Welcome to the Oakland University AAUP Chapter web site

The Oakland University faculty, through the American Association of University Professors, plays a vital role in:

For more information, contact:

Scott Barns, Executive Director
201 Pryale Hall, Oakland University, Rochester, MI 48309
(248) 370-2005; Fax: (248) 370-2004
E-mail: barns@oakland.edu

Recent News:

Welcome Back

On behalf of myself and the members of the AAUP Executive Committee I want to welcome you all back to campus for the start of 2018-19 academic year. I hope that everyone had a restful and productive summer and that you return to Oakland with renewed energy and hope for the coming year. Your union leadership has had a busy summer preparing for the upcoming year and helping to make OU the kind of institution that makes us proud to come to work.

I want to update you on just a little of what we’ve been up to:

No news is…
Well, not bad news anyway. In the first two years of the merit scheme imposed by the administration my email inbox was stuffed with complaints on or about August 20 when the merit reports came out. We successfully grieved Oakland’s misapplication of merit standards and their poor reading of the contract. Well, August 20 came this year, I held my breath and…lo and behold no deluge of complaints regarding altered scores! I hesitate to suggest that lessons were learned but for the first time in three tries it looks like we won’t have to file a grievance. I do note however that the forms you received included a category for a zero score which contradicts both the letter of the contract and the arbitrator’s ruling on this matter. Please be aware that it is not possible for Oakland to assign zero scores and we have already taken them to task for the implication that it might.

Back to Business as Usual
Many of you will recall that last winter we learned from a number of units conducting searches for new faculty that the Provost’s office had ordered those units to no longer submit their preferences in the form of a list of candidates in ranked order. We attempted to dissuade the administration from taking up this violation to both board policy and the principles of academic freedom but were refused. We promptly filed a grievance and while Oakland denied our claims, they acquiesced to our remedy and going forward all searches will be conducted according to board policy: faculty should rank their preferences when presenting them to the Provost’s office. We are once again indebted to our Grievance Officer Kevin Murphy for moving swiftly to bring this matter to an acceptable resolution.

AAUP Campus Safety Initiative
In June the AAUP Executive Committee participated in an Active Shooter and Lockdown Training with OU Police Chief Mark Gordon. This is a different training than the one some of us have received on campus and the members of the Executive Committee were fully convinced that it needs to be made available to all of our members. Chief Gordon is graciously making time in his schedule to present two such trainings every month for the 2018-19 academic year. Each session can accommodate 30 faculty members and should take about an hour. Our Vice-President Amy Pollard is working with unit chairs to schedule faculty into these sessions. I can’t impress on you enough both how eye-opening this training is and how important. If you don’t hear from your chair in the first few weeks of the semester, please let them and us know that you would like to have this training. Also, if you have not done so please include in the syllabi for all your classes the statement on the OU Police website regarding emergency preparedness. It is under the Emergency Management tab. The Executive Committee worked with Chief Gordon and the OU Police on this statement and we think it reflects the best practices we have at our disposal. Finally, as part of our Campus Safety Initiative we have in the works some other projects that we will be sharing with you later in the term.

Janus Decision
Also in June the US Supreme Court handed down its ill-considered decision in the Janus v. AFSCME case. This decision had been long anticipated and so I had already discussed its ramifications with our chapter attorney Bob Fetter. The long and short is that because we are covered under state labor law the Janus decision will not have much of an impact on our chapter. Due to the equally ill-considered “right to be exploited” legislation that was passed in Michigan some time ago we have been living in what folks at the national AAUP call a “post-Janus” world for some time. However, as chapter President I do have some concerns. We pay a good deal of our member’s resources to the national AAUP and in return we receive very little by way of services. My worry is that the Janus decision compels the national to cut back even further on their already meager support. Please be assured that we will watch this situation closely and communicate what we learn directly to you our members. In the meanwhile, my hope is that the Janus decision compels the national to recognize what our local chapter has known for some time: in a world in which collective bargaining rights are being assaulted at almost every level imaginable it is the obligation of all of us as leaders and members of unions to insist on the relevance, indeed, the necessity of collective bargaining to insure decent jobs and working conditions. In short, the post-Janus world is one in which it is our obligation to work harder to make our unions the vital forces for public good that we all know them to be. As Bob Marley put it: “if you are a big tree, we are a small axe…coming to chop you down.” Pick up your axe, this thing will fall.

Where do I get one of them slick t-shirts?
Hopefully by the time you read this you will start to see around campus some folks sporting our newest fashion accessory: The OU AAUP: The Faculty Voice t-shirt! This faculty designed and union printed haute couture item is sure to be a must-have for the wardrobes of all of our faculty fashionistas. The first batch will be distributed to our newest faculty members, the hard-working folks on the AAUP Advisory Forum, and our Executive Committee members. If you’d like one for yourself let us know so we can gauge demand for a second printing.

