals 18th-Century Studies, Philological Quarterly, and 18th-Century Theory and Interpretation, among others. Cynthia served as WMU-AAUP chief negotiator in 2014 and as associate chair of the English department as well as two terms apiece on the CAS Women’s Caucus Steering Committee and Faculty Senate. She has been an active WMU-AAUP Association Council representative since 2011.

Cynthia writes: “Faculty have the right to shape the university’s identity. The administration seems to want to deny us this right by limiting faculty involvement in decisions that impact the university’s core mission and has increasingly emphasized ‘productivity’ at the expense of shared governance and prioritized the bottom line over quality instruction. How a university assigns workload is no less than the measure of an institution’s level of commitment to intellectual inquiry and to the cultivation of critical thinking and democratic citizenship. Along with the team, I will work hard to defend our professional autonomy and academic freedom.

“How a university assigns workload is no less than the measure of an institution’s level of commitment to intellectual inquiry and to the cultivation of critical thinking and democratic citizenship.”

Cynthia Klekar-Cunningham

“We must stand up and make the case for renewed investment in the university’s core academic mission. It is unacceptable that a university should seek to subsidize its misplaced priorities, including bloated salaries of administrators and coaches, at the expense of excellence in teaching and research.”


Dr. Whitney DeCamp (Sociology)

Photo of Dr. Whitney DeCamp

Whitney DeCamp (PhD, Delaware) joined the faculty at WMU in 2011 and is associate professor of Sociology and Associate Director of the Kercher Center for Social Research. He teaches and conducts research primarily in criminology, focusing on copyright and intellectual property law. His work appears in Youth and Adolescence, Sport and Health Research, Survey Practice, Psychology of Popular Media Culture, and Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice, among other journals. He has served several terms as the WMU-AAUP Association Council representative for Sociology and was recently elected to the WMU-AAUP Executive Committee.

Whitney writes
: “Serving the faculty by representing them at the bargaining table is an honor and a privilege. Each member of the team brings different strengths to this work, and it is my hope that my expertise in law and intellectual property will serve the team and the faculty well. I look forward to working with this great 2017 team.”


Dr. Bruce Ferrin (Marketing)

Photo of Dr. Bruce Ferrin

Bruce Ferrin (PhD, Penn State) has been teaching and conducting research in logistics and integrated supply management at WMU since 1998. His work appears in the Journal of Business Logistics, Decision Sciences, Journal of Supply Chain Management, International Journal of Physical Distribution and Logistics Management, and Industrial Marketing Management, among other publications. He serves on the Faculty Senate Committee to Oversee General Education and co-chaired the Ad Hoc Committee on Gen Ed. Bruce is also on the Executive Council for the Integrated Supply Management Program in the Haworth College of Business and the HCOB Advisory Council of the Center for Sustainable Business Practices. He has been active in the WMU-AAUP for many years, serving as chapter treasurer in 2012 as well as several terms on the Association Council and Executive Committee, to which he has recently been re-elected.

Bruce writes: “Having worked at several universities where faculty do not have collective bargaining representation, I understand clearly its importance and value.

“We must maintain constant vigilance to protect academic freedom, faculty rights to create and maintain university curricula, and our rights to participate in shared governance, all of which I intend to fight for at the bargaining table.”

Bruce Ferrin

“In my capacity as a member of the WMU-AAUP Exec Committee, I witnessed the administration’s inappropriate treatment of faculty members accused of disciplinary infractions, experiences that strengthened my commitment to protecting the due-process rights of WMU faculty. We must maintain constant vigilance to protect academic freedom, faculty rights to create and maintain university curricula, and our rights to participate in shared governance, all of which I intend to fight for at the bargaining table. Collective bargaining representation is essential if we are to succeed in these objectives.”


