2021 Bargaining Diary

Bargaining Report, September 4th, 12:30am

We are pleased to announce that as of 12:20am on Saturday, September 4th, 2021, the two sides have reached an agreement at the table.  Accordingly, the Bargaining Team is calling an end to the work stoppage effective immediately.  Saturday classes will be held as scheduled. Faculty are encouraged to reach out to their students as soon as possible.  

We would like to thank all our members for the amazing outpouring of solidarity and support.  The agreement will be presented at multiple General Membership meetings in the coming weeks as per our association bylaws.  Details will follow shortly. 

 

Bargaining Report , 9/3, 4:00pm

The two sides have continued to negotiate through the day with minimal progress.  Language issues on the faculty tuition waiver and health care benefits remain key sticking points.  The parties have exchanged proposals on the remaining economic issues but still no noteworthy progress has occurred.  The parties are on a short break from the table as the mediator had a brief conflict but all will return at 7pm to continue negotiations.

 

Bargaining Report Sept. 3rd 9:35 am

Yesterday’s negotiations proceeded slowly.  While there are a small number of items remaining on the table, they are hugely important. The vast majority of the day was spent defending Oakland’s attacks against the faculty tuition waiver.  This gift our faculty give one another is a crucial element of our Faculty Agreement and our members have told us loud and clear that we must defend the right to provide that gift to one another.  Oakland attempts to alter the language of this waiver have created problems where none existed and open the door to erosion of the contract clause.  Oakland’s proposed language is sloppy, vulnerable to misinterpretation, and reflective of their obtuse refusal to recognize the way the benefit was designed to work. 

Oakland initially proposed lowering their contribution to full-time faculty health care from 95% to 80%, a shocking reduction.  In previous contracts, the Association has given in other areas of the contract in order to maintain that health insurance contribution rate.  While Oakland’s proposals now have that reduction to a still-painful 90% starting in the second year of the contract, that change was made in connection with further reductions to offered salary raises.  In other words, Oakland’s move to make our members parallel with other employees on campus comes WITH a lowered salary offer.  The total effect on our members is unacceptable.  Salary increase offers from Oakland remain at less 2% a year, well below anything that can be considered cost of living.

 

Bargaining Session, Sept. 3rd, 2:30am

After 16 and a half hours, we have reached the end of this session with no new contract agreement.  Several crucial economic issues remain.  We recognize that both parties need a short break.  Negotiations will resume at 10am.  The work stoppage remains in effect.  Your presence on the picket lines today, 9/3, will be greatly appreciated.  

 

Bargaining Session, Sept. 3rd, 1:35am

We remain at the table but unfortunately have no updates as of yet.  We are awaiting a proposal from Oakland.

 

Bargaining Report, Thursday, Sept. 2, 8:15pm

We have no progress to report.  Oakland continues to challenge the contractual language regarding the faculty tuition benefit.  They have not addressed the bulk of the economic issues today.  We remain at the table.  

 

Bargaining Report, Thursday, Sept. 2, 5:00pm

The two sides continue to negotiate.  Much of today’s session has been focused on discussing the faculty tuition waiver.  We remain at the table and intend to do so throughout the evening.  

 

1:00 am, Thursday, Sept. 2.

As of 1 o'clock Thursday morning, the two sides have not reached an agreement.  The contract has expired.  Additionally, on Wednesday, the Association filed an unfair labor practice charge regarding the Oakland's failure to bargain the impact of the COVID vaccine mandate on our members.  Therefore the Bargaining Team has exercised its authority and called for a work stoppage, effective immediately.

We will return to the bargaining table at 10 am.


8:45p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 1.

Status update: the parties have been bargaining since noon. Progress has been made on some issues. Many economic issues remain unresolved: including but not limited to full-time faculty raises, full-time faculty health insurance, special lecturer pay increases, special lecturer health insurance, as well as tuition waivers and retirement benefits for all bargaining unit faculty members. We are currently continuing to bargain in good faith.

 

August 31, 2021:  Bargaining Report

 

7:40 pm

The Agreement has been extended until Wednesday, September 1, 2021 at 11:59pm.

Since our last update, we have received no new proposals from OU. At 7:40pm, the mediator informed us that  OU needed more time to formulate a counterproposal. 

We are adjourned until noon Wednesday, the earliest they are willing to meet with us. Prior to our adjournment, the AAUP Bargaining Team made it clear that we were willing to stay as long as needed to work towards an agreement late into the night as the faculty are cognizant that classes start for our students on Thursday at 8:00am.  

 

7:00 pm

We have been in a bargaining session, facilitated by a state mediator who had been requested by both sides, with the Oakland team since 9 am. In all this time, we have not received any change in the University’s economic proposals.  Many hours ago, we submitted a revised economic proposal, to which the University has not responded in any meaningful way.

