UF Informational Letters-- Your Source for Needed Info
Informational Letters Index

 
April 6: Arbitration decision on fired faculty
March 28: Govt Oversight Com
March 20: AAUP investigation
March 14: 10 concerns with cuts
February 28: Article 5
w/ AAUP official recs on layoffs
February 26, 2012: Q/A layoffs
June 27: Teach load
March 15: Arbitration Decision
January 10: Baker Hall
May 12, 2010
July 7, 2010
September 10, 2010
September_27,_2010
Dec_5,_2010
 
 
 

 

 

 


 


 

 

April 6, 2012

Dear Colleagues,

Today, an arbitrator issued a ruling against the University of
Northern Iowa Administration and the Iowa Board of Regents in a case
concerning the firing of a professor in the UNI College of Business
Administration. An assistant professor of finance at UNI, had been
terminated “for cause” from his position. United Faculty stated the
dismissal stemmed from violations of academic freedom, that UNI stated
polices and procedures were not followed, and that he was not afforded
a full or fair hearing by any stretch.

The Independent Arbitrator agreed.

This case once again shows that when a fair and equal playing field is
forced, when a full airing of the facts are the basis for a decision,
our core principles of academic freedom and shared governance are
preserved.

The hearing itself lasted from 8:30 am until about 7:00 pm. Witnesses
included UF officers, Gordon Klein, Provost Gibson, Associate Provost
Arthur, and various administrators and faculty from Dr. Klein’s
department. The independent arbitrator ruled that due process was
violated at multiple points in the termination process, that
administration did not follow its policies and procedures in a grade
change issue, and that the decision to terminate was made by
administration in advance of any hearing.

This is a victory for faculty and an important statement on due
process. This case was one of the initial reasons that AAUP had
become concerned about recent deviations form the norms of academia at
UNI. The violations of due process and academic freedom were first
communicated to President Allen before the closures or layoffs were
announced. There were three letters, all ignored, before the letter
announcing the investigation.

The arbitrator’s decision is not binding. UNI has given no indication
at this time as to whether they will respect the ruling.

*********Some excerpts from the Arbitrator's decision are below.
The full report will not be available for distribution until Monday.************

EXCERPTS FROM KLEIN ARBITRATION DECISION:

"As the employer, the University has an obligation to take the
proverbial high road and to do the utmost to follow its own policies.
It would have been possible to observe the requirement of the
Undergraduate Student Academic Grievance policy without changing
student’s grade in the absence of knowledge or involvement by Dr.
Klein."

"Dr. DeSoto, president of the United Faculty, accompanied Dr. Klein as
his representative to the June 27, 2011 meeting. Dr. DeSoto testified
at hearing that she was told “several times” at that meeting, by Dr.
Arthur and possibly by Dr. Moussavi, that her ‘job was to sit there
and observe and be quiet and not ask questions.’ The Iowa Public
Employment Relations Board has ruled that it is a prohibited practice
within the meaning of Iowa Code section 20.10 (2)(a) if, during an
investigatory Weingarten interview an employee’s steward is informed
that he or she can be present, but cannot participate in the
interview. ‘During the interview, the employee’s representative should
be able to take an active role in assisting the employee in presenting
the facts, and an employer fails to afford the employee the
representation to which the employee is entitled by refusing to permit
the representative to speak and relegating the representative to the
role of passive observer.’ Based upon the transcript of an audio
recording of the June 27, 2011 meeting, Dr. DeSoto did participate in
the meeting. However, one can reasonably conclude that Dr. Klein’s and
United Faculty’s responses, strategy, and overall engagement in the
meeting would have been affected by the described limitations on Dr.
DeSoto’s role."

"If UNI, through Dr. Klein’s superiors, wished to have an effective
supervisory relationship with Dr. Klein, they should have given him
specific direction, such as by establishing a deadline for him to
‘clear’ the UNI e-mail account."

Summary and Conclusions
After due consideration of the testimony of the parties at hearing,
and the exhibits and evidence presented, I find by a preponderance of
that evidence, that:

1. The termination of Dr. Klein’s terminal contract was, at least
in part, for reasons that violated his academic freedom.
2. There were no established University procedures affecting the
manner of the decision making process that resulted in Dr. Klein’s
termination. There are due process concerns about the manner of the
decision making process.
3. The decision to remove Dr. Klein from his terminal appointment
was made, in part, for reasons which were inappropriate.
4. Dr. Klein did not have or reasonably should not have had
expectations that he would be continued in his position for the
2011-2012 academic year.
5. I recommend that the parties settle this matter, and I
recommend a payment of two-thirds of the salary Dr. Klein would have
been paid in the 2011-2012 academic year as the basis for such a
settlement.

March 28, 2012

Dear Colleagues:
Yesterday was an important day in the State Capitol.
The Iowa Senate held a Government Oversight Committee Hearing
regarding spending priorities and due process of the UNI upper
administration and the Board of Regents.
The agenda is attached, as is UF’s testimony.

As you will see UF-AAUP President Cathy DeSoto and Industrial
Organizational psychologist/UF-AAUP member Adam Butler represented
some key faculty concerns. We advocated for a realignment with the
core mission of the university: Teaching, scholarship and service,
and for honoring university norms regarding shared governance and
respect for tenure.

Dr. Butler’s slides that were presented are available on line
(http://goo.gl/kanK2 ) UF was requested to appear, as was the BOR and
President Allen. We were disappointed that President Allen actually
walked out of the hearing before the faculty presented, a violation of
norms at such hearings.

The first of AAUP support is arriving today (this is not the
investigative team, which will have a different function). What is
happening at UNI matters and membership in UF-AAUP has broken all
previous records by a long shot.

I am speaking to Student Senate tonight at 7 pm, and will present the
same thing I presented yesterday in Des Moines.

I say to you in loud and clear voice, and with the confidence of
someone who has won the debate in arbitration, who got the attention
of the senate yesterday by simple and clear presentation of facts:
THERE IS NO FINANCIAL JUSTIFICATION FOR ANY OF THESE CUTS. And there
are better ways.

Faculty must be united in defense of the core mission. I hope that is
enough, but if not -- professors have been told they are not invited
back next year, even when the classes they teach will still be offered
as always. Wake up and smell the coffee.
Your job could be next.

See attached.
AND SEE OUR YOU TUBE CHANNEL
http://www.youtube.com/user/UnitedFacultyatUNI
Thoughts welcome.

March 20, 2012

Dear Collegues,
It is with mixed emotions (but with some relief) that I inform you
that the AAUP has authorized a formal investigation of UNI for
various violations of accepted standards regarding tenure, academic
freedom, due process and shared governance. The letter was delivered
to Ben Allen over Spring Break.

The AAUP was first made aware of concerns related to lack of due
process for two faculty members dismissed without normal due process
(the bottom line is that went faculty are dismissed for cause, there
is to be a fair and full before a body of faculty, regardless of
anything else). A second issue was interference with academic
freedom such as violating UNI policy and changing course grades
without instructor knowledge and/or consent. Grades changed without
faculty approval and without going before the grade appeals committee.

The most recent decisions and actions by UNI upper administration are
essentially unprecedented at an institution like UNI. Four faculty
have already received terminations (which are being objected to via
the grievance process, informal at this point). And tenured faculty
are being contracted and pressured to “resign.” There are apparently
plans to eliminate approximately 29 positions. Further, UNI
administration has without explanation to departments (I have spoken
to them) and with shocking lack of understanding of curricular
implications (I have heard testimony to this) -- announced that more
than 20% of its programs will be discontinued. The majors being
proposed to cut will disrupt the learning and progress of hundreds of
UNI students and would make UNI far out of step with its peer
institutions.

The “budget crisis” is not a “crisis”, but a tight budget experienced
by universities and colleges all across the US. If upper
administration would stop raiding the general education fund to
support it's favored athletic programs, there would be money to spare.
I am aware of other instances of misplaced priorities as are others
who have taken a few hours to actually learn about the UNI budget.
http://goo.gl/kanK2
Neither President Allen not the provost have come close to -- or even
made an effort to prove financial emergency – because they would not
be able to. There are very few faculty on campus who have taken the
time to actually look at or study UNI finances. Notable exceptions are
Joe Gorton, Hans Isakson, Adam Butler and Frank Thompson. It is
possible to be a nice and likable person and still mismanage spending.
The upper administration has mismanaged UNI funds, ignored wise senate
statements, and has not been true to the core mission of UNI. I
realize full well some people doubt this. It is the truth,
nonetheless. I am willing to question authority when needed, it is
sorely needed.

At any rate, to convey the rareness-- in 2010, two schools were
censored. in 2011, just one. Investigation and possible censure are
rare. Note the calendar and process. Censor could be recommended
before this by the investigative team, but the votes only occur once a
year, in June. There is no way the team can finalize it’s
investigation by June of 2012. If censored, I think UNI, as a public
regents university would possibly be the largest school to be
censured by the AAUP.