Professor Jeremy Hierholzer (Aviation)

Photo of Professor Jeremy Hierholzer

Jeremy Hierholzer (MA, Western Michigan) is an FAA Certified Airframe and Powerplant mechanic with Inspection Authorization who also holds a private pilot certificate. He teaches aircraft systems for mechanics and pilots, reciprocating engine overhaul, and turbine engine systems. Before joining the faculty at WMU in 2012, Jeremy taught composites, turbine engines, electronics, and aircraft systems at Southern Illinois University and Purdue University. His expertise includes performing heavy maintenance on the Pratt and Whitney JT8D turbine engine and maintaining single-engine and light twin-engine aircraft. He has published a number of papers on preventive maintenance, investigating and analyzing engine and landing-gear failures, and safety behaviors of maintenance students. Jeremy serves on the New Faculty Orientation Committee and as faculty advisor to the WMU chapter of SkillsUSA. He recently joined the WMU-AAUP Association Council.

Jeremy writes: “My reasons for stepping up to serve on the 2017 bargaining team are simple: It is the job, if not the calling, for faculty to motivate, stimulate and educate our students. The only way we can achieve these important objectives is if we have a positive and equitable work environment, affordable health care, and a competitive compensation package so that we can focus our full attention where it belongs: on our students, our research, and the wellbeing of the institution.”


Dr. Michael Miller (Human Performance and Health Education)

Photo of Dr. Michael Miller

Michael Miller (PhD, Western Michigan) directs the master’s program in athletic training and has done extensive grant and contract work since joining the faculty at WMU in 2002. He has co-authored five textbooks as well as numerous articles, which appear in the Journal of Athletic Training, Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, Athletic Training & Sports Health Care, and other publications. Mike serves on the Human Subjects Institutional Review Board and the Faculty Research and Creative Activities review committee and previously served on the Graduate Studies Council and the Campus Planning and Finance Committee. His service includes a term on the Association Council and as the WMU-AAUP Contract Administrator.

Mike writes: “I am looking forward to bringing to the table this year my past experience as contract administrator, which included supporting and assisting the 2005 bargaining team. Additionally, because of my disciplinary interests and experience, I have been able to build trusted professional relationships with colleagues in the healthcare industry who can provide us with valuable data and insight into how healthcare costs are assessed and distributed. Finally, I will bring to the table the temperament to engage in negotiations, even when they might become tense, and I am fully prepared to stand my ground on behalf of the faculty.”


Dr. Lisa Minnick, WMU-AAUP Chapter President
(English and Gender & Women’s Studies)

Photo of Dr. Lisa Minnick

Lisa Minnick (PhD, Georgia) joined the faculty at WMU in 2004. Her teaching and research focus on language variation and change, historical linguistics, feminist and queer linguistics, and linguistic applications to literature. Her work appears in Language and Literature, Language Variation in the Secondary English Classroom, Varieties in Writing in English: The Written Word as Linguistic Evidence, and elsewhere. Her book, Dialect and Dichotomy: Literary Representations of African American Speech (Alabama, 2004), was an American Library Association CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title. After several terms on the Association Council and serving on the 2011 bargaining team, Lisa became chapter president in 2013 and was re-elected in 2014 and 2016. Elected to the AAUP National Council in 2014, she also joined the national AAUP Executive Committee last year.

Lisa writes: “Since the intellectual character of any university is determined by its faculty, participation in shared governance is central to our work. The collaborative work between faculty and administration that happens during our contract negotiations is a perfect opportunity to reclaim our rightful place in helping to determine the priorities of the institution.

“It is up to all of us to remind the administration and the public that a ‘national top 100 university’ invests in its faculty.”

Lisa Minnick

“We have an outstanding team this year, and they will be extraordinarily well prepared at the table. But they can’t do this work alone. As always, the faculty’s standing in solidarity with our team will be critical to their success. If you care about shared governance, academic freedom, and investing in the core academic mission (and who among us doesn’t?), we need you to join us in saying so, loudly and repeatedly. We will keep you informed about developments at the table and about contract campaign events, but we’ll also need you to hold up your end by attending chapter meetings and events and especially by standing with our team. It is up to all of us to remind the administration and the public that a ‘national top 100 university’ invests in its faculty.”