Once again, welcome back to what I know will be an exhilarating academic year. As you can see we have a lot on our agenda and I look forward to working with all of you. As we begin this new academic year please don’t hesitate to reach out to me (Discenna@oakland.edu), Scott Barns (barns@oakland.edu), our Vice-President Amy Pollard (pollard@oakland.edu) or any member of the Executive Committee with your issues, thoughts or ideas. You can always find our names and contact information on the AAUP website: oaklandaaup.org

Tom Discenna
President, Oakland University Chapter AAUP

Oakland University AAUP Update

Colleagues:

If you had your merit score adjusted, I'm sure that you have received by now your letter from Oakland explaining why your merit score was reduced. I have heard from many such recipients that this letter, like my own, includes no meaningful feedback regarding the merit adjustment and no feedback concerning what actions can be taken to move forward. In consultation with our chapter attorney the executive committee will determine the most effective recourse in light of the prior arbitration ruling and the plain meaning of the contract. At this point it seems clear to me at least that the administration's response to the arbitration does not conform to either the spirit or the letter of our collective bargaining agreement.

On the bright side, I learned late last semester and confirmed last week that there will now be a faculty representative to the Behavioral Concerns Committee. As you may know, there have been instances where the BCC has been used by the administration to remove faculty members from campus. As of now it is not clear who the representative will be nor how that individual will be chosen. In a meeting with Academic Human Resources I provided the names of members who the Executive Committee believes would be valuable members of such a committee. I wish to thank these individuals for their willingness to lend their valuable time and expertise to this endeavor. It is this level of commitment on the part of our membership that makes my role as president a rewarding one.

Also, you should be aware that in two separate meetings Oakland has announced that it is seeking to contract with an "online program management provider" similar to the one currently being used at Eastern Michigan University. If you have not already done so please update yourself on what is happening at EMU. I have included a link in this email that provides some more information. You should be aware that I have been in contact with my counterpart at Eastern who has agreed to provide us with whatever resources they have concerning this issue. We will be monitoring this effort closely to insure that our contractual rights are not violated and that whatever course Oakland chooses to take we can insure the preservation of academic freedom on this campus.
Setting Limits on Academic Outsourcing

Finally, we have two general membership meetings scheduled this semester: Thursday March 8 at Noon in Banquet Room B and Monday March 12 at 2:30 in Gold Room B. We will have four openings to fill for at-large representatives to the Executive Committee and nominations from the floor are welcome at either meeting. In addition, there will be treasurers report to the general membership.

Hoping your semester is off to a great start and looking forward to a great year.

Tom Discenna
President, Oakland University Chapter AAUP

AAUP Message: End of Year Report

December 18, 2017

Dear Colleagues,

As the semester lurches to its finish I wanted to take a minute and review some important items of business that the AAUP has been working this past semester.

First, the settlement of the Grievance that we won earlier in the term has been signed. Zero scores should no longer be assigned under any circumstances and those members who were assigned them in 2015-16 and 2016-17 have already received notification of their corrected salaries. All of us who have had our merit scores lowered should receive a written statement indicating why the score was lowered which cites both your merit report and you unit's rubric. If you receive a report that does not cite these documents please alert us as soon as possible so that we can take the proper corrective measures to insure that you receive the feedback you are owed and that is necessary for you to do your best work.

Next, we have been spending a good deal of time working with the administration to improve the Behavioral Concerns Committee. As it stand right now there are some open questions regarding its function and operations in regards to faculty. We are attempting to have some faculty representation on this important committee when it deals with faculty concerns. I will hope to have more to report in the future, its been something of a slog as you might imagine.

Along those lines both I and members of the Executive Committee have had meetings with our new President and have found them to be helpful and productive in airing our concerns. We all look forward to further discussions and to improving the climate of the institution and faculty morale.

In addition, I would hope that you all are following the events that are unfolding at Eastern Michigan University where our colleagues in the AAUP and AFT which represents their contingents are battling EMU's efforts to privatize much of what is offered by way of online education. Apparently, a similar scheme is underway at OU and we are trying to stay ahead of it instead of playing catch up. Please use the following link and lend whatever support you can to our EMU colleagues as they fight this important battle:

Eastern Michigan University Leadership: Send the AP deal to EMU faculty for a thorough review

Finally, and with apologies, the dues holiday that we typically enjoy this December has been postponed solely due to a clerical error on my part. We will make up for it in February which seems to me like the time when the Lego bills come due. Again, my apologies for the inconvenience but rest assured that it is coming.

Its been an honor to serve as President this semester and to work with our excellent colleagues on the Executive Committee and Scott Barns our Executive Director. Please enjoy this bit of a respite between semesters and I'll look forward to seeing many of you in the new year to come.