UNI faculty must be united in support and defense of the core mission
of UNI, and in allowing reason and data to drive our opinions. This
is why higher education exists. This is why we exist as a faculty. It
is why I am here, typing this and why I worked every day (Saturday and
Sunday too) over spring break. I want facts to matter.

If you are looking for specific information, some clear information
can be found in recently posted info on the BOR website, the
information the administration has provided to the BOR.
http://www.regents.iowa.gov/Meetings/DocketMemos/12Memos/March2012/0312_%20ITEM%20AC2.pdf
For example, there is some information related to:
Expected savings from program closures and Criteria to terminate
programs. (In addition to the graduation rates, it is noted that
there was preference to keep “programs that were subsets of other
programs” or “programs that led to popular teaching endorsements” or
“that used courses that would be taught as requirements in other
programs.” )

And a list of faculty positions in programs they plan to eliminate
(*not by name). For example in physics, “resources to be reduced” is
“one tenured faculty.” There are several places where tenured faculty
are noted to be “reduced”. Some departments with eliminated programs
where faculty positions to be eliminated are noted state, “to be
determined;” while others say simply workload will be shifted. All of
this is still somewhat unclear.

Some of the information is quite clearly contrary to the intent and
wording of the Master Agreement. For example, in World Languages and
Cultures German, it is stated that “Three tenured and tenure-track and
one instructor will be reduced,” and that, “Courses will be offered by
one remaining faculty member on his terminal year.” We are awaiting
clarification by the administration on how this is intended to work.

So although I am sad beyond words at what is happening, I am indeed
heartened to get a loud and clear message that our colleagues from
across the county are equally concerned -- and standing firm in
defense of higher education, due process, academic freedom, and shared
governance.

Cathy

P.S. The annual All MEMBERSHIP meeting is being held this Friday at
3:30 pm in SEC 246.
You can join on the spot if you have not already done so, forms will
be available if needed.
Attorney Nate Willems will be in there to answer questions.

*************

March 14, 2012

Dear Colleagues,

Faculty, students and alumni have been sending United Faculty leaders
information and have made many valid points that probably need to be
heard. We wanted to share at least some of this information to insure
faculty have a common knowledge base regarding the program cuts and
concerns about administrative priorities. Faculty are credited with
information they have gathered and sent, where appropriate. Faculty,
as well as United Faculty-AAUP, have been told that the decision to
restructure and/or close is standard; based only and specifically on
numbers of graduates. It is in this context that some of the
information below is relevant.

The following list of ten concerns is in no particular order—it is by
no means intended to be an exhaustive list of concerns and important
information – but it is representative.

First, there is concern that too many programs core to a university
have been targeted, while small programs favored by senior
administration appear to have been spared. For example, President
Allen is a huge sports fan, and Provost Gibson has a music background
(B.A. & M.A in music education, doctorate in folklore/ethnomusicology
concentration). The provost did not propose that a single music
program be cut. The School of Music has the following programs
graduation rates for the past 5 years.
Undergraduate Music Programs
B.M. Composition - Theory Avg, Rate: 0.6 students per year
B.M. Performance: 4.4 students per year
Minor Jazz Studies : 2.6 students per year
Graduate Music Programs
M.M. Composition: 0.6 students per year
M.M. Conducting: 1.6 students per year
M.M. Jazz Pedagogy: 1 student per year
M.M. Music History: 0.2 students per year
M.M. Piano Performance and Pedagogy: 0 students per year
M.A. Music: 2.2 students per year
(Anonymous by request)

Second, the UNI Basketball coach's salary went from $289,306 [$105,307
fringe benefits] in the 2009-10 school year to $450,000 [$149,000
fringe benefits] in the 2010-11 academic year.
(By Frank Thompson)

Third, many of the majors being eliminated are the primary majors
that directly support UNI’s mission and strategic plan. For example,
Goal 4, Objective 1 of the UNI Mission Statement states a goal of UNI
is to enable students to live and work successfully in a diverse
global environment. A number of programs that are being eliminated are
the very programs that epitomize this goal.

Fourth, the full-time faculty is declining in size and the number of
administrators is increasing. Adam Butler, Professor of Psychology,
created some great charts that demonstrate why the faculty are upset
with leadership decisions. See the charts here:
https://docs.google.com/a/uni.edu/document/d/1u4XXjXK-DZn57A7SouCnNErP6bSezLIyJX-O2d0lO_A/edit?pli=1#

Fifth, President Allen has not indicated how he plans to “reallocate
and realign” the money saved from his announced cuts. University
auxiliary operations ran a deficit totalling $6.6 million in 2011.
Athletics accounted for nearly 75% of that deficit. Those losses are
covered by transferring money from the general education fund. The
program cuts announced this year will result in a 5-6% reduction in
the number of faculty members at UNI. Yet, over the last 5 years, the
university added full-time administrators at a rate of 7% per year.
(Adam Butler)

Sixth, there appear to be some errors in the number of graduates for
some programs and the counting method may be misleading. Many
departments are providing alternative numbers --but just to illustrate
from one department:
Departmental records verify that the number French majors who
graduated (French Teaching, Languages and Culture: French, and Dual
majors) was 7 in academic year 2010. There are currently 34 students
majoring in German, and 40 in French.
(Anne Lair, Director of French Studies; Seigrun Bubser, Director of
German studies)

Seventh, many faculty have noted that the programs with low numbers of
majors service hundreds of students a year. For example, foreign
languages and culture courses enroll over 600 students per semester
(including LAC courses).

Eighth, there is concern these kinds of cuts may damage the
university. For example, all of UNI's official peer institutions
offer a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics and in Earth
Science/Geology. These various program cuts mean UNI will be markedly
out of step from other universities in terms of its breadth and rigor.

Ninth, the cuts may be targeting some very strong programs. With
fewer than ten faculty members, the UNI Physics Department has secured
approximately two million dollars in external funding over the past
five years. These funds have been directed to providing learning
experiences to students. Ninety-four percent of all physics
departments in the U.S. graduate fewer than ten students per year on
average. Nonetheless, these “small” departments grant more than 70
percent of all physics bachelor’s degrees.
(Department of Physics)

Tenth, budget may be tight, but the need for these cuts has not been
proven. In 2011, total net assets of the University of Northern Iowa
increased and unrestricted net assets stood at just over $70 million
dollars.

Finally, to put all this in perspective, a report on auxiliary
spending by UNI prepared by Frank Thompson is attached.

Thank you to all of you who have sent letters of support and gathered
information. Cold hard facts must be made to count. It is now that
Faculty should be United.

Cathy DeSoto
President, UNI United Faculty - AAUP

*********

February 28, 2012

Dear UF Member,

Yesterday afernoon, a United Faculty (UF) committee met with members
of the UNI administration and representatives of the Board of Regents
(BOR) for a discussion initiated by the BOR in regard to Article V –
Staff Reductions of the Master Agreement
(http://www.uni.edu/vpaa/11-13facultycontract/5.shtml). The BOR is
required to meet with UF if any administrative restructuring of
academic units will result in layoffs. We have had several meetings
as part of a required process covered under Article V, section 5.2, as
follows:

Definition of the term, “program area,” for the purposes of specific
implementation of this Article, will be made, if possible, by
agreement between the Board and United Faculty. Where such agreement
is not reached in a reasonable time, the Board shall provide a
reasonable definition of the term, “program area.”

As you are well aware, these discussions have been challenging. The
BOR has put forward definitions of “program area” that are problematic
and which could leave faculty vulnerable to arbitrary and vindictive
layoffs. UF has put forward definitions that protect faculty while
ensuring administrative flexibility. We have yet to reach an
agreement, though we are continuing to meet and to discuss “program
area” definition in good faith.

UF (like everyone else) only found out about the proposed Price Lab
closure from the media. Today, in response to an information request,
we were shown a list of possible academic programs slated for closure
or suspension. Contrary to email released earlier today by UNI Public
Relations, UF was not required to keep such information confidential,
nor, at the advice of legal council, would we agree to do so. Such
information needs to be publically available simply to allow for
shared governance. In keeping with AAUP guidelines for program
closure, faculty must have the ability participate in any discussion
regarding such important curricular matters.

Though the information provided today was a step in the right
direction, it does little to fulfill the administration’s
responsibility to consult with faculty. That said, the proposed
closure’s full impact on faculty employment remains unclear at this
time. All we were told by the administration is that around 30 total
faculty members could be affected, in addition to faculty who could be
impacted by the proposed Price Lab closure. Furthermore, the
curricular impact is breathtaking in its scope and, if executed as
proposed, would have a devastating impact on the educational
experience UNI is able to offer students. Majors ranging from Physics
to Philosophy are recommended for elimination.