However, we had exchanges on language items:

We have discussed many issues surrounding making the contract more equitable for Special Lecturers.  Oakland has rejected, in totality, any changes to Special Lecturer benefits and mitigating the adverse consequences to Special Lecturers as the University converts more classes from 4 credits to 3 credits.

We are willing to continue all night tonight and all day and night tomorrow to deliver a fair contract for our amazing faculty prior to the start of classes.

 

August 29, 2021:  Bargaining Update

After our last bargaining session both sides contacted the Michigan Employment Relations Commission and requested a mediator who will be joining us this week.  As we wait to continue negotiations, we’d like to share more perspective about one of the items on the table:

Academic Choice in Online Instruction and Paragraph 92 of our Agreement.  Even before the pandemic, online instruction as part of our course offerings has grown; some departments have even created fully online programs.  This growth has been successful because the faculty drive the decisions about course modality.  Our faculty Agreement protects that choice.

Paragraph 92 of our Agreement is key to the success of our mix of modalities including online/remote instruction.  First it says that faculty may voluntarily engage in the development and delivery of online course delivery, thus protecting their role in these decisions.  However, paragraph 92 goes further.  It also has language to ensure that online courses are of the same quality as their in-person counterparts.  The process of development, review, and approval must be the same, and the faculty workload expectations are the same.  It is our position that this paragraph not be changed.

Oakland’s current position in bargaining is to delete paragraph 92 entirely from the agreement.  They first proposed to change this paragraph by inserting language to give Oakland the decision-making power on course modality.  When we challenged them on that, they retreated to simply strike the word “voluntarily” from the clause.  When we challenged them on that, they countered with striking the paragraph altogether.  Their latest position would take away both contractual protections of faculty choice and protections of course quality.

We wish to note that when the pandemic first hit in the middle of the Winter 2020 semester and Oakland desired to move in-person classes online, the Association was a fully cooperating partner and rapidly granted a contract exception for online instruction, further indicating how our contractual language has never stood in the way of meeting student needs.  Rather, the faculty worked with the administration to sustain the university’s mission through the crisis.

We return to the table Tuesday and will continue to seek a fair and equitable contract.

 

August 26, 2021:  Bargaining Report

The two sides met for bargaining on Wednesday August 25.  We were not able to reach a resolution so the faculty agreement has been extended to midnight August 31. We started the session introducing counter proposals on a package of language items and on the economic package.

Special Lecturers.  Since the beginning of summer, we have been seeking to protect special lecturers from losing their status if they are assigned three-credit instead of 4-credit classes.  A special lecturer is defined as a part-time faculty member who teaches at least 16 credits per year.  In a program with four credit courses, that is, of course, four courses.  In recent years, some programs, at the urging of administration, have changed a large number of their courses to 3 credits in order to reduce the total number of credits in their major and thus control costs to students.  However, an unintended consequence is that special lecturers may lose their designation because they now teach fewer credits.  Therefore, one of our earliest proposals was language that, for purposes of defining the special lecturer title, 3-credit courses would count as 4-credit courses.  Throughout negotiations Oakland has opposed this.  Most recently, we presented it as a trade with an item they wanted. They would not have it.  We even proposed to just change the number of credits needed to define special lecturers to 15 instead of 16, thus allowing someone to hold the title of special lecturer if they taught five 3-credit courses (instead of the six needed with 3-credit courses), but Oakland would not have it.  We also proposed language that would give qualified special lecturers priority in assignment of sections over new part-time hires, but Oakland also would not have it. They have rejected each and every attempt to increase the protections for these valuable faculty who make a major contribution to our university’s teaching mission and generate substantial tuition revenue for Oakland.

Economics. The two sides continue to negotiate by offering competing economic packages. Since their opening offer, Oakland has sought to severely reduce employer contributions to benefits, while also offering insignificant tiny salary increases, thus creating a net cut in total compensation.  One area of movement is that Oakland is offering to keep current full-time faculty at their current percentage of retirement contributions in exchange for a lower retirement contribution rate for all future hires.  However they are still insisting on severely reducing the employer contribution to health insurance.  In Wednesday’s session, made an attempt to make progress by offering a drop in employer contribution to health insurance in the last year of the agreement in exchange for an increase in raises in the same year.  Their counter kept their same larger drop in employer contribution while giving a miniscule increase to salary raise in the third year.

After this meeting we made plans to meet again.  Members of our team were not available Thursday morning and Oakland indicated that they were unavailable to negotiate Thursday afternoon through Monday; therefore, the two sides will meet on Tuesday August 31 two days prior to the start of Fall semester classes.

 

August 25, 2021 Bargaining Report

On August 24 we had a long session with the Oakland team but the two sides are still very far apart on key issues.  We will give details to our members at our meeting today at Noon.

The two sides are scheduled to meet again today at 2 pm.