 

Remarks to the Board of Trustees, October 11, 2016

Remarks to the WMU Board of Trustees
by Lisa C. Minnick, WMU-AAUP President

 

Much has already been written and said about Dr. Mary Cain, who died on October 1 at age 91, including a statement by the WMU-AAUP published last week on our chapter blog. So I won’t spend time going over her many achievements and accomplishments. Instead, I want to talk about her work as the first woman president of the WMU-AAUP. She served two terms, from 1983-86.

As WMU-AAUP president, Mary is perhaps best remembered on campus for leading the legendary 1984 strike in September of that year, after contract negotiations broke down in late summer and mediation failed. The strike was settled quickly, but bad feelings persisted on campus into the fall semester as negotiations resumed.

In a speech to the WMU Board of Trustees on September 21, 1984, Mary challenged the Board to do the right thing by allowing faculty to make up work missed during the strike, pointing out that the administration had behaved dishonorably in making but not honoring compromises to end the strike but would face no consequences for their actions. Speaking from the wise perspective of a professor of education, and from her experience as a labor leader, she boldly set out the faculty’s position and argued that preventing faculty from making up the work, as the administration had chosen to do under then-President John Bernhard, would hurt WMU students as much as faculty. Her remarks are quoted in full on the WMU-AAUP blog, so I will just quote her briefly here:

The essence of the anger on our campus springs not from any single term or condition or event, but from an attitude which pervasively reflects a lack of respect for the faculty.

The faculty’s feelings arise in response to an attitude that tells rather than asks, that assails our civil liberties, that treats us as identical and interchangeable parts, like cogs in a bureaucratic machine – an attitude which fails to appreciate our diverse, continual, loyal, excellent [and often] unpaid service to Western, or to recognize that the faculty, together with the students, is the essence of any university.

Mary Cain spoke those words 32 years ago.

After her retirement in 1992, Mary continued to participate actively in campus life and to support the work of the WMU-AAUP. As recently as 2014, then 89-year-old Mary still regularly attended our Executive Committee meetings, representing Western’s Association of Retired Faculty, and she was as sharp, funny, and fearless as ever. She also participated in the chapter’s 2014 contract campaign, including as a guest speaker at our Union Pioneers Panel in February 2014 and as a frequent advisor to the chapter leadership.

The officers, Executive Committee, Association Council, and staff of the WMU-AAUP, on behalf of the Board-appointed faculty of Western Michigan University, offer our deepest condolences to Mary’s family and friends on this profound loss.

But it is not enough simply to offer condolences and remember her fondly. We owe this woman who committed her life to justice and equality for all people better than that. We owe her better than to try to erase the lived reality that she experienced, that women in this world and on this campus face when they dare to stand up, to speak up, and to lead.

In her obituary, Mary’s family writes that she “spent her adult life working for justice and equal rights for all people” and was “a champion of equal rights for women.” One of the many things I admired about her is that even though as chapter president she endured all kinds of blowback for the risks she took on behalf of the faculty, she never let what people thought of her or what they said about her stop her from doing what she knew was right. She just did it anyway. I admire that about her because I understand how hard that is, to live your convictions, to try to serve others honorably, to keep going, to just do it anyway. But I also know that the more of us who do it, the safer it is for other women to step up and do it too. This is how change happens. Every time I look at Mary’s portrait in our offices at Montague House and see her fabulous smile, I remember what’s at stake and what I owe her. I understand that I am standing in this spot today because of the trail that Mary Cain blazed. I take that responsibility very seriously.

But Mary knew, and I know, that cultural shifts are slow, that they take time and require persistence. This is why we can’t back down when we know we have justice on our side. And it works. Attitudes shift.

But at this point, that is not enough. We need to move faster and more decisively. The 2016 presidential election campaign and the horrifying discourse to which it has given voice, laden with the most vile and ignorant racism, misogyny, and xenophobia, should be a wake-up call for all of us. As an institution of higher learning, we have the responsibility to take the lead and stand up, individually as well as collectively, against these poisonous, dehumanizing values.

“Diversity” and “inclusion” have to be more than just words to us. At a time when public discourse has reached what is quite possibly its lowest point in recent memory, we need to understand the connections between the disgusting rhetoric that a major-party presidential candidate has attempted to legitimize and the more subtle and even casual racism, misogyny, homophobia, ableism, and other bigotries that are part of the everyday lived experiences of real people, including on this campus.