In brief, the BOR is considering closing all undergraduate majors that
have not averaged at least 10 graduates per year over the last five
years (for Master’s programs the threshold was four graduates per year
over the last five years; for Ph. D. programs, the threshold was
three). This determination was made without regard for how courses
offered in a low enrollment major may also fulfill needs in other
programs. Nor did this determination take into account departments
that have chosen to offer their curriculum via many specialized majors
rather than in a single broad-based major. Nor has the administration
clarified how individual faculty members will be assigned to specific
program areas.

While we are unable to provide a full list of affected degree areas,
the list we were shown contained dozens of degrees offerings slated
for elimination. The attached document provides the graduation rate
data that the administration used in making its determinations. If
this one-size-fits-all approach to decision making is allowed to
stand, the result would be a wholesale abandonment of the principle of
shared governance. It would create a University of Northern Iowa that
offers students a lesser educational experience.

Though the situation is changing on an almost daily basis, at this
time there have been no layoffs announced by the administration, and
they have reiterated their contractual obligation to use attrition,
whenever possible, to achieve staff reductions. UF remains committed
during these difficult times to using whatever tools are at our
disposal to protect our members’ rights as the best means of ensuring
that UNI is able to accomplish its educational mission and provide the
citizens of the state of Iowa with a dedicated and committed faculty
that offers students the highest quality education.

Jim O’Loughlin, Ph.D.
Department of English
Article 5 Negotiation Team, On behalf of UF-AAUP

*****************

February 26, 2012

Dear Colleagues,

There is much to say. This letter is specific to Questions and Answers
surrounding the Article 5 negotiations underway between UF and the
Board of Regents. It is difficult to keep informed with changes
happening on a daily basis. Nonetheless, here is some information as
of Sunday evening; some things may change Monday. UF has met three times with
Provost Gibson, Assistant Provost Virginia Arthur, and Board of
Regents representatives, including BOR Chief Attorney, Tom Evans. UF
– AAUP is represented by myself, Cate Palczewski, Jeff Elbert, Betty
DeBerg, Jim O’Loughlin, A. Gerald Smith, and Katherine Van Wormer. We
meet again Monday afternoon, and we will keep you informed.

Here are some questions and answers.

Q. Why is BOR meeting with UF over program closures, and not with the
Faculty Senate?
A. GOOD QUESTION. Administration should have consulted faculty
before deciding to close curricular programs (including majors, minors,
emphases, etc). They should have met preemptively with BOTH a)
faculty groups affected by possible closures, and, b) the UNI Faculty
Senate. The BOR is meeting with UF because the contract requires the
BOR to negotiate the definition of what a program if it intends to lay
off affiliated faculty. If it
does not intend to lay off faculty, it does not need to negotiate the
definition of what a program is. This is covered by Article 5 in the
Master Agreement.

Q. Does the Board and/or the current UNI Administration feel bound to
honor the 1940 Statement of Academic Freedom and Tenure?
A. No. current administrators at UNI have stated they are not
bound by the standards (more than once), and of course actions speak louder
than words. They use the fact that the contract does not order these
principles be followed as a license to ignore them. According to
Wikipedia: “The AAUP's "Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom
and Tenure” is the definitive articulation of these principles and
practices, and is widely accepted throughout the academic community.
The association's procedures ensuring academic due process remain the
model for professional employment practices on campuses throughout the
country.” It is outrageous that UNI’s upper administration (provost
office) is rejecting any sense of obligation to abide by these
principles. They have said so in court proceedings under oath, they
have said so to UF-AAUP.

Q. How were faculty and/or faculty leaders consulted and kept informed
during the decision making on these curricular issues?
A. As best as we can tell, there was no consultation at all. Faculty
who are directly affected as well as elected faculty leaders learned
about the decisions from the press. Consultation does not mean that
the final decision necessarily would have been different. But it would
have provided additional information and perspective to those with the
final decision making authority. Consultation with faculty, who are
accustomed to making decisions based on data, would have forced some
clarification on what data (if any) decisions were being based on. In
the instance of Price Lab School closing, consultation would
have given confidence that the administration had fully considered the
curricular implications and had a plan in place for vital things like
placing secondary field experiences. Besides the practical points
above, consultation conveys respect for the role of Faculty at UNI.
This is not part of the law of Iowa, or the contract. It is simply
the norm of academia. See AUUP standards below. Note: such standards
apply to all universities and colleges whether there is collective
bargaining or not; whether state law or formal senate policies state
the requirement or not. Administrations that “get” that faculty are
experts on curricular matters, and that shared
decision making leads to better decisions enjoy and want to keep
faculty informed BECAUSE THEY TRULY VALUE faculty input. They are not
“forced” to do it.

Layoffs of faculty, however, are a different issue. Under the contract,
the BOR must attempt to come to an agreement with UF about how recall
and seniority will work within “program areas.”

Q. So the meetings with the Union are NOT about which programs to close?
A. Correct, the meetings with UF are not, and have never been, about
which programs to close. Indeed, the BOR will not even tell the UF
side of the table which programs it is considering eliminating. We
have asked, they appear to know, and
(so far) they won’t tell. We learned
about the Price Lab recommendation from the press, same as everyone else.
**The contract-provided-protection is in terms of seniority rights, as
well as the right to be recalled if there were to be a similar
position recreated in a year or so. You can review the contract by
visiting the United Faculty website, Article 5.
**The unit for deciding recall rights and seniority is the topic.

Q. Is the definition of Article 5-‘Program Area’ level important?
A. Yes, the definition of ‘program area’ for the purpose of seniority
and recall rights is significant. UF believes that a definition that
enables the administration to carve faculty into small units (say, a
minor) and then potentially target tenured and tenure
track faculty for layoff, is unreasonable and not in keeping with how
the university actually works. This is not trivial. Say that
Administration decided to eliminate the “Natural History
Interpretation” minor which is in the Department of Biology. UF would
argue that even if a faculty member has been teaching many classes
related to “Natural History Interpretation”, this faculty member must
retain rights of tenure over non-tenured or part time faculty within
the department. Administration wants the prerogative of deciding the
unit in which seniority rights are considered ( e.g., the level of a
a major? a minor? at the level of the department?).
-- And, they want administration to be the sole decider of how an
individual faculty who would be subject to lay off would be
classified.

Make no mistake – even in the context of the lack of faculty input
overall in this whole process – this is a big deal. In a department,
if a certain minor were eliminated, and if the
BOR proposal were the one that was used for layoffs, one or more
tenured professor would have least seniority. These tenured faculty
would/could be laid off even while other faculty are hired in the
department and while adjuncts are hired to teach departmental classes
for which the laid off (and tenured) faculty member is qualified to
teach. There is a concern that a definition of program area that
involves only one or two or three persons within a large department
will allow targeted layoffs of faculty. This is not the intent of the
MA. We will not agree to overly narrow definitions.

Bottom line: UF is advocating a definition of program areas as
departments, the LAC, the Teacher Education Program, and Price Lab’s
elementary and secondary designations. Our definition is the most
reasonable way to preserve the seniority rights recognized in the MA’s
Article 5. The BOR is advocating a definition that allows them to
designate faculty within a very narrow minor or certificate, allowing
them to circumvent Article 5’s protection of the tenure system and
seniority.

Q. But isn’t a lay off a lay off? Are you showing preference to
tenured faculty rights?
A. UF leadership is sickened by the thought of any bargaining unit
members being left without a job and collecting unemployment. But UF,
as an AAUP chapter, strongly supports the tenure process and the
rights it entails. Tenure is a promise and an assurance, it is
hard-earned and demonstrates a level of excellence and commitment to a
university’s goals that has been officially acknowledged. With it
comes freedom and job security that allows academic freedom to exist.
Threats to tenure surpass an individual’s need.

Q. What happens if UF does not agree to the definition the BOR wants?
A. If we come to impasse, they get to pick a definition.

Q. Then why would you not agree, and why are they bothering to meet with you?
A. If we do not agree, they are required to use a “reasonable”
definition. Without an agreement, they open themselves up to the
grievance process. It would mean that they may have to eventually
prove to a third party that their definition was reasonable which, in
spite of the fact that they have said faculty will not have a right to
appeal, would be an appeal process.

Q. What if I am laid off because I have agreed to teach primarily in a
minor or certificate that gets eliminated and then administration uses
Article 5 to fire me? What can I do?
A. We are disgusted to answer that-- based on what is currently being
suggested by the other side of the table – you can tell the
administration you disagree and tell the administration you should be
classified at your department level. You can say you are not a member
of the “Natural History Interpretation” department, and are still
willing and able to teach a variety of needed courses within your
department and within the Liberal Arts Category 4. But they made it
clear: there will be no appeal process. There will be no faculty
involvement if the proper designation is not clear cut. They (upper
administration) are proposing to be the only deciders.