 

August 24, 2021:  Bargaining Report

As we get into the later stages of bargaining, we will do our best to keep you informed on developments at the table.  Much of our time is now spent in team caucuses reviewing and preparing counter proposals.  Please be patient with us as the sessions get more frequent and longer in duration.  We will also be updating all members at the meeting this Wednesday (August 25) at Noon.  Zoom invitations for Wednesday’s meeting have been sent.

Layoff and Recall.  There have been movements from both sides.  We have made significant progress on adjusting Oakland’s proposed language to limit when layoffs can be used.  This issue may be close to resolution. 

Economics.  The two sides are still very far apart on economic issues.  Oakland has moved on its initial retirement proposal, but is still seeking to reduce contributions to health insurance, reduce the faculty tuition benefit, and cut summer teaching pay for the vast majority of full time faculty.  Their proposed annual raises for all faculty do not keep pace with anticipated increases in the cost of living, nor do they even  offset the proposed cuts to other components of compensation.

Course Modality.  Oakland has softened some of its language but is still seeking to eliminate the provision that online teaching is voluntary.

Other.  There was verbal agreement to TA the following with no changes from the previous agreement: Appendix B, Student Faculty Ratio, and Article 26, Department Chairperson.

The two sides have a scheduled meeting today, 8/24, at Noon.

 

August 20, 2021:  Bargaining Report

The latest meeting between the Association and the Oakland teams took place on Thursday, August 19th.  

Layoff and Recall.  Discussions on Layoff and Recall continued today with both sides presenting counter offers.  While some progress was made, the central issue with regards to defining the terms for when layoff may be implemented remains unresolved as of yet. 

Economics.  As the session ended, Oakland presented the Association with an economic counter proposal.  The Association will be reviewing the proposal and responding at the next session.

After the meeting’s end, the two sides signed an agreement to extend the Faculty Agreement through midnight, August 25th.  The two sides are scheduled to meet next on Monday, August 23rd.

 

August 18, 2021:  Bargaining Report

The latest meeting between the Association and the Oakland teams took place on Wednesday, August 18th.

Language Items TA’d.  The two sides reached a Tentative Agreement on the following parts of the contract:  Article IV (with the exclusion of paragraph 9 which remains unresolved), Article VII, Article IX, Article XXIV and Appendix L.  The TA’d items include language on the following items:

Layoff and Recall.  One language area that remains unresolved is Layoff and Recall.  The two sides continued to discuss the latest proposal on the table from Oakland which contains problematic language that gives Oakland the ability to layoff faculty at will.  The Association is working on a counter but did not yet have one ready to present at today’s session.

Economics.  Oakland presented no counter proposal to the Association’s latest economic proposal made on August 16th.  While discussions on salary, health insurance benefits and retirement contributions took place, no progress was made.

The two sides are scheduled to meet next on Thursday, August 19th.

 

August 17, 2021:  Bargaining Report

We continue to bargain, now under a mutually-agreed upon 1-week extension of the current Agreement.

Chairs in the Bargaining Unit.  First one bit of good news: Oakland withdrew its proposal to remove department chairpersons and coordinators from the bargaining unit and we have TA’ed Article 2 of the Agreement with no changes.

Layoff and Recall.  We started the session by presenting a counter to Oakland’s proposal on layoff and recall.  At the previous session, Oakland introduced a revised version of their proposal.  It was a small change from their first proposal which we describe in our August 5th post.  It still would give them the ability to layoff faculty for undefined “enrollment or financial circumstances” and allow them to completely bypass the contractual consultation process  “if circumstances warrant more immediate action, e.g., to facilitate immediate shutdowns due to circumstances beyond Oakland’s control”. In our discussions about this, they mentioned a pandemic as one such circumstance. Their proposal still maintains an unacceptably broad ability to layoff faculty with barely-defined parameters.

In our counter proposal, we rejected this overly broad layoff criteria and kept the position shift layoff procedure currently outlined in our contract.  We did make movement on the number of positions that would be restored in a position shift layoff and on time of notice and post-layoff medical benefits.  We also reintroduced language, first put on the table by us in early June, that would allow faculty on layoff to keep their Oakland email address and access to SAIL and OU course management systems.  Oakland then submitted a counter that accepted our language on keeping email and SAIL, but not Moodle access.

Economics.  There were movements in economics with both sides delivering counters.  We made concessions in key areas of travel and promotion raises, but still seek to hold the line on benefits and continue to ask for an equitable salary.  Oakland made changes to their retirement contribution reduction proposal, but their proposal still results in a much lower employer contribution by the end of the agreement.  The two sides also differ on the length of agreement.  Oakland continues to press for a 5-year agreement.  Such a long-term agreement is inappropriate given the uncertainties of this year and the concessionary economic package Oakland is proposing.  In our proposals we continue to focus on a two-year agreement.