How are we to make sense of this poisonous campaign discourse for and with our students? And who are we to profess even that we can make sense of it, when the attitudes articulated in that discourse pervade even our own campus culture?

We still have women on this campus who are paid inequitably. The message to faculty and perhaps especially to support staff, who are predominantly women and among the lowest-paid employees on this campus, has been that pay equity is not a priority at WMU. Once in a while an individual salary adjustment is made. But the stubborn structural problems that create and perpetuate gender and racial inequity in the first place continue to be ignored. The equity problem persists because it is merely a symptom of something larger and a consequence of an institutionalized resistance on this campus to taking on the problems of structural sexism and racism at their roots.

Dr. Cain’s presidential terms and mine are 30 years apart. I don’t want to say that nothing has changed. Of course some things have improved. But if I am going to be honest here, and you know I am always honest here, I have to say that not enough has changed. And we are going to have to do better.

There are still too many people on our campus who think nothing of speaking to and about women, including in the workplace, in ways that are disrespectful, patronizing, inappropriately gendered, and even sexualized. Some of the people who talk this way appear not even to realize they are doing it.

I don’t want WMU to keep losing women faculty. We have an especially hard time retaining faculty women of color. Often the ones who stay feel isolated or are treated like they don’t belong here. I don’t want the women who do the work of this institution – from instruction and research and advising to office support, administration, food service, maintenance, and everything else that keeps this enterprise afloat – ever to be made to feel less than, to be paid less than, to be treated as less than.

Mary Cain spoke up for women over the course of her entire career and even after her retirement. I am trying to honor her example. But you all need to honor it to. The women and men of Western Michigan University – faculty, staff, students, alumni –  need to see a deliberate, conscious commitment that starts at the top – that is with you, ladies and gentlemen of the board – which could use more women on it, by the way – to say not only with words but with every action and in every interaction that we reject racism, sexism, xenophobia, ableism, homophobia, and bigotry in all its forms.

Take the lead. Make this something distinctive and important about Western Michigan University. You won’t be doing it for me. You won’t even be doing it for Mary Cain, although it is the least that she deserves. You’ll be doing it for yourselves, for your families, for our students, our alumni, our community, and this institution. I’m not talking about lip service. I’m talking about soul searching.

Mary Cain, as I said, was the first woman president of the WMU-AAUP. Here I am, 30 years later, the fourth. And here we still are. I am speaking now to all the men on this campus, members of the Board of Trustees and everyone else: This kind of destructive, soul-stealing, dehumanizing behavior doesn’t stop until you join women and people of color in standing up to it. Stop tolerating sexist and racist jokes. Stop repeating stories that have no purpose but to hurt, to slander, to try to discredit. Stop standing silent while others engage in these behaviors. Say something. Set an example. Be an ally. You don’t have to participate actively in the behavior to be complicit in the damage it causes to others. All you have to do is nothing.

As I wrote in the WMU-AAUP statement about Mary, all WMU faculty and retirees owe her a debt of gratitude for her courage, foresight, strength, and humor. We are humbled by our responsibility to honor her legacy, but we know she is counting on us to stand together for the future of the faculty and the university to which we, like Mary, have committed our professional lives, and we are determined not to let her down. She understood the central role of faculty to the success of the university and the critical importance of faculty rights as autonomous professionals, entitled to meaningful participation in leading the development of the university’s priorities.

She also understood and experienced the damage that sexism, racism, and other bigotries cause to individuals and to the institutions that tolerate them, and she spent her life standing up against them.

Dr. Mary Cain lived her convictions. We owe it to her – all of us owe it to her – but also to ourselves and to our students to live ours. As we mourn her passing, we can take strength from the example she set for us and honor her by following that example.