Q. What is driving these decisions?
A. It is not completely clear. Decisions to merge or even close
academic programs or stop offering degrees occasionally have to be
made. If they are being made based on pedagogical needs and
considerations of student needs -- they may be appropriate. If they
are being made based on financial emergency -- the financial emergency
should first be demonstrated. It is unclear which is the primary
consideration (student needs or financial emergency). In UF meetings
with the provost and BOR representatives, it has been clearly said
that improved finances would not change their plans and intentions to
merge or close programs (January 25, Provost Gibson so stated). On
the other hand, at times administration seems to be implying this is
largely budget driven. Administration should speak clearly and
consistently on why they are making these changes.

Please use the UF blog (or email if you prefer) to let UF know your thoughts.
UF-AAUP is deeply concerned about the climate at UNI. To wit, we sent
a letter to President Allen a month ago (well before any of the
current layoffs were even on the radar). That will be the topic of
Faculty letter two (which will arrive after this one).

Catherine DeSoto
President, UNI United Faculty-AAUP


http://www.aaup.org/AAUP/pubsres/policydocs/contents/RIR.htm
According to the Recommended Institutional Regulations on Academic
Freedom and Tenure, termination of a tenured appointment may occur "as
a result of a bona fide formal discontinuance of a program or
department of instruction." In the event of such discontinuance,
several standards apply. First, the discontinuance must be based
essentially on educational considerations as determined primarily by
the faculty. Second, the administration must make every effort to
place terminated faculty members in other suitable positions and
To provide time and financial support for retraining, if that is
feasible. In the absence of another suitable placement, appropriate
severance salary will be provided. Finally, faculty members adversely
affected by the program discontinuance will have the right to a full
hearing before a faculty committee. AAUP policy does not say that
administrations may unilaterally close down programs for any reason
they please. Faculty involvement in what must be essentially an
educational decision is required. Neither are administrations free of
obligations to tenured faculty members simply by virtue of
discontinuing a program. Alternative placements, retooling, and, in
extreme cases, severance salary are required. Program discontinuance
is not and ought not to be viewed as a "loophole" in the rights of
tenure, nor should it be seen as an easy solution for difficult
personnel problems.

Article 5 of the Master Agreement can be found on UF website:
www.uni.edu/unitedfaculty .

Labor Day, 2011

Dear  Colleagues:

There are many great things about working at UNI.  First, we have the amazing opportunity to  pass on knowledge to a new generation of citizens. “What nobler employment, or more valuable to the state, than that of the man who instructs the rising generation,” -- Cicero.  Further, we professors have been certified by our colleagues and sanctioned by society to serve as scholars.  We contribute to the store of scientific knowledge, to the arts, to our cultural base.  Certainly, professors everywhere are both awed and thankful for the gift and trust we have been afforded.

Washington Monthly just rated UNI as number 56 out of 553 colleges and universities on service, research and graduating low income students. The UNI administration touts the excellent education and opportunities for our students (http://www.uni.edu/unionline/thursday-sep-1-2011) by headlining this on  UNI OnLine. Such rankings are of course the result of faculty labor and effort.  But Washington Monthly had more to say, which did not make it into UNI OnLine.  Read this: http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/magazine/septemberoctober_2011/features/administrators_ate_my_tuition031641.php

A quote: “Between 1975 and 2005, total spending by American higher educational institutions, stated in constant dollars, tripled, to more than $325 billion per year. Over the same period, the faculty-to-student ratio has remained fairly constant, at approximately fifteen or sixteen students per instructor. One thing that has changed, dramatically, is the administrator-per-student ratio.”  (Ginsberg, Washington Monthly, September 2011).

University of Northern Iowa has been at the forefront of this sad trend.  

 

Apparently, as colleges and universities have had more money to spend, they have not chosen to spend it on expanding their instructional resources…..their sons and daughters will have an opportunity to interact with more administrators and staffers— but not more professors.”                                      -- Ginsberg, Washington Monthly, 2011

We have all heard the rumors. We hear that administration plans to cut programs and layoff even tenured faculty. Unfortunately, there are ways to do this according to the contract and some managerial rights cannot be bargained away given the law in Iowa (Iowa Code Chapter 20).  BUT if cuts are going to be done based on financial exigency – you (YOU) do not have a “right” to speak up, you do not have a “right” to become knowledgeable about UNI finances; rather,  you have an actual responsibility to your students and to your society. There is truth and honesty.  And there is administrative bloat.

Unionized faculties have a unique ability to question administrative decisions that undermine the core mission. It is only at unionized universities that contracts with faculty carry the force of law.  We can be strongest by having a good membership base and an informed collective bargaining unit.  I ask that-- whether you pay dues or not-- that you honor the work of activists who fought for the right not to have arbitrary layoffs and live under constant threat and fear of job loss. I ask that you honor the work of scientists and academics who have demanded that facts and reason guide policy. I hear faculty say that there is financial emergency at UNI.  I say there is not.  And I say jobs and the core mission should be stood up for. I hope you will consider supporting the work of UF by becoming a dues paying member, but regardless – please read the link above and learn about your University.  You are a scholar, and it is your responsibility to be knowledgeable.

Cathy

P.S.    Joining your United Faculty union would be a great gesture on Labor Day.  Your raise that UF got for you last year is four times more than the dollar amount of your share of union dues.

Go to this link and click “Join UF”   http://www.uni.edu/unitedfaculty/

 

 

 

 

June 27, 2011

Dear Colleagues,
By last week, most faculty received emails from their department heads regarding the administration's decision to define "not research active" -- and, to require such faculty to cease getting a course release for scholarly activities.  Many faculty had heard rumors about this previously and were waiting for clear information.

UF-AAUP received numerous emails last week with questions and concerns as department heads began informing faculty of loss of the course-load reduction. As it has been communicated to me from various faculty, some departmental communications may have been less than fully informative, and have clearly left questions.  As such, I am forwarding the email below (previously sent to UF-AAUP members on May 27, 2011) on this matter to all faculty and providing some answers to questions that have been sent to UF.  We  had thought administration would be communicating about this policy to all faculty, rather than just informing that some faculty would be teaching additional classes due to not being research active.

We will be communicating more on this issue--  so watch your email.   It is unfortunate that administration did not take the suggestion to try and communicate their policy clearly to all faculty to avoid questions and rumors.  The most common questions are as follows:

Q. Does this include probationary faculty?
A. No.  Only for tenured faculty (perhaps the most common question being posed to UF).

Q.  How will faculty assigned four classes be expected to compete for merit pay?
A.  Most faculty were not informed that faculty who teach 4 classes are not to be docked in merit raises for not doing research. That is, their workload has been defined and they are eligible for merit based on teaching and service  excellence. According to Article 3 of the MA, "Faculty who are given a non-standard 12 hour teaching load will be entitled to merit on the basis of teaching and service."  Faculty who devote their efforts to teaching over scholarship once they have attained tenure, are still contributing in  a highly valuable way and should not be penalized.  It is our understanding that administration sees it this way too, even if this was not communicated.

Q. How does one go about becoming officially "research active" once declared inactive?
A. This has not been made clear.  For example, some faculty have been told articles or books must be in print before they will "count". This presents problems.  It could mean that a faculty who was inactive for four or five years doing extra service, or concentrating on family, or was ill, etc -- but began new research or writing could be actively "researching" and writing and producing, but be "research inactive" for years  while a top tier article or chapter waits two years after acceptance to be printed.  Many top journals in my field have more than a  year lag between acceptance and print, for example.  And peer review can take 12 months.  Overall, it is not clear this aspect of the new policy has been well-thought out.

Q. Do all publications count?
A. It is clear that only "peer - reviewed" publications will count for "publications", although some technical reports and such may count. Articles written for non-peer reviewed journals will not count.

For those of you who have been active in UF and/or know the Iowa Chapter 20 and recent case law:
Overload is a topic that UF has authority to bargain over. 
Administration decision to require and define research active for course release for scholarship is not. 
UF-AAUP successfully got a definition of work load in the contract this year. This is something that the bargaining team in past negotiations had tried to do, but had not been able to get agreement on.  This definition is important: it will prevent across the board increase in load, something that we think administration may have hoped to do.  Further, starting in 2012, department heads MUST define how teaching activities that contribute to the curriculum are counted in teaching load.  They SHOULD be doing this now (this is the norm at most universities) but are required to do so starting in academic year 2012.  The new contract will be posted on line soon, and the relevant wording in in Appendix L.  Things that ought to be counting as part of teaching load (and must count starting in 2012) include things like thesis supervision, independent study, field supervision (things that students  do to meet curricular requirements and that faculty are responsible for overseeing). Some faculty who are doing these things and not being compensated have stated they will be reconsidering this kind of work until it is recognized and compensated. This is something faculty will need to consider individually.

