2021 Bargaining Diary
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:
- No or low annual raises for full-time faculty. In the first year of the agreement (this coming year) there will be no raises and each faculty member will receive $500 which is not part of base salary. In all subsequent years the raise shall be 1.0% merit pool.
- Freeze minimum salary for all. The minimum salary for both full-time and special lecturer faculty would be frozen at 2020 levels for the life of the Agreement.
- Reduction in retirement contribution. Newly hired faculty will not receive contributions to retirement until after one year at Oakland. For all other faculty the amount that Oakland contributes to retirement, as a percentage of salary, would be reduced by four percentage points. For example faculty who would have received a 14% contribution would now receive a 10% contribution.
- Eliminate faculty choice in online instruction. Remove faculty choice in online instruction and introduce language that says Oakland may also designate courses to be delivered on an online/distance and/or hybrid basis through any combination of these methods. All online/distance learning in lieu of in-person instruction may only be provided with Oakland’s consent.
- Small increase for some promotion raises. Increase the amount awarded for promotion to Full Professor from $7,500 to $8,000, but do not to increase the amount for any other promotion raises.
- Update to merit pay groups. Update the list of merit pay groups to reflect the fact that the Department of Music, Theater, and Dance is now a School.
- No merit raises if no report. Faculty who do not submit an annual activity report will receive no merit raise.
- No Market Adjustments. No funds will be provided to bring faculty salaries in line with our peer institutions.
- Deletion of Chairperson Pay. Oakland earlier proposed to remove department chairpersons from the Bargaining Unit. This is not a mandatory topic of bargaining and we have already informed them that we do not wish to bargain on it, but they continue to put proposals on the table as if this is going to happen.
- Change the formula for summer rate of pay. Replace the current system, which is based on a minimum amount plus a percentage of regular annual salary, with the following per credit hour rates:
- Visiting Professors $1,600/cr
- Full Time Professors of Practice $1,600/cr
- Special Instructors $1,600/cr
- Assistant Professors $1,800/cr
- Associate Professors $2,000/cr
- Remove priority for bargaining unit members in summer teaching. Delete the provision that, whenever possible, courses in the summer sessions will be taught by bargaining unit members.
- Increase the full-time faculty contribution to health care. Increase the employee contribution to the comprehensive health insurance plan from its current 5% to 10% in the first year of the new agreement, 15% in the second year of the agreement, and 20% in the third year of the agreement.
- Allow changes to health insurance plans not mandated by providers. Allow changes not mandated by the insurance providers to be made without consent of the Association.
- Dental and optical insurance. Remove any commitments to specific providers or plans.
- Reduce the faculty tuition waiver. Reduce the tuition benefit for dependents of faculty or other qualified adults from the current state where faculty pays 10% of the cost of undergraduate tuition (as a proxy for fees) to a system where the faculty only receives a waiver of 50% of applicable tuition. Add stipulations about performance in degree programs. Remove the stipulation that when this benefit is used, the enrollment in the section must be increased, thereby increasing the cost of the benefit to Oakland.
- Give Oakland sole control over retirement plan provider choices. Rather than specifying Fidelity and TIAA-CREF as 403b providers, Oakland may select future providers as they like.
- Travel. The amount allocated for faculty travel will remain at the 2020 level for the life of the new agreement.
- Research. The amount allocated for faculty research fellowships will remain at the 2020 level for the life of the new agreement.
- Add paid parental leave. Create 12-week paid parental leave for care of a child upon birth or placement by adoption or fostering if it overlaps with Fall or Winter semesters. We are in the process of comparing it to the proposal we previously put on the table.
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:
- keep the maximum number of credits that can be taught by graduate assistants at 4,
- change the parameters for defining special lectures so that they will not lose their status if they teach a three-credit class instead of four-credit,
- propose modifications to new language regarding joint appointments (an area where the two sides are close to agreement),
- continue to press for guarantees of due process if faculty are removed or barred from campus,
- strike one of their proposed names arbitrators in the list of arbitrators for tenure grievances to make a list more balanced between names proposed by the two sides,
- and propose an alternative formula for full-time adjunct positions and hold the line on drastic increases in number.
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:
- Raises. We proposed 3.5% across the board raises for both full-time and special lecturer faculty for each year of the new Agreement. All faculty deserve these raises.
- Minimum Salaries. We proposed to update the minimum salaries for both full-time and special lecturer faculty.
- Making up for last year. We proposed that all full-time non-visiting faculty receive a $1,000 addition to salary, and those who received a merit score of 4 or 5 at least once in the past two years receive additional raises of $750 or $1,000 respectively. Department chairpersons, who are part of a separate merit pool, should receive a $1,000 raise as well.