Dr. Mary A. Cain (1924-2016)

WMU-AAUP Statement on the Passing of Dr. Mary A. Cain (1924-2016)
Professor Emerita of Education and Professional Development

mary_cainDr. Mary Cain joined the faculty at Western Michigan University in 1961 after earning degrees in education, educational psychology, and child development from the University of Michigan, Western Michigan University, and Michigan State University. During her 31-year career at WMU, her many accomplishments and achievements as a teacher and scholar were recognized not only by the thousands of students she taught and by her colleagues but also by a statewide Distinguished Teaching Award (1991) from the Michigan State Legislature, numerous campus awards, including the Distinguished Service Award (1991), and the Michigan Association of Governing Boards Distinguished Faculty Award (1985). Dr. Cain was also the first woman president of the WMU-AAUP, serving two terms (1983-86) as well as multiple terms on the WMU-AAUP Executive Committee.

As WMU-AAUP president, Mary led the chapter during turbulent times. Among many memorable campaigns, in early 1984 she led a series of actions against the administration’s attempts to roll back contractually negotiated salary increases. In a January 1984 letter to the faculty, Mary wrote that the attempted salary rollback was “predicated on a three-million dollar deficit which never appeared” and “under threat of massive layoffs.” She and other faculty colleagues challenged the layoffs, negotiated hard to preserve faculty jobs, and filed workload grievances when their good-faith agreements were abused. Some of these grievances went all the way to arbitration, where the WMU-AAUP prevailed. While many faculty members collaborated on these actions – then as now, the union works best when it works collaboratively – Mary’s courageous leadership and unwavering willingness to stand against injustice were instrumental to the faculty’s prevailing in these cases.

In her work as chapter president, Mary is perhaps best remembered on campus for leading the legendary 1984 strike in September of that year, after contract negotiations broke down in late summer and mediation failed. The strike was settled quickly, but bad feelings persisted on campus into the fall semester as negotiations resumed and a tentative agreement that many faculty members found unsatisfactory was subsequently reached.

In a speech to the WMU Board of Trustees on September 21, 1984, three weeks before the faculty would vote on whether to ratify the tentative agreement, Mary challenged the Board to do the right thing by allowing faculty to make up work missed during the strike, pointing out that the administration had behaved dishonorably but would face no consequences for their actions. Speaking from the wise perspective of a professor of education, and from her experience as a labor leader, she boldly set out the faculty’s position and argued that preventing faculty from making up the work, as the administration had chosen to do under then-President John Bernhard, would hurt WMU students as much as faculty:

There exists on Western’s campus today an anger deeper, a bitterness sharper, a resentment stronger than any other I’ve known in my years here. When 500 members of this moderate and temperate faculty withheld their services after weeks of restraint, they did so on principle. Despite its earlier conciliatory language, Western then chose to impose penalties on those who withheld services – penalties which are distributed inequitably. We hear that you unanimously voted to support these penalties. I ask you, for Western’s sake, to abandon or to modify them, and to continue to pay the faculty who will make up the work they missed. Let us not lower the quality of Western’s education through incomplete classes. Let us not cheat students out of full value for their tuition.

If penalty is a punishment, abandon it. Punishment rarely produces desired behavior. If the penalty is intended as a deterrent, abandon it, because the deterrent has already failed.

The essence of the anger on our campus springs not from any single term or condition or event, but from an attitude which pervasively reflects a lack of respect for the faculty.

The faculty’s feelings arise in response to an attitude that tells rather than asks, that assails our civil liberties, that treats us as identical and interchangeable parts, like cogs in a bureaucratic machine – an attitude which fails to appreciate our diverse, continual, loyal, excellent unpaid service to Western, or to recognize that the faculty, together with the students, is the essence of any university.

And we encourage you to exercise that largeness of spirit necessary to abandon or to modify the penalties. A noble gesture would be the first step toward the healing of our campus. It would require good faith and effort on your part. We believe Western is still worth the effort.

WMU-AAUP President Mary Cain, remarks to the WMU Board of Trustees, September 21, 1984

The tentative agreement was overwhelmingly rejected by the faculty on October 3, with 75 percent voting against ratification.

Finally, on November 21, the two sides reached a new tentative agreement that was far more favorable to the faculty than the previous one. It was ratified by the faculty on December 3, 1984, with 83 percent voting to approve. In a statement to the Kalamazoo Gazette after the successful ratification vote, Mary said, “I look forward to the next three years as a time for new growth, and for constructive assertion of the faculty’s role at Western, both in negotiations and in the larger enterprise of the university.”