Clearly, there are legitimate concerns about this policy to enforce research active as a requirement for course reduction.  Concerns we share, some of the concerns voiced are simply due to poor communication (e.g., that non tenured faculty are not affected) - others may need to be grieved.  For example, some faculty have been told their in press articles do not count as evidence, while other faculty have been told they do.  If administration is going to define "research active" it BETTER be clear, consistent, and fair.  By not communicating clearly, capricious enforcement and abuses are bound to occur.

Please do not hesitate to contact UF with questions or concerns.  We will do our best to answer questions and advocate for faculty as needed.

Sincerely,
Cathy DeSoto
UF-AAUP President

 

 

March 15, 2011

Reason and facts won. Standing up for core mission of University won.
Shared Governance won.
We WON.

We went from the BOR proposal of shifting ALL faculty to a “PPO” health insurance plan (see past informational letters) -- to allowing current faculty to keep their existing insurance coverage. We did not win on allowing newly hired faculty to to retain this option.However, all faculty (even newly hired) will still retain the option of choosing a plan that allows them to go to the Mayo Clinic or University of Iowa Hospitals, which was a priority for your UF negotiating team. Faculty will have differing views on which plan to choose (there will be 3 options starting July 1), and UF will set up a blog site to facilitate discussion. It should be noted that the UF negotiating team was only able to achieve this by being firm at the table and not being bullied into accepting a plan that was so discrepant to the opinions voiced by many many faculty.

We won on Wages. The Board of Regents (BOR) and administration argued that a raise of1% next year for faculty was in the best interest of the university.Had the BOR won on this, we believe this would have been devastating to faculty. It would have made retention and recruitment difficult and further undermined morale of faculty.We believe that continually underpaying faculty while increasing administrative lines and auxiliary spending undermines the core mission of a university. The United Faculty-AAUP team won with cold hard facts.Our raise next year will be 3.5% with an identical raise in year two of the contract. This is a big win and has implications for the broader question of collective bargaining. It is not wrong to question the authority line with facts and reason: It is an obligation.

1.The BOR assertion that Iowa is going into recession was defeated by the Bureau of Labor statistics, Creighton Forecasting Group reports, and the State of Iowa Budget Estimating Conference reports. UF-AAUP showed that over the past few years, the number of faculty have been declining while administrative positions have been increasing.The administration did not like the presentation that spending on instruction has not kept up with support spending (administration) -- but we were able to show that the spending categories and definitions we brought to the table were not selected by us, but are the standard categories that the department of education uses to allow interested parties to monitor educational spending priorities across time.Spending shifts by category worked against the BOR’s arguments.Further, we showed that administrative hires went up 13% while faculty went down 4 percent across the previous five year time period.

3.We also documented that coaching salaries and upper administrative salaries have tended to increase much faster than faculty salaries.These are important, because as we argued – spending CHOICES are not reasons to deny otherwise reasonable wage increases.This tenet was successfully argued before the supreme court of Iowa in 1992 and has become case law.Our own attorney, Charles Gribble argued this landmark case: AFSCME versus Branstad before the Supreme court of Iowa (yes, the same Branstad).

4.We showed that the universities ASSETS have been increasing, no matter how they are defined.And we documented that fullyindependent raters of financial health of universities (e.g., Moody’s) acknowledge the reality of state budget cuts – but still say UNI is doing well given the totality of its reserves, assets and debts.

Thank goodness we still have a chance to force a situation where published reports and financial statements still carry some weight with an independent judge.The cost of living in Iowa is going up by more than 3% next year, a 1% raise would be ANOTHER decline in real wages.Your UF team felt this was something that our assistant professors who are often making less than $50,000 a year -- often have student loan payments of several hundred dollars a month, and families to support-- just cannot afford.UNI professors have fallen behind on wages, and assistant professors, who are the newly hired and lower paid group of professors are last among designated peer groups in salary according to the most recent data from U.S. Department’s National Center for Education Statistics.

UF – AAUP lauds the arbitrator’s decision which supports the value of the people most essential to educating the students and passing on knowledge – the core mission of any university.

We made some progress on key issues at the table. Your new contract will (finally)

1.1. will have provisions for defining and compensating overload (the new MOU on overload compensation will be posted on UF website shortly). This is something UF has been trying to make progress on for years.

2.2. have a significant bump up in promotion and tenure raises.For example, when one attains tenure, the raise currently is $1950.This will increase to $2500 and then to $2800 in year two of the contract. Promotion to Full raise increases from $2350 to $3000 and then to $3300.

Finally, to be complete, UF-AAUP won on something that is standardfor virtually all other unionized universities across the country in arbitration.
We won the right to have UF grieve (as an organizational right) for contract violations.This will matter and is a significant win as well.

Again, collective bargaining allows comparative data and objective facts to win the day.And they have.

Watch for an all faculty information meeting announcement where more information will be available. Note that is may well be as early as Monday afternoon when we return from break. It will be informal with a chance to ask questions and with various documentation available.

In Solidarity,

Cathy DeSoto

 

 

January 10, 2011

Dear Colleagues,

As you may know, Faculty within Baker Hall have had several ongoing concerns about the health of the building they work in every day.  One of the historical and basic functions of any union is to ensure that the workplace is safe. Leadership of United Faculty became of aware of several issues within Baker Hall last Fall. 

1.       The water was a concern. Faculty had heard that the water had high levels of lead and other heavy metals. Some administrators told faculty they should not drink the water in Baker Hall.  Many faculty members have been bringing their own water to drink and were fearful to drink the provided water.  There were signs on some fountains that warned to let the water run.  

2.       There was concern about lead paint, and some dry sanding was done.

3.       There was concern about asbestos.  Faculty were concerned that some asbestos containing tiles had been replaced in some office, but other tiles in visually worse condition remained.

4.       Mold and generally deteriorating walls are also ongoing concerns within this building.

United Faculty intends to be a strong union and work proactively with administration on such issues. As you may recall, the fall newsletter asked faculty to report to UF any concerns so they would be dealt with over break.  As this is the first day back after the semester, I wanted to give you an update on these important issues.

1.       WATER.   United Faculty met with various administrators including Dean Shores.  United Faculty requested since faculty have concerns, and more importantly -- since some fountains had tested high in the past, that all fountains be tested with some regularity. To be clear, all fountains that have tested high have been replaced, but given the nature of old piping, it is not possible to know if there has been additional deterioration without periodic testing. It had been a few years since any testing had been done.  The concerns have been the presence of heavy metals due to dated pipes and old solder. The new test results are HERE and can be accessed anytime.   As many of you know, I am a strong environmental advocate, and we have a filter on our home water source.  I understand the importance of clean water. The water in Baker Hall should be of no additional concern than your home tap water.  In fact, unless you have had recent testing, you should be more assured of the safety of the water from the Baker Hall fountains than the water in many community water fountains.  This is because many older water fountains will have some lead due to old pipe and solder, but your Baker Hall water has just been tested.  Note the bathroom water sources were not tested for consumption.  So I am only speaking about the fountains. I drink from Baker fountains and feel good to know the lead and heavy metals were recently tested. 

2.       ASBESTOS.  There were some floor tiles and at least one ceiling that appeared friable.  When UF brought this to administrative attention, there was no question that testing would be done and proper remediation might well ensue if called for.  You can see that several places within Baker hall have had major section of tiles removed.  We should thank administrative for being responsive. 

3.       MOLD and Faculty CONCERNS. Administration reports that mold is regularly remediated. Faculty who contacted UF in response to our newsletter call or otherwise had their offices checked. New Member Sunde Nesbit is one who did so.  Her office was promptly checked both for Mold and Asbestos (her office had a spot that suggested there could be friable asbestos). “I am sold on UF, all I had to do was ask and my office was promptly checked. It is great to feel assured of the safety of my office.” – Sunde Nesbit.  As far as UF knows, all areas of floor tiles and ceiling that look questionable and have been a concern to faculty have been tested, found to be safe or have been (or are currently being) properly remediated.  We think this epitomizes a good relationship between unions and management.

4.       LEAD PAINT.  There was same dry sanding of lead paint that was brought to the attention of administration by UF.  The dry sanding that occurred was apparently a result of miscommunication, was immediately stopped, tested and then properly remediated.  Proper remediation in such a case means wet wiping/mopping and encapsulation supervised by certified environmental personnel.  Again, we thank administration for being responsive.

In sum, we have found UNI Health and Safety to show appropriate concern and to have complied with all requests made by United Faculty AAUP.  Although the water in some fountains has in the past been high for lead, these fountains have all been either removed or replaced.  All fountains have been tested, and currently none have high lead levels.   Any possible areas of Asbestos concern have been tested and if needed, remediated. 

