Bargaining Sessions 16 & 17 Updates (8.26.19 & 8.28.19)

The UAOSU bargaining team and the administration team met noon to 4 p.m. on Monday, August 26 and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Wednesday, August 28 in the LaSells Stewart Center. Twenty faculty members observed these sessions.

On Monday, we continued to press the administration team about what specifically counts as a “policy” when they state that the employer will follow university policy within their proposals. Is a university standard or a university rule considered a “policy” or does it only count as policy if it is labeled as such? Does EOA policy count? Do unit-level policies count as “policy” as well? The administration responded that they can only answer such questions one article at a time. We will continue to press this issue to ensure a robust contract.

Then the administration team presented their counterproposal on Academic Freedom. Within this counterproposal the employer states many faculty obligations and a few academic freedoms…but with serious caveats.

Regarding scholarship, the counterproposal states that “bargaining unit members are entitled to freedom in their scholarly and creative work,” but immediately follows that up with “subject to the adequate performance of their academic duties.” This seems to imply that inadequate performance as measured by the employer may take away from faculty freedom in their scholarly and creative work. We will continue to fight this alarming interpretation of academic freedom in our counter-proposal to this article.  

Regarding teaching, the counterproposal states that bargaining unit members have the freedom to “assess student performance,” meaning the assignment of grades, but that this freedom is subject to the University’s “evaluation of adequate performance.” The administration wants to retain the authority to change grades without faculty consent or even knowledge. Though the administration’s team maintained that it would be rare that such a grade change would happen, we believe that our bargaining unit members have a right to know when and why their assessment decisions are being over-ridden.  

The counterproposal also states that the “Parties mutually acknowledge that the Agreement is not the appropriate method for resolving disputes involving academic freedom.” Naturally the Union bargaining team asked what the appropriate method is. The administration team responded that it would be the faculty senate grievance procedure. The Union team’s position on the exclusion of parts and provisions of the Agreement from the Grievance and Arbitration Articles continues to be that it is inappropriate that the institution itself is the arbiter of whether the institution violated an Article in the Agreement. Then we asked if discipline for violations of academic freedom would be grievable, to which the administration responded that they would be. But it is hard to imagine how a grievance of such discipline wouldn’t refer to the Academic Freedom article, since the discipline is based on the violation of this Article.

On Wednesday the UAOSU bargaining team presented counterproposals on Non-DiscriminationGrievance, and Personnel Records. There was some good back and forth discussion on the intent of our counterproposals. On Personnel Records, the sides reached a tentative agreement! There are still some disagreements to work through on Non-Discrimination and Grievance, especially related to whether university “policy” would be grievable and whether grievances related to the Non-Discrimination Article can be taken to arbitration. However, from the discussion during Wednesday’s session, it is clear that both sides are getting closer to agreement on many parts of these articles.

Our website provides a table with links to the articles for which we have presented proposals, along with the administration’s proposals on articles.

The next bargaining session is 1–5 on September 10 at the Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport. Even if you can only drop by for half an hour, your attendance matters: show the administration that faculty are watching this process.

We appreciate your support. You can find a full calendar of Summer Term bargaining sessions on our website.

In solidarity,

Your bargaining team

Proposals Exchanged on 26 August

Administration Proposals

Proposals Exchanged on 28 August

UAOSU Proposals