Bargaining update for March 18, 2022

Friday, March 18 marked our final bargaining session of the term.

Your UA team presented Articles 19 (NTTF Review and Promotion) and 26 (Salary), as well as a new article focused on the needs of caregivers (Article XX – Caregiving).

The administration returned counterproposals on Articles 09 (Union Rights), 20 (Tenure Review and Promotion), and 21 (Appeal from the Denial of Tenure and Promotion).

We were able to reach two tentative agreements (TAs) – on Article 33 (Sabbatical), which the administration offered a counter on last session, and on Article 09. This brings us to a total of five TAs to date.

Our Proposals

Our first two proposals stem from the joint working groups on Career Equity and Caregiving last Fall. In Article 19, which we propose to retitle “Career and Limited Duration Review and Promotion,” we aim to create the new category of Teaching Professor, add a highest-rank review analogous to a post-tenure review, and do away with the “up or out” promotion reviews for librarians. These changes are intended to acknowledge and reward the vital contributions of Career faculty – who, as noted in the session, often do devote their entire careers to this institution.

Similarly, the Caregivers article (XX) seeks to address several challenges and inequities that – while far from new – have been laid bare during the pandemic. Our proposal looks to a number of programs in place at other universities to support faculty with children or other caregiving responsibilities, such as facilitating flexible scheduling and remote work opportunities, allowing internal research support funds to be used for caregiving expenses, and subsidizing care costs where appropriate. Several additional components are specific to the Vivian Olum Center, which is touted as a benefit but has consistently fallen short in terms of meeting faculty needs. As we reiterated at the table – the problems we are raising have been well-documented over the years. We know they are systemic and complex. We want to work together to find solutions that will help support our most vulnerable faculty, many of whom are at a breaking point. The administration is now obliged to consider the proposal and either accept the article as written or prepare a counterproposal to be presented in a future bargaining session where we will continue the negotiations. We will keep you informed about our progress in securing this essential support for faculty with caregiving responsibilities and let you know if we need your help in making sure the administration understands its importance.

You may recall that we negotiated annual raises in last December’s MOU, but several pieces of Article 26 (Salary) remain open. Salary floors have not been raised since 2015, so our proposal adjusts them to reflect raises negotiated since then. We also struck the provision that pro tem and Visiting floors be set at 90% of others, as it has provided an unintended financial incentive to hire into temporary positions even when a long-term need is anticipated. Our proposal also institutes highest-rank Career faculty review raises at rates equal to those associated with post-tenure reviews and calls for a joint labor-management committee to comprehensively identify and address Career salary equity issues.

Administration Proposals

Our two hours together passed quickly, and after reaching agreement on Article 09 we weren’t able to discuss the administration’s remaining proposals in much detail. We did squeeze in a short discussion of Article 20 (Tenure Review and Promotion) and the challenges around setting promotion and tenure criteria at the department or unit level in some cases, and how we might address this tension in units that encompass multiple disciplines.

We also briefly discussed the administration’s decision to delete a sentence recognizing the “importance of disciplinary peer review” in tenure and promotion decisions and the introduction of a new sentence asserting that “The Office of the Provost retains primacy in the establishment, interpretation, and determination of all tenure-related matters.” We are concerned that the administration seemed to reject recognizing the importance of peer review and also concerned about what exactly “retaining primacy” means in relation to awarding and protecting tenure. We will continue this conversation at the next session.

Next Steps

Spring term sessions will be held Fridays of even weeks from 9am to noon, beginning April 8. Please mark your calendars and stay tuned for additional details and Zoom links. As always, this is your union, and we welcome your input on our progress and proposals.

We hope you all have the opportunity for some (albeit brief) rest and relaxation over Spring Break, and look forward to seeing you in April!