Landmines in the Oakland Economic Package.  Although our posts on Oakland’s economic proposal have focused on dollars, there are some other items that they put in their economic proposal that would have serious negative consequences for the faculty:

At Monday’s session we challenged them on these parts of their proposal.  They expressed willingness to restore the language of “essentially similar plans” though we haven’t seen their language yet.  However, on the first two items, they confirmed our worst assumptions, that Oakland does wish to assign more summer courses to non-bargaining unit faculty and to exert complete control over modality of instruction, thereby eroding departmental control of course development and scheduling.

The two sides are scheduled to meet next on Wednesday, August 18th.

 

August 13, 2021:  Bargaining Report

At the August 12th meeting, we began by presenting responses to major items on the table.

On the language package proposal, we offered to accept the current version put on the table by Oakland with the addition of language that protects special lectures from loss of status when courses are changed from four credits to three.  This would have settled a major part of bargaining and given Oakland many things it has asked for, but they refused to agree to this compromise.

In terms of economics, we put a two-year economic agreement on the table.  Oakland has taken an extreme position on compensation, and is using the uncertainties of this moment as one of their justifications for doing so.  Given their position, a longer term agreement is not a reasonable solution.  Our latest proposal includes concessions on market adjustment and travel.  At the end of the session Oakland provided a counter.  We have not fully reviewed it, but it appears to represent inadequate movement from their opening position.

Oakland submitted a counter on workload policy review but it still has the same fundamental problems with regards to shared governance and academic freedom as their previous versions.  We responded that it was unacceptable and our last counter is still our position.

Late in the session Oakland presented a revised proposal on layoff. They are still seeking broad discretion to initiate layoffs and to cut the support for faculty who are laid off.

Our current agreement ends at midnight this Saturday, August 14th.  At the end of Thursday’s bargaining session we proposed, and Oakland agreed to, a one-week extension of the current agreement.  Therefore our current agreement now expires at midnight on August 21.  We also agreed to continue meeting next week. The two sides are scheduled to meet again Monday, August 16th.

 

August 11, 2021:  Bargaining Report

Before reporting on the most recent bargaining session, we wish to thank the 300+ faculty who attended today’s Bargaining Rally.  For our next meeting the Association will get its own Zoom with larger capacity.  Please save August 25th at Noon for a potential meeting.

The latest meeting with the Oakland team took place on Tuesday, August 10th. We began by putting a counter to Oakland’s most recent economic proposal on the table. The counter proposal we put on the table includes the pay the faculty have earned and the resources they need which are described in the previous posts, but includes a significant concession by shifting a portion of raises to merit pay. In our initial economic package, all raises were across the board because faculty have worked hard and have earned salaries that at least keep up with the cost of living. All of our members have made sacrifices and have kept our academic programs operating through this time of crisis. However, in previous exchanges, Oakland indicated that having merit pay was a high priority for them. To move the negotiations forward and help secure the raises our faculty deserve, we proposed a compromise: In our latest counter there are across the board raises every year but also opportunities for faculty to apply for optional merit raises above the cost of living. Our revised merit system also allows the efforts of more than one year to be the basis of a merit application because many of our greatest achievements as faculty take more than one year to develop.

After a discussion on our counter proposal, which included discussion of our merit plan, Oakland  asked us what more we would give financially from our position. We reaffirmed the positions outlined in our counter proposal and communicated that we would await their response. Oakland also brought up the language package proposal that they first put on the table on July 12th and which  has previously been countered multiple times by both sides. They pressed to conclude the issues in it. They verbally suggested areas of compromise, though they were unwilling to put them in writing. We reminded them of compromises that we have already put on the table but that have been rebuffed by Oakland. Despite their professed desire to make progress, Oakland abruptly exited the meeting an hour early.

The two sides are scheduled to meet again Thursday, August 12th.

 

August 8, 2021:  Bargaining Report

We met with the Oakland team on Friday August 6th and economic packages were the topic of the day. From previous posts you know that the two sides are very far apart. Before describing the moves at today’s bargaining, we want to share with you the results of our analysis of the impact on compensation of each sides’ opening proposals:

Our opening package (July 22 diary post) represents modest progress. The across-the-board raises we propose are appropriate for the work and sacrifice made by our members and the fact that we served without raises through the past year of the pandemic. We did not request an increase in percent contribution to retirement or health care premium for full-time faculty. We proposed a significant increase in funds for market adjustment, but that amount is still well short of what is actually needed to bring Oakland salaries in line with peer institutions. We did propose improvements to medical, vision, and dental benefits and a new retirement benefit for special lecturers whose work generates significant revenue for the university and is essential to the university’s ability to serve all students.