All best,

Tom Discenna
President
Oakland University Chapter AAUP

AAUP Victory in Merit Pay Arbitration Case

October 12, 2017

Colleagues-

The AAUP Executive Committee learned yesterday afternoon that the arbitrator in the Grievance filed in response to the Administration's misapplication of the merit review process has ruled decisively in favor of the faculty position. The complete decision can be found here.

Timeline of Grievance 2016-2

As you may recall, the grievance(s) made three claims: 1. some faculty were given scores of 0 resulting in no salary increase in that year; 2. that faculty who had their performance scores "adjusted" were not given an opportunity to respond as mandated by the contract; and 3. that departments that were asked to "adjust" more than 20% of scores were not given specific instruction as to which scores to adjust and why they required adjusting.

In each claim the arbitrator found that Oakland violated the contract. Faculty who were scored a zero can now be rated appropriately and in no case be scored less than a one resulting in salary increases for all those affected. In other words, all those faculty who received a zero score will have their salaries restored by no less than .5%. The money to do so will not be taken from any other faculty member (as suggested by the administration) and instead must be paid for separately. Regarding the second two claims the arbitrator likewise found decisively in favor of the faculty and moving forward the administration is required to provide specific justifications to departments when asking them to adjust more than 20% of scores. Faculty whose scores are adjusted must be informed of the adjustment and given the opportunity to respond to the new score.

This is an important victory for the faculty association and I would like to thank a number of people who helped make it happen. Our Grievance Officer Kevin Murphy is tireless in his pursuit of holding our administration to their contractual obligations and his work on this case went above and beyond the call of duty. Our Chief Negotiator Mike Latcha was called to testify in this case, necessitating both prolonging and reliving the negotiations of two summers ago. Our attorney Bob Fetter was instrumental and, as usual, brilliant in framing our issues to the arbitrator. Finally, my predecessor Ken Mitton worked diligently in the negotiation process, the implementation of the merit review system and in testimony to the arbitrator. We all owe him a debt of gratitude.

We will be having two General Membership meetings next week on Monday the 16th at 3:00 and Tuesday the 17th at Noon. Look forward to seeing you there and answering any further questions.

Tom Discenna
AAUP Chapter President

Final Note and Thank you from Ken Mitton Immediate Past President OU-AAUP

August 15, 2017

Welcome to August 15th 2017.

Today I become your immediate past president of our AAUP chapter and Tom Discenna becomes your new president. So welcome Tom. Thank you for stepping up to representing all of us in our Union. Over the Summer, Tom has certainly been in the loop on all the items that your union is working on in preparation for the Fall. We are in good hands. Tom has served as our vice president and chair of your Advisory Forum. He is a tenured faculty member now, and in the past was a part-time faculty member. This makes Tom a very good person to represent All of our faculty. Remember, we represent well over 500 full-time tenure track and over 200 part-time faculty.

As we ready for the Fall term, you can check your chapter website any time for latest news on issues we are handling on your behalf. There are several more most of you will not know about, as they involve the privacy of individual members who are benefiting from the aid of Scott Barns and the terms of the Agreement. ( http://oaklandaaup.org )

I want to thank all of our faculty colleagues who volunteer their time to be on our executive committee, past, present and future. These people make time to take care of so many issues on our behalf, and I am glad that I have now also chipped in after so many before me took care of the ship as I began by career at Oakland.

After serving on a bargaining team, and serving as VP and President, I can assure you that many things occur here at Oakland that require your union to step in. Sometimes by requests of our members, sometimes because of general actions that we think are contrary to your Agreement.

Some items currently in play are:

1) The grievance filed for the 2016 merit scoring process, has just completed the final day of investigation and testimony before an outside Arbitration judge. The AAAP and Oakland will have 30 days to provide the Arbitrator final statements after we get transcripts of last Thursday's session. Your lawyer, Robert Fetter, will submit our final statement. I want to thank Kevin Murphy, for his efficient and tireless work navigating this process in his role as our grievance officer. Do thank him in person or email him for all those summer hours he spends on this task.

We have just filed a 2017 merit score grievance based on Oakland's repeat of some of the same process as in the 2016 grievance. This 2017 grievance will be held in stasis for the moment as the 2016 merit judgment will directly impact the 2017 response. Win or lose, it is the opinion of your union that if you get your merit score changed by Oakland, then Oakland should tell you why. Especially when ALL of your raise is controlled by your merit score by the final time of the Agreement. Not providing feedback will just continue to encourage faculty to seek better treatment elsewhere. Not a great recruiting tool either.