- Better benefits for special lecturers. We proposed to increase the employer contribution to medical benefits, to create retirement benefits, and to expand the tuition benefit to 16 credits for special lecturers.
- Paid parental leave. We proposed up to 12 weeks of paid parental leave for purposes of care of a child. This applies to birth, adoption, and fostering, and is for either parent.
- Increase promotion raises. We proposed significant increases to the raises given at promotion in rank.
- Faculty Travel. Travel is essential for faculty to fulfill their responsibilities of presenting at conferences, performing, holding exhibitions, and conducting research. Travel is also critical to enable all faculty to keep up to date in their field, and our students deserve such faculty. Based on information we received from the faculty about the actual cost of travel, we proposed to increase the annual amount allocated for faculty travel from $565,000 to $1,000,000, and we have proposed an annual fund of $175,000 for travel for special lecturers.
- Increase research fellowships. We proposed increasing the amount allocated for research fellowships from $340,000 to $400,000.
- Protect special lecturers from credit loss. In order to remain competitive with other universities, many undergraduate programs have reduced their credit total to 124 or 120 credits. One way to do this is to convert 4-credit courses to 3-credit courses. This is a valid approach to help our students and their parents, and the programs with 3-credit courses maintain the same instructional value and rigorous requirements as those with 4-credit courses. However, unintended damage can occur to special lecturers because their status is defined by the total credits taught per year, which means that a reduction of course credits from 4 to 3 could result in some of our colleagues losing special lecturer status. Therefore, we proposed that for purposes of determining their status, a 3-credit course should be counted the same as a 4-credit course. This should also be reflected in how they are compensated because a special lecturer should not be penalized in pay when they are assigned to teach 3-credit courses.
- Presumption of renewal for special lecturers. We proposed an appendix that states that qualified special lecturers have priority over non-bargaining-unit hires for available course sections and presumption of renewal of their contracts if work is available
- Market adjustments. In the 2015-2020 Agreement there were funds allocated to raise full-time salaries to make them competitive with peer institutions (market adjustments). At that time all of the funds were distributed but fell well short of what was needed. Therefore we proposed another round of market adjustments with double the amount of funds.
- Merit reports only if there is corresponding merit pay. One aspect of the current Agreement that has frustrated many of us is that it requires the filing of merit reports every year, regardless of whether there will be merit raises forthcoming. We proposed language that if merit is adopted then merit reports will be required only in years when funds exist for merit raises.
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:
- The budget approved is, in part, “based on the Governor’s and Senate’s higher education appropriation budget proposals with a 2% increase.”While it is sound to estimate a small, 2% increase, Oakland expressed confidence that the state appropriation increase, to be finalized in July, would actually likely be higher.
- Oakland’s Fiscal Year 2022 budget includes a full single-year expenditure of $6,942,893 to reserve funds because Oakland used that amount in fiscal year 2021 during the height of the COVID pandemic. It is our understanding that the decision to return this full amount to reserves in a single year, rather than using it for current needs, constitutes just that, a choice made by Oakland.
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:
- Workload Policy Review. The teams have exchanged proposals and counter-proposals on the process for review of workload policies (paragraph 69 of the current Agreement). A principle point of contention is in Oakland's proposal: if administration calls on a unit to review their workload policy but then does not accept their recommendation, and efforts to arrive at agreement fail, the provost may unilaterally impose a workload policy. In contrast, we maintain that workload policies are academic decisions in which the faculty's voice and expertise are key. Our counter to Oakland's proposal includes interaction between academic units and Oakland but preserves faculty's central role in shaping their own unit's workload policy.
- Full-Time Adjunct Faculty. Oakland previously proposed a change to the terms for full-time adjunct faculty (Appendix A of the current Agreement). They proposed to change the title of this position from adjunct professor to “professor of practice” in the interest of having a title that better reflects the position, and they proposed that there should be no limit on the number of such positions. We presented a counter proposal in which we agreed to the change in title (with the provision that current full-time adjunct faculty may retain their title if they wish), but we do not agree to an increase in the maximum number of these positions. The faculty positions defined in Appendix A are full-time positions which do not lead to job security. We believe that instructional needs can be met with other existing job titles and that it is not desirable to increase the number of full-time faculty who have no hope of job security.
We also questioned Oakland’s team about proposals that they had previously put on the table:
- Layoff and Recall. Previously (June 23) Oakland proposed a new retrenchment system that would limit the time frame of notice faculty would receive prior to layoff and expand Oakland’s ability to make layoff and recall decisions without faculty input. Their proposal also eliminates Appendix B which sets a minimum student/faculty ratio. Today we asked them questions about the rationale behind their proposal. The two sides are far apart on this issue.
