“Who Are My Union Reps and What Do They Do?”

Thank you to all faculty who participated in the recent WMU-AAUP faculty survey. Chapter officers, staff, and Executive Committee members have been working on analyzing the raw data collected from over 200 participants, including qualitative analysis of nearly 500 comments, to produce reports for the faculty. We will soon have a lot more to tell you about the survey results, but for now, we want to provide information in response to what emerged as a key question across a number of faculty comments on the survey: “Who are my union reps and what do they do?”

Based on your feedback in response to survey questions about the roles of department and college-level representatives, we sent an email out to the faculty in February 2016 in response to that question, including individualized information for each faculty member about their department and college representatives.

In that message, we included a brief description of these roles, as well as who is serving in them, so that bargaining-unit members will have a clearer picture of how the organization functions to advance faculty interests. We are posting the information here (along with this link to the list of college and department representatives, including contact information) for ease of access and future reference. The information below also fills in more details about the specific responsibilities of chapter officers than was included in the February email message.

Association Council and Executive Committee

The WMU-AAUP is a grassroots operation, governed by chapter members as a whole, with elected departmental representatives forming a body (the Association Council) that oversees policy and practice and whose members help to support faculty in their respective departments.

In addition, a smaller committee composed of elected college-level representatives (the Executive Committee) works with the elected and appointed chapter officers to guide much of the daily business of the WMU-AAUP chapter.

The governance structure of the WMU-AAUP Chapter is one in which chapter members lead the organization through their own participation at chapter meetings, by electing and providing input and feedback to their department- and college-level representatives, and by electing and communicating with chapter officers.

President and Vice President

The WMU-AAUP’s elected officers include the president and vice president, who are elected directly by a vote in which all dues-paying bargaining-unit faculty are entitled to participate. Lisa Minnick (English and Gender & Women’s Studies) is the chapter president, and Brian Tripp (Biological Sciences) is the vice president.

The chapter president’s responsibilities include (but are not limited to):

  • facilitating the daily operations of the chapter
  • working with the Executive Committee on policy matters
  • working with the Association Council to keep information flowing (in both directions) between the faculty and the chapter leadership
  • supporting and facilitating the work of the other officers and the negotiation team
  • meeting regularly with senior administrators on behalf of the faculty
  • answering contract questions
  • responding to faculty concerns
  • representing the chapter to the news media
  • following developments in higher education, labor law, and collective bargaining
  • serving ex officio on the negotiation team
  • representing the chapter at university and community events

The vice president’s responsibilities include (but are not limited to):

  • chairing the personnel committee (conducts annual reviews of the office staff)
  • recruiting and training volunteers
  • organizing activities to increase faculty involvement and investment in the chapter
  • representing the chapter on university committees.

Secretary and Treasurer

The chapter secretary  and treasurer are faculty colleagues who come from the ranks of elected members of the Executive Committee. The Executive Committee nominates candidates for these positions. These nominations must subsequently be approved by the Association Council.

The chapter secretary is Tim Michael (Human Performance and Health Education), and the treasurer is Sharon Carlson (University Libraries).

The chapter secretary’s responsibilities include (but are not limited to):

  • overseeing the recording, preparation, and submission of minutes for meetings of the officers, Executive Committee, Association Council, and chapter
  • serving on the chapter’s policies and procedures committee
  • handling correspondence
  • serving on the editorial board of the Advocate newsletter.

The chapter treasurer’s responsibilities include (but are not limited to):

  • chairing the chapter’s budget committee, which develops and recommends the annual budget and dues structure (both of which the treasurer presents to the Executive Committee, Association Council, and chapter as a whole for consideration and approval)
  • working with staff to produce monthly financial reports
  • overseeing the financial well-being of the chapter.

Contract Administrator, Grievance Officer, and Public Relations Officer

In contrast to the secretary and treasurer, the contract administrator, grievance officer, and public relations officer are not required to be members of the Executive Committee to be candidates for those positions and may come from the faculty at large. Candidates interview with the Executive Committee, which sends its nominations to the Association Council for consideration and approval.

The contract administrator is Kate Langan (University Libraries). John Saillant (English) is the grievance officer, and Cathryn Bailey (Gender & Women’s Studies) is the public relations officer.

The contract administrator and grievance officer often work in collaboration, and their responsibilities occasionally overlap. Their duties include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • answering contract questions and helping faculty solve problems
  • identifying potential contract violations
  • keeping the Executive Committee informed about any developing contract issues
  • holding workshops to help educate the faculty in contract matters
  • helping with tenure and promotion appeals
  • analyzing contract language and making recommendations to the negotiation team
  • working as chapter liaisons with administrators in resolving problems, interpreting the contract, and representing faculty interests
  • reviewing and making recommendations on Department Policy Statements (CA)
  • reviewing faculty appointment letters for contract compliance (CA)
  • providing support and representation for faculty in disciplinary cases (CA)
  • providing support for faculty in individual grievance cases (GO)
  • preparing and filing chapter grievances (CO)
  • handling requests for arbitration and unfair labor practices (GO).

Since Michigan’s so-called “right to work” laws were passed, the public relations officer has primarily concentrated on:

  • membership recruitment and retention
  • developing membership campaigns
  • holding lunch table discussions on issues of interest to the faculty
  • engaging new faculty
  • overseeing forthcoming redesign of chapter website
  • working with officers, staff, and the Executive Committee on communication and outreach strategies.

Click here for a complete list of all WMU-AAUP officers, Executive Committee members, and Association Council representatives, along with their contact information.