Please Email Dean Shores your thanks for cooperating with your UF leadership and caring about safety concerns on campus. .

Cheers,

Cathy DeSoto

President, United Faculty-AAUP

 

 

Dec 5, 2010

Dear Faculty Member:

We thought we should share some details about the changes in your health care proposed by the Board of Regents (BOR). While the complete details can be seen in the Initial Proposals which will available for viewing at the upcoming UF-AAUP End of Semester Social Hour (Dec 16, 4-6 pm at University Book Store), we have calculated some of the major financial impacts associated with the proposed BOR plan.

The changes would hit faculty and their families hard. Specifically, if enacted:

• Currently all faculty have a cap on the amount that co-pays and deductibles can add up to in a single year (no more than $500). The BOR is proposing to increase this to $1500 for single plans, and to $3000 for a family plan. Worse, there would be additional increased costs associated with using “out of network” providers (for example family maximum spending would be $6000 for out-of- network health care providers). Also, if out of network providers were used, coinsurance would be 30% (a high rate). Currently, there is no difference in cost regardless of provider.

• Single faculty would also see a major increase in total health care costs. The BOR proposes to have single faculty start paying a percentage of their premiums. When the new premium payments and new out of pocket maximums are added together, single faculty could end up paying over $2000 a year (for in network services) to over $3500 a year if they go out of network. This potential fourfold to sevenfold increase over the current plan doesn't even include increased costs associated with prescription drug coverage under the proposed BOR plan.

•As a whole, this means that families, for whom we believe already pay too much for their health care, could be forced to pay an increase of $2125 for health care per year (if they used out of network providers due to travel or other reasons, it could even increase by as much as $5125). This increase could be even higher if proposed changes in prescription drug coverage are considered.

We think our health benefits are something worth fighting for. It is only because you have collective bargaining at UNI that administration is not free to change these benefits at will. United Faculty intends to fight these sorts of slashes to your health care, but we need your help. Stay informed, make your voices heard, and remember, the more
members we have, the stronger our voice will be at both the bargaining table and, if necessary, in arbitration. Membership dues are a small price to pay compared to the potential losses to our health care package and other benefits. Please look for upcoming informational updates by UF-AAUP, and for your convenience links to the United Faculty home
page and enrollment forms are provided below.

United Faculty Home Page: http://www.uni.edu/unitedfaculty/
To become a dues paying member of United Faculty- AAUP :
http://www.uni.edu/unitedfaculty/documents/UF_enrollment_form.pdf

On behalf of your 2010 Collective Bargaining Team, we hope you have found this information of intrerest and useful. Although we have survey information from the Spring and Fall Surveys (thanks to the hard work of our Communications Committee), we are of course keenly interested in your perceptions: please feel welcome to email us with your thoughts.
 

 

September 27, 2010

Dear Colleagues,

At the request of numerous faculty members (and some administrators), please find the excellent talk by Dr. Howard Bunsis now available on the UF-AAUP blog site.
Using publicly available data sets and UNI's audited financial statements, Dr. Bunsis documented that UNI has been doing well financially.
At the top of the Blog site the slides are presented.   You can hit the PAUSE button as needed to review the slides at your leisure. Give the blog site a minute to properly load all components once opened.

http://www.unitedfaculty.blogspot.com/

Here is a link to a Waterloo Courier article about the talk.
http://wcfcourier.com/news/local/article_417ff5f1-1758-5202-962e-67960f5b56f3.html
Dr. Bunsis has a PhD in accounting as well as an MBA, He is  also an attorney whose work has specialized in post retirement benefits and university finances. He is the Chair of the National AAUP Bargaining Congress.

Also, on the UF  blog site, you can hear his remarks for yourself, by clicking on the video segments of his talk, which appear below the slide show.

Here are some additional links that will likely be of interest, this information comes from State Salary Data sets that are publicly available and from the UNI fact books and published budgets:
http://www.uni.edu/unitedfaculty/salaries.htm
http://www.uni.edu/unitedfaculty/workChange.htm
http://www.uni.edu/unitedfaculty/mgmtVSinstruct.htm

I also hope you will take a moment to check out Hans Isakson's guest editorial on how athletics are funded.
http://wcfcourier.com/news/opinion/guest_column/article_3eec9d3e-c598-11df-bd67-001cc4c002e0.html

Information matters.  It has to.

Cathy DeSoto
President
UNI United Faculty-AAUP

 

********************

September 10, 2010

Dear Colleagues,

Thank you for taking the time to read my third informational letter as President of United Faculty. The bulk of this letter will address two pressing issues : Student assessments, and Environmental health issues. Before this, four quick notes.

1. Let me acknowledge the incredible levels of support I received about my speech at the fall faculty meeting. Thank you very much. It is humbling as well as inspirational. It means a lot when one takes a risk and is supported. Thank you to all of our new members. In response to numerous requests, a video of the speech is now posted on the UF blog site, and the text is available on the UF website. Selected quotes from some of my favorite emails are posted as well. Again, your support matters.

2. Please attend the talk by Dr. Howard Bunsis on Thursday, September 16 at 3:30 in Schindler. You have probably seen posters. Dr. Bunsis' is a nationally recognized expert and the talk will be factual assessment of the financial health of UNI. Independent assessments by knowledgeable outside experts is invaluable. Information matters. Please do not miss this talk.

3. The prohibitive practice complaint regarding the salary give back negotiations was not dismissed by IPERB (Iowa Public Employment Relations Board), and is proceeding. The official Board of Regents response to UF’s request for admissions contained clear inaccuracies (to be polite) which therefore requires formal depositions. One might infer that the Board of Regents' plan is to make this process as expensive and time-consuming as humanly possible and hope that UF gives up. They do have more money to spend on legal expenses and the longer it takes to go to hearing, the happier they are. Overall, we look forward to the hearing, which we imagine they do not.

4. United Faculty was invited to speak to the Board of Regents along with the Faculty Senates from the three regents universities about a mandatory topic of Bargaining: university post tenure review. Under advice of legal counsel, we have declined this invitation, but have provided some written information and have tried to be as helpful as we are able to administration. Topics of such critical importance to our constituency are best handled within the collective bargaining sessions, with both parties on equal footing, and not in the public arena. At UNI, unlike other universities in the state, post tenure review is not a unilateral decision. UF must agree to changes in how faculty are evaluated and assessed. We hope that faculty is fully cognizant of this advantage. Please see UF webpage and the link to Iowa Law, Chapter 20 for information about the distinction regarding mandatory topics of bargaining.

This brings us to another topic related to evaluation: student assessments of instructional quality. Second to reactions to the speech, this is the topic that UF has been hearing about most. In essence, many faculty from around campus have been told that Merit Pay Raises for tenured faculty are now only available if they have student assessments competed in every class they teach. After this, there is less consistency. Some faculty have been told that this new policy has its origins in the Provost’s office. Other faculty have been told this is a department head decision. To help keep you informed of what different faculty are being told, here are several different examples of what department heads from around campus have told faculty (thanks to your UF area reps for passing this information along): "individuals (who do not get assessed) will not be working in accordance with the new guidelines for merit, and thus will not be considered”. …the new policy was described as being “part of an overall move toward more accountability through the Provost’s Office.” From another department: “faculty who wish to be considered for a merit salary increase must have had student assessments conducted in their classes" ... "Even if a department head recommends a merit salary increase for a faculty member who did not have the student assessments conducted in his/her classes, that recommendation will be "zeroed-out" by the upper administration when it recommendation gets to that level.” And one more, again from a different department: “The Provost has indicated that UNI faculty must have all classes they teach assessed by students during 2010 -11 to be eligible for merit pay.”

Not surprisingly, faculty members are asking UF leadership whether this policy is permitted under the current MA. Here is some information we have gathered to pass on to you: upper administration denies that the provost would zero out or otherwise override department head recommendations for merit increases. On the other hand, upper administration states clear support, perhaps even encouragement, for adoption of a policy that makes merit contingent on student assessments in all classes. The distinction is that upper administration is denying they are actually "requiring” a new policy. As far as the MA, this distinction could be important. This is because the wording of the MA clearly states that heads can require additional assessments, but it is less clear that upper administration could set this as university wide policy for consideration of merit pay. “Additional student assessments may be conducted as determined to be appropriate by the Department Head, as required by procedure, or as requested by the Faculty Member.” It seems unlikely that the intent of the MA language would be read to mean that all faculty can be required to increase a form of assessment by six fold as not representing a substantive change. Furthermore, if this were argued to not be a change, the one making this case would have the burden of explaining the continued need for Section 3.26 which defines how informational student assessments are to be carried out: suddenly, this section of the MA would be utterly irrelevant. In sum, a university wide mandated change affecting two different topics (pay and assessments by students) could potentially represent a violation of the MA. It is an unusual move to make unilaterally. Faculty should feel welcome to share their views on this to UF as well as to their department heads. Bottom line: upper administration denies that they have told department heads this policy must be adopted. This is certain to come up in bargaining.