Mary also chaired the (now-defunct) WMU Commission on the Status of Women and was twice named “Woman of the Year” (1978 and 1986) by that organization. The Michigan State Conference of the AAUP also recognized her with the President’s Award in 1988. In her obituary, Mary’s family writes that she “spent her adult life working for justice and equal rights for all people” and was “a champion of equal rights for women.”

WMU alumna Dr. Patti Bills, who as an undergraduate studied with Mary and is now a teacher-educator at Northern Kentucky University, writes:

She was the first person ever to articulate to me what it means to be an educator-advocate. She used the term ‘advocate’ very specifically with us when talking about early childhood education, at a time when deregulation was happening in Michigan, and I have never forgotten what that meant. She was simply amazing.

Maria A. Perez-Stable, Professor of University Libraries, recalls her arrival to WMU in 1979, at age 24, “a newly-minted Instructor, never having worked in higher education before.” Maria writes,

I was proud to have joined the WMU-AAUP, and one of the first people I encountered was Mary Cain. She was a petite person, but what a powerhouse, with her commanding voice, unmistakable intellect, and the intensity shining out of her eyes. Although she never knew it, Mary was one of my heroes and role models in academe – an example of how women in the academy could lead effectively and make a real difference. I recall Mary fighting tirelessly for gender and racial equality on our campus, and of course, for early childhood education in her own department. And always, with that infectious and irrepressible smile of hers. It was my privilege to call her colleague.

After her retirement in 1992, Mary went on to co-found Western’s Association of Retired Faculty (WARF). Dr. Tom Bailey, Professor Emeritus of English, writes that “Those of us basking in the glow of retirement have that to thank her for.”

Tom adds,

Mary led the WMU-AAUP through a very turbulent period when relations between professors and the administration were at the lowest point they ever reached. She was a steady hand at the helm, and utterly fearless in guiding us toward a satisfactory settlement. Still, after that deeply dangerous and unpleasant strike, there has never been another. A few years after it had been settled and President Haenicke had been hired, he could see the lasting distress and bitterness faculty-administration antagonisms had caused, and he, and all subsequent presidents, have avoided another. In that way, Mary’s leadership still serves the WMU-AAUP.

In the two decades after her retirement, Mary continued to participate actively in campus life and to support the work of the WMU-AAUP. As recently as 2014, then 89-year-old Mary still regularly attended WMU-AAUP Executive Committee meetings, representing WARF, and she was as sharp, funny, and fearless as ever. She also participated in the chapter’s 2014 contract campaign, including as a guest speaker at the WMU-AAUP Union Pioneers Panel in February 2014 and as a frequent advisor to the chapter leadership.

The officers, Executive Committee, Association Council, and staff of the WMU-AAUP, on behalf of the Board-appointed faculty of Western Michigan University, offer our deepest condolences to Mary’s family and friends on this profound loss.

All WMU faculty owe a debt of gratitude to Mary for her courage, foresight, strength, and humor. We are humbled by our responsibility to honor her legacy, but we know she is counting on us to stand together for the future of the faculty and the university to which we, like Mary, have committed our professional lives, and we are determined not to let her down. She understood the central role of faculty to the success of the university and the critical importance of faculty rights as autonomous professionals, entitled to meaningful participation in leading the development of the university’s priorities. Mary fought on the faculty’s behalf for fair compensation and affordable healthcare. She defended academic freedom and insisted on shared governance and due process. And she refused to allow administrative fiat to be the “Western way.” Dr. Mary Cain lived her convictions. We owe it to her, to ourselves, and to our students not to allow her work to be undone. As we mourn her passing, we can take strength from the example she set for us and honor her by following that example.

 

On the agenda for Sept. 16 Association Council meeting: Does the Faculty Want a Second Health Insurance Option?

In July, President Dunn announced a second health insurance option that may be offered to WMU employees during open enrollment this fall, BCBSM’s Healthy Blue Living HMO.