- Grievances on CAP decisions. In our current Agreement, actions by FRPC are not grievable. Oakland previously (June 18) proposed that this also apply to CAP. It should be noted that both FRPC and CAP are faculty committees and actions by faculty cannot be grieved. We questioned Oakland about their desire for this addition and will take it under consideration.
We informed Oakland that two of their proposals which they put on the table on June 18th, were not acceptable to us:
- Graduate students teaching credit courses. Oakland previously proposed to increase the number of credits that can be taught by graduate assistants from four to six per semester.
- Arbitration of tenure decisions. Oakland previously proposed that in the case of grievances from tenure reviews, the arbitrator’s decision would be only advisory and non-binding. We wish to note that under the current Agreement, a faculty member may file a grievance in tenure decisions only for procedural errors.
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
- Gender-Neutral Pronouns in Agreement. In response to our proposal from May 21st to remove the use of gendered pronouns from the Agreement, Oakland proposed replacing gendered pronouns with nouns, sharing some examples on June 25th. We believe this solution often leads to poorly written text and that it does not, as a general rule, align with the university’s message to create a diverse and inclusive environment. We responded to Oakland’s examples with examples of our own that show how gender-neutral pronouns would work in the Agreement.
- Removal from Campus. We continued to press for due process when Oakland determines they must remove a faculty member from campus.
- Dues Collection Process. Oakland responded to documents shared by our team regarding past difficulties with dues collection. Progress was made on this issue.
Responding to Oakland’s proposals
- Joint Appointments. We countered Oakland’s June 18th proposal on joint appointments with language that more accurately reflects best practice at peer institutions and works to meet the needs of individual faculty, departments and the university. Discussions were productive.
- Appendix A: Research and Full-Time Adjunct Faculty. The role and number of Full-Time Adjuncts continued to be a subject of discussion. We believe creating more non-tenured, non-job secured positions is not in the faculty or students’ best interests.
- Workload. Oakland shared a revised proposal on the workload policy review process at the end of the session (originally proposed by Oakland on June 18th, countered by our team on June 25th). We will review and respond at a later date.
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
- DSS Accommodations. In a previous session (June 3) we proposed that Oakland provide a testing center and staff to proctor exams for all students who qualify for testing accommodations approved by Oakland that cannot be provided in the examination place. In the latest session we presented further arguments for this proposal.
- Workload. In previous sessions we and Oakland have both presented proposals about the process for review or revision of workload policies. We advocated for ours, which seeks to make a clear process and a timeline for Oakland’s response when an academic unit wishes to revise its workload policy. We also discussed Oakland’s proposal, which deals with the process when Oakland requests a review of workload policy. We emphasized the importance of the faculty’s role in shaping workload policies in the context of shared governance and in light of the multiple elements of faculty workload. Their proposal adds an additional layer of administrative review and empowers the provost to increase full-time faculty teaching loads.
- Arbitration Initiation. The two sides are far apart on this issue. We presented a revised proposal with a list of arbitrators that represents a diverse pool and a compromise between those favored by Oakland and those favored by the Association. Oakland responded with a different list of arbitrators. We also pressed for a process that leads to prompt selection of arbitrators.
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:
- Removal of Paragraph 20.a. This paragraph was created in response to the changes that needed to be implemented by the 2013 passage of the Michigan “freedom-to-work” laws. Those changes have been implemented and the language is no longer needed in the Agreement.
- Layoff and Recall Procedures. Oakland proposed a new retrenchment system that would limit the time frame of notice faculty would receive prior to layoff and expand Oakland’s ability to make layoff and recall decisions without faculty input.
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:
- Changes to Appendix A: Research and Full-Time Adjunct Faculty. Full-time adjunct faculty are full-time positions, but do not lead to job security. (Please see page 83 of the current Agreement for more details.) Oakland proposed to change the title of this position from adjunct professor to professor of practice in the interest of having a title that better reflects the position and does not confuse it with other uses of the term “adjunct”. The current Agreement limits the number of these positions. Oakland proposed that there should be no limit on the number of such positions.
- Department chairpersons in the bargaining unit. Oakland proposed that department chairpersons be removed from the Bargaining Unit. They would make the position of department chairperson administration instead of faculty.
- Graduate students teaching credit courses. Oakland proposed to increase the number of credits that can be taught by graduate assistants from four to six per semester.
- Post-tenure review. Oakland proposed the creation of post-tenure review.
- Joint appointments. Oakland proposed a group of measures to allow faculty to be hired with joint appointments in more than one academic unit. Their proposal also includes language for how faculty with joint appointments would be reviewed/evaluated for promotion and tenure. In the current agreement, a faculty member only participates in the governance of their primary academic unit unless the secondary unit and both Oakland and the Association agree, but Oakland’s proposal would take the Association out of this decision.