Related to this, a “labor-management committee” was named along with three students last May to try and improve the current manner of student assessment of instruction. There is, I think, consensus the current instrument as it is implemented is lacking. Our members are Robert Dise, Keith Crew, and Joyce Chen. This is per the following contract language “Upon request of either United Faculty or the Board, (administration) shall convene a committee consisting of three members appointed by the United Faculty, three members appointed by (administration) and three students appointed by the Student Government. The committee shall review and recommend revisions in the current assessment form ….” The associate provost has stated that a meeting will occur very soon. We hope so. If not, your next informational letter will certainly detail this issue.

United Faculty has become increasingly aware of health concerns and work environments on campus. Of particular concern are multiple issues within Baker Hall, which is primarily (though not exclusively) faculty offices. We have been collecting and requesting reports and doing some spot testing. We will keep you informed as information develops. Of perhaps most immediate concern was the apparent scraping and dry sanding of exposed and peeling lead paint. This was stopped on Tuesday after United Faculty conducted some quick lead testing to document the problem. There is also concern with water quality, with some departments apparently being supplied bottled water, and others not. Results of repeat testing of water after repair of known problems have not been made available, or possibly may not have been done. This is not yet clear to us. We will be seeking to document the safety of the water or to have water provided to all faculty who work in Baker Hall. Another concern is when asbestos-containing tiles may be deteriorating at various locations. We are pleased to say that Dean Mauceri and Department Head Carolyn Hildebrandt have been very responsive to these concerns, initiating some further testing, monitoring and taking responsibility for safety: earning them UF administrative Kudos of the month. If you see them, please do take a moment to personally thank them for caring about faculty health and safety. United Faculty is fortunate to have active members with expertise in environmental health, and everyone wins when administration is willing to listen and be data-driven in their actions, as Dr. Hildebrandt and Dean Mauceri have been. Watch United Faculty website to keep informed on this issue.

Faculty have many things to be concerned about. But there is good news. You have a Union with committed leadership and membership base that cares. Every member makes us stronger. If you have sat back and thought, why should I join? The reasons are staring you in the face. Collective, organized action and collective, organized voice is needed. We have a great case in our prohibited practice complaint regarding the salary give back negotiations, but we need full support to see it through. We can stand up to forced student assessments with a flawed instrument as a condition for merit raises. We can. Join UF today.

Catherine DeSoto

President UNI United Faculty

 

 

 

July 7, 2010

Dear Faculty,

I hope everyone is having a productive and enjoyable summer. I thought I’d take a few moments to provide an update on United Faculty activities and answer questions that have arisen since my last informational email.

DUES. First, there have been some questions about the new dues structure. As explained in an earlier email, the Central Committee decided to change the dues from a flat rate, under which everyone paid the same dues, to a percentage of base salary, i.e., faculty pay an equal percentage (0.75%) across all salary levels (but with a $600 cap). This was done to promote equity, based on ability to pay, across salary levels. This dues structure also encourages newer, typically lower-salary, faculty to join. Given the recommended increase in dues (see the next item below), a flat rate would have meant that some lower-salary faculty would have paid up to 1.3% of their income in dues, a very high percentage not found nationwide in any faculty union we have looked at. The approach to use percentage of base salary to determine dues was considered more equitable. This structure is also consistent with all other faculty collective bargaining units nationwide. Certainly, fewer faculty saw as sharp of an increase as the alternative model that was proposed.

Second, the overall level of dues increased for many members. This was recommended under the previous leadership and it is to account for increased expenses that we have incurred recently. The initial proposal under the previous leadership was to increase dues from $428 to $550 for all members. This was changed to a percentage rate structure for the reasons outlined above. It should be noted that our dues are still below average compared to faculty bargaining units at other universities. Nevertheless, we realize that membership in United Faculty is a financial commitment, and we are working to limit the level of dues as much as possible.

The first step in reducing dues is to increase membership. There are certain economies of scale in union membership. The more members join, the lower the cost per member. To this end, we are extremely interested in getting feedback regarding what encourages, or discourages, union membership on the part of faculty.

FINANCIAL STEWARDSHIP. Beyond increased membership, we are also striving to reduce our expenses and become better stewards of the resources we have. Notably, we have recently adopted a retainer model for necessary legal expenses rather than the hourly rate model used previously. We have also hired new representation, a labor attorney, recommended by the Iowa Labor Council, who specializes in representing unions. Our legal expenses had been consuming a larger share of our resources than is typical for other faculty unions. We expect that the change in attorney and fee structure will result in more effective representation and more reasonable legal fees.

In addition, we plan to make better use of the resources and support available from AAUP, the national organization. The national AAUP is very much interested in providing assistance and improving the relationship between their organization and ours. A portion of our dues goes to the national organization, so it seems fitting that we make the best possible use of these opportunities, similar to what other chapters across the country do. To this end, we are attending (at AAUP expense, $0 cost to UNI-UF) the AAUP summer workshop in San Diego to learn about how to be more effective in collective bargaining, and how other chapters govern themselves and work with other faculty governing bodies. In addition, AAUP is coming to campus, again at its own expense, to train the full bargaining team, and to offer support for and accurate expert information about UNI finances.

CHANGES and LOOKING AHEAD. Finally, we intend to be more effective representatives of the faculty during the bargaining process by making better use of AAUP resources and information, by incorporating feedback from faculty regarding priorities, and by taking lessons learned from previous rounds of bargaining – where we’ve succeeded and where we could have done better. Specifics of how we will be more effective strategists are not appropriate for an email, but please feel free to contact me or anyone on the leadership team if you have questions or feedback regarding the bargaining process.

Looking forward, we intend to proceed in a number of areas, several already discussed above. These include being better stewards of your dues money, seeking independent financial advice, getting our records (cash flow statements and other financial documents, minutes, etc) in order, preparing for bargaining, and standing up in terms of contract enforcement. More immediately, we are working on organizational aspects of the transition to the new leadership (e.g., transfer of bank accounts, getting webpage passwords reset, changing inefficiencies, etc.). Although there have been some interesting roadblocks along the way, we are moving forward and making some needed and helpful changes. As you may have heard, long time member and former president/vice-president/treasurer Frank Thompson has stepped down after years of playing a central role in united faculty decision making, and has in fact also quit the union. He has made sharp break with the new leadership, and this may stand as tangible evidence that we are really doing things different and, we hope, better. Of course, we wish Frank the best, and for our part will continue to work hard on behalf of all faculty. It is also important to me that you know that none of the previous leadership was asked to step down by me or by anyone else. I welcome all interested parties to participate in the workings of United Faculty and there is still plenty of room to get involved.

Overall, our goals are to promote the role of faculty in promoting educational priorities, academic freedom and respect for the professoriate. We have distributed surveys in the past to get your feedback on your concerns, and we will continue to do so. The next informational letter will highlight some important results from the survey we conducted late in the spring semester. We appreciate the time faculty took to complete the survey, as the information will truly guide the goals we set for collective bargaining.

To address our goals of addressing the educational mission of UNI and making it a better place to work, we need your support. This is a turning point not just for the union, but for faculty governance and the support of education as the raison d’etre at UNI. Our ability to address the interests of faculty depends on our membership base. As noted above, a larger membership will allow us to reduce dues. This, along with the effort to improve the use of our resources outlined in this email, will allow us to reconsider the level of dues in the future. A larger membership base would also give us a stronger voice as we enter the bargaining process.

If there is something you don't like, we ask that you learn more and ask. We are aware that UNI has had, and still has, shockingly low membership, and that the esteem for the union across campus may be lacking among some factions, at least compared to what is typical among faculty who have collective bargaining. It might be that UNI faculty can not support a union. This is a real possibility. A union does in fact require a certain percentage of the bargaining unit (faculty) to care enough devote time and energy, and a certain larger percentage to at least be invested enough to know what is going on. Without this, we cannot (and should not ) have a collective bargaining union. If you want the administration to be held accountable for the fact that their salaries have continued to rise while student tuition skyrockets and faculty salaries drop.... if you want real protection for academic freedom and tenure.... if you want to see policies and procedures that foster rather than hinder your role as a scholar....We need YOUR support.

We intend that United Faculty be an organization that provides a forum for faculty concerns and then channels these concerns so they can be effectively and productively addressed. You are cordially invited to join us.


Sincerely,

Cathy DeSoto

President, UNI United Faculty-AAUP

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May 12, 2010

Dear Faculty Members,

This is the first of a series of information letters that are intended to improve communication between the faculty and leadership of United Faculty. These letters will be one of the ways I will strive to keep you informed about issues that matter to you.