In contrast, Oakland’s opening economic package (August 5 diary post) contains large cuts to our compensation. For full-time faculty there is no raise in base salary in year 1 and then only 1% merit pool raises in subsequent years. However, their proposed reductions in employer contribution to retirement and health care premiums are so severe that they cause a net reduction in total compensation. For example, in year 2, a faculty member making $75,000 per year could receive an approximate raise in salary of $750. (The 1% in their proposal is all merit pool so even $750 is optimistic.) However, that same year they would pay an extra $1738 in health care premiums (assuming they take the lowest cost options and assuming health care premiums do not increase). This same faculty member would receive 30% less in retirement contribution or a cut of $3,787. Therefore, total compensation would be a severe net loss:  $750-$5525 = -$4775.  That is a 6.4% loss in compensation.

The cuts to retirement contributions are especially insidious because faculty not only lose the amount of the contribution to retirement, but they also lose all compounded investment gains which would have been earned from that money for all future years until they retire. 

To compare the Association and Oakland opening packages, we did projections of the effects over the first three years for two hypothetical faculty. Here are links for a tenure-track member and for a special lecturer member.

Positive news on Paid Family Leave

We do wish to acknowledge one bright spot in Oakland’s otherwise regressive opening package. We reviewed their proposal on paid parental leave.  It is very similar to what we proposed except that it can only be taken during the academic year and they proposed that if a faculty member took FMLA leave within the prior year that leave time would be deducted from time allowed for paid parental leave. They also proposed that if both parents were bargaining unit members, only one parent would receive a 12-week leave.

Developments at the most recent session

At the August 6th session we provided a counter-proposal on economics. Neither side has modified its initial proposals for special lecturers, and our response to Oakland’s proposal on retirement, health care, and tuition benefits for full-time faculty is that there be no change.

We did move in some areas, but remain steadfast in our belief that our faculty deserve a fair compensation package and that Oakland’s position is extreme. We proposed that the increases in travel funds of our initial proposal be delayed to the second year of the agreement. In year 1 there would be an inflationary increase over previous amounts and then the necessary significant increases would start in year 2. We also offered a reduction in the amount for market adjustments.  On paid family leave, our counter accepted most of their proposal but included a few modifications.

Oakland responded with some small concessions of their own. For full-time faculty they proposed a $1000 across-the-board raise in year 1. This is an improvement over their initial offer of $500 which would not have been added to base salary, but they did not change their proposed raises in subsequent years. In the area of retirement, they offered to delay the most severe cuts by one year, but the cuts would then persist for the life of the agreement.

There was some progress in understanding the Investment Committee proposed by Oakland and we are seeking to make sure that if adopted the faculty will have a rep in the room.

The two teams are scheduled to meet next on Tuesday, August 10.

To all Association members:  The developments we have reported may be discouraging, but know that we continue to fight to get you a fair Agreement.  To learn about what you can do to help, please remember to join the General Membership Meeting on Bargaining which will be held Wednesday, August 11, at Noon (Zoom).  Google calendar invites have been sent and reminder emails will go out before the event.

 

August 5, 2021: Bargaining Report

Before reporting to you on the latest developments in bargaining, we want to draw your attention to some other communications from the Association. Throughout the pandemic, Oakland administration has acknowledged the work and sacrifice of the university’s faculty. The Association will be featuring some of these messages in our social media posts in Facebook  Instagram and Twitter over the next few days.

Oakland has introduced two new proposals: a proposal on layoff and recall and their economic package.

Layoff and Recall

In our last post we mentioned that Oakland submitted a proposal on Article VIII, Layoff and Recall. Details about layoff and recall and Oakland’s proposal are below but the most significant part of their proposal is that they seek to give Oakland the ability to make layoffs for any reason.  Under their proposal they can make layoffs if they believe a certain program or discipline is no longer financially viable or valuable.  Since layoffs would be allowed for any reason, administration could effectively decimate an academic program or discipline by laying off the faculty in it, thereby circumventing the academic governance processes.

In our current Agreement, there are two conditions in which Oakland can lay off full-time faculty: (1) an over-ratio layoff when the number of full-time equivalent faculty (FTE) exceeds by a certain margin the number called for by the student faculty ratio defined in Appendix B, and (2) a position-shift layoff when Oakland concludes there is an overstaffing situation and eliminates positions in one academic unit while creating new positions elsewhere.  Oakland wishes to eliminate the position-shift section. The current Agreement includes a process of consultation with faculty before layoff decisions are made, priorities for which positions are laid off first in the case of layoffs, and procedures for recall. The Agreement also provides compensation and continuation of health insurance for a limited time for faculty on layoff. Oakland also wishes to cut these provisions.

 

Oakland’s Economic Package 

At the August 4th bargaining session, Oakland submitted their economic package to us. It is a very undesirable proposal in almost every way. Here is a summary of what Oakland proposed:

The two teams will meet again Friday August 6th.

To all association members: please remember to join the General Membership Meeting on Bargaining which will be held Wednesday August 11 at Noon.  Details have been emailed to you.