- Grievances on CAP decisions. In our current Agreement, actions by FRPC are not grievable. (See page 23 of the current Agreement.) Oakland proposed that this also apply to CAP.
- Arbitration of tenure decisions. In our current Agreement, when a grievance goes to arbitration, the arbitrator’s decision is binding on both sides. Oakland proposed that in the case of grievances from tenure reviews, the arbitrator’s decision would only be advisory and non-binding.
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:
- Credit for prior experience when hiring special instructors. In response to our proposal to give newly hired special instructors credit for prior professional experience, just as newly hired assistant professors are allowed such credit, Oakland made a proposal that would allow one year of credit for prior teaching experience.
- Review of workload policies. In response to our proposal to provide clear deadlines for review of workload policies, Oakland proposed a system that sets a series of deadlines and creates review at both the Dean and Provost level. Their proposal gives the Provost the power to assign teaching loads which are based on credit hours.
We are in the process of reviewing their responses.
We did TA a few more simple language items:
- Preeamble. The two sides agreed not to change the Preamble of the Agreement (page 1 of the current Agreement, before Article I).
- Not open Article XV. The two sides agreed to TA Article XV with no changes made.
- Appendix G. This is updated to reflect current names of administrative offices where personnel records are held.
- Appendix K. The Department of Labor FMLA posting (page 98 of the current Agreement) will be replaced with the current document.
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:
- Additions to the groups protected from discrimination. Oakland had some small modifications to what we proposed on May 27. We accepted their counter-proposal, thus a TA was reached on this item.
- Arbitration initiation. Oakland made a counter-proposal to our May 27 proposal to expedite arbitration and create a more diverse list of arbitrators. We will review their counter-proposal and respond at a later date.
- Personnel records. Oakland proposed some wording changes to Appendix G: Location of Personnel Records. The proposed changes are administrative in nature and do not change the types of records kept. We will review their proposal and respond at a future date.
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:
- Contact Information During Layoff. We propose revisions to paragraphs 62 and 63 of the current Agreement so that faculty on layoff will keep their Oakland email address and SAIL access. The proposal included changes to how faculty availability for recall is communicated and how faculty will be notified if a new position becomes available.
- Testing Space and Staff to Accommodate Students with Disabilities. We propose that Oakland provide a testing center and staff to proctor exams for all students who qualify for testing accommodations approved by Oakland that cannot be provided in the examination place and time that the instructor has set for their class as a whole.
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:
- Addition to the groups protected from discrimination. Paragraph 198 of the Agreement provides protection from discrimination. We propose to add protection against discrimination on the basis of gender identity, gender expression, genetic information, veteran status, AIDS/HIV status, height, and weight. We also propose to replace the word “handicap” with the word “disability” and replace “marital status” with “familial status.”
- Use of gender-neutral pronouns in the Agreement. We propose to replace the dated use of he/she throughout the agreement with the gender neutral pronoun they.
- Clear process for collection of Association dues. In the Faculty Agreement, Oakland is responsible for collecting dues, but there is no process for what happens if Oakland does not collect dues, which happens from time to time. We propose a process wherein Oakland is responsible for the collection of missed dues.
- Back pay for incorrect pay. We propose that if Oakland underpays a bargaining unit member for any period of time, the back pay shall be provided in the next pay period after discovery of the error. Currently the Agreement does not specify what happens if a member is accidentally underpaid.
- Credit for prior experience when hiring special instructors. We propose that when a new special instructor is hired, they will be eligible for credit just as newly hired assistant professors are. The current Agreement does not provide this for special instructors.
- Written reasons for negative decisions in re-employment, promotion, and tenure. We propose that when Oakland makes a negative decision, they give faculty the reasons, according to both academic unit and university standards, in writing within 10 days of the decision. The current Agreement has a longer process: it starts with the opportunity for an oral explanation and then, upon request, a written statement within 20 days.
- Arbitration initiation. When there is an arbitration case, both the Association and Oakland must agree on an arbitrator. Historically this has been an unreasonably long and drawn out process. We propose procedures that will lead to a more rapid choice of arbitrators. We also propose a more diverse list of arbitrators to choose from.
- Removal from campus. We propose a process for fair hearings that include representatives of the Association in the event that Oakland wishes to remove a faculty member from campus. The current Agreement does not address this.
- Revision of workload policies. Paragraph 69 of the current Agreement calls for periodic review of workload policies, but does not say how that will be handled. We know of multiple cases where units submitted workload policies to the administration and did not get a timely response or in some cases any final response. Therefore, we propose a process for review of proposed revisions with clear deadlines.
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.