2021 Bargaining Diary
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.