In this letter I want to focus on three areas. First, you will find some information about the new leadership taking office early. Second, there is important information about what has happened with our salary reduction money. Finally, there is a recap of the Central Committee discussions and actions regarding UF dues. I strongly encourage you to take the time to read the information in this letter—especially as relating to your salaries.

Until relatively recently, whenever leadership changed at UF, the new officers took office at the beginning of summer (about 8 weeks after the election). Over the past few years, the presidency and the vice presidency has essentially shifted back and forth between same couple of people who began their new terms in September. With the most recent election the members have chosen to install a new Executive Board. With this change in leadership, the outgoing and incoming Executive Boards agreed to return to the practice of starting the new terms at the beginning of summer. This shift allows us (new leadership) to begin consulting with both our chapter attorney and AAUP national office attorneys, naming a negotiating team, and organizing with negotiation experts at the national AAUP office. It enables the new leadership to begin communicating directly with faculty, to begin planning for next year, and to organize various UF committees. All of these things are either difficult or impossible for non-officers. There was no request for the previous president and officers to step aside. I agree, however, that their decision will help to facilitate a smoother transition. (I will support officially reverting to the bylaws as they existed prior to about 2007 that designate new terms begin on May 1.) My predecessor, Hans Isakson, has done many good things for United Faculty. Hans will continue to be a valued and active member of both the Central Committee and the Executive Board.

Second, many things have been happening regarding the salary give back that membership voted to accept last January. I would have very much preferred to have an all-faculty meeting to discuss these events in person and answer questions; but it is between semesters, and since I did not take office until Friday at 4 pm, this is the best I can do to inform you. The news is not good. With much pushing from myself and Joe Gorton, United Faculty sent a letter to the Board of Regents (BOR) demanding that the agreed upon faculty salary cuts be returned. This demand was made in light of a supplemental appropriation that restored funding that was originally lost after Governor Culver implemented his across the board budget cuts we all heard so much about last fall. Through its representative, the BOR has stated its intent to not restore the salary cut. For this reason United Faculty will soon file its first ever Prohibitive Practice Complaint (PPC) with the Iowa Public Employees Board. We may or may not win, but I feel we must at least take a stand on this issue. Why? Here are TEN KEY POINTS:

1. October 7, 2009 the State of Iowa announces a drastic reduction in state support for higher education.

2. Prior to this, the State of Iowa had received federal stimulus funds to ease effects of economic downturn. The acceptance of these funds came with some important strings attached.

3. On October 29, 2009, President Allen announces that because of the 8.8 million funding cut to UNI, all faculty and all employee groups will be asked to accept salary reductions to help with the expected financial crisis.

4. In a video conference meeting, UF leaders learned that the President of the BOR, the Chief Business Officer and a BOR budget analyst knew and understood the nature of the attached strings regarding the stimulus funds: that accepting of the federal stimulus funds would specifically disallow the drastic reduction to higher education.

5. On December 14, United Faculty’s bargaining team were told that a tentative agreement must be reached that day. The BOR threatened that without faculty salary cuts; it would immediately lay off approximately 70 UNI adjuncts. The UF bargaining team agreed to ask the membership to consider the salary at special meetings held in January.

6. The very next day, December 15, the State of Iowa formally requested exemption from the requirement to maintain funding to higher education. The request was later denied, and cuts to higher education were rescinded.

7. As a result of the associated increase in UNI’s financial situation noted above, the surcharge for students (the student contribution to the expected financial crisis) was cancelled by the BOR.

8. At a March meeting with President Allen and representatives of the BOR, UNI-UF asked President Allen whether the faculty pay cut would be cancelled. President Allen said this was being very much considered.

9. After the increase in funds for UNI from the state was officially signed into law, UF sent a strong letter to the BOR requesting the salaries be reinstated.

10. On April 30, while not disputing the additional $5,227,665 had been received by UNI, the BOR said this did not improve the financial outlook, and informed UF it did not intend to rescind the salary cut. Of some interest, UF is hearing that shortly after April 30, the Provost authorized significant last minute, unplanned spending to at least some department heads and deans.

To sum, we believe top leaders within the BOR knew that the budget cut would likely not stand, but elected to not inform the other side of the table. When the original purported need for the salary cut was essentially rescinded by a $5.2 million funding increase, the BOR still elected to keep the money from our salaries, and it now appears to be being spent on other things. Please watch your emails for future updates, a copy of the IPERB complaint will be available to members who request to read it. Although the decision to file the complaint was made by UF Executive Board before the new leadership took office, I support this action. Win or lose, United Faculty has decided it is worthwhile to go on record as protesting this lack of transparency.

Finally, I need to address the issue of membership dues. As new leadership took office, we had to immediately take up the recommendation from the outgoing president and a budget committee (formed in February) to increase dues for all regular full time members from $428 to $550. The majority of the new Executive Board strongly felt that this was too drastic an increase for the majority of faculty who are earning less than $67,000 per year – and who not only saw a zero pay increase last year, but actually had a salary cut – should be asked to bear. Initially, we opposed any dues increase. However, UF’s new Treasurer (Russ Campbell) strongly advocated for the need to have an increase in dues. The reasons for this need are multi-faceted, and beyond the scope of this letter, but come down to legal fees associated with the internal UF conflicts that took place last year (which we were not involved in) and various administrative and budget actions that have required extra legal services (e.g., the issues related to the TEN POINTS ABOVE). As such, we could not in good conscience reject out of hand the need to increase dues. I did much investigation on this topic. Here are THREE FACTS we think are relevant:

1. Compared to other collective bargaining dues, UF dues were the lowest we found (feel free to do your own research). We looked at both AAUP chapters as well as other union affiliations. There may be some that had lower dues, but if so they are few. We did verify that among the 70+ AAUP Collective Bargaining chapters, UNI’s dues were very low.

2. All collective bargaining chapters we have investigated structure their dues as a percentage of salary, and not as a flat fee. UNI-UF dues have been set up as a flat fee. According to AAUP, of the other 70+ AAUP collective bargaining chapters, only one did not have a percentage basis for dues (a medical school with annual salaries ranging to well over $500,000). A flat fee is seen as advantageous to very highly paid faculty. A flat fee is usually seen as too high for some members to afford. According to other AAUP chapter presidents (with much larger memberships) a flat rate is generally viewed as prohibitive to increasing membership among newer, less well paid, faculty members.

3. The range of percentage rates is .7% to 1.1%, with one school have a .5% (but they have fair share law that requires both union and nonunion faculty to pay union dues), with the mean being around .85%.

On May 7th, the Central Committee approved a new dues structure for UNI-UF for the current year, on a trial basis (that is we will monitor the success, and again consider alternatives at the end of the next fiscal year). Your dues will now be a percentage of your annual base salary (so not including any additional summer teaching salary, for example). The percentage is .0075 (.75%). This allows the majority of faculty to not have an increase, while limiting the total increase to not much more than was already going to happen (the budget committee had recommended a flat rate of $550 for all regular members). Again, the majority of the new Executive Board opposed that recommendation as being too great a burden on faculty in the lower-middle and lower salary ranges. However, unlike other chapters, we have built in a maximum dues amount: there is a cap of $600 per year, no matter how high one’s income is. This is done to avoid a sharp change in dues for higher paid faculty. Here are some examples of dues:

Annual Salary of $67,000: $502.00 (50 dollars less than the budget committee proposal)

Annual Salary of $100,000: $600.00 (50 dollars more than budget committee proposal)

Annual Salary of $57,000: $428.00 (no change from Fiscal Year 09/10 dues)

Annual Salary of $51,000: $382.00 (there is a slight drop in dues for faculty earning less than 57,000 a year)

We have retained the UF custom of discounting dues for the spouse of a member who joins, as well as the discount for untenured faculty (so subtract $100 from the percentage amount if you fall in either category). As a whole, we would have preferred no increase at all, but given this was not possible, we have structured the dues so that our most vulnerable faculty are not seeing an increase, and at the same time – brought us more in line with the external world of collective bargaining chapters. Please do note that without new leadership, dues otherwise would have increased to $550 per year.

There is more to say, but this first letter is already long. Please avail yourself of “Ask the Union” as featured in the most recent Union Line you all received in your mailboxes. Send questions to UF Communications chair (rob.hitlan@uni.edu <mailto:rob.hitlan@uni.edu>) or directly to me (Cathy.desoto@uni.edu <mailto:Cathy.desoto@uni.edu>). Above all, watch your inboxes for important updates and information. I will answer questions during the summer, and will hold all faculty information meetings upon the start of the school year.

In solidarity,

Catherine DeSoto

President, UNI United Faculty

 

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"A larger membership base would also give us a stronger voice as we enter the bargaining process."

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