2) The AAUP will meet with Oakland later in August to try to convince the University to manage the faculty tuition benefit correctly. That is to simply invoice in the e-bill system using the actual cost of a credit for faculty benefit students as described by the agreement and AHR's official written interpretation from Fall 2015. Currently, Oakland continues to e-bill the full regular tuition rate, then they add subtractions that make it look like the University gives extra money to the student. This can make it look like a scholarship to the student, which it is not, and that is also causing difficulty for some student's tax return preparation. We expect a final report and solution going forward on this process to harmonize with the Agreement. They do not. Oakland is also busy doing some back correction to overbillings they processed on some faculty benefit students. If you think you may have been overbilled in any past terms, do contact Scott Barns. 10% of the the lowest cost undergraduate rate is the simple calculation of the tuition cost per credit for faculty benefit students. (Only faculty's tuition benefit students do not bump other students from available seats.) If your benefit student has been billed more than the 10% calculation of the lowest cost credit hour rate, contact us (OUAAUP).

As far as new issues going forward into the Fall, I will leave that to your new OU-AAUP President to communicate. I look forward to being available on our executive committee for the next year as your immediate past president and continuing to support our Association's efforts for faculty and students. With the now well established advisory forum, email, surveying online, and our website, we have worked hard to open up the communication more than ever, and to respond to your needs here at Oakland. We intend to keep that process rolling.

Thank you for letting me serve you as your chapter President, and thank you to all the full- and part-time faculty who have worked with us on all our committees. The teamwork and productivity while working with my colleagues is fun to be part of.

Sincerely

Ken Mitton
Immediate Past President OUAAUP

Reminder Faculty Tuition Benefit Forms

July 31, 2017
Reminder Faculty Tuition Benefit Forms.

1) Just a reminder that faculty members should submit their forms for Fall course tuition benefits to Janet Tull. Please see the form attached.

While it would be helpful to Janet if you could get your forms to her by August 1st, strictly speaking there is no August 1 deadline in the Agreement. The University has a new tuition management system as you know that requires students to pay their tuition bill or have a payment plan set up by mid august, or risk being bumped from a class seat. HOWEVER, faculty tuition benefit students automatically create an EXTRA class seat in the registered class.

(Part time faculty are also entitled to some credits of tuition benefit, but may not know their hire status until after August 1st, but they are still entitled to this benefit for the fall term.)

If you are denied a tuition benefit for a course registered in the fall term, please contact Scott Barns.

We do note that the form is simplified from last year's in that you just have to check the term that the tuition benefit is requested. No need to add credit hour count, so students who are still trying to figure out registration sections etc., can keep doing so. Based on the Agreement, Oakland has the job of keeping track of who tuition benefit students are.

If you are a first time user of this benefit:

Please note that your faculty tuition benefit is not a tuition reimbursement. Based on the Agreement, faculty tuition benefit students only pay service fees per credit hour. Some time ago, Oakland altered their tuition structure and mixed in fees with tuition. So, for a time the tuition benefit rate for faculty was $0.0 per credit hour, because Oakland not longer published defined fees. Then in the negotiations of a previous OU + OUAAUP Agreement, the faculty offered Oakland the opportunity to again collect the equivalent of administrative fees by calculating a service fee proxy as "...equal to ten (10%) percent of the in-state lower division undergraduate tuition rate for the number of credits enrolled." That is also the language in our current 2015-2020 Agreement.

Because Oakland changed their tuition structure to several tiers, the AAUP met with AHR in the Fall of 2015 to clarify, and AHR provided the AAUP with a precise definition of the fee calculation as: "lowest in-state lower division undergraduate tuition rate". (See the attached PDF of Dec 18, 2015.)

In the end, your balance should be simply the number of credit hours multiplied by the faculty tuition benefit rate per credit hour. Because of the confusing way that Oakland dumps the regular tuition into your student's e-bill then tries to correct it later with subtractions, it is easy to miss any overcharges. So we recommend you check your e-bill final total carefully. We have suggested that Oakland simply e-bill the fee-proxy only in the first place, which would make it easier for both Oakland and the benefit student.

2) This summer, the AAUP discovered that some faculty tuition benefit students had an e-bill that seemed larger than expected. For some reason, financial officials instructed the e-billing system to add to faculty tuition benefit student e-bills the difference between the lowest in-state lower division undergraduate tuition rate and that of the course registered if it had a higher rate. However that was not the policy communicated to the AAUP on December 18, 2015. Upon bringing this to the attention of Academic Human Resources, Oakland has been working this summer on reimbursing students who were overcharged. We (AAUP) expect a final report on the extent of the problem and how many of the corrections have been completed.

So, your tuition benefit fee should simply be the Fall 2017 "lowest in-state lower division undergraduate tuition rate" multiplied by the number of credit hours. Please check your e-bills. If you have any issues that you cannot solve regarding your tuition benefit, please contact Scott Barns.

Hope you are having a good summer

Ken Mitton
President OUAAUP