We provide below an analysis of the Healthy Blue Living HMO to help faculty members make an informed decision about whether to allow the plan to be offered to the faculty along with our existing health insurance plan. (See also our summary comparison table of overall benefits here and our pharmacy benefit comparison table, linked here.)

On September 16, the WMU-AAUP Association Council will discuss whether the new plan should be offered to our members. We encourage all WMU-AAUP bargaining-unit faculty to attend this meeting.


WMU-AAUP Association Council meeting Friday, September 16, 2016
1:30 p.m. in 157 Bernhard

Special guests to help answer your questions about healthcare:

  • Lisa Marshall, Director of Sindecuse Health Center, Western Michigan University
  • ŸWil Arbogast, Director of the WMU Sports Medicine Clinic
  • ŸJim Middleton, Director of Pharmacy, Sindecuse Health Center

This meeting is open to all members of the WMU-AAUP bargaining unit.


 Quick overview: The Healthy Blue Living HMO might work for you if:

  • Getting your premium amount down is your highest priority.
  • You are confident that you and your family will not need services that are subject to the HMO’s out-of-pocket deductible payments, which could offset premium savings.
  • You like working toward wellness goals and don’t mind the HMO’s wellness plan requirements.
  • You and your family are healthy and you’re confident that you’re likely to remain so.
  • You have no dependents on your insurance and who live out of state or overseas.
  • You rarely or never travel out of state or internationally.
  • You don’t mind getting a referral from a primary care provider if you need to see a specialist.
  • No one on your insurance needs to take any nongeneric prescription drugs.
  • You don’t mind giving up access to no-copay, no-deductible providers and clinicians at the Sindecuse Health Center on campus.

Quick overview: The Healthy Blue Living HMO might NOT work for you if:

  • You and/or members of your family need nongeneric prescription medications. The copays under the HMO and loss of access to Sindecuse pharmacy discount could offset your premium savings.
  • You expect that you and/or members of your family will need to visit providers. The HMO deductible requirements could offset your premium savings.
  • You have a spouse or child on your insurance who lives out of state or overseas.
  • You travel out of state and need non-emergency care or prescription drugs while you are away.
  • You travel internationally and need non-emergency care or prescription drugs while you are away.
  • You don’t want to have to get a referral from a primary-care physician to go to a specialist.
  • You use services at Sindecuse, such as physical therapy, lab and x-ray, and other medical and clinical services and providers and want to continue to do so.

More details: Some important facts about The Healthy Blue Living HMO

  • The main advantage of the HMO: Lower premium equivalents. (See Table 1.)
  • Lower copays for office visits but only after deductible is met. The HMO offers $20 copays for Enhanced Plan, $30 for the Standard Plan, compared to $35 for our current plan. However, your deductible must be met before you’ll be eligible for these copays. (See Table 1.)
  • That means you’ll pay 100% of the bill for non-preventive medical services until your deductible is met, potentially negating any savings from lower premiums. Our current plan includes many services to which the deductible does not apply and does not require that the deductible be met before covering most office visits.
  • If you are on the employee-only plan, you’ll pay out-of-pocket for office visits and/or other care up to $400 (Enhanced Plan) or $1000 (Standard Plan) before you will be eligible for copay-only office visits. (See Table 1.)
  • If you are on the two-person or family plan, you’ll pay out-of-pocket for office visits and/or other care up to $800 (Enhanced Plan) or $2000 (Standard Plan) before you will be eligible for copay-only for office visits. (See Table 1.)
  • If you or members of your family need any nonpreventive healthcare services at all, there is a good chance that these deductible requirements will offset savings of the reduced premium.
  • The HMO provides no coverage for medical or clinical services at Sindecuse Health Center. On our current plan, we enjoy at Sindecuse with zero out-of-pocket costs. Enrollees in the HMO will be responsible for all charges for services at Sindecuse. (See Table 1.)
  • The HMO does not include a prescription drug discount at Sindecuse. HMO enrollees may use the pharmacy at Sindecuse, but prescription drug prices under that plan will not be discounted. (See Table 2.)
  • With the HMO, 90-day prescriptions will be available by mail-order only. (See Table 2.)
  • The HMO has a 5-tier prescription drug plan with high copays for for tiers 4 and 5. On our current plan, copays for tier 4 and tier 5 drugs are equivalent to those for tiers 2 and 3, respectively. On the HMO, tiers 4 and 5 are very expensive. (See Table 2.)
  • It’s an HMO. That means there is no out-of-network option and that your providers must all be part of the Michigan BCBSM network.
  • Kids live out of state? With the HMO, if you have kids up to age 26 who don’t live in Michigan but are on your insurance, they would not be covered except for emergency treatment.
  • If you travel outside Michigan: With the HMO, according to information on BCBSM’s website, “there are limits to the type of care you get that’s covered when you travel outside your plan’s network and around the U.S.” You’ll need a referral from your primary care provider and approval from BCBSM to get care except in case of emergency. Approval is required but not guaranteed, and there may still be out-of-pocket costs to you even if approved. The HMO plan “covers only a limited amount of health care services when you’re outside of your plan’s network area or outside of Michigan.”
  • If you travel internationally: BCBSM’s “How to get care while you’re traveling” page notes that with the HMO, “You’re only covered for emergency care and accidental injuries when traveling abroad.”
  • Some might find the wellness program requirements invasive or burdensome. Enrollees are “graded” on six measures: weight, blood sugar, cholesterol, blood pressure, tobacco use, and depression.