 

August 1, 2021:  Bargaining Session Report

The two sides met Friday, July 30th.

The back-and-forth over the package proposal, first put on the table by Oakland, continued with Oakland submitting a counter to what we proposed last session. Their latest version represents little change from their previous positions on the teaching of credit courses by graduate students, procedures for when a faculty member is removed or barred from campus, and the number of full-time adjunct faculty positions allowed. There are some areas where the two sides have come together, such as language for joint appointments and the list of arbitrators for tenure grievances, but these areas of agreement are currently tied to resolving the larger package. During the session we presented a counter to (1) insure that decisions on removal from campus will be grievable and (2) reiterate our proposal expressing the allowable numbers of full-time adjuncts as percentages of tenure-track faculty in each school or college but with an added provision allowing Oakland and the Association to negotiate increases in full-time adjunct (or professor of practice) positions, if necessary, to accommodate the creation of new programs.

Oakland also presented a new counter on Article X in the area of workload policy review.  Their latest version lacked any substantial change from their previous proposal and, most importantly, still diminishes current faculty rights.

At the end of the meeting Oakland submitted a proposal on Article VIII, Layoff and Recall.  We will be reviewing it and responding at a later date.

Oakland has still not provided any response to our economic package which we put on the table on July 22nd.  Although there are several important noneconomic items still on the table, the two sides can also start working on the economic issues.  We are fully capable of bargaining on both the language and economic items that are on the table at the same time.

The two sides are scheduled to meet again Wednesday, August 4th.

 

July 29, 2021:  Bargaining Session Report

The two sides met Tuesday, July 27, and we presented our counter-proposal to two previous proposals from the Oakland team. 

Oakland’s Package Proposal.  One item on the table is a “package proposal” from Oakland incorporating several language items that we described in our July 18 diary post. Today we presented our counter-proposal. The key elements of our counter are that we:

Oakland’s proposal to greatly increase the number of full-time adjunct faculty (or professors of practice as Oakland is currently proposing) continues to be a major area of dispute. Our colleagues who hold these positions are full and respected members of our bargaining unit, but we must resist attempts to erode tenure through creation of more full-time positions that offer neither tenure nor job security. The current Agreement caps the number of allowed positions at 10% of the number of tenure-track faculty except that the total in the School of Health Sciences and School of Nursing is capped at 15 positions, which has been reached.  In fact the number of full-time adjunct positions in the SON is approximately 55% of the number of tenure-track positions. Oakland first proposed that there be no limit and then more recently proposed a limit of 55 with no restrictions on the above schools. We have countered with language that keeps the cap on these positions expressed as a proportion relative to the number of tenure-track faculty and keeps the proportion roughly where it is at this time but allows the number of these positions to grow if the number of tenure-track faculty grows. Our proposed numbers are 5% in any given school or college that has these positions except for the School of Nursing, where the cap would be 60% to fit the reality of the number of such positions in that school.

Workload Policy Review.  Our other counter was to Oakland’s latest version of proposed changes to the process of workload policy review in Article 10 of the Agreement, which we first described in our July 11th post.  The two sides are still very far apart on this issue. Oakland continues to press for conditions such that, at the end of a thorough review process involving both the faculty and their dean, the Provost can unilaterally impose a workload policy on any unit.  The other objectionable element of their proposal is that it creates a standard where the teaching component of workload is expressed in credits (in contrast to current workload policies of almost every academic unit at this university) and has the potential to create higher teaching loads for full time faculty. Our counter-proposal offered compromise on procedural matters of the review process, but we struck the two objectionable items described above. 

Our Economic Package.  Oakland did not give any response to our economic proposals which we put on the table at the last meeting.

Unpaid and Partial Leave.  The two sides agreed not to make changes to Article XXI Unpaid and Partial Leave.

Gender and Pronouns in the Agreement.  At the beginning of bargaining we proposed to remove gendered pronouns from the agreement. Oakland indicated support for this in principle, but we spent some sessions disagreeing about exactly how to make the changes.  (See the July 2 diary post.)  The two sides have since come to an understanding on this and have moved forward revising text to replace he/she as we go through articles. This is important because a faculty member’s ability to do their job has nothing to do with gender and the language of the Agreement should be such that all faculty members can see themselves represented.

The two teams will meet again on Friday, July 30.

Save the Date:  A Bargaining Rally will be held (online) Wednesday, August 11, at Noon. We encourage all members to attend. Please watch your email for messages from the chapter with details and the link.

 

July 22, 2021:  Bargaining Session Report

The two sides met this week on Wednesday, July 21.  

Continued discussions on contract language.

There are several “language” items on the table that we have mentioned in previous posts.  These items were discussed and we are preparing counter proposals.

Our economic package. 