According to the BCBSM website, a grade of A means you meet the health target; B means you have a health condition that may not be controlled but you are actively participating in treatment to improve the condition; and C means you’re not meeting the wellness target and haven’t committed to treatment to improve your condition.

If you get any grades of C, you’ll be required to commit to a plan of action and follow through in order to remain eligible for the Enhanced Plan. You don’t actually have to lose the weight, reduce cholesterol, quit smoking, kick that depression once and for all, etc., but you do have to participate in the action plan until you achieve the desired goal.

In cases where the goal might not actually be achievable for some enrollees, you will apparently be required to follow the action plan in perpetuity to remain eligible for the lower-cost Enhanced Plan.

  • If you don’t follow your wellness plan or you don’t complete other requirements within 90 days of enrollment or re-enrollment (meaning annually), you will be switched from the Enhanced Plan to the Standard Plan, which has substantially higher out-of-pocket costs. (See Table 1.)

For more information:

What else you can do:

  • Come to the Association Council meeting on Friday, September 16, at 1:30 pm in 157 Bernhard, to participate in the conversation about whether this plan should be offered to WMU-AAUP faculty in addition to our existing plan.
  • Talk to colleagues and help keep other faculty members informed.
  • Got expertise? Share it with the faculty by speaking at the Association Council meeting or write an article for the blog.

LOCKED OUT ON LABOR DAY: FACULTY AT LIU BROOKLYN FIGHTING FOR A FAIR CONTRACT AND THE FUTURE OF OUR CAMPUS

“They preempted a strike they did not know would happen, and they took actions all summer long to prepare for it. They “deactivated” classes—not cancelled, just bizarrely removed from the schedule—without notifying deans, chairs, or affected faculty. They posted erroneous materials on course management websites. And they placed ads for replacement workers on Monster.com while scrambling to assign Brooklyn administrators as well as those at LIU Post to teach our classes. One young staff member is assigned to teach a Master’s program class in which she is enrolled as a student.”

–Deborah Mutnick, LIU-Brooklyn

ACADEME BLOG

Guest blogger Deborah Mutnick is  a long-time professor at Long Island University’s Brooklyn, NY campus.

As of 12:00 a.m., Saturday, September 3, my colleagues and I were locked out of our University in the midst of contract negotiations between our faculty union and management. The letter I got from the administration told me I have “to cease performing services for the University.” Saturday morning the first thing I did—and I suspect many of my colleagues did as well—was to try my LIU email account. Locked out. The union-busting tactics we all feared have now come to pass.

The idea that faculty and students are the heart and soul of a university is in jeopardy everywhere of late, it seems, in higher education. But for the past three years, Long Island University has strayed so far from this ideal that we barely have a seat at the table anymore. The faculty…

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