Today we presented our economic proposals to the Oakland team. All members of the Oakland University faculty excel in the teaching, scholarship, and service that make this university successful.  On top of that, over the past year and a half, we have all made great sacrifices to keep our programs successful with no raise in pay.  Many of us have incurred personal expenses to meet the challenges of teaching through the pandemic.  We deserve to be compensated fairly for our work.  Below are the key elements of our proposal:

The two teams will meet again on Tuesday, July 27.

 

July 18, 2021:  Bargaining Session Report

The two sides met again this week on Thursday, July 15. 

We spent most of the session giving feedback to Oakland on a package proposal they put forward that links several items already on the table and incorporates items originally put forward by both the Association and Oakland.  In order to TA a package proposal such as this, all items in the package are to be agreed upon as a whole. The package includes language about graduate student teaching caps and categorization, grievance procedures, adjunct faculty title change and caps, tenure and promotion denial notice parameters and credit for prior experience when hiring special instructors. Their package also includes the withdrawal of Oakland’s previous proposal regarding the removal of department chairs from the bargaining unit (which we previously informed them we would not bargain), and calls for the withdrawal of our previous proposal on guaranteeing due process if Oakland removes a faculty member from campus. While we are close to agreement on many of the above issues, there remain several areas of significant disagreement. Oakland  received our feedback on the package proposal and stated that they intend to send us a modified version of the package prior to our next meeting.

In addition to discussion of the above package proposal, proposals by Oakland on Article VII (layoff and recall), Article XXI (long term disability) and XXIX (university calendar) were discussed. None were well-received by the Association. The calendar proposal sought far-reaching changes that  impacted both fall and winter term, opening the door for extensions both at the beginning and end of each term with no input from the Association. We offered to informally share a couple of alternate Fall calendar scenarios that may be able to meet the needs of faculty, students and the administration without sacrificing shared governance. Our proposal for paid parental leave was very briefly introduced at the close of the session and we intend to return to it at our next meeting.

The teams are set to meet again Wednesday, July 21. 

 

July 13, 2021:  Bargaining Session Report

Our latest bargaining meeting with the Oakland team was Monday, July 12, 2021.  At this session, both sides were seeking to bring closure to several noneconomic proposals that have been put on the table.  We don’t have specifics to report to you today, but we are hopeful that several items will be resolved soon.  The two teams are scheduled to meet again on Thursday, July 15.

As we work to resolve noneconomic matters and look ahead to economic proposals, we would like to call our members’ attention to the General Fund Budget and Tuition Rates for Fiscal Year 2022 that was approved on Monday, June 21, 2021 by Oakland’s Board of Trustees.  While we encourage members to review the document as a whole on their own, we would like to make note of two particular items:

This Fiscal Year 2022 approved General Fund Budget can be viewed in the larger context of the financial analysis performed for the AAUP by Dr. Rudy Fichtenbaum.  For those of you who missed it when it was first posted in May, you can find it here.  Relevant to this post, his report shows that Oakland’s net assets, including unrestricted financial assets, have been growing steadily for the past 20 years (Figure 14, for example).

 

July 11, 2021:  Bargaining Session Report

Our latest bargaining meeting with the Oakland team was Thursday, July 8, 2021.

We presented two counter proposals:

We also questioned Oakland’s team about proposals that they had previously put on the table:

We informed Oakland that two of their proposals which they put on the table on June 18th, were not acceptable to us:

Oakland presented us with two proposals at the end of the meeting. One was Oakland’s latest counter on joint appointments, a matter on which we have had constructive discussion, and the other was on Article XXIX (University Calendar). We are reviewing the proposals and will respond at a future meeting.

The two teams are set to meet again on Monday, July 12.

 

July 2, 2021:  Bargaining Session Report

Our latest bargaining meeting with the Oakland team was Thursday, July 1, 2021.  We presented Oakland with counter proposals on a couple of outstanding language issues, returned to issues that have seen no response from Oakland as of yet and continued discussions of several other ongoing topics.  Oakland presented one counter proposal at the end of the day’s session.

Pressing on our proposals

Responding to Oakland’s proposals

The two teams are set to meet again on Thursday, July 8th.

 

June 28, 2021:  Bargaining Session Report

Our latest bargaining meeting with the Oakland team was Friday, June 25, 2021.  We discussed previous proposals by Oakland and presented two revisions of ours.

Pressing on our proposals

We asked the Oakland team questions related to their proposal on Appendix A:  Research and Full-Time Adjunct Faculty.

We previously proposed to replace the dated use of “he/she” throughout the agreement with the gender neutral pronoun “they.” Oakland suggested a different means to remove gendered language from the Agreement which we will be reviewing.

The two teams are set to meet again on Thursday, July 1.

 

June 24, 2021:  Bargaining Session Report

Our latest bargaining meeting with the Oakland team was Wednesday, June 23, 2021. We continued to promote the proposals our team presented in earlier sessions, elaborating on our positions and, at times, suggesting ways to move forward. Oakland submitted two new proposals and we continued to discuss several of their previously-presented proposals.

New proposals by Oakland:

We will be reviewing the proposals above and responding to them at a later date.  

Discussions about previous proposals covered a range of topics, including:  Post-Tenure review, Joint Appointments, Changes to Appendix A:  Research and Full-Time Adjunct Faculty, Credit for prior experience when hiring special instructors, Use of gender-neutral pronouns in the Agreement, and Arbitration Initiation.

The two teams are set to meet again Friday, June 25.

 

June 21, 2021:  Bargaining Session Report

Our latest bargaining meeting with the Oakland team was Friday, June 18, 2021. Oakland responded to some of our earlier proposals and submitted several new proposals to us. There was discussion between the teams and we will be responding at a future date.

This diary post is our longest to date; there were several proposals put on the table by Oakland that would have significant impacts on faculty working conditions.

New proposals by Oakland:

On the proposal to remove  department chairpersons from the Bargaining Unit, we have already informed Oakland that we do not wish to entertain such a proposal.  (Note: This  subject is not a mandatory topic of bargaining.) We will be reviewing the other proposals above and responding to them. 

Oakland presented counter-proposals to two of those we presented on May 26:

We are in the process of reviewing their responses.

We did TA a few more simple language items:

The two teams are set to meet again Wednesday, June 23rd.

 

June 10, 2021:  Bargaining Session Report

We met again across the (Zoom) table with the Oakland team on Wednesday, June 9, 2021.

Before going into what happened this week, a note about the process:  The final goal of bargaining is to reach a Tentative Agreement which will then be submitted to our membership for ratification.  Along the way, both sides may reach agreement on one part of the overall agreement and tentatively agree on, or “TA,” that item.

This week, we made a TA with Oakland’s team to leave the following unchanged: Articles I, III, VI, XXII, XXIII, XXVII, XXVIII, XXIX, XXX, XXXI, XXXII, and XXXIII and Appendices C, D, E, F, H, and J.

Oakland responded to two of our initial proposals and introduced one of their own:

 

June 3, 2021:  Bargaining Session Report

We met again across the (Zoom) table with the Oakland team on Wednesday, June 2, 2021. We expanded on proposals we introduced last week and presented two new items to the Oakland team. Oakland did not bring any proposals to the table. Below are the items we proposed this week:

 

May 27, 2021:  Report on First Bargaining Session

We met across the (Zoom) table with the Oakland team on Wednesday, May 26, 2021. We presented several items to the Oakland team. Oakland received our proposals but indicated they were not prepared to respond. They did not bring any proposals to the table.

Bargaining an agreement includes dealing with a wide range of issues. As we spent Winter Semester listening to you all, we heard a variety of concerns. There are, of course, the ever-present economic issues. There are also procedural matters that have an impact on our ability to do our work and problems that have arisen for faculty over the years of our current Agreement that we work to resolve.

Bargaining is a long process. All things in bargaining will be subject to constructive back-and-forth between the two teams. For our first proposals, we selected initial items that, in principle, should not be controversial, though we expect negotiation on the particulars.  Below are the items included in our initial proposals along with brief descriptions:

 

May 24, 2021

Bargaining has begun.  This past Friday, May 21st, we had an initial meeting with Oakland's team to discuss scheduling and ground rules.  Oakland's chief negotiator is Robert Boonin of Dykema Gosset PLLC and the other team members are Joi Cunningham, Peggy Cooke, Judy Didion, and James Hargett.

Wednesday we will be going to the table with our first proposals.  As promised at the Bargaing Rally, we will be keeping you informed about what we are doing in a transparent and timely fashion.  Expect new information to be released this week.

Thank you all for your continuing support.

 

May 6, 2021

Dear Bargaining Unit Members:

In preparation for bargaining, we commissioned a financial analysis of Oakland University from the national AAUP. Dr. Rudy Fichtenbaum, Professor Emeritus of Economics at Wright State University and past president of the national AAUP, conducted the study. His analysis, covering the period from fiscal years 2014–⁠2020, is posted on the OU AAUP chapter web site (direct link http://oaklandaaup.org/res/FinancialReport_OU2021.pdf). We encourage everyone to take some time to read this analysis as it offers a thorough review of Oakland’s financial situation, provides a straightforward explanation of the various components of the university’s financial statements, and makes informed comments about the possible financial effects of the pandemic.

This report confirms that Oakland’s financial state is strong.  Oakland's net assets (the difference between assets and liabilities) have grown steadily and consistently from 2001 to 2020. Of course, the full financial impact of the pandemic is not yet known, but the university came into the pandemic well-positioned to weather the crisis, and federal Covid-19 stimulus funds have undoubtedly offset some of the